My latest report for MIT Technology Review explores how GIS (geographical information systems) are being used to help companies like AT&T prepare be more resilient when climate change crises hit.
Many companies don’t yet know how climate change will change their business, but more are taking the inquiry seriously, signaling a new reality–one that calls for guarding against systemic risk while protecting customer relationships and corporate reputations. Recognizing that reducing carbon emissions is essential to combat climate change, AT&T has made a commitment to become carbonneutral by 2035.
“We just know it’s the right thing to do for our customers and–I say this from years of doing risk management–it’s good, basic risk management,” says Shannon Carroll, director of global environmental sustainability at AT&T. “If all indications are that something is going to happen in the future, it’s our responsibility to be prepared for that.” Globally, leaders from government, business, and academia see the urgency.
The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2021 names extreme weather due to climate change and human-driven environmental damage among the most pressing risks of the next decade. When citing risks with the highest impact, those surveyed listed climate action failure and other environmental risks second only to infectious diseases…
The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest humanitarian organization in the world, known for rushing into danger to feed the hungry. I had the honor of interviewing Lara Prades, the head of the WFP’s geospatial unit, and learning how they manage to be seemingly everywhere at once. It would be an almost impossible management task if it weren’t for the GIS (geographical information system) that Prades runs.
“Saving lives is not enough. We also need to change lives.” ~ Lara Prades, head of WFP’s Geospatial Unit
Please click here to read the article that I wrote for MIT Technology Review.
I loved doing the interview and research for this piece. So meaningful. This kind of meaty feature piece is why I originally got into journalism. Okay, my name isn’t on the piece, but the information is out there now. That feels good. (Written for MIT Technology Review)
“…According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to the general United States population, African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to contract the coronavirus, and 2.8 times more likely to die from covid-19. Similarly, Native Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are nearly twice as likely to be infected by coronavirus, and 2.5 to 2.8 times more likely to die from it.
“Underlying these statistics are significant structural, social, and spatial issues. But why is this? And how do we begin to quantify and address the nested problems of public health inequality?…”
A cool distribution system powered by a GIS (geographical information system) may be the answer.
A few years ago, Daniel and I were writing profiles of prominent professional photographers for Lexar Media’s Website SayCheese.com (which has since been discontinued). They were feature stories about the photographers’ philosophy, style and adventures, with some tips and tricks thrown in. The pieces were a delight to do because of the people we got to spend time with and watch at work.
At the time, I was at a trade show party (I think it was PhotoPlus in New York City), when someone said, “You absolutely must profile… [name withheld to avoid his embarrassment]” for SayChesse. I didn’t know the photographer being recommended, but he happened to be present at the party, just on the other side of the room. So I went over to him, introduced myself, and asked him what he shoots. His reply was an energized discourse about his camera equipment. When he finally took a breath, I smiled, told him how nice it was to meet him and walked away. Daniel and I never wrote a profile on him for SayCheese or any other publication.
What that photographer had lost sight of is that photography isn’t about the camera, it’s Read More
“The one who tells the stories rules the world.”
~ Hopi proverb
The above quote comes from The Book by M. Clifford. In that dystopian novel, all “dead-tree” books have been outlawed (in a supposed environmental protection measure), and the powers-that-be (called The Editors) are constantly “updating” all books electronically. In other words, no book is a fixed point. Instead, they are altered frequently and nephariously to shape how the public thinks, feels and acts.
The hero of “The Book” discovers this truth through serendipity, when he happens upon “recycled” sheets from an old printed copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” being used as wallpaper in a men’s room of a bar. He compares his eBook version to the remnants of the printed version, which leads to him into rebellion and a thriller plot designed to intrigue any book lover.
The technology to support the dystopia described by Clifford’s novel exists today and has been in place for a number of years. Any book published digitally can be edited at any time, with little or no cost to the editor or publisher (or censor) other than time and effort. So, what is to keep us from having all facts, stories, histories, etc. altered beyond recognition? Will future Read More
As you can imagine I have lots of friends and business associates in Silicon Valley, but I haven’t been there for some time. So, realizing that the Worldcon of Science Fiction would be in San Jose, California I arranged to arrive a couple of days early to see folks.* Last Wednesday (the day before Worldcon), I walked the single block from my hotel to Adobe’s headquarters, where I had a series of interesting, enjoyable meetings and lunch with four different development teams.
I have been following, teaching, using, writing and consulting about Adobe products since Photoshop 1.0. It’s been fun watching how the whole category of software has blossomed and expanded, and how the culture has changed. The advantages of longevity as a journalist and artist is that I know more about the evolution of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Typekit and other related programs than many of Adobe’s own employees. Of course, I spin them into stories that they apparently enjoy hearing.
For this visit, I had meetings with product managers and PR reps for Adobe Lightroom, Typekit, Iilustrator, Spark, and XD. Here are a few of the highlights. Read More
Mention Memorial Day weekend, and the vast majority of Americans will think of beaches, family trips to the mountains and backyard barbecues. But for a large segment of the population, the Sunday of Memorial Day is nothing less than Race Day! In fact, the Indy 500 draws more fans – hundreds of thousands of them – to the Indianapolis Raceway than to any other sporting event in the United States. It transforms the city and suburbs, with families renting out their homes and others selling camping and/or parking spaces on their lawns. Hotels and charter buses are sold out for months in advance. The traffic begins clogging the surrounding roads in the dark early hours of Race Day.
This past Memorial Day, I was invited to the Indy 500 by Hewlett Packard*. As one of their privileged invited guests, I was transported in style to the track, in one of three large HP buses, which avoided the traffic jam by arranging for a police escort. (Numerous corporate groups and some well-heeled private individuals pay for the police to blaze a trail through the gridlock traffic.) And, for most of the race, Sally viewed it from one of two HP private and well-catered suites.
But I wasn’t at Indy to sit still and just watch the race. My reason for being there was to learn about the tech that has transformed racing. And, since HP was my host, naturally the interviews and behind the scenes Read More
My father is 97 years old. I often think about what he has seen as the world has changed around him. When he was a boy, running around Philadelphia in short pants and riding streetcars to family picnics in Fairmont Park, pushcart vendors provided daily necessities. Entertainment consisted of books, tossing a ball with your buddies, teasing the girls and lots of conversations. Dad now has an iPhone, Kindle, two computers and all the typical high tech devices you would expect in any early 21st century home. He texts and emails us several times a day, reads international newspapers online, devours books by the megabytes, and makes some great meals with the help of a microwave oven (and a more “traditional” electric stove).
I can only imagine what Dad’s parents or grandparents might think of the world we live in today.
If I am lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective), I could very possibly live another 50 years. Given how the pace of change continues to accelerate, will our world even be recognizable to me in 2063?
As any Trekkie will explain, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard stands in front of a small hole in the Starship Enterprise’s wall and says, “Earl Grey, hot,” he is ordering his tea from a replicator. Within seconds, a glass and metal mug with steaming liquid appears, seemingly out of thin air. We have been taught to assume that the on-board computer has created the glass, metal and tea by reassembling molecules in just the right way to produce the requested refreshment.
Rewind from the 24th to the 21st century. Last week, at the 3D Printing Conference in New York City’s Javits Center, Daniel and I saw what is often described as the beginning of replicators. Primitive, true, but all technology has to start somewhere. Back in the 1980s, filmless cameras were overpriced and clunky, with lousy image quality. In fact, they weren’t even digital; instead, they were analog devices that required too much computer processing to turn into blurry snapshots. Now everyone has a digital camera in their pocket, as part of their “universal” communicator (i.e. smartphone).
3D printing has been around for a few years now, though it’s lived primarily in the realm of laboratories, industry and very well-financed engineering/design workshops. Essentially, it has Read More
Some mornings, it just doesn’t pay to get up. After a phone briefing I had on Friday with Sage Software about the new version of their ACT database, I was looking forward to installing it, testing it and actually using it in our day-to-day business. That latter part is unusual, with all the software testing we do, very few programs make the trip from our test systems to our business or personal systems. But ACT is an impressive ecosystem that should help us get better control over our contacts files. And once I understand ACT from using it on a daily basis, I’ll be able to help others to understand and use it.
Installing, learning and writing up a review of the new version of ACT was going to be my weekend project. So, I had a decision to make. Do I install ACT on one of our test systems or directly on my business system? I chose the latter.
However, I’ve been having difficulties with my business system lately, with periodic freezes that Read More