Tapping into ingenuity

Posted On Dec 19 2019 by

first_imgWhile children play on the merry-go-round,the PlayPump system draws water up intothe storage tank nearby.(Image: PlayPumps International) Former president Nelson Mandela hasendorsed the Hippo roller system.(Image: Changemakers.net) A woman easily pushes the Hippowater roller across the ground.(Image: Changemakers.net)Janine ErasmusAccessing fresh water is a difficulty facing many rural African communities, affecting the health and quality of life of the population. Two South African inventions – the Hippo water roller and the PlayPump® Water System – have largely alleviated this problem by combining simple designs with practical solutions.According to the World Health Organisation, 1.1-billion people have no access to any type of safe source of drinking water. Because of this about 1.6-million people, mostly in developing countries, die every year from water-borne diseases spread through poor sanitation. Of the deaths, 90% are children under the age of five.However, the innovative PlayPump® Water System, which doubles as a merry-go-round and water pump, has brought fresh water to many rural communities, using the energy of children at play. In June 2008 the system was honoured by Reader’s Digest South Africa with a mention on its 60 Best list in the category of Innovations.Simple idea, far-reaching effectsThe PlayPump had its origins in a device exhibited at an agricultural show in KwaZulu-Natal in 1989. There, former advertising executive Trevor Field saw and immediately recognised the potential of the device. Field licensed it from its original inventor, engineer and borehole driller Ronnie Stuiver. With his colleague Paul Ristic, Field established Roundabout Outdoors with the intention of developing a larger system complete with a water storage tank.Ever the advertising ace, Field also envisioned clever usage of the space around the tank to carry health-related messages from stakeholders, thereby funding maintenance of the system and adding to its sustainability. After revising and enhancing the initial design, the partners came up with the concept of the PlayPump® Water System as it is today – a merry-go-round and pump, sealed 2 500-litre storage tank and stand, tap and water run-off, and borehole.The spinning motion of the merry-go-round pumps water from the borehole to the tank, which stands 7m above ground and is covered on four sides by advertising boards. Two sides are given to product advertisement, and the other two sides to messages raising awareness of public health matters.At a rate of 16 revolutions per minute, the pump is able to move 1 400 litres of water from a depth of 40m, says the manufacturer, and can operate at up to 100m. Any excess water is simply returned to the borehole.PlayPump systems are manufactured in Johannesburg, South Africa, and installations are carried out by local crews who are hired and trained especially for the purpose. Installation of the first two systems took place in the remote Masinga district of KwaZulu-Natal in 1994 and three years later 20 communities were benefiting from freshly pumped water and new play areas for children with limited facilities.In 1999 an encounter with former president Nelson Mandela, who attended the opening ceremony of a school with a PlayPump system, drew media attention to the PlayPump project. The system was nominated for a World Bank Development Marketplace Award in 2000, which it won, and the associated exposure and funding allowed Roundabout Outdoors to speed up development and expansion.The company later established a non-governmental organisation in South Africa – now known as Roundabout Water Solutions in its country of origin, and as PlayPumps International, a registered non-profit organisation, in the US.Water for sub-Saharan AfricaPlayPumps International has targeted a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia – as its focus until 2010. To date 1 000 systems have been installed in South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia, and plans are in place to expand into Kenya before the end of 2008.Communities do not pay for the pump systems – all installations are donated. The company’s goal is to have 4 000 systems in place by 2010, giving 10-million people access to fresh drinking water. The PlayPump system has received extensive coverage in the international media, having featured recently on National Geographic weekend radio, NBC Nightly News, and PBS Frontline.With millions of people denied a source of clean water, this critical global problem is one that organisations are fighting on a daily basis. Not only are water-related illnesses the leading cause of death around the world, claiming the lives of 6 000 people every day, but people’s efforts to supply themselves with water means many hours are wasted fetching and carrying the resource.PlayPumps International says that over 40-billion hours are lost annually to this chore, which most often falls on women and children. With a PlayPump system in place, children can spend more time in school instead of fetching water over great distances, says the organisation, and women can spend more time with their families or take on income-generating activities.The Hippo water rollerAnother invention that is easing the lives of African communities is the Hippo water roller. This is a barrel-shaped polyethylene container that holds 90 litres of water and is rolled along the ground instead of being carried. A steel roller attached to the drum allows it to be pushed or pulled over bumpy ground.The Hippo roller was developed in South Africa in 1992 by engineers Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, and since 1998 has been manufactured and distributed by the locally based Imvubu Projects. The manufacturer claims that because the weight of the water is carried on the ground, even children and the elderly can manage a full roller, allowing for collection of five times more water with less effort.Costing about R595 ($75) per unit – therefore well beyond the reach of the people it is intended to help – the Hippo roller is distributed to villages through a funding partnership with the Africa Foundation. More than 27 000 rollers have been distributed throughout Southern Africa since the project was launched.Former president Nelson Mandela has given the project his personal endorsement, appealing to the private and corporate sectors, as well as donors, to actively support it. A US-based non-profit organisation called Water to the People, incorporated specifically for the purpose, raises funds overseas for the distribution of Hippo rollers.As with the PlayPump® Water System, the Hippo roller improves the lives of those who use it, not only because it facilitates access to clean water but also because it alleviates health problems that accumulate through years of carrying heavy water containers on the neck and shoulders for long distances. Pregnant women, for instance, who have to carry water this way and who are often already malnourished, risk damage to the development of their unborn babies.A unique benefit of pushing a Hippo roller that it has the potential to save lives in situations where landmines may be triggered. Demonstrations showed that when a water-filled Hippo roller was pulled over a landmine, it absorbed enough of the blast to prevent hospitalisation of the person operating the roller, although bruising and cuts would still occur. In this way, the loss of limbs and possibly lives can be drastically reduced.Useful linksPlayPumps InternationalHippo water rollerReader’s Digest South AfricaHenry J. Kaiser Family FoundationSave the World With Music – online trivia quiz with proceeds going to PlayPumps InternationalWorld Health OrganisationWater to the Peoplelast_img read more


9 Finalists Announced: 2018 (R)Tech Asset Protection Innovation Awards

Posted On Dec 17 2019 by

first_imgThe Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) recently announced nine finalists for the 2018 (R)Tech Asset Protection Innovation Awards. The awards showcase game-changing technologies that mitigate total retail loss and recognizes visionary companies that are developing these solutions.Finalists were identified by a group of AP technology experts and the winners, including first, second and third place, and retailers’ choice, will be announced live from the main stage at the 2018 Retail Asset Protection Conference, April 29 – May 2 in Orlando, FL.“Like asset protection executives, solution providers are looking for ways to be relevant in today’s retail environment and influence how the industry solves its most pressing problems. Innovation inspires progress,” said Lisa LaBruno, RILA’s senior vice president of retail operations. “The Innovation Awards are a chance for retailers to single out cutting-edge technology and recognize those companies spurring innovation for the benefit of the retail AP industry. We look forward to showcasing these technologies in Orlando.”- Sponsor – 2018 (R)Tech Asset Protection: Innovation Awards finalists are:ALTO Axis Communications Deep Science LiveSafe Profitect T+Ink Verkada Iovation GenetecLast year’s winners can be found here. For more information, visit the awards homepage. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more


Flickr Hack Makes 3D Model of Any City in a Day

Posted On Dec 16 2019 by

first_imgOther sources: Futurity Tags:#Photo Sharing Services#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a method for creating 3D models of pretty much anything in pretty much no time. Using a sexy algorithm and the millions of photographs available from Flickr, the team can create a sophisticated three-dimensional model on a single personal computer in under a day. The process was created by a team made of specialists from UNC and colleagues at Swiss university, ETH-Zurich, led by Jan-Michael Frahm. Their proof-of-concept was Rome, which was constructed out of 3 million images in under a day using over-the-counter graphics software, according to UNC. “Our technique would be the equivalent of processing a stack of photos as high as the 828-meter Dubai Towers, using a single PC, versus the next best technique, which is the equivalent of processing a stack of photos 42 meters tall – as high as the ceiling of Notre Dame – using 62 PCs. This efficiency is essential if one is to fully utilize the billions of user-provided images continuously being uploaded to the Internet.”They follow-up Rome with the same process on Berlin.The implications are interesting. Such a process could be, Frahm said, folded into consumer tools like Google Earth and Bing Maps. It could also help both disaster responders, who need a full picture of where they’re headed, and tourists, who want to find out all they can about a location with a click. curt hopkins Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more


The Spot in MLB Lineups Where Managers Are Still Ignoring Sabermetrics

Posted On Sep 30 2019 by

In the eternally running discussion thread “Hey Bill” at billjamesonline.com, the website of sabermetric legend Bill James, the question came up of measuring the growth of sabermetric knowledge. James’s idea? Measure the extent to which teams are taking park factors into account when judging their rosters. But Tom Tango, author of “The Book,” offered another gauge: look at which teams are using good hitters in the No. 2 lineup slot.Traditionally, the two-hole was the domain of contact hitters with good bat control, with premiums placed on the ability to hit behind the runner, to sacrifice bunt, and to generally move the leadoff man over (even if it meant making an out). You can see this statistically: During Major League Baseball’s expansion era (1961-present), the No. 2 slot has the highest aggregate contact rate of any batting order position.But research by Tango and his compatriots suggests teams have been doing it wrong. After examining how important each batting event (single, double, walk, etc.) is to each lineup slot — based on factors such as how many runners are likely to be on base and how many outs they’re likely to hit with — the data says a team ought to bat its three best hitters in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 slots, with the most balanced hitter occupying the two-hole. That’s a far cry from the conventional wisdom of slotting the best hitter either third or fourth, and putting a weak contact specialist at No. 2.So, if there are more good hitters in the second position, it’s a possible sign sabermetrics has penetrated the managerial mindset. But if there’s a pattern toward a more enlightened lineup card, it’s not detectable by looking at the average quality of No. 2 hitters (according to weighted runs created, known as wRC+) since the introduction of the designated hitter in 1973:If we take a five-year moving average to smooth out year-to-year variance above, it’s even clearer that we’re not in the golden age of great hitters batting second:Historically, the quality levels of MLB leadoff and No. 2 hitters tend to track with each other — and contra the performances of third and fourth hitters. (Meanwhile, Nos. 5 and 6 have stayed fairly stable over the years, with the five slot outproducing six by a decent amount.) The good news is that it appears the two-hole has emerged from the dark ages of the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, when slot Nos. 3 and 4 vastly outpaced Nos. 1 and 2.It may not be coincidental that the bleakest of times for the No. 2 spot came during MLB’s so-called steroid era. The stat we’re using, wRC+, compares a player’s per-plate appearance productivity against the average of all hitters, and the power hitters who frequently bat third and fourth may have received the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs at a greater rate than the overall population of MLB batters. (This would cause No. 2 hitters to move backward relative to the overall average, even if they themselves saw no change in talent.) With the specter of performance-enhancing drugs reduced in today’s game, the gap between hitter No. 2 and Nos. 3 and 4 has returned to its long-term norm.Still, today’s two-hole batters lag behind those of the halcyon late 1980s and early 1990s, when players such as Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Roberto Alomar, Julio Franco and Lou Whitaker were doing a large share of their damage from the second spot in the lineup. It’s plausible that the conditions of the game back then simply favored the traditional archetype of the No. 2 hitter more (batting averages were higher, as was the ratio of on-base percentage to slugging), but today’s managers also don’t appear to be moving toward the sabermetric ideal of penciling the team’s best hitter into the No. 2 spot.Sabermetrics has come a long way since the first analysts began tinkering with mathematical models, and there are certainly places where statistical thinking has made its way onto the field (for example, the explosion of defensive shifts in today’s game is rooted in probability theory regarding where a batter is most likely to hit the ball). But when it comes to the two-hole, baseball’s decision-makers still have a bit of a climb ahead of them. read more


Matthew Stafford Lands Multimillion Dollar Contract Extension With Lions

Posted On Sep 30 2019 by

Matthew Stafford has extended his stay in Mo-Town by signing a $53 million, three-year extension to his current contract with the Detroit Lions.According to sources, the Lions organization and Stafford agreed to a deal on Tuesday that will pay him an additional $41.5 million in guarantees, and will keep him on the team for at least the next five seasons.Back in 2009, the Lions drafted the NFL quarterback and originally signed him up for a six-year deal worth $78 million with $41.7 million in guarantees.After having trouble with injuries his first two seasons, Stafford helped Detroit reach the post-season in 2011, which was the first time in over 10 years.Stafford talked about the extension by making promises to the fans:“I promise you no one is going to work harder than me to get this team going in the right direction, winning games and going to the playoffs multiple years in a row. That’s the plan. That’s the whole reason I signed this deal is to be here and turn this thing in the right direction and make sure it stays that way for a long time.” read more


Know the difference between SEM and SEO

Posted On Sep 14 2019 by

first_imgKeyword bids? Paid search? Semantic URLs? Terms associated with search engine marketing and search engine optimization tend to get tossed around in the publishing world. But SEM and SEO are important tools, helping publishers promote their Web sites through increased visibility in search engine results pages. While some consider SEO and SEM interchangeable terms, SEO is really the first step in search engine marketing, allowing for broad-reaching (usually free) Web site promotion. SEM not only includes SEO tactics but methods for immediately increasing a site’s traffic and visibility through paid inclusion (paid addition of a site to a search engine), paid advertising, and pay-per-click (text-only ads controlled by the advertiser).“I think in the last couple of years, companies were working through the first generation of tactics, but now with more of a track record and advanced analytics that show where traffic is going, they can better target their efforts and look at the business model and ROI of their SEO and SEM activities,” says Dan Weiner, managing director at Red Bricks Media New York, a search and performance marketing agency working with major publishers.Relaunch for SuccessWomen’s business magazine Pink plans to relaunch its site in early December. With this relaunch comes a redesign, which Pink’s digital agency, 360i, will rely on to bolster the magazine’s online prominence through SEO. Pinkmagazine.com’s homegrown CMS is optimized for search, says James Yancey, 360i Atlanta’s managing director, with content indexed more regularly than on other sites. “All of the URL structures on the site are clean,” he says. These “clean,” or semantic, URLs identify a piece of content by its key word and title, instead of just as a series of numbers and letters that normally appear. “While it may look more simplistic in structure, this is actually very technical,” Yancey says. Implementing semantic URLs at relaunch will make it easier for search engines to find content categorically through Pink’s CMS.Multiple Titles, One Domain Next year, Incisive Media plans to redesign its b-to-b vertical markets—legal, commercial real estate and interactive marketing—according to vice president of digital media Alex Kam.Incisive’s URLs, while not semantic like Pink’s, have the additional issue of a single domain structure with multiple titles (New York Law Journal, Legal Times) under the category of law.com. Kam says Incisive is looking to promote individual brands and use semantic URLs to reinforce brand value and user recall. “Using law.com as our legal domain has complicated our ability to build our online brands and hampered our search engine rankings,” he adds. “A smarter URL strategy will create visibility on the search engines, which will generate more user clicks, and therefore more page views.”As far as page navigation is concerned, Weiner says, “Rather than thinking only about navigation from their site’s front page, publishers have to realize that more than 50 percent of readers may be jumping from a Google search box directly into a section deep within the site.” This calls for smart page design—appropriate headers, titles, branding and cross-links on each page, with calls to action made visible, even on deep pages—enabling every page to act as a “home” page.Makes Images “Findable”Many publishers pride themselves on their images and photography, but Google can only read images in html. “Pink has a lot of text images on its site but search engines can’t read them,” says Pink Web editor Taylor Mallory. “Our new site will have images in html format, making them more easily found by search engines.” Monetize PlatformsPink’s offline platforms have a direct effect on page views. “When we do media stuff—TV, radio and events across the country—we see [traffic] really spike,” says founding editor Cynthia Good. Weiner cites two practices for linking offline platforms to your site: 1. Target keywords and ad copy allowing it to “capture” searches driven from those channels; 2. Implement tracking and analytics to measure cross-channel lift. Without this, the  impact may be mixed with other activity and hard to assess.Conde Nast, Hearst and Time leverage search campaigns for subscriptions and traffic to align with ad sales, monetize pages with high CPMs, and drive incremental volume to key programs. Consumer Engagement“While subscription programs drive the purchase of a physical product, many online consumers are looking for content in that same online channel,” Weiner says of publishers that began with subscription programs, but are now expanding to drive traffic to specific content areas. More targeted keywords, like “dating advice,” drive consumers to relevant areas of the site, whereas brand terms like magazine titles work better for subscription acquisitions. Some larger publishers have expanded from paid search to support subscriber acquisitions (to include customer engagement and traffic), and augmented natural search SEO efforts.Kam’s goal is to increase Incisive’s traffic at least 10 percent by 2010. “The more people that come, the more money we make and the more we can invest in search.”last_img read more


Town Looking To Add A Case Worker To Assist Its Veterans  Seniors

Posted On Sep 11 2019 by

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — During his Annual Budget Presentation earlier this week, Town Manager Jeff Hull announced his intention to add a full-time case worker position to be shared between the Wilmington Veterans Department and Wilmington Elderly Services Department.“The Veterans Services and Elderly Services Departments have expressed concern about their ability to meet the demands of their clients for timely service and follow-up,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull in his annual budget message. “In many instances, both departments are responding to the same constituency — seniors are who veterans.”Hull stressed that both departments are being confronted with growing workloads. The Veterans Department is currently managing more than 400 active cases, involving a variety of claims at both the state and federal levels. The Elderly Services Department, meanwhile, is seeing the senior population in town boom — a 27.9% increase (4,045 to 5,176) between 2010 and 2017 — with the trend projected to continue. As a result, the Department, which currently only has one case manager on staff, has seen its request for case management rise dramatically.“The new case worker will split their time between both departments in making home visits to seniors and Veterans and conducting follow-up visits or calls to ensure that residents are obtaining their medications, attending doctor’s appointments, and identifying other assistance that may be available,” explained Hull. “The case worker will assist by working with residents to complete documentation to obtain benefits such as fuel assistance, food through the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), financial assistance and medical coverage.”This full-time position would cost $43,898.The Town Manager and Veterans Director will discuss the proposal with the Finance Committee on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7pm at Wilmington Town Hall.Voters will ultimately have the final say over the Fiscal Year 2020 budget at the Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 10:30am in the Wilmington High School Auditorium.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSELECTMEN NEWS: Public Buildings Dept. Outlines Projects This Summer, Including School ImprovementsIn “Government”Town To Launch New Substance Abuse Prevention & Support Programs, Commits $80KIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: Selectmen To Discuss Senior Center, Palmer Park, WHS Gym Floor At September 9 MeetingIn “Government”last_img read more