Reading your post was like watching SkyNet slowly taking shape… when will we see the Rise of the Machines! Even when presumably turning a device “off,” data could still feasibly be transmitted from them (e.g., if you turn your iPhone off, what is preventing it from continuing to transmit your location data?). So what’s the best way to manage this? Theoretically all you would need to do is cut the power source, similarly to flipping the switch on the surge protector that your SmartTV, PS4, Alexa, Roku etc. are all connected to. But from a practical perspective, this can be very cumbersome as devices would need to be rebooted and oftentimes reconfigured with every flip of the switch. In an age where hacks are becoming more and more prevalent, it is alarming to realize just how much data we can transmit, and the difficult trade-off this presents between minimizing information sharing and maintaining convenience. Something for us all to be wary about!
It’s great to see the increases in efficiency in the oil/gas space. From a business perspective, the ability to combat narrowing margins helps spur the economy, and from an environmental perspective the ability to increase yields in existing wells helps decrease the number of new wells to be drilled. Another example of increasing well yields that comes to mind is Enhanced Oil Recovery (EoR). This has the added benefit of removing excess CO2 from our atmosphere by pumping it into existing wells to extract remaining oil that was previously inaccessible (Carbon Capture and Sequestration). While this technology also has its risks (e.g., if a well is filled with CO2 and then there is a leak), it appears that the industry as a whole is moving in a way that should reduce costs and be more sustainable.
Responding to Nathan’s comment above, while perhaps not going fully digital, I would venture that H&RB should develop a TurboTax-like online platform to rival Intuit while also maintaining the presence of its brick-and-mortar locations. By virtue of not being purely digital, H&RB could market the benefits of (1) convenience of an online platform for those who prefer this option and (2) the personalized experience of in-store services to accommodate unique needs (or an unwillingness to use the online platform). The issue I see with (2) is that as the population moves to the digital space, brick-and-mortar stores may stop generating revenue (though the increased “touchpoint” and visibility in high traffic areas may help push consumers to the website). That said, if 55% of users are still “assisted”, H&RB could use its store presence to convince its existing customers to use the H&RB online portal vs. shifting to TurboTax. Hopefully the government would recognize the benefits of an online platform, though I agree the lobbying risk is always there. Joey – great thought-provoking post.
Echoing Nathan’s post, this is a very interesting a relevant topic. Having recently been involved with a construction project for a former school of mine (building opened in August 2016), I’ve come to appreciate the critical nature of communication across all parties, and how easy it is for miscommunication. Just like appointing a “point person” or liaison for job sights and offices, an app like Rhumbix would simplify communication greatly both in terms of time and complexity. Another consideration would be what platform this app would be used on: personal smartphones? What if certain workers don’t have smartphones? Laptops? They would have to be rugged enough, such as the Panasonic ToughBook. Also, it would be important to standardize the app for all circumstances, but the unpredictable nature of construction would also require the app to have enough flexibility to allow workers to input “unique” situations that require management feedback.
It’s incredible to see the applications for IoT similarly to what you’re mentioning. Digital monitoring at the crop level, coupled with initiatives such as John Deere’s “FarmSight,” which provides remote monitoring of equipment and machinery, could significantly reduce inefficiencies that cause a drag in the farming industry (spoiled crops, equipment downtime, poor yields, etc.). With the growing population and demand for food (and fixed amounts of real estate on our blue planet), and increases in efficiency will go a long way!
While JetBlue and other airlines certainly have the ability to influence climate change through the operation of their existing fleet, how much emphasis is being put on the acquisition of more environmentally-friendly equipment? While the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was impacted by years of delays and significant cost overruns, it’s now finally in production. Airbus now offers a similarly-minded product in the A350, that aims to reduce weight through the usage of composite materials (and therefore reduces fuel consumption). Some companies have adopted these new airframes quickly (such as Norwegian Air), but others have yet to make this investment, likely due to their cost. Despite the investment needed, at what point should consumers pressure airlines to retire its aging fleet and purchases more eco-friendly aircraft to increase sustainability efforts?
While DONG’s initiative to convert 100% of its generation to renewable sources by 2020, some conventional generation may be warranted given the intermittent nature of wind generation. For example, if wind generally blows more strongly during the nighttime (off-peak), how would DONG plan to provide electricity during during on-peak hours? It is encouraging to see the decline in the cost of wind farms, which surely will continue, particularly as countries such as Germany are also pushing for increased wind generation (and offered a Feed-In-Tariff to this effect). It would be great to see these benefits cross the Atlantic and be applied to the U.S., but another challenge is that most of the large offshore wind farm EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) companies are located abroad, so the transportation costs to get equipment across the Atlantic is another impediment to increasing offshore wind generation in the states.
Very interesting post, discussing a topic that is without a doubt at the forefront of energy innovation today. While SCTY and other solar providers certainly benefit from the ITC extension, it is noteworthy that the stock price for each of the major companies has been in decline over the past few years (SCTY, VSLR, SUNE, RUN, SPWR). Are investors dubious that these companies are sustainable in the long-run (excluding SUNE, which has already gone bankrupt but not necessarily due to industry challenges)? Research analysts seem to have a fairly positive outlook on the industry (similarly to your article), but what risks/concerns are not being considered?
I agree that train travel ought to be promoted more. It is very convenient and in some instances more enjoyable than plane travel. I have questions about Amtrak’s expansion plans going forward, however. Aren’t plans to make train travel “sexy” already in motion? Specifically, isn’t that what Elon Musk proposed with Hyperloop? If Hyperloop is able to get a foothold in California first (i.e., becoming a viable project, securing the appropriate rights-of-way and building out the necessary infrastructure), would Amtrak even stand a chance at further development in that market?
Very interesting post. Nike certainly has done a very impressive U-Turn since it received so much negative publicity for its labor practices. Another impressive initiative undertaken by the company is the GreenXchange, which involves a partnership with other firms (Best Buy, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Creative Commons) to aid in the acceleration and scale of sustainability-based innovation, and foster mutual sharing of intellectual property assets. It is encouraging to see firms wanting to not only improve their operations, but also promote the sharing of this information to the benefit of everyone.