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JPW, Thanks for sharing insights into how the BPD is improving their policing through technology – truly fascinating. Policing is an interesting use of this technology. Especially given the recent uptick in negative feelings towards police, these digital tools will help them in better assessing and countering threats. This should also help alleviate some concerns on the other side, because police departments and cities can point to actual data and video, for example, in explaining actions. As I mentioned in some other posts, I wonder what else they can use this technology for? If they are embedding these technologies throughout cities, there are likely additional ways to monetize, in a way that can help the city pay for the implementations of other related technologies that make our cities safe. Perhaps they can sell traffic data to retailers? Yes, it would be fraught with privacy concerns, but that can likely be worked out in time. They could also use the data to help in determining which areas to develop, what they can charge developers for, etc. Ultimately, once the infrastructure is built, cities should look for ways to make money off it, so that efforts can be put to improving other aspects of day-to-day life.

NR, Thanks for the post! I think Foursquare’s shift is wise. Given the increasing number of location-enabled services these days, it seems as though Foursquare had no choice but to pivot. To Hugo’s point, I too cannot recall the last time I or any of my friends used the service. But, I would disagree that its data is not good enough to actually leverage. In contrast, I think that it doesn’t need to continuously grow its consumer base to generate good insights. Instead, my perspective is that they have now become experts in location-based anything – you name it. Their path forward could be to provide tools and services to companies to build location-based technology into their day to day business, a strategy that they seem to be pursuing at least in some way. Perhaps they won’t have robust enough data to sell to retailers on the foot traffic outside their store. But, they could potentially help said retailer with location-based services inside their store, assisting with product placement, peak times, etc.

On November 20, 2016, kz2018 commented on Waze: Paving the Future of Digital Mapping :

Thanks for the post Rafi. As a staunch Waze user and supporter, I love what they are doing here. Their operation’s foundation relies mainly on the passion of the community in helping others get the best routes for their destination. The gamification of this aspect of their business model actually feeds the passion, where people want to keep posting updates or modifications of the route because ultimately someone will be helping them in the future. However, I think Waze needs to watch out for a risk: I have heard of neighborhoods that never had any traffic coming through pre-Waze. After Waze became big, there were tons of cars coming through what used to be a low-key neighborhood. To combat this influx of traffic, the people of that neighborhood would send faulty updates that there was traffic on that street so Waze users would be directed elsewhere, falsely. As you can see, Waze can create winner and losers in its effort to help its drivers avoid long trips and traffic, but at what cost? Whatever side of the argument you are on, Waze should also look to have more verified data so its trip recommendations are as accurate as possible. Waze will likely need to work with governments in the future, as their technology will impact the way in which city planners choose to build new roads and other infrastructure.

On November 20, 2016, kz2018 commented on Can Digitization Save Healthcare? Athenahealth Thinks It Can :

Thanks for this thought-provoking piece. It looks like Athena is doing some great things when it comes to making the healthcare process simpler through the digitization of many key tools healthcare providers use in their treatment of patients. To your point, I wonder what they can do that is more transformative in how the system works, i.e., how providers actually treat patients. While their tools are great to cut costs and increase revenue, they are likely collecting a ton of data on specific treatment areas and on specific therapies or care methods. There are likely many crucial insights that could be gathered by combing through the hoards of data that would actually help improve patient care and get us towards better care and better outcomes versus finding ways to operate within the current system.

On November 20, 2016, kz2018 commented on Bigbelly’s Talking Trash Cans :

Alex– Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this smart city initiative. I find it really interesting that even a process as simple as collecting trash can be made so much more efficient and tech-enabled. There are loads of companies looking to find a piece of this space to capitalize on. I wonder, given your mention of privacy concerns with the proliferation of data, how the data collected here can be leveraged to be more informative to even larger, more complex problems our cities face. As you also mention, they are moving in to new spaces that leverage their existing infrastructure, but I think that they have a vast opportunity to collect and sell data to the government on movements of people, trash flow, types of trash, etc., which can help city planners better allocate resources and set development agendas in a way that is more specific to how city-dwellers interact with their environment.

On November 6, 2016, kz2018 commented on Are hang tags causing global warming? :

Super interesting topic that I haven’t really thought much about prior to reading. Thinking to my new clothing purchases over the last few months and years, I noticed that many manufacturers actually don’t use tags anymore, preferring instead to print the text on the clothing item itself. I imagine this trend will continue as a way to both reduce costs and the companies’ impact on climate change. So, as you mention, Avery Dennison is in a very difficult predicament. How will they continue to grow a main line of business when customers just don’t seem to want their product anymore, especially if their efforts to make it sustainable are costly? Per your point, challenges like these are what fuel innovation in companies or cause to them to die. I think Avery Dennison needs to look to sustainably improve their supply chain while not improving costs. I also think they should be looking to build other lines of business that leverage their existing relationships but offer new products or services that are cost-effective for the customers and environmentally friendly. It just seems to me that the clothing labeling business in particular will not be a growing business due to concerns by customers and consumers alike and because their main raw material is increasingly depleting.

Great insight into Unilever’s efforts to combat climate change. I wonder why Unilever had such an issue meeting its (lofty) targets. I would imagine their initiatives were part marketing (i.e., appealing to climate change enthusiast consumers and limiting reputational risk) and part genuine business need (i.e., reducing costs). At the end of the day, implementing serious changes to your business to become more sustainable are extremely difficult: (a) internal buy-in is needed by individuals who are skeptical about shifting from the status quo, (b) performing proper due diligence on all parts of your supply chain and building relationships with new, sustainable suppliers is incredibly onerous and imperfect, and (c) change in manufacturing processes, equipment, and materials is expensive. While Unilever is making a valiant effort – one that looks good for the environment, looks good to the consumers, and looks good to the market – expectations should be tempered until they have a real understanding of what all of the crucial aspects of changing the business to be sustainable are.

You make some great points. But, from the perspective of Miami leaders and politicians, it does not make economic sense in the short term to dissuade foreign investment in real estate, when said investment contributes tremendously to jobs, tourism, and more. As Blaine mentioned, these foreign investors are thinking more short-term, whereas the impact of climate change on the cost is relatively longer-term, so it is likely something they are not investigating when performing due diligence. In addition, Miami is “hot’ – literally and figuratively – both of which are beneficial to Miami. In an ironic way, warmer weather in Miami due to climate change actually helps Miami businesses. As is widely known, tourism and vacationing is Miami’s bread and butter. So, increasing temperatures actually boost the city’s main industries. From the figurative angle, Miami is an attractive destination for vacationers in the U.S. and elsewhere given its close proximity to Latin America and no-frills, quick flights from major traveling hubs, like New York, into its two major international airports – Miami International and Ft. Lauderdale. Given these benefits, Miami’s leaders have little incentive to provide all the relevant information on climate change as it relates to Miami. And, international investors don’t see a major obstacle in investing now in the short-term, because the effects of climate change on Miami may boost their businesses – a nearsighted yet economically feasible calculus.

Great article. As a user of America’s rail services, high speed rail is appealing not only because it is green, but also because it would tremendously improve the travel experience. You also mention increasing globalization and increased travel across the world also makes high speed rail a good fit for those looking to combat climate change due to its low carbon emissions. However, naturally, globalization often means traveling across oceans, seas, and other bodies of water. Given this, while this may be a good way to be more green within countries and regions, as you mention, as people increasingly want to travel abroad for business or pleasure, this mode of transportation won’t meet the objectives, as I would imagine any benefit you’d get from the limited emissions in high speed rail would be offset by an increase in air travelers. In addition, this would only work in the U.S. if the existing rail infrastructure was improved. To fix the rail infrastructure, it is likely that tons of concrete and other materials would be needed, which would contribute heavily to climate change.

On November 6, 2016, kz2018 commented on Floating Our Concrete Jungles :

Thanks, Emma. This is super interesting. One of the takeaways I have from this is that it seems that concrete and related businesses would certainly benefit from the development of these floating cities. However, as the impact of climate change continues, it would obviously be impossible and actually undesirable for cities around the world to be floating. I wonder how these businesses can work towards limiting the impact through creative solutions in the production of concrete. In fact, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 5% of carbon emissions come from the concrete industry. So, their business actually helps create the problem that they would take advantage of with floating cities. While an attractive option, I would imagine most people would prefer to live on the mainland and for companies to work towards reversing rising sea levels to preserve our cities – the way they exist now – for future generations.