Hunting the poachers

Wildlife crime is sweeping the planet. The illegal trafficking of wildlife is now one of the world’s largest criminal industries, with repeated links to terrorism networks. Modern-day poachers have evolved and routinely utilise military tactics and equipment to kill high-target species, such as elephants, rhinos and gorillas. The non-profit International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) has established a Ranger Training Academy to instruct wildlife rangers, both men and women, in military tactics to hunt the poachers. The legendary primatologist Jane Goodall is an IAPF patron. Unmanned drones are refitted with night-vision technology to track intruders. The IAPF is now registered in four separate countries across southern and east Africa, and the rangers help protect the animals within nearly three million hectares of wilderness every day. www.iapf.org

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Giving a voice to people who can’t verbalise their pain

Painchek is the world’s first smart phone pain assessment and monitoring device. It uses AI and facial recognition technology to provide carers across multiple clinical areas with important new clinical benefits- the ability to identify the presence of pain, and quantify its severity, when pain isn’t obvious as well as to monitor the impact of treatment to optimise overall care. https://www.painchek.com

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Ensuring honey is pure

CSIRO is researching how to use blockchain to ensure honey does not contain artificial substitutes. Testing has found that almost half the honey samples selected from supermarket shelves were “adulterated”. This means they had been mixed with something other than the product from bees. The samples tested were all either wholly imported or blends of both imported and locally-produced honey. https://blog.csiro.au/is-your-honey-faking-it/

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A NFP generic drug company

A group of major American hospitals, battered by price spikes on old drugs and long-lasting shortages of critical medicines, has launched a mission-driven, not-for-profit generic drug company, Civica Rx, to take some control over the drug supply. Backed by seven large health systems and three philanthropic groups, the new venture will be led by an industry insider who refuses to draw a salary. The company will focus initially on establishing price transparency and stable supplies for 14 generic drugs used in hospitals, without pressure from shareholders to issue dividends or push a stock price higher. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/hospitals-are-fed-up-with-drug-companies-so-theyre-starting-their-own/2018/09/05/61c27ec4-b111-11e8-9a6a-565d92a3585d_story.html?

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The future of online delivery

Nuro’s idea is battery-powered robotic van models about half the size of passenger cars that only haul goods. They operate at lower speed and only on urban and residential streets. Customers in the test city can place same-day delivery orders using an online system and Nuro’s app, When a delivery arrives, the Nuro vehicle’s container compartments can be opened using the app. Unmanned delivery is expected to be a game-changer for local commerce. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2018/06/28/grocery-kroger-nuro-with-tech-startup-nuro-for-robo-delivery-service/#3bbdd66d517a

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Early education as it should be

Recently I saw a headline article on the ‘School of the future’, with a particular focus on design, or to use the relevant term, the “built environment”. Whilst the focus was important and necessary, any content that referred to how the design of the built environment promoted best practice teaching was conspicuous in its absence. How often is discussion about structural environments contributing to culture, and very little about people? Talk to most parents and you quickly realise that the relationships between their children and their teachers are front and centre. This becomes particularly important in early education, the period of time before attending ‘school’ as it known. In the early education sector, which is largely composed of preschools and long day care centres, the discussion assumes another dimension. There is not only a difference between the built environments of an early learning centre and a school, but also the nature of the educators and the skill sets required of them now and into the future. In fact, a glimpse into the future of early learning quickly alerts us to the realisation that the educators of tomorrow will need to assume a range of skills that are quite different to the educator in (say) a  primary school. Here are just a few some likely scenarios, hopefully with a lot more rigour than a Nostradamus prediction: The educator of the future will need to be more adept in recognising factors that inhibit learning. The earlier these are identified in a child’s development, the better. This implies that an early educator will play a more essential role in this process. Following on from that, the early educator will need to be better trained in how to best address these factors, particularly in children who have  special needs. Again, remedial action sooner rather than later is advisable. Early learning centres will need to form stronger pathways and links to local schools so that children can transition more smoothly. The wealth of data and knowledge gained by the early educator would be invaluable to the next teacher, and the strength of this link can go a long way toward addressing the learning challenges of a young child. The manager and staff of your local preschool or long day care centre may assume a role as the parental counsellor and guide. Apart from the faithful local nurse, pediatrician or doctor; who stands beside the parent who is finding it tough adjusting to parenthood? Add to this the pressure on family relationships, financial adjustment and a busy lifestyle and all of a sudden, your child’s first educator becomes a confidant, counsellor and resident shoulder to cry on. How do we equip these people whose career was chosen based on other criteria? The educator of the future will need a deep understanding of diverse cultures and backgrounds. As a nation Australia has a unique blend of  many cultures that challenges our established ways of understanding and relating. A better understanding of a child’s background can be essential in delivering better learning outcomes, particularly if it is assumed that ‘success’ in the early learning revolves around effective partnerships with families. So, what does this have to with the built environment and design? Everything I say, if not a lot. If engagement with parents is important in these years then providing spaces for this to occur is important. The need to train and equip staff continually requires intelligent design. If we are truly committed to the individual requirements of children with  special needs then thought needs to be given to how we best create the environment for our early educators to enable them to succeed. The school of the future may look impressive, but education of the future needs to involve the educator of the future. Domenic Valastro CEO Integricare   

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A new type of low cost solar energy

An Australian physicist at the University of Newcastle is leading a push to pioneer a new type of low-cost solar energy that could make signing up for energy accounts as straightforward as taking up a mobile phone plan. Less than one millimetre thick and held down with double-sided sticky tape, the panels are similar in texture to a potato chip packet and can be produced for less than $10 per square metre. Work has now begun on a 200 square-metre installation – the first commercial application of its kind in Australia and possibly the world. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/31/low-cost-printable-solar-panels-offer-ray-of-hope-amid-energy-gridlock

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The world’s first underwater robot will protect the Great Barrier Reef

The world’s first underwater robot will protect the Great Barrier Reef

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An experiment in criminal justice reform

Next Chapter is a new partnership the chat start-up Slack is trialling with The Last Mile, a technology-training program for incarcerated people, and $800,000 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Next Chapter will train and place three “returning citizens” inside Slack as quality-engineering apprentices—and build a process to help them get an understanding of working with one of the most successful start-ups of the past decade, with help from a small support team http://www.inkl.com/newsletters/morning-edition/news/big-tech-s-newest-experiment-in-criminal-justice-reform?

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Great to Good

Yes, you read it right. The title of this piece is ‘Great to Good’. I’m going to talk about how, in the 21st Century, we need ‘Goodness’ more than ‘Greatness’ when it comes to innovation. Between 1996-2001, Jim Collins’ team researched and wrote a bestselling book called Good to Great. They described 11 out of 1,435 companies that had shown the highest level of success over the decades. Most of them were organizations that ‘make and sell’ products (Abbott Laboratories, Kimberly-Clark, Philip Morris, and Gillette Company). Other books such as Built to Last (1994) by the same author and In Search of Excellence (1982) by Tom Peters made similar studies with concurring results. However, the majority of these great 20th century companies failed to sustain their level of greatness in the Open-Source era. The management consultant giant McKinsey and Co. did a follow-on study that found 32 of the 50 companies described in these books to only matched or underperformed the market over their subsequent 15-to-20-year period. In fact, the ‘great’ Circuit City and Kodak both went bankrupt. The question is “Why?” If I asked you to name some innovations of the 20th Century, which ones would you think of? Well, many of you might already be thinking “Stop asking and just Google them, silly!” That is true; excuse me. So, I typed ‘Innovations of the 20th Century’, and the results I got are 1) Nuclear Power 2) Personal Computer 3) Airplane 4) Automobile 5) Antibiotics 6) Television, etc. We are familiar with all these inventions. Here is another question: Do you know who these people are? And what they invented? In parentheses are their dates of birth. Charles Darwin (1859), Thomas Edison (1879), Albert Einstein (1921), Alexander Fleming (1928), Edwin Land (1948), Robert Metcalfe (1973), and Peter Dunn & Albert Wood (1998)? They were inventors of the 20th Century; many of which gave rise to the said products. Now, how about these? Jack Ma (2000), Jeff Bezos (2003), Mark Zuckerberg (2004), Reed Hastings (2007), Brian Chesky (2008), Travis Kalanick (2009), Anthony Tan (2012). They were also inventors, but of the 21st Century. Obviously, all names listed are ‘innovators’ of their time. But the real question is, what is the difference between the first and second set? The answer, to me, is how the meaning of innovation has changed. We have spent over a century making and producing ‘things’. Never has the world experienced so much wealth, consumed so much resources, collected so much assets, and generated so much wastes. In fact, most of us own at least 4 of the 6 examples of Innovations of the 20th Century that I outlined above. Books such as Consumptionomics (2011) by Chandran Nair and Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (2012) by Peter H. Diamandis provide further evidence of this prosperity. By the way, in case you were wondering, Peter Dunn & Albert Wood (1998) are inventors of the performance-enhancing drug Viagra. Innovation in the 21st century, however, is about sharing – not producing. If I were to now Google Innovations of the 21st Century; here is what it would tell me about inventions that are impacting lives: “The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. The world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock. And the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property. Something big is going on.” These businesses own virtually nothing they are providing to customers, yet they have created tremendous values and changes in the world. Unicorns, Decacorns and Hectocorns are the theme of the present era. It is the age of making money out of nothing; what Hamish McRae @TheIndyBusiness dubbed ‘The rise of content non-generator’. As a matter of fact, businesses of the 21st Century are being invested based on their ‘value-ation’ rather than the traditional Return on Asset or Profit & Loss statements. Even Google does not own the search results that were returned. It merely drew them from existing data generated by millions of resources around the world. The innovations in the 21st Century are different. Something big is indeed going on. The 20th Century was an era of geniuses; one needs not ponder for long to think of Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the inventor of the E = mc2 equation; the special theory of relativity; and a recipient to the Nobel Prize in photoelectric, which serves as the basis for Quantum Physics. Or, even before that we had Thomas Edison (1847-1931) who was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name. These genious discoveries have since gave birth to products like nuclear power, lights, television, automobile, spacecraft etc. Such influence partly explains why most parents strive to raise their kids to be as smart as possible. The genius craze led to children books with titles like ‘Raising Genius’, the ‘Baby Genius’ DVDs, and movies such as ‘Goodwill Hunting’, starring Matt Damon as the improbable ‘genius’. Notice that none of the innovators in my second list has a Nobel Prize. And I think it is unlikely that any of them will ever get one. Innovations of the 21st Century era do not rely on one to discover secret codes of the universe. Facebook basically lets people around the world share their diaries; Airbnb is a brokerage for vacant rooms; and Grab is a virtual concierge who goes out and get us a cab. There is no complex ingenuity at play here; only laymen who see questions that the world has been waiting for answers. These start-ups simply integrate and utilize things that already exist to provide good answers. In the current era of resource abundance, one does not need to have an IQ of Einstein’s, or to dedicate a life of failing 10,000 times like Edison to concoct an invention. A good idea or two will suffice. 20th Century was about a few people finding GREAT discoveries. 21st Century is about all of us, using the breakneck speed connectivity that technology provides, to do GOOD things together for a better future. That is my meaning of Great to Good. Leadership Insights 1. The New S Curve: Organizations in various countries that I am working with are all buzzing about disruptive innovation – how to build the new growth cycle? To begin cracking that code, one must understand that innovations of this era are unlike anything we have ever seen before. I would argue that even […]

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More adaptable roads

The Dynamic Street, an installation in Toronto, features a series of hexagonal modular pavers which can be picked up and replaced to swiftly change the function of the road without creating disruptions on the street. The project uses the different patterns that can be created on the hexagonal grid as well as the integration of lights into individual pavers. Each paver can also potentially host a plug and play element – that is, vertical structures such as poles, bollards or even basketball hoops.   Imagine a city street, nestled between buildings with mostly foot and bicycle traffic. During the morning and evening hours, there might be a steady stream of commuters heading to work. In the middle of the day and the evening, families might use the street as a play space. And on the weekend, the street could be cleared for a party or a basketball game.   https://www.curbed.com/2018/8/6/17654122/carlo-ratti-sidewalk-labs-dynamic-street

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