Paola Santana is a lawyer, public policy expert, and technology entrepreneur. She’s the Founder and CEO of Social Glass, a Silicon Valley-based company developing Artificial Intelligence-driven technology platforms to enable high-performing governments. She is also a co-founder of Matternet, a company pioneering the use of autonomous drone logistics networks as the next paradigm of transportation.
Previously with the World Bank, the OECD, the Dominican Republic’s National Elections Court and Constitutional Court, Paola has developed striking public infrastructure projects and strategic plans to integrate advanced exponential technologies into E-Government platforms. A Fulbright scholar and graduate from George Washington, Georgetown, and Singularity Universities, Paola’s work includes engaging with The White House, the US Congress, FAA, NASA, and other key constituents to enact comprehensive regulatory frameworks allowing the deployment and implementation of new technologies at-large; this includes the first commercial operations of drone transport networks worldwide.
Paola’s been featured as LinkedIn’s Top Professionals under 35, CNET Top 20 Latin in Tech, Forbes Top 50 Women of Power in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, she served as Chair for the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) UAS Authorization Committee, and as member of the first FAA Drone Advisory Committee.
More than a billion people live without functioning roads for part or most of the year. Paola Santana’s video explains how Matternet, the start-up she co-founded, aims to build “a more equal, roadless world” for people in developing countries with limited infrastructure or disaster zones by means of small, battery-fueled drones delivering the necessities of life. Matternet’s vision is to create “the next paradigm for transportation using a network of unmanned aerial vehicles,” connecting rural and remote areas to markets, ferrying medicine and other supplies vital to improving people’s lives.
More than two thirds of the goods we access everyday weigh less than 1 kilogram. From medicine to documents and electronic goods — our need to transport lightweight goods on-demand, efficiently and cost-effectively is growing every day. A network of smart flying vehicles operating in the background 24/7, like the internet, is able to meet this demand at minimal cost and carbon footprint. To change the transportation paradigm, especially in places facing major road infrastructure challenges, we will have no choice but to rely on smart drones and integrated software applications that ensure safe and efficient autonomous operation.
Silicon Valley is developing advanced technologies at a pace never experienced before by humanity. However, these technological advances do not have as a fundamental objective to tackle the global problems that today keep billions of people without access to basic services and disconnected from the global economy. For Silicon Valley and the developing world, this probably constitutes one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our modern era: To prove that together, they can create high-impact solutions to improve the quality of life of those in extreme need, and to push technology to expand its outreach as a tool of massive social transformation that (finally!) reaches everyone.