Sensors to measure and monitor water quality in real time


Sensors made from gallium nitride can be placed in any body of water to deliver real-time, continuous monitoring of water quality.



Sustainability challenge:

While tackling water problems around the world, it is very hard to get the right data at the right time to help speed up the decision making process to manage the water problems. Getting access to real time water data can help make better watershed management, water pollution and water supply decisions. Having data about the entire water system, rather than about specific points along the system, will also help tackle the water problem immediately.

Collecting the data regarding the water is currently a long and cumbersome process: You first physically collect the sample of water along certain specific points. You then take this to the laboratory and test the small sample for specific contaminants. This process only helps prove a hypothesis, it doesn’t throw light on the current situation without any assumptions.

Getting real time access to water quality data can be effective in any and all countries alike. Important steps can be taken by the authorities like the EPA, Water Corporation and Department of Water


  • Governments and Water (utility) departments
  • Researchers
  • Universities
  • Private companies working in sustainability and water management
  • Communities around critical water sources

Process of implementation:

The process needs to be customized for each water body in each region/country. An overall process flow that is necessary involves: Partnership with the government or respective utility department -> Invest in buying the sensors -> Deploy the sensors along the entire water system -> Track and monitor the data -> Use data to make relevant water system decisions

Some examples where I think this would be very relevant:

  1. Polluted water systems clean-up efforts: Like the Gowanus Canal or the Ganga river

Development around crucial water systems: Like the Ala Wai Canal in Hawaii or that entire watershed


Forage Tracking


Sustainability Problem:

Waste management is an area that is underdeveloped in many developing countries.  Centralized, government run systems are often inadequate, and initiatives such as recycling usually do not have a formal system in place. Because of this fact, many informal trash and recycling cooperatives have organically formed, whose members seek to gain income from collecting recyclable materials in the city and selling it bulk to industry.  However, there still lacks coordination and a sense of trust between the different stakeholders.  Residents, businesses, and building managers believe these informal systems to be unreliable, which prevents it from being fully integrated into the waste management system of the city.  Moreover, the lack of coordination between recycling cooperatives present issues such as congestion and miscommunication, which can result in wasted trips and missed opportunities.

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The Forage Tracking project addresses this issue by creating an integrated, cloud-based communication and mapping platform for informal recyclers.  A location-detecting system is used to analyze how the informal recyclers find and collect material – then the data is used to optimize routes and identify new partnerships and collaborations within the community.

The participatory platform helps to organize activities of the cooperatives, and connect them to the citizens or businesses that require their service.  This system increases the transparency and understanding of the service that the informal recyclers may provide to the system, fostering trust between community members.  Moreover, this platform helps to streamline documentation of the material flows to the local governments, which could be used for other applications, such as infrastructure planning.

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Technology stakeholders:

  • Informal waste and recycling cooperatives
  • Businesses
  • Residents
  • Government


  • Invite more informal recycling cooperatives to use the technology – as the more participants there are contributing to the web-based platform, the more representative the dataset will be
  • Educate and invite more residents, local businesses and building operators to use the system, to foster a greater demand for the service
  • Government to use the material flow data for future waste infrastructure planning, and integrate the system with the centralized waste management system


WeRecycle Android App for easier recycling in public spaces

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The Sustainability Problem

Encouraging recycling in outdoor public places is challenging because oftentimes it is inconvenient. Unlike indoor recycling in a home, an office or school where you are familiar with where the recycling bins are and they are relatively close to where you are, public spaces such as parks have wider spaces. You do not always know where the next recycling bin is. If you finish a bottle of water in the middle of the park and you do not know when you will encounter the next bin, will you hold on to it until you see the next bin or will you just toss it in the next bin you find – whether it is trash bin or a recycling bin? Chances are, many people will toss it in a trash bin if that is the more convenient choice.

The Technology

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WeRecycle at the University of Georgia studies the recycling behavior of people in public spaces by tracking the  number of bottles thrown at each bin. As a result of this study, they ave released an Android App that allows users to easily find out where the next recycling bins are, even offering them the option of identifying bins for paper, plastic, bottles or trash.

It facilitates communication among a community of recyclers, allowing users of the app to add bins on the map, including descriptions.

Lastly, if there are any areas where users feel are in need of bins, they can express a need for a public bin to be placed there. This data can then be easily used by government agencies to make their future plans.

The app currently enjoys are 4.2 out of 5 stars rating on app marketplace.


The Stakeholders

  • University of Georgia
  • The foundations funding the University of Georgia research
  • Users of the Android App
  • Waste management agencies in the Georgia area
  • The general public in Georgia
  • Recycling promoters and environmental nonprofits

The Process

  • Get University of Georgia students to make the initial maps of bins in certain high traffic public areas
  • Test the app in Georgia to determine strengths and weaknesses
  • Address bugs in the app
  • Share data with government agencies to see how they can leverage the data
  • Test new iterations of the app until it achieves success
  • Expand the app’s coverage beyond Georgia, possibly testing one city at a time



Comprehensive Healthcare Staff Culture Survey

By Niall Wallace
Edited by: Michael Diamond
July 5, 2016

A. Sustainability Problem

Many initiatives of safety and quality improvement to prevent and control hospital-acquired infections have failed. They have been unmeasurable or have ignored clinical outcomes.

Culture often determines and limits strategic planning efforts in large complex organizations. Organizational culture enacts extreme resistance to efforts at changing policy and practice.  Organizational dynamics and structures prevent improvement at multiple levels of analysis: the industry, the institution, the department. Therefore, quality and safety interventions aimed at changing collective work practices are unlikely to be sustained beyond the intervention period itself.

To get at the root of the infection issue, it is necessary to approach the culture of the hospital, on a unit-by-unit basis, to really understand what hospitals are up against in order to design and implement strategy.

To this end, Infonaut has developed a software – Risk, Behavior and Culture Assessment – that involves participating staff taking online survey.

B. Technology Stakeholders

Hospital and its participating staff: Physicians, Physicians’ Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical, Nurses, Radiology Technologists, Other Technologists, Aides

C. Implementation

First: Focus on psychological processes of the individual, rather than the normative behavior of the group. Review the key psychological principles that govern the cognition and behavior of individuals.   

Second: Target specific behaviors among staff by levering the survey results which provide a foundation for quality and safety interventions.  A focus on the individual, rather than the group, can change patient safety behavior on the hospital’s front lines.

Third: Using the survey model, draw a broad set of theories and principles concerned with changing the behavior of the individual, rather than trying to redirect the herd.  In contrast to efforts toward change directed at groups of people, individual behaviors can be highly receptive to change.

Fourth: Use the survey and assessment to highlight the challenges the individual faces to improve quality and safety and then, highlight those interventions that will be the most successful, based on the culture of the unit.

Fifth: Invite front-line staff to participate anonymously to help identify the challenges facing hospitals, to enact the change needed for improving patient safety. Invite clinical staffs to complete the Risk, Behavior and Culture Survey developed by Infonaut who built into the software an incentive feature to motivate and award stakeholders up to 1.25 hours of professional continuing education credits.

Sixth: Use the results to identify both obstacles and opportunities for introducing specific interventions on a unit-by-unit basis. The survey model serves as an instrument to learn about clinical staff perceptions of their information use habits and norms, and perceptions of patient safety and the role of management.

Seventh: Present to staff the results of these measures which act as a baseline measure for interventions targeting staff attitudes and dynamics. The survey specifically measures:

1. Unit attitudes to patient safety;

2. Unit capacity-to-learn as a group;

3. Unit information culture; and

4. Personal perception of risk.

Eighth: Follow-up retesting after a set period (i.e. a year) to determine measureable change in culture based on the effective interventions and relationships.

D. Benefits of the Technology

Infonaut is useful for solving the challenge of deadly hospital infection through their proprietary real-time surveillance, analytics and behavior improvement platform. Data sets of population health, public health, data-warehousing and privacy were referenced to develop innovative platforms that use the power of location technology, and B.I. systems for disease and infection surveillance.

E. References:





Turning smog into diamonds can be realistic



Smog Free Project consists of a 7m tower that sucks in the pollution from the air and converts it into diamonds. The Smog Free Tower cleans 30.000m3 per hour without ozon, runs on green wind energy and uses no more electricity than a waterboiler (1400 watts). The prototype was successfully implemented in Rotterdam, and is soon being implemented by the government in China.



Sustainability challenge:

For most developing nations the cost of achieving development has to be paid by the environment. Using different technologies to offset or manage this cost is a good balance between the much needed development and the environmental sustainability. Doing this requires a different way of thinking and approaching the problem.

We already know about the smog problem in China. Smog is a problem for most other nations. The Smog Free Project uses technology to convert the problem to a product of great value.


  • Governments
  • Project developers (designers, architects and engineers)
  • Marketers and sellers
  • Citizens on that region/nation
  • Businesses
  • International NGO’s (like the World Economic Forum)

Process of implementation:

The process of implementation will take a while. The pilot project was successful in Rotterdam. To take this forward will require multiple partnerships to work in tandem with successful implementation of technology. The article (and the videos) elaborate on the complexity of this problem in great detail.

The process in brief would include: Deploying these towers in strategic locations -> Converting the smog into diamonds -> Implementing other policy and technology initiatives that won’t hinder economic growth and would still help reduce pollution -> Create a market for these diamonds and jewelry (possibly use De Beers marketing tactics).


Designing for Disaster: The DH1 Disaster House


Sustainability Problem

Health and Safety:  Natural disasters are occurring nearly five times as often as they were in the 1970s. Flooding and mega-storms were the leading cause of disaster from 2000-2010, and there is growing evidence that warming temperatures are increasing the destructive force of hurricanes. With increased likelihood and destruction of these super storms, there comes a need for better temporary housing.

Technology Summary

Article – DH1: Instant Housing and Designing for Disaster

  • Designed by Architect Gregg Fleishman
  • The DH1 Disaster House is constructed with slotted exterior grade plywood
  • Uses tabs to fit together without fasteners or other hardware.
  • Small pieces: can be transported without cranes, forklifts or other industrial equipment, which are often scarce during disasters.
  • Unit sits 30 inches off the ground to avoid water damage in areas that have been flooded.
  • Materials used allow DH1 modules to  be integrated and used as a permanent solution for neighborhoods.


Organizational Stakeholders

Potential Stakeholders include:

  • Architect/Designers
  • Product Manufacturers
  • Lumber Industry
  • Members of at-risk regions/neighborhoods
  • Representatives of transportation measures
  • Government Agencies



The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • Assess drawbacks and fine-tune product for use; research alternative material options
  • Forge partnerships with institutions to demonstrate technology to at-risk regions and their local governments
  • Develop a funding mechanism to provide structures to at-risk regions, focusing first on developing countries


See also: Climate Change  Gregg Fleishman Structures


Healthcare Leader Improves Workflow & Patient Satisfaction

Sustainability Agenda:

  • Waste Reduction
  • Transparency and Work Flow Efficiency
  • Safer and Improved Patient Care Environment

Technology Article:

“In healthcare today, the patient experience is of utmost importance. By accurately capturing where our delays were, we were able to identify our primary challenges and implement solutions to directly impact those areas.”

By: Kristen Brown, Clinical Manager of Children’s National Health System


Summary (Challenges):

Children’s National Health System is a pediatric care provider in Washington, D.C. For over 140 years, Children’s National has pioneered new therapies and treatments across a wide array of medical specialties, from neonatal services to cancer care.

The Children’s National Cancer Center is a very busy outpatient clinic, with 100+ providers, seeing 200+ patients each day. At Children’s National, successful cancer treatment is not just about delivering medication, but also about providing a friendly, comfortable environment where patients can feel safe for the duration of their treatment. This includes providing art and music therapy to patients while they wait.

When a child comes in for cancer treatment, the visit often is a multi-step process that takes hours. Accompanied by their parents or other caregivers, patients must sign in, give vital signs, have blood drawn, wait for lab results, see clinicians, and perhaps sit through lengthy chemotherapy infusions. There were so many moving parts going on at one time. Lab results might take an hour or two and patients would get bored and wander. Or, they might leave the unit for radiology or some ancillary service and would need to be tracked down at every turn. Children’s National spent too much time simply looking for their patients.

The excessive wait times, and a general lack of information made for a less than pleasant patient experience. The clinical processes had become inefficient and there was no data to track the patient flow to find and fix bottlenecks. Children’s National wanted to make the system more transparent to families, making it possible for everyone to know where they stood in line to be seen by their providers.

Children’s National tackled the challenges inherent in paper-based information flows—and in the process also increased its own staff efficiency. The Savance Health Staff Tracking solution was used to improve communication and workflow, and healthcare team organization. This significantly decreases patient wait times and increases patient satisfaction.

Technology Stakeholders:

  1. Healthcare Institutions (Children’s National Cancer Center)
  2. Healthcare Providers (Primary Care Technician, Clinic Operations Manager Doctors, Nurses, Clinicians, etc)
  3. Patients (children) and their parents, other caregivers/family members

Technology Deployment: 

Savance Health deployed customized solutions: Patient Self Check-In, Waiting Room Display, and Patient Tracking & Flow solutions, helping Children’s National completely transform the workflow of its cancer and blood disorders unit so that when a patient arrives at the clinic, their adult caregiver signs them in at an easy-to-use touch-screen kiosk.

Savance Health Patient Self Check-In can pull information straight from an ID card, a driver’s license, or an insurance card, and easily fill out the patient’s address, phone number, current doctor, current medications, insurance, and date of birth. The solution delivers two key benefits: accurate and complete patient information – acquired through a patient-friendly process.

Once the patient has signed in, Savance’s Patient Tracking & Flow solution takes the mystery out of clinical workflows and patient location. The software tracks where patients are at any given time, and how much time they spend in each area. A display screen in the waiting room —with patient names symbolized by pictures of animals to maintain confidentiality— tells families how many patients are ahead of them to see their specific provider.

Another screen in the clinic workroom shows where patients stand in the day’s workflow. This allows Children’s Health not only to find patients quickly without searching the building, but also to see where process breakdowns occur and take steps to increase workflow efficiency.

Technology Benefits:

  1. Simplify patient sign-in with self-service check-in kiosk
  2. Ability to time-stamp patient flow though clinic to monitor detail
  3. Free staff from physically tracking down patients
  4. Optimize patient and staff scheduling
  5. Leverage patient flow data to alleviate bottlenecks during peak demand
  6. Improve patient experience through better communication and shorter wait times

Other references: