Scanifly: solar design software using drone technology and 3D modeling tools

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1) Sustainability problem: Energy

The solar industry has grown significantly over the last 10 years; however, manual, inefficient distributed generation installations for both residential and commercial projects are still used. There is currently a significant disconnect between the manual solar surveying process, and the needed results. Many solar installers rely on outdated satellite imagery, and manually sketch project mockups from scratch, and costly project site visits are made before construction to verify data for their layouts. This is time-consuming, often inaccurate and accessing roofs presents safety concerns that limit productivity. Software and new technologies provided by companies such as Scanifly, aims to improve efficiency and reliability of solar project surveys and installations. 

2) Technology Summary:  

Article reference: https://www.powermag.com/new-technology-improves-rooftop-solar-designs/

  • Scanifly is a solar software platform that incorporates drones and 3D modelling technology to improve the way solar contractors survey, design and install residential and commercial projects; A drone with a LiDAR sensor mounted to it captures reality using an array of lasers to acquire coordinates which create a point cloud. The point cloud is then used to create a 3D model.
  • Scanifly’s software automates and centralizes the manual day-to-day tasks in the solar workflow, so one can sell, survey, design and install projects with greater system accuracy, reducing onsite survey and design time by up to 90%
  • The software also enhances worker safety while lowering soft costs of solar installations throughout the process.
  • The software can be used across any project: rooftop, ground mounts, canopies, or carports, and for residential, commercial, and small utility scale projects. Unique features include: 1) ability to conduct real time shading analysis of the site without going on the roof, 2) Designers don’t have to guess tree or obstruction sizes, or any of the dimensions on the site. 
  • The technology also aims to accelerate solar developers’ sales conversions because customers can better visualize the project in a virtual replica of their properties.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Designers 
  • Surveyors 
  • Customers 
  • Construction workers 
  • Health and Safety Officers 
  • Investors 

4) 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement: Educate all relevant stakeholders regarding integration and use of the new technology to maximize benefits and reveal any possible drawbacks. Understand viewpoints of stakeholders through frequent discussion 
  • Development and risk assessment: Evaluate prime customer targets, craft detailed use cases for the marketing of the platform. Detailed successful use scenarios will help to sell the technology. Conduct a risk assessment on potential pitfalls of the technology i.e. issues around data transparency and ethical issues surrounding automating jobs that are currently done manually. 
  • Monitoring performance. Consider issues around future stages of software development and ongoing lifecycle by setting a schedule and pattern to monitor progress. Operations and maintenance of the technology requires dedicated personnel to measure success, that are informed of stakeholder preferences to maximize future developments of the technology.

References:

https://www.powermag.com/new-technology-improves-rooftop-solar-designs/

https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2019/03/drone-imagery-for-solar-with-scanifly/3060

https://scanifly.com/

OptiRTC: Cloud-based stormwater management

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Image Source: optirtc.com

1) Sustainability problem: Water

Existing stormwater infrastructure is ordinarily passive and often serves a limited purpose (Wright and Marchese, 2018). Largely due to global warming, scientists agree extreme weather events and climatic conditions such as floods and droughts are more likely in the future. To keep up, the built environment is changing by integrating smart technologies and holistic approaches to infrastructure design and management, such as Cloud-based stormwater management technology Opti.

2) Technology Summary:  

Article reference: https://optirtc.com/assets/images/resources/articles-and-papers/papers/Continuous_Monitoring_and_Adaptive_Control-The_Smart_Stormwater_Management_Solution.pdf?_cchid=f1515096fa0be256459441ccbf9d24c6

  • Opti is the pioneer of intelligent stormwater management: essentially, a “smart grid” for water infrastructure and a key element for climate change adaptation
  • Opti’s platform incorporates real-time data and weather forecasts to control the timing and rate of stormwater flow through upstream storage facilities, helping transform passive stormwater assets into smart, efficient and resilient systems.
  • The technology integrates cloud-based software, predictive analytics, real-time data monitoring, stormwater asset control hardware and automated control of distributed stormwater assets, improving the performance of assets, reducing flood risk and saving customers money
  • Customers currently include both large cities and smaller municipalities across the US, as well as large commercial property owners

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Investors 
  • Property owners
  • Building managers 
  • Technology managers
  • Government
  • Urban Planners

4) 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement: Educate and understand viewpoints of all relevant stakeholders regarding implementation and integration of the new technology. Data transparency is essential to communicate to relevant stakeholders. 
  • Expansion: Craft detailed use cases for the marketing of the platform. Detailed use scenarios will help to sell the technology and scale the business
  • Monitoring performance. Consider issues around process transformation and ongoing lifecycle by setting a schedule and pattern to monitor progress. OPerations and maintenance of the technology requires dedicated personnel that are educated and informed to maximize use of the technology.

References:

https://optirtc.com/

Wright J and Marchese D (2018) Continuous monitoring and adaptive control: the ‘smart’ storm water management solution. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Smart Infrastructure and Construction, https://doi.org/10.1680/jsmic.17.00017; https://optirtc.com/assets/images/resources/articles-and-papers/papers/Continuous_Monitoring_and_Adaptive_Control-The_Smart_Stormwater_Management_Solution.pdf?_cchid=f1515096fa0be256459441ccbf9d24c6

Rheaply: Pioneering B2B asset reuse through technology

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1) Sustainability problem: Waste

The waste humans generate is detrimental to our environment. Our current take-make-waste extractive industrial model generates too much trash that we are currently unable to deal with in a sustainable way. Waste that is not biodegradable and cannot be properly recycled is filling our oceans and landfills. Our current pace of linear materials consumption shows patterns where humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year regularly exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that year. According to National Geographic, ‘Of the 102.3 billion tons of material resources entering the global economy every year, 9.3 billion tons is reused.’ The sharing of unused resources and materials between and within businesses and organizations, therefore, presents both business and environmental opportunities. 

2) Technology Summary

Article reference:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210216005117/en/Rheaply-Raises-8M-to-Scale-the-Circular-Economy-and-Enable-Businesses-to-Take-Action-Against-Climate-Change

  • Designed around principles of the circular economy; a system that works to maximize the use of resources and eliminate waste, Rheaply combines resource exchange, asset management, disposition and sustainability metrics to power circular organizations and systems through a SaaS platform.
  • Launched in 2016, Rheaply’s flagship technology: Asset Exchange Manager™ (AxM) provides a way for professionals to share materials and resources with anyone in their industry. As the only market solution that combines an asset management system with an online marketplace, the technology enables organizations to manage and transact physical assets more effectively, eliminating unnecessary waste and spend. This aims to help businesses save time and increase collaboration by bringing surplus, equipment, physical assets and more resources together in one customized and easy-to-use application.
  • Clients can use the online marketplace to rent, sell and donate items that are no longer of use to them, like office furniture or equipment, and users can scan through what is available and purchase what they need.  It also employs gamification to encourage reuse among employees.
  • The idea is to save these businesses money while also promoting sustainability; aiming to reduce emissions and landfill waste and facilitate access to affordable and sustainable materials for entire organizations and (in the future) surrounding communities. The company claims to have saved its users $1.3 million with more than 10,000 transactions, diverting a total of 14.5 metric tons of waste (rheaply.com, 2021).
  • The Asset Management and Exchange platform offers its service in a B2B subscription model to organizations and businesses across industries such as higher education, enterprise, biopharmaceuticals, and government scale.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Investors 
  • Building management 
  • Technology managers
  • Sustainability managers 
  • Finance professionals for funding and asset management oversight 
  • Organization leadership for oversight and facilitation of collaboration between depts
  • Members of the business / organization using the resources
  • Local communities 

4) 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement: Educate and understand viewpoints and use cases for all relevant stakeholders on adoption/impacts/risks/policy regarding implementation. Gather relevant stakeholders into formalized roles so they can coherently respond to issues and help direct decision-making. For the software to work effectively within organizations, it is important to understand how different departments collaborate between sustainability metrics/financial asset management/building management (for the shared physical assets). Data transparency is essential to communicate to relevant stakeholders. 
  • Development and scale: Craft detailed use cases for the marketing of the SaaS platform to help scale the technology. This would help drive marketing strategy and present more accurate cost and ROI projections to secure funding for the next stage of development and expansion of the startup.
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance. Consider issues around process transformation and ongoing lifecycle by setting a schedule and pattern to monitor progress. Rigorous performance tracking environmental impacts of reduced waste is necessary, alongside tracking of profits and cost-savings.

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210216005117/en/Rheaply-Raises-8M-to-Scale-the-Circular-Economy-and-Enable-Businesses-to-Take-Action-Against-Climate-Change

https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/inno/stories/fundings/2021/02/16/fast-growing-startup-raises-8m.html

https://www.builtinchicago.org/2020/03/18/rheaply-raises-2m

https://www.compasslist.com/insights/rheaply-pioneering-b2b-asset-reuse-through-technology

https://rheaply.com/

The Yayzy App: Linking consumer spending to environmental impact

Image source: TechCrunch.com

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1) Sustainability problem: Energy – Greenhouse gas emissions associated with consumer purchasing 

Over the last decade, consumer consumption of goods and services has increased across the world, leading to depletion of natural resources and damage to the environment. These forces have prompted firms to create products that emit less carbon and create fewer emissions during their life-cycle stages including manufacture, transportation, disposal and usage. However, consumers often lack the time, guidance and information to easily consider these impacts when making purchasing decisions.

2) Technology Summary

Article reference: https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/23/yayzy-app-automatically-calculates-the-environmental-impact-of-your-spending/

  • Yayzy has developed an app to track carbon footprint using payments data so consumers can connect spending to their impact on the planet. The app links to a consumer’s bank account, and helps track, reduce and compensate for the carbon footprint of purchases. 
  • Using payment data via Open Banking standards (UK based), the app automatically calculates the carbon footprint of each purchase a user makes, to help keep individuals’ total carbon monthly emissions in line with United Nations 2 degree target.
  • As the user sees the carbon footprint of their purchase, the app gives the option to offset it immediately via the carbon offsetter Ecosphere Plus. For its underlying carbon data, Yayzy is using Vital Metrics (also used by Google, Microsoft and both the UK and US governments). App users can also find tips to reduce their carbon footprint, eco-friendly retailers near them or insights into lifestyle choices that have the highest environmental impact.
  • Many competitors exist in the space, for example; CoGo, a real-time Carbon Footprint tracker, Doconomy and Tred, however Yayzy claims to be different by bringing together all of a user’s spending and showing item by item as they spend what the carbon footprint of that spend is.
  • Looking to the future, Yayzy is developing a B2B service, offering the technology as APIs for banks and fintechs. The UK based startup is further developing a function to allow users to compete with friends on targets. Furthermore, the startup is looking to add an impact investing function for consumers to the app which involves introducing and recommending ESG investments.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • App users – Individual Consumers
  • App users – Businesses 
  • Banks 
  • Retailers 
  • 3rd parties. e.g. carbon offsetting companies, carbon data companies
  • Shareholders, Investors

4) 3 steps in deploying this technology

  • Development: Craft detailed use cases for the mobile app. A detailed use scenario helps every aspect of app deployment – from giving developers a tangible target to driving more accurate cost and ROI projections to securing funding for the next stage of app development and expansion beyond the UK.
  • Testing and transparency: As the app develops further, it is important to gather relevant stakeholders into formalized roles so they can coherently respond to issues and help direct decision-making. Data transparency is essential to communicate to relevant stakeholders. 
  • Monitoring: Consider issues around process transformation and ongoing lifecycle by setting a schedule and pattern for app updates, and monitoring progress. Aspects of this may include; integration challenges, social and environmental impact and cost considerations.

References:

https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/23/yayzy-app-automatically-calculates-the-environmental-impact-of-your-spending/

https://yayzy.com/

https://www.antler.co/our-startups/yayzy

https://ecosphere.plus/

https://www.vitalmetricsgroup.com/

https://cogo.co/

https://www.tred.earth/

Electric Motorcycles in East Africa

Image Source: bloomberg.com

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1) Sustainability problem: Air Pollution in cities in East Africa (Health and Safety)

  • In East Africa, the motorcycle is the dominant mode of motorized transport. The motorcycle taxi industry has led to an exponential growth in the imports of ICE (internal combustion engine) motorcycles where widespread use in urban areas contributes to health complications associated with air pollution, such as asthma. These internal combustion engines are also problematic in the context of energy, due to their reliance on finite fossil fuels. 

2) Technology Summary

Reference: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/08/ampersand-secures-sub-saharan-africas-largest-ever-private-investment-in-electric-mobility-3-5-million/

  • Electric motorcycle company Ampersand, based in Rwanda, aims to replace petrol motorcycles with electric motorcycle taxis – a primary means of transport in East Africa where there are an estimated 5 million ICE motorcycle taxis in the region – offering potential to reduce carbon emissions and improve urban air quality, while increasing driver take-home pay.
  • Ampersand’s technology includes high-performance electric motorcycles, fleet of smart connected battery packs and a network of battery swapping stations run on a proprietary software platform. The battery swapping system allows users to access batteries anywhere in the network and optimizes battery distribution and lifespan by learning from live data analytics of battery locations, state of charge, and the charging station network.
  • This year, Ampersand received Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest-ever private investment in electric mobility ($3.5 million) and plans to expand to Kenya, Uganda, and other countries in Africa, illustrating the momentum to scale operations to reach the goal to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million taxi motorcycles by 2030.
  • Recent investment into the technology in East Africa is encouraging and dismisses the assumption that electric transport will grow in wealthier nations first and trickle down to developing countries later. It is evident there is vast potential for the EV industry to scale in developing countries, where electrifying 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles has potential to both improve local air quality as well as contribute to climate change mitigation globally.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Public – drivers, riders, city residents 
  • Government regulators, urban planners
  • Investors
  • Taxi companies, courier companies, delivery companies
  • Energy companies, petrol companies

4) Deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement and education: Educate and understand viewpoints of all relevant stakeholders on adoption/impacts/risks/policy regarding electric motorcycle adoption and infrastructure implementation.
  • Scale: Continue identifying and understanding local target market to guarantee consumer buy-in. Expand sales of the technology geographically across the region, assessing implementation decisions on a local basis.
  • Measure performance: Rigorous tracking of social and environmental impacts (e.g. improvements of air quality over time) of the new technology is necessary as it expands, alongside the tracking of profits and cost-savings. Work with local governments to ensure effective regulation on data collection and technology expansion.

References:

https://www.ampersand.solar

https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/08/ampersand-secures-sub-saharan-africas-largest-ever-private-investment-in-electric-mobility-3-5-million/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-08/africa-s-electric-motorbike-pioneer-seizes-silicon-valley-funds