The construction and operation of buildings accounts for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. The most-used building material in the world, concrete, is used to construct many of the nation’s homes and office buildings — but a new MIT report says a variety of measures could drastically reduce, and ultimately even eliminate, the carbon footprint of most new concrete buildings, as well as some older ones.
“Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, a University of Kentucky-University of Louisville team demonstrated that an alloy formed by a 2 percent substitution of antimony (Sb) in gallium nitride (GaN) has the right electrical properties to enable solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. When the alloy is immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, the chemical bond between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water is broken (abstract). Because pure hydrogen gas is not found in free abundance on Earth, it must be manufactured by unlocking it from other compounds. Thus, hydrogen is not considered an energy source, but rather an ‘energy carrier.’ Currently, it takes a large amount of electricity to generate hydrogen by water splitting. As a consequence, most of the hydrogen manufactured today is derived from non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. The team says the GaN-Sb alloy has the potential to convert solar energy into an economical, carbon-free source for hydrogen.”—Alloy Could Produce Hydrogen Fuel Using Sunlight - Slashdot
The press release tells a broader story, highlighting Cummins ability to use Notes Traveler to improve productivity for their 40,000 employee workforce.
Cummins Inc (NYSE: CMI) is a global leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel engines, power generation systems and related products and technologies. A Fortune 500 company with 2010 revenues of $13.2 billion, Cummins has approximately 40,000 employees in 353 locations in 190 countries. Cummins is the largest independent maker of diesel engines and related products in the world.
The ability to collaborate from a smart, mobile device enables Cummins employees to be more productive in more places because they can access mail, calendar, contacts, and to do lists anywhere in the world. In the future, the promise of mobile computing expands “true” business capability enabling new business paradigms ranging from performing diagnostic tests while working on top of large engines to taking parts inventory and finalizing parts distribution logistics to having instant access to comprehensive business analytics that reflect a business unit’s growth in a key market segment.
“Cummins’ workers have benefited from the use of IBM Lotus Notes Traveler and its functions have been well integrated into our model of how we work and help to increase the productivity of our workforce overall. We look forward to expanding our use of IBM mobile collaboration applications in order to enhance the flexibility and on demand features that allow workers to work where they want to work,” said Eric Christian, Director, Global Architecture and Security, Cummins.
Welcome to the world of flexitime schooling which will see a child in Spain educated through Skype from the UK and a mother who splits her son’s education between home teaching and school. Hollinsclough Church of England primary school in Staffordshire is the first in the UK to introduce a part-time policy for pupils.
Now she has 11 full-time pupils, 10 part-timers and as many as 15 to 20 families coming in to join the school’s learning “hub” – which arranges events such as simulations of archaeological digs and arts activities for children.
The school’s motto is to provide what the parents want for their children, said Mrs Mountford-Lees. “I recently asked them what they would most like and some of them said for their children to learn Latin.” She is now trying to arrange for a private tutor to come in and provide the classes.
This is a really interesting concept which starts to break down some of the traditional views of what a school is.
To me the important part is that this model was made possible by slack in the system. One key part was a school and a teacher with too few pupils, the other key part was home schooled children who searched for a part time teachers with a certain skill or knowledge.
In the civilized world schools and school systems are almost always so optimized and efficient (read “stuffed”) that there are neither time nor space to be innovative. If innovation needs something it is white space to innovate in, and that is true in the educational system as well.
Hurricane Irene’s looming threat on the weather forecast may compel you to stock up on bottled water and put up the shutters, but cities and businesses must also worry about dealing with flooded streets, emergency evacuations and power outages. Luckily, some have begun turning to an IBM supercomputer model that can help them decide on a practical response regarding anything from rainstorms to blizzards.
The “Deep Thunder” simulation not only delivers precise weather forecasts up to three days ahead of time for client cities or businesses, but also predicts possible storm damage on city or business infrastructure such as the power grid. Such information can help cities decide how many snow plows to put on the streets, or aid utility companies in sending out repair crews to fix downed power lines.
"We have to think about the business impact question," said Lloyd Treinish, chief scientist for IBM’s Deep Thunder. "If all we can do is the weather, we haven’t solved the problem yet even if there’s value in the improved weather prediction."
Deep Thunder has already begun simulating the possible impact of Hurricane Irene for clients in New York City, as well as IBM’s own labs located around New York State. It can provide anywhere from 24- to 84-hour forecasts depending on what the client needs and how much data is available.
The Intelligent Operations Center combines technologies acquired by IBM in recent acquisitions with the company’s own analytics technologies created in collaboration with cities around the world
In mid-February of this year, IBM’s Watson supercomputer — named after company founder Thomas Watson — all but dismantled Jeopardy “super champions” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Throughout the tournament, there were interstitial elements of commentary about the potential for a Watson-like supercomputer to eventually help medical personnel triage patients’ various levels of needed care as well as other decision-based intelligence collection. More than once during these little commercial interludes I wondered to myself how this technology could also be applied to the massive difficulty facing cities and towns with regard to threat analysis and police response. Four months hence, I received an email from an IBM representative inviting me to speak with IBM Director of Public Safety Mark Cleverley on the topic of how “IBM is taking a leadership position in helping municipalities around the world keep their citizens safe.”
Now, bear in mind that Watson is a prototype — purpose built for the three-night trivia throw-down with Jennings (who won a record 74 consecutive ‘Jeopardy!’ games) and Rutter (who holds has won more money on ‘Jeopardy!’ than any other competitor in the show’s history) — but IBM has a history of using prototypes to demonstrate the real-world capabilities the company is capable of creating. Some of us are old enough to remember the two-part chess tournament between Garry Kasparov and a supercomputer named Deep Blue (Kasparov took round one in 1996, Deep Blue won the rematch in 1997).
The technology Cleverley and I discussed is called the IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities, touted by the company as “a new solution designed to help cities of all sizes gain a holistic view of information across city departments and agencies.” Cleverly said that this entire endeavor falls under the company’s “Smarter Cities” initiative, which seeks to address the technology needs of entire municipalities. Although the solution is capable of gathering and analyzing on information about a wide variety of city systems and services such as municipal transportation, water and other utilities, building inspection, social services and whatnot, we largely limited the scope of our discussion to public safety.
More than ever before, technology is transforming Africa and unlocking its potential. As the rest of the world leapfrogs in technological innovation, African software developers are doing the same. They’re creating ground-breaking, cutting-edge mobile technologies to solve African problems in communities closest to them. The Best African Mobile Apps will be a regular feature in which I will profile the best mobile apps from Africa – just like iCow.
In 2010 the U.S Department of State sponsored Apps 4 Africa, an East African regional competition designed to highlight the talent of local developers and to leverage the power of mobile technology to help solve some of Africa’s most nagging problems. The region has a lot of savvy developers and tech geeks, so as expected, several hundred applications flowed in.
The winning App wasiCow- the world’s first mobile phone cow calendar!
iCow is an SMS (text message) and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya. It’s something of a virtual veterinary midwife, helping farmers track the estrus stages of their cows, while giving them valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition, milk production efficiency and gestation. Each text message costs about 10 Kenyan shillings, or 10 U.S. cents.
According to iCow’s website, the app “Prompts farmers on vital days of cows gestation period; helps farmers find the nearest vet and AI providers; collects and stores farmer milk and breeding records and sends farmers best dairy practices.” The text messages and voice prompts are sent to customers within the 365-day cow cycle, and the app is designed to run on both low-end and high-end mobile phones.
Manufacturers are testing a brain-wave-sensing system that sounds an alarm when it detects sleepiness.
Several leading carmakers are exploring whether sensors built into the driver’s headrest can tell if he or she is too drowsy to drive safely, based on the pattern of electrical activity in the brain. Manufacturers are testing a system that sounds an alarm when the sensors pick up patterns associated with sleepiness.
Many automakers are already exploring other methods of sensing driver drowsiness, as part of a wider push to introduce more sophisticated safety technologies. Fatigue causes more than 100,000 crashes and 40,000 injuries, and around 1,550 deaths, per year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some studies suggest drowsiness is involved in 20 to 25 percent of all crashes on monotonous stretches of road.
The brain-sensing hardware comes from NeuroSky, a company based in San Jose, California, which makes basic electroencephalography (EEG) headsets and chips for various applications including computer gaming, interactive films, sports training, and market research. Whereas current EEG headset sensors must touch the scalp or skin to pick up the brain’s weak electrical signals, NeuroSky say its latest sensors can operate through fabric, such as the outer layer of a vehicle’s headrest. Some consumer EEG headsets, such as the Zeo, are already being used to track sleep patterns.
“My interview was very broad-ranging: we spent some time discussing implications for organizations of a connected world including the role of crowdsourcing and the idea of the global brain, went on to look at how to use the iPad for work and why it is the first technology that is better than paper for many purposes, and finally when newspapers will become extinct around the world. I spent some time drilling down into the rapidly growing role of crowdsourcing in driving organizations’ performance. Open innovation is an important and well-established class of crowdsourcing, already central to the positioning and strategy of many large companies such as IBM and Boeing. Crowdsourcing as it is more commonly understood today, such as the use of service marketplaces to tap larger pools of workers, is more commonly used by smaller companies, however a number of large organizations are establishing processes and protocols to enable the flexible use of external talent. Companies that aggregate micro-tasks into structured workforces, often accessed through APIs to integrate into business processes, are broadening their purvey from large media companies to a far wider range of companies and types of tasks.”—Ross Dawson: why crowdsourcing will drive the future of organizations | Trends in the Living Networks
“More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.”—Marc Andreessen on Why Software Is Eating the World - WSJ.com