Would Your iPhone Survive a Disaster?

Would your iPhone survive a natural disaster like an earthquake or tsunami? Most researchers don’t believe so. Applications have been developed that function on a mesh network, allowing you to communicate in the event that wifi and cell phone networks are no longer functioning. This is useful if your phone survives. If not, you are out of luck.

  1. Sustainability Problem: Safety and Health
  2. Summary of Article:
    • A team of Danish designers are encouraging the use of a Ham Radio device in the wake of disasters
    • This radio is solar powered and uses mesh network technology to send messages
    • The device can survive immersion in water during a flood or storm and an withstand much rougher conditions
    • The team of designers is working with the Red Cross of the Philippines to finalize a deployable design
    • The plan is that each volunteer would get their own device and receive or send messages about those in need and resources needed in the wake of a disaster
  3. Organizational Stakeholders: Red Cross, Danish design team, Philippine Government Officials, Emergency Management Team
  4. Steps in Deploying Technology:
    • First, the design team would need to engage with the Red Cross to ensure that a design meets all of their needs and satisfies the requirements
    • Design of the device should be sent to production
    • A pilot should be launched with the Red Cross to test efficacy of the device
  5. Comment on another post: Great post Sylwia! In the articles you linked, it is interesting that the tech relies on basic properties of metals and their conductivity (as temperature drops, the metals become more conductive).

To learn more, click here!



AI for surveillance? Is there a cost-effective and ethical solution to using big data for managing social misconduct?

Sustainability problem– Rising rates of social misconduct, ranging from littering and improper waste management to crime and violence against women.

While these may not appear to be a “sustainability” problem, we must acknowledge that sustainability refers to the environmental, social and governance aspects of society. Improper social conduct can result in ripple effects that can compound and impact the sustainability performance of a city.

Sustainability technology– Artificial intelligence to convert CCTVs from “solving” to “preventing” social misconduct

Chicago has recently piloted a program where the police use artificial intelligence algorithms to rate every person’s arrest with a numerical threat score. This algorithm shapes policing strategy, the use of force, and threatens to alter suspicion on the streets. In practical effect, the personalized threat score automatically displays on police computer dashboards so an officer can know the relative risk of the suspect being stopped. The predictive score also shapes who gets targeted for proactive police intervention.

This use of big data and machine learning can be viewed as both a terrific advancement and a terrifying example of social control (A popular Japanese anime called Psycho Pass plays with this concept and depicts how society is ultimately controlled by a massive AI system that dictates how people should behave, what is a crime and how the police should handle the situation). However, the threat can be tackled in the following ways-

  • Ensuring transparency- the variables that go into computing the threat score and the logic behind predictions should be known to the public
  • Law makers must ensure that final decisions being made are at the police officer’s discretion- the final authority on a decision should always be a human
  • Ensure that there is a clear distinction between the algorithmic output and human decisions and bias

However, the purpose of this post is to introduce another interesting way of using AI to monitor social conduct that is less intrusive. An example of this can be seen in the 24/7 surveillance model piloted by Kolkatta in India in 2012 (and subsequently replicated in a few cities globally). The system relies on existing infrastructure (CCTV cameras installed across cities) and uses video analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms to identify anomalies in behaviour.

Picture a normal every day scene on a busy pavement. Office-goers on their way to work, pedestrians grabbing a bite at a food truck. The moment something out of the ordinary happens – someone lunges at another person, a pedestrian collapses, a crowd suddenly gathers or a bag is left unattended too long – intelligent algorithms will instantly identify any change in the normal picture and alert a computer placed in the nearest police kiosk, which will set off an alarm at the local police station through satellite connectivity. In just a few seconds of a suspicious activity or object being detected, officers will be watching it live on their screens and initiate appropriate action.

The technology can be used to ensure corrective action and adherence to rules regarding traffic, waste management and littering as well as more serious crimes. However, the exact placement of CCTV cameras is a sensitive issues- crowded streets and public areas are a given while private buildings and residences will always be out of bounds to ensure respect of privacy.


Key stakeholders and their role in implementation

  • Governments- to ensure that proper and detailed guidance on the ethics of using such systems are in place along with ensuring protection of human rights
  • Enforcement agencies- including the crime and traffic department of police, Department of Sanitation etc.
  • Citizens- to voice their opinions, understand the terms and conditions and ensure they are contributing to the formulation of guiding policies




Post on Solar Bike Paths-

This is a fantastic thought and a perfect use of existing space. I myself have thought of alternatives to such innovations- how about mounting small solar modules on the top of buses and trucks that spend hours on end out on the road in the sun?

The issue i see is with grid management- will this solution exacerbate the duck curve problem in times of over generation? I think that for this to reach scale, we need to constantly think of storage at scale as well.

-By Aksheya Chandar (ac4154)


Can Technology Help in Gun Control?

sustainability problem: Safety

Issue: With more and more school shootings happened in the past few years, people are now more aware of the risks of having a gun in the home. In the state now, there are more than three models of personalized handguns could be bought by the public. Therefore, making sure that commercial guns are carried by the registered owner is one of government’s critical task regarding gun control.


  • Protector XT was developed by Ben Tomb whose son was shot by another adolescent 25 years ago
  • Protector XT is a locking station that secures a firearm and provides access to authorized users with biometric fingerprinting technology.
  • It aims to provide “peace of mind” to firearms owners by designing products that enhance the safe storage of guns
  • Assures a quick and reliable access to a firearm in 2 seconds or less


  • State government that aims to improve gun safety and decrease the gunshot accidents
  • Gun owners who want to ensure no one else can have access to their guns to commit a crime
  • Gun manufacturers who want to be a more socially responsible company


  • Have a partnership with government’s gun control project
  • Attend SHOT Show such as the one held in LV annually
  • Launch gun safety program in communities, schools etc.




Comment on Solar-Powered Toilet That Treats and Recycles Water:

When a toilet is out of order, the Seva Sustainable Sanitation automatically directs users to other nearby sanitation systems. And in the next three years, Seva team will develop and test its maintenance system in which the embedded sensors will be able to determine if there is a failure and then an operator will be notified and come to fix it.

Fitbit for Cows! Agtech that can save society billions

Sustainability problem- High costs to society due to disease outbreak on livestock farms

The risk of disease outbreak in meat and dairy industry can have severe downstream impacts that are broadly classified as-

Direct costs

  • Animal and human worker deaths due to illness
  • Reduced fertility and herd changes

Indirect costs

  • Mitigation costs- including cost of drugs, vaccines and surveillance
  • Human health impacts
  • Lost revenue to do lower productivity

Though the efficacy of disease management in the livestock industry has progressively improved, problems persist with the emergence of newer diseases, exacerbated by a variety of factors including climate change, migration and the overall growth of scale of the livestock industry. For example the cost of Salmonella in the EU and member states was estimated at €132,612,837 in 2008. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimated that the total cost to society due to Salmonella outbreaks in 2011 was over $2 Billion (The Cost of Animal Disease- Oxford Analytica).

Sustainability technology- SmartMoo, a wearable for Cows

In a world where data analytics, real-time sensing and IoT are finding increasing application in sustainability and smart cities, the livestock industry can certainly benefit from a similar intervention. The proposed technology is essentially a “Fitbit for Cows”, pioneered by an Indian Agtech firm called StellApps.

The product, called SmartMoo, is a router/IoT inspector that collects data from sensors placed all along the supply chain, right from animal wearables to the milking and cooling systems. The data is processed and analysed and sent to various stakeholders involved, including farmers. Its low hardware costs ensure that it is an affordable solution for farmers in the developing world, who are typically at the bottom of the pyramid.

The wearable can be used to monitor the herd’s vitals, including temperature, activity and behaviour with the aim to alert the concerned stakeholder in real-time in case of abnormalities. By timely response to signals, farmers can ensure a healthy herd and disease-free industry, saving both themselves and society at large tremendous amounts of mitigation costs.

Key stakeholders and their role in implementation

The key stakeholders in deploying and scaling this technology are the following-

  • Governments- to create incentive schemes for farmers and livestock farm owners to invest in and adopt these technologies as well as create a network of emergency response veterinarians
  • Medical community- Veterinarians to link to and monitor data from these sensors at an aggregate level to inform the authorities on “hotspots” for disease activity as well as take necessary precautions
  • Farmers and livestock owners- to be trained on installing, using and interpreting information from sensors. It would also be helpful for the medical community to disseminate “immediate care” knowledge to the livestock owners, so that signals caught by the network of sensors can be addressed immediately while professional help is organized and dispatched







By Aksheya Chandar (ac4154)

Image source- http://assets.fwi.co.uk/Cows-at-Tregevis-Farm

Aerogels Could Be the Future of Housing Insulation


  1. Problem
  • Energy, Safety and Health – Energy efficiency is a major concern within homes and buildings. Improper insulation can lead to a decrease in energy efficiency.  Also fire resistant materials are always needed for homes.

2. Technology

  • Aspen Aerogels, known for producing insulating material for oil and gas pipelines and in aerospace, is selling its aerogels insulation material to make existing buildings more energy efficient.  This aerogels material is 90% air which makes it very effective and lightweight insulation.
  • The cost is more than other options of insulation.  However, according to the company, this type of insulation has 2 to 4 times the insulating value per inch compared to fiberglass or foam.
  • This material is very fire resistant as well.
  • Outside of its industrial use aerogels has only been applied in retrofits of existing buildings so far.

3. Stakeholders

  • Building owners
  • Tenants
  • Building inspectors

4. Implementation

  • Continue to utilize opportunities within existing buildings that need better insulation.  These buildings can include ones that legally need to make changes or voluntarily want to insulate better.
  • Research opportunities within new building construction that can benefit from this insulation material.  Due to cost, the buildings may be limited to those with larger budget and/or incentives.
  • Continue to drive prices as low as possible to make aerogels accessible to the whole market.

Luminous Highways May Improve Road Safety

1. Sustainability Problem

  • Vehicles are evolving to become more efficient and safe, but roads are not.  Highways can more energy efficient and safe for drivers.

2. Technology

  • Heijmans is applying technology to make roads glow-in-the-dark.  This technology is a paint that absorbs solar energy during the day and glows at night.
  • The results are increased visibility and safety.
  • This technology requires no electricity and can be effective even during power outages and locations away from the grid.

3. Stakeholders

  • Urban Planners
  • Government
  • Drivers

4. Implementation

  • Continue testing in areas that have low visibility at night and that can benefit from the energy savings.
  • Try testing with more bike paths in case this is viewed by the public as more practical or useful.  It may be easier to implement more bike paths than it is highways in the beginning.
  • Gather data on energy savings for the city and increased safety from the public.



Dyneema High-tech fiber



Sustainability Problems:

  1. Heavy airplanes use more fuels and thus emit more carbon dioxide.
  2. Weak cargo nets can break, shift cargo and cause accidents and death.
  3. Weak protection for workers in many industries cause injuries and fatalities.


Dyneema is brand cargo nets made of fabric that is made from fibers of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), 15 times stronger than steel, has longer lifecycle but weighs half as much as polyester cargo net. It floats on water. It does not get heavier when wet so it is easy to handle and thus reduces accidents and injury among ramp workers. The use of Dyneema nets cuts the weight of commercial, cargo and military planes, reduces fuel consumption and reduces carbon dioxide emission by 2.5 tons per year per net. Dyneema working gloves are cut-resistant. Dyneema can stop bullets, pull oil tankers and harness the power of wind. Dyneema ropes and slings for fishing, maritime, mining and forestry industries are very strong and lightweight, and help in to work more efficiently and safely.

It is invisible to UV light and thermal imaging devices, can withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures and has high electrical resistance, is fire resistant and self-extinguishing. Dyneema products are costly. Dyneema has longer lifecycle than polyester nets but its cost is four times as more. Dyneema’s high cost hinders it from being used widely in the markets.


The Economist, http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21584437-high-tech-fabrics-advances-seemingly-mundane-textile-technologies-promise

How Dyneema Works,  http://science.howstuffworks.com/dyneema.htm

Dyneema, http://www.dsm.com/products/dyneema/en_GB/home.html


Airline companies , police and military workers, Industry workers, forestry, mining, marine industries, policymakers


–  Lobbyist and policymakers should try to lower the cost of this material so that more people can have a grip to this technology.  Although it is used by some industries, most people who would buy other much cheaper but weaker brands thus accidents due to breakage of weak ropes and nets could still occur.

– Governments  in developing countries should work with private investors so that poor people in developing countries can avail of the products thereby solving more energy and safety problems that this technology can address. Dyneema should partner with stakeholder industries and try ways to lower the cost of their products.

–  Further research on this product’s design and increased competition should be addressed to lessen the cost of Dyneema products.

Smart Sets the Bar High with Sustainable Vehicles



– GHG emissions, waste from car parts, energy use, water use, safety and health.

These are sustainability issues that all car manufacturers have to deal with.  Smart aims to solve these.


– Environmental protection is one of smart’s top goals.  The outer layer is 100% recyclable plastic.  Also, each car is constructed in modules for easy dismantling .

– As for safety, each car contains a steel housing that combines longitudinal and crosswise framing that displaces impact forces over a large area of the car.

– The car also features excellent fuel economy that will consume less fuel, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions.

– Smart uses powder coating, which is a dry powder that does not require a solvent.  This uses 40% less energy and conventional painting methods and no water is consumed or wasted.


– Car companies, consumers, engineers, suppliers, designers


– Smart should increase marketing outside of France and Germany to increase global awareness.

– Add in child friendly features, such as a section for a car seat.  Making a new model of this car that is family friendly will make this car feasible for almost any consumer.

– The cost is a huge plus for smart.  They should easily be able to market this car in developing countries, as it is affordable, uses minimal fuel, and is recyclable.

AI driven health app Your.MD aims to bring better health information to consumers


your-mdSustainability Problem: Safety and Health – Lack of affordable, accessible, and trustworthy health information

Technology: Your.MD is an app that describes itself as a “Personal Health Assistant” that provides users with more relevant and “trustworthy” health information from end to end. The app integrates with Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Slack and other messenging apps to help users better understand the problems and solutions for their personal health questions as well as connect them to services as needed in a seamless experience. Artificial intelligence facilitates a smarter and more personalized experience based on reliable data.

Your.MD Scores $5M For Its AI-Driven Health Assistant

Stakeholders: Consumers, Doctors, Hospital Administration, Nutritionists, Pharmacies

Implementation: (1) Partner with Hospitals to work directly with patients on a pilot basis; make enhancements based on feedback from patients and doctors. (2) Integrate with health news sites and apps where consumers are already looking for better health information. (3) Integrate with other specialized health apps such as those that specialize in on-call personal doctor services to create a true “one-stop” experiences for all personal health needs.

class june 9, 2016 – uni mst2135

Drones to become crime fighters by aiding UK police

  1. Sustainability Problem: Safety and Health
  2. Summary
    1. Sussex and Surrey police force have begun to use drones in thier crime fighting toolkit
    2. Criminals have leveraged drones to illegally film football matches and smuggle illegal goods into prisons
    3. Drones were previously tested in Gatwick airport
    4. Technology was found, in some cases, to be successful, cheaper, faster, and safer
    5. This is a controversial technology being used and the greater community will likely express concerns
  3. Stakeholders who will use technology
    1. Police forcers throughout the UK and potentially other locations
  4. Deployment
    1. Roll out test case deployment in pilot area (complete)
    2. Monitor the performance and effectiveness of technology (complete)
    3. Make adaptations and adjustments based on feedback from pilot (in progress)

Article: http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/26/drones-police-uk/