Clancy DuBos: New Orleans could become a ‘Smart City.’ Here’s what that means

Could New Orleans become a ‘Smart City’?

New Orleans isn’t the first American city to buy into the “Smart Cities” idea, but City Council President Jason Williams says we could become a leader in using new technologies to solve longstanding problems — from crime to flooding to economic and digital equity challenges.

There are many definitions of the term “Smart Cities,” but most involve applying cutting-edge technology across multiple public platforms.

“It’s an exciting global endeavor,” Williams says, “although each city sees it based on what its needs are. The idea of being a Smart City means we don’t get caught up on putting out present-day fires. You try to pivot to items that make great cities exceptional by looking five, 10, 20 years out. It’s not about cutting ribbons while you’re in office. It’s about being aspirational.”

Williams chairs the council’s new Committee on Smart Cities and Sustainability, which will hear presentations on Tuesday (Sept. 25) on ways to better integrate technology into local governance, particularly utility regulation and oversight of the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB).

Williams says the first major initiative should be one that benefits “all neighborhoods — poor, middle class and rich.” He points to the idea of converting some bus stops into “Wayfinders,” which could become free, public hot spots giving underserved people immediate access to the Internet. They also could provide useful information to visitors — and “pay for themselves by generating advertising dollars the same way bus shelters do.”

Other smart cities initiatives that Williams envisions include:

• Requiring Entergy New Orleans to modernize its electric grid as a starting point for integrating other technologies, including 5G service, so that “one day soon there will be an app for city services that will make it as easy to get a permit or solve a problem as taking out your smart phone.”

• Bi-directional smart meters, which would let the S&WB read meters remotely — and let customers read their meters as well.

• Gunshot detectors, which could pinpoint gunshots “to within a house or two” and even identify what type of weapon was fired, enabling the New Orleans Police Department to respond more effectively.

• Controlling traffic lights remotely, especially during big events, rather than deploying cops to direct traffic on foot. “It’s a force multiplier,” says Williams. “The officers used to control traffic can be used for the real things we need police for.”

The idea of New Orleans becoming a Smart City was first posed by Clint Vince, the council’s lead utility consultant. Vince’s law firm, Dentons, created a Smart Cities think tank and has hosted summits on the topic.

“We think any city that misses this opportunity will be left in the dust,” Vince says. “How a city responds to and incorporates new technologies affects everything about that city for decades — its economy, its growth, its quality of life.”

Williams says adopting Smart Cities policies “will put a rainbow over New Orleans for the next few decades.”

That would be something to see, but first the council must agree on a master plan. Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber, will be a step toward that goal — and a chance for the public to learn more.

A New Nonprofit Journalism Concept Trying to Take Root in New Jersey

3 Shares

September 19, 2018; NJ Spotlight

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed landmark legislation into law last June to revitalize the state’s local news journalism. Assembly Bill 3628 (Senate bill here) allocates $5 million in state funding to form a new nonprofit called the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium. However, because less than $5 million is left over from the $332 million sale of two of New Jersey’s public broadcasting licenses after it was used to fund federally mandated repairs and capital projects for the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, lawmakers introduced new legislation this week to seek the needed seed funding from the state’s general fund.

Once the funding is secured, the College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, and Rutgers University will administer grants the newly formed nonprofit Consortium would award “to groups proposing ways to bolster local news coverage in the state.” The legislation states that the grantees “shall be independent from the influence of the State, a member university, and any other grantor or contributor of funds or outside source” and that the grants cannot “dictate or influence the content of any work the grantee produces or may produce.”

The governor, the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate, and the five colleges and university partners would appoint the Consortium’s 13-member board. This new nonprofit grantmaking organization would be the first of its kind in the nation and have its own staff to manage the fund. The Consortium would raise financial support going forward. The Consortium’s mission would be to meet the information needs of New Jersey residents, especially for those living in underserved communities.

By all indications, Murphy and state lawmakers remain committed to this local-journalism initiative, which is intended to help fill the void created by newspaper cutbacks and other media struggles that have left many communities in New Jersey with little to no local news coverage.

NJ Spotlight, the source for this story, is itself an award-winning New Jersey news website that was founded “to fill the vacuum created when the business model for conventional journalism collapsed.” The Consortium also matters greatly to the Free Press Action Fund, which proposed the creation of the Consortium in 2017 and then proceeded to generate the necessary public support that managed to move the project to this point. Sixty organizations signed this Free Press Action Fund letter of support.

New Jersey residents lose out when they can’t get information about their communities. And the state’s civic information ecosystem is at a critical juncture. Valuable legacy operations have endured major cutbacks, and some are on the verge of collapse. It’s also a moment when some promising local experiments might crash or soar. In either context, investments from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, supporting some of the state’s brightest minds in academia, media, innovation, and community service, could be the difference between success and failure.

Local and regional papers inform national ones. Advocates from across the country support the Consortium, including the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Are more, and more diverse, notebook-carrying, smartphone-bearing digital and yes, print, journalists of all sorts—students, citizens, full-time professionals—needed? And could a New Jersey Civic Information Consortium help meet that need? Absolutely!

Nonprofit journalism is of ongoing interest to NPQ. The $5 million seed funding being sought by the state is not significant, but there is no guarantee that the newly formed Consortium will raise the serious dollars needed to sustain the effort to fill the state’s news void. Nevertheless, the concept is anything but modest. The Free Press Action Fund is to be commended for seeing the opportunity and then creating the groundswell of necessary support to inspire, if not force, government attention and then action, faltering as it might be. The state legislature is still writing this story, but the energy driving this innovative initiative is only building in strength.—Jim Schaffer

3 Shares

Wipro Partners with King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University to Strengthen STEM Education in the UK

BANGALORE, India & LONDON & SHEFFIELD, England–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO), a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company, today announced partnerships with two leading UK academic institutions – King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University, for strengthening STEM education in state schoolsin the United Kingdom.

Wipro will partner with King’s College London, to support the development of the first Master of Arts in STEM Education in the UK, and Sheffield Hallam University to offer the ‘Wipro Teacher Fellowship’ and ‘Wipro Teacher Mentor’ programmes. Both initiatives aim to provide high quality continuing professional development to early and mid-career educators, to address the shortfall and high turnover of STEM teachers in the UK.

Wipro will support King’s College London in developing the curriculum for a proposed Master of Arts in STEM education course, which will take a blended learning approach, involving face-to-face as well as online learning. The company will also offer bursaries to cover up to 80% of tuition fees, to ensure accessibility of the course for diverse cohorts of in-service teachers and educators from within and outside London. There will be a strong focus on attracting teachers from Opportunity Areas. The course will be taught by academic staff in the Centre for Research in Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CRESTEM) in the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London and will be aimed at education professionals from science, mathematics, engineering and computing backgrounds, as well as education policy makers. The program will help develop their disciplinary capacities while broadening their understanding across the entirety of STEM. It will also enable students to engage with policy and practice in a range of global contexts.

Wipro will also support Sheffield Hallam University to launch and run the ‘Wipro Teacher Fellowship’ and ‘Wipro Teacher Mentor’ programmes. The 18-months programmes, which will commence in January 2019, will support early career teachers of STEM subjects and STEM teacher mentors from schools in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and Derbyshire. Teachers will have the opportunity to improve their pedagogical & subject knowledge, understand practice through research and receive individualized support through local mentors. The teacher mentor programme will offer a blended model of face-to-face and online support for senior STEM teachers to become effective mentors, drawing on expertise from Sheffield Institute of Education. All teachers and mentors will also have the opportunity to work towards accreditation of 30 MA level credits, through optional participation in the Research and Development in Educational Contexts module, which is part of the University’s MA Professional Practice in Education. Each academic year, a new cohort of 20 early career teachers and five to 10 teacher mentors will join the programme.

Both partnerships will address crucial issues in the UK by generating more interest in STEM subjects, developing higher standards of teaching, and investing in teacher retention, especially in the national ‘social mobility cold spots’.

Anurag Behar, Chief Sustainability Officer, Wipro Limited said, “We are deeply committed to contributing to our communities through helping improve public education. We believe that teachers are the cornerstone of good education. These partnerships will provide directly relevant professional development support to teachers. Empowering, enabling and supporting teachers is the key to achieving continuous improvement in education.”

Professor Beatrice Szczepek Reed, Head of The School of Education, Communication & Society, King’s College London said, “For over forty years King’s has been at the forefront of teacher education and education research and has gained an international reputation for science and mathematics education. We believe that Wipro’s support for developing a Masters course in STEM Education, and its keenness to ensure accessibility of the course for early career educators from diverse backgrounds, will be of great help in addressing the issues of developing and retaining STEM teachers. King’s STEM Education Masters will provide educators an excellent grounding in the understanding of STEM education, as well as broader educational issues in the national and international context.”

Dr Emily Perry, from the Centre for Development and Research in Education at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sheffield Institute of Education, will lead the Wipro Teacher Fellowship and Wipro Teacher Mentor programmes. Dr. Perry said, “The Wipro Teacher Fellow and Teacher Mentor programmes aim to increase young people’s enjoyment, attainment and progression in STEM subjects by supporting teachers to develop their practice in an innovative, evidence-based, collaborative programme of professional learning.

We are committed to improving the educational outcomes of young people in the diverse communities of South Yorkshire, and share Wipro’s desire to support the professional development and retention of teachers in our schools as a key driver to achieve this. We are delighted to welcome Wipro as our partner in these programmes, which have the potential to make a significant contribution to the region.”

Interested educators can find more information at:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/research/Research-Centres/crestem/Index.aspx

Contact: Dr Melissa Glackin, melissa.glackin@kcl.ac.uk

&

https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us/academic-departments/institute-of-education/research

About Wipro Limited

Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO) is a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company. We harness the power of cognitive computing, hyper-automation, robotics, cloud, analytics and emerging technologies to help our clients adapt to the digital world and make them successful. A company recognized globally for its comprehensive portfolio of services, strong commitment to sustainability and good corporate citizenship, we have over 160,000 dedicated employees serving clients across six continents. Together, we discover ideas and connect the dots to build a better and a bold new future.

About King’s College London

King’s College London is a multi-faculty institution, providing high-quality teaching, research and innovation across the sciences, humanities, medicine, law, dentistry, and social sciences. As a member of the Russell Group, an association of leading UK research-intensive universities, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards in research and education. King’s is one of the top 25 universities in the world and the fourth oldest university in England, based in the heart of London. King’s has over 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries and over 8,500 employees.

About Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University’s vision is to become the world’s leading applied university, transforming lives and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

As one of the UK’s largest higher education providers, with over 30,500 students, the University is committed to the Sheffield City Region, providing leadership to drive improvements in social mobility, health and the economy.

Sheffield Hallam offers a comprehensive range of courses and is one of the country’s largest providers of health and teacher training. Its industrial partnerships ensure that the knowledge students develop is relevant, addresses the skills gap and helps business grow.

The University’s research is characterised by a focus on real world impact – addressing the cultural, economic and social challenges facing society today.

Forward-looking and Cautionary Statements

Certain statements in this release concerning our future growth prospects are forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties relating to these statements include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties regarding fluctuations in our earnings, revenue and profits, our ability to generate and manage growth, intense competition in IT services, our ability to maintain our cost advantage, wage increases in India, our ability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, time and cost overruns on fixed-price, fixed-time frame contracts, client concentration, restrictions on immigration, our ability to manage our international operations, reduced demand for technology in our key focus areas, disruptions in telecommunication networks, our ability to successfully complete and integrate potential acquisitions, liability for damages on our service contracts, the success of the companies in which we make strategic investments, withdrawal of fiscal governmental incentives, political instability, war, legal restrictions on raising capital or acquiring companies outside India, unauthorized use of our intellectual property, and general economic conditions affecting our business and industry. Additional risks that could affect our future operating results are more fully described in our filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. These filings are available at www.sec.gov. We may, from time to time, make additional written and oral forward-looking statements, including statements contained in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and our reports to shareholders. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf.

Embracing New Tech, Innovation, China Poised to Thrive in Fourth Industrial Revolution – Modern Diplomacy

The World Economic Forum’s 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, held in the city of Tianjin, closed on a note of resounding optimism on Wednesday. The three-day meeting broke several records this year, drawing some 2,500 participants from more than 111 countries to discuss the theme: Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In China – a country that has experienced exponential economic growth, lifting millions of people out of poverty in the last decade – the meeting generated productive discussions on fuelling innovation and productivity, and reconciling the drive to harness new technology and ensure robust GDP growth.

“Over the past three days New Champions from all over the world have gathered here, sharing illuminating thoughts and wisdom in brainstorming sessions. We are making development plans in advancing forth these ideas,” noted Zhang Guoqing, Mayor of Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, “In the discussions here, friendships have been forged, ideas and inspiration shared. Even mountains and seas cannot distance people with common aspirations.”

Since the first Annual Meeting of the New Champions was held in China 12 years ago, the country has managed to double its GDP output. The World Economic Forum platform, added Mayor Guoqing, “triggers outbursts of wisdom and inspiration” to address our greatest challenges.

In the past year, China has created 13 million new jobs but as technological advances accelerate, business leaders and industry experts emphasized, there is an urgent need to invest in education and focus on reskilling labour to adapt to the transformational change the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring.

“In China, we emphasize education and this is improving progressively; there is a rising number of undergraduates, master’s and PhD students,” noted Chen Lei, Chief Executive Officer of Xunlei, People’s Republic of China, “But we also need to think about educating people in rural areas.”

Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, echoed the sentiment: “The education system is one of the slowest moving parts of society; it takes decades to implement real change, from the first grade to universities,” he remarked, adding that computer science should be adopted as early as elementary school.

Addressing the tension at the heart of the challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Hua Fung Teh, Group Chief Financial Officer and Chairman, Greater China, ONE Championship, Singapore, stressed the role of governments, particularly when it comes to reskilling. Singapore’s successful transition from a manufacturing economy to one based on services was due to the government’s role in incentivizing the right types of industries and growth, he said.

“In the future, we are going to see entire workforces being wiped out by new technologies,” remarked Teh, “The government has a very important role to play here in retraining, not by themselves but in partnership with the private sector … China is uniquely positioned to lead the way on this because of the fact that it is a relatively centrally governed economy.”

While industry experts debated the “democratization of data” and concerns over privacy, some argued that fears about technology overtaking jobs might be misplaced.

“People misunderstand the tension between technology and traditional sectors. Related to this theme, I think the word ‘revolution’ is really more about ‘evolution’,” noted Zhang Lu, Founding and Managing Partner of Fusion Fund, USA. “New technology is there to increase the efficiency of the workforce, not to replace all human beings.”

Taking part in the closing ceremony, Lu Lin, Executive Vice-Mayor of Dalian, People’s Republic of China, hailed the World Economic Forum’s meeting in China, commenting that it allows “China’s voice to be heard”. Dalian, where the meeting is held every second year, he said, is making full use of the Forum’s platform to spur reform and growth.

Børge Brende, President and Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum, outlined the key outcomes achieved over the three-day meeting.

Tangible outcomes include:

The World Economic Forum announced it would open a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Beijing, becoming the third centre in its global network. The centre will collaborate on common issues and join projects with its other centres in San Francisco and Tokyo.

The World Economic Forum announced that it will partner with the UK government to develop the first artificial intelligence procurement policy.

The Forum formally launched a new community of Lighthouses – super-advanced factories of the future that have agreed to open their doors and help peers in industry master the complexities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Forum launched a Chinese version of its strategic intelligence tool, the Transformation Maps, to encourage multistakeholder collaboration on some of the world’s key issues and challenges.

The first set of “Green Investment Principles” was jointly drafted by the Forum, the Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance and the Banking and the Green Finance Initiative of the City of London. Work has begun to mobilize business support to promote and implement these principles.

A multistakeholder project to address the issue of global energy poverty has been launched. The project will be led by State Grid Corporation of China on the Forum’s platform.

A new global multistakeholder effort will accelerate the impact of the internet of things (IoT) by making it easier for businesses and governments to procure and deploy solutions.

A consensus was reached among government and private-sector leaders on a global agile governance framework to help cities prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A model was established for a body of global councils on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These councils will convene their first meeting at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Wipro Partners with King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University to Strengthen STEM Education in the UK – Business Wire

BANGALORE, India & LONDON & SHEFFIELD, England–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO), a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company, today announced partnerships with two leading UK academic institutions – King’s College London and Sheffield Hallam University, for strengthening STEM education in state schoolsin the United Kingdom.

Wipro will partner with King’s College London, to support the development of the first Master of Arts in STEM Education in the UK, and Sheffield Hallam University to offer the ‘Wipro Teacher Fellowship’ and ‘Wipro Teacher Mentor’ programmes. Both initiatives aim to provide high quality continuing professional development to early and mid-career educators, to address the shortfall and high turnover of STEM teachers in the UK.

Wipro will support King’s College London in developing the curriculum for a proposed Master of Arts in STEM education course, which will take a blended learning approach, involving face-to-face as well as online learning. The company will also offer bursaries to cover up to 80% of tuition fees, to ensure accessibility of the course for diverse cohorts of in-service teachers and educators from within and outside London. There will be a strong focus on attracting teachers from Opportunity Areas. The course will be taught by academic staff in the Centre for Research in Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CRESTEM) in the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London and will be aimed at education professionals from science, mathematics, engineering and computing backgrounds, as well as education policy makers. The program will help develop their disciplinary capacities while broadening their understanding across the entirety of STEM. It will also enable students to engage with policy and practice in a range of global contexts.

Wipro will also support Sheffield Hallam University to launch and run the ‘Wipro Teacher Fellowship’ and ‘Wipro Teacher Mentor’ programmes. The 18-months programmes, which will commence in January 2019, will support early career teachers of STEM subjects and STEM teacher mentors from schools in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and Derbyshire. Teachers will have the opportunity to improve their pedagogical & subject knowledge, understand practice through research and receive individualized support through local mentors. The teacher mentor programme will offer a blended model of face-to-face and online support for senior STEM teachers to become effective mentors, drawing on expertise from Sheffield Institute of Education. All teachers and mentors will also have the opportunity to work towards accreditation of 30 MA level credits, through optional participation in the Research and Development in Educational Contexts module, which is part of the University’s MA Professional Practice in Education. Each academic year, a new cohort of 20 early career teachers and five to 10 teacher mentors will join the programme.

Both partnerships will address crucial issues in the UK by generating more interest in STEM subjects, developing higher standards of teaching, and investing in teacher retention, especially in the national ‘social mobility cold spots’.

Anurag Behar, Chief Sustainability Officer, Wipro Limited said, “We are deeply committed to contributing to our communities through helping improve public education. We believe that teachers are the cornerstone of good education. These partnerships will provide directly relevant professional development support to teachers. Empowering, enabling and supporting teachers is the key to achieving continuous improvement in education.”

Professor Beatrice Szczepek Reed, Head of The School of Education, Communication & Society, King’s College London said, “For over forty years King’s has been at the forefront of teacher education and education research and has gained an international reputation for science and mathematics education. We believe that Wipro’s support for developing a Masters course in STEM Education, and its keenness to ensure accessibility of the course for early career educators from diverse backgrounds, will be of great help in addressing the issues of developing and retaining STEM teachers. King’s STEM Education Masters will provide educators an excellent grounding in the understanding of STEM education, as well as broader educational issues in the national and international context.”

Dr Emily Perry, from the Centre for Development and Research in Education at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sheffield Institute of Education, will lead the Wipro Teacher Fellowship and Wipro Teacher Mentor programmes. Dr. Perry said, “The Wipro Teacher Fellow and Teacher Mentor programmes aim to increase young people’s enjoyment, attainment and progression in STEM subjects by supporting teachers to develop their practice in an innovative, evidence-based, collaborative programme of professional learning.

We are committed to improving the educational outcomes of young people in the diverse communities of South Yorkshire, and share Wipro’s desire to support the professional development and retention of teachers in our schools as a key driver to achieve this. We are delighted to welcome Wipro as our partner in these programmes, which have the potential to make a significant contribution to the region.”

Interested educators can find more information at:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/education/research/Research-Centres/crestem/Index.aspx

Contact: Dr Melissa Glackin, melissa.glackin@kcl.ac.uk

&

https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us/academic-departments/institute-of-education/research

About Wipro Limited

Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO) is a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company. We harness the power of cognitive computing, hyper-automation, robotics, cloud, analytics and emerging technologies to help our clients adapt to the digital world and make them successful. A company recognized globally for its comprehensive portfolio of services, strong commitment to sustainability and good corporate citizenship, we have over 160,000 dedicated employees serving clients across six continents. Together, we discover ideas and connect the dots to build a better and a bold new future.

About King’s College London

King’s College London is a multi-faculty institution, providing high-quality teaching, research and innovation across the sciences, humanities, medicine, law, dentistry, and social sciences. As a member of the Russell Group, an association of leading UK research-intensive universities, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards in research and education. King’s is one of the top 25 universities in the world and the fourth oldest university in England, based in the heart of London. King’s has over 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries and over 8,500 employees.

About Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University’s vision is to become the world’s leading applied university, transforming lives and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

As one of the UK’s largest higher education providers, with over 30,500 students, the University is committed to the Sheffield City Region, providing leadership to drive improvements in social mobility, health and the economy.

Sheffield Hallam offers a comprehensive range of courses and is one of the country’s largest providers of health and teacher training. Its industrial partnerships ensure that the knowledge students develop is relevant, addresses the skills gap and helps business grow.

The University’s research is characterised by a focus on real world impact – addressing the cultural, economic and social challenges facing society today.

Forward-looking and Cautionary Statements

Certain statements in this release concerning our future growth prospects are forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties relating to these statements include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties regarding fluctuations in our earnings, revenue and profits, our ability to generate and manage growth, intense competition in IT services, our ability to maintain our cost advantage, wage increases in India, our ability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, time and cost overruns on fixed-price, fixed-time frame contracts, client concentration, restrictions on immigration, our ability to manage our international operations, reduced demand for technology in our key focus areas, disruptions in telecommunication networks, our ability to successfully complete and integrate potential acquisitions, liability for damages on our service contracts, the success of the companies in which we make strategic investments, withdrawal of fiscal governmental incentives, political instability, war, legal restrictions on raising capital or acquiring companies outside India, unauthorized use of our intellectual property, and general economic conditions affecting our business and industry. Additional risks that could affect our future operating results are more fully described in our filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. These filings are available at www.sec.gov. We may, from time to time, make additional written and oral forward-looking statements, including statements contained in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and our reports to shareholders. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf.

NAACOS, AMA, Others Urge CMS to Reconsider MSSP Proposed Changes – Healthcare Informatics

It was inspiring to hear Sanjay Gupta, M.D., the well-known neurosurgeon and medical reporter, give the closing keynote at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) 2018 Fall CIO Forum in San Diego last week. Dr. Gupta, who serves as associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, while also best known as CNN‘s multiple Emmy Award-winning chief medical correspondent, discussed the fascinating balance that he strikes between medicine and media.

“Oftentimes, I see people at their best, and sometimes at their worst. I get to travel the world, where I learn so much, but also teach others. Sometimes the dance between medicine and media can be awkward and emotionally challenging. But almost always, the stories we do have a significant impact,” Gupta told the Fall CIO Forum attendees.

What was perhaps most captivating about Gupta’s speech was when he spoke about visiting a primitive Amazonian tribe that appears to have the best heart health in the world. The Tsimane people of Bolivia do not speak a language, live a simple existence, and are disease-free, explained Gupta. So he went to visit the tribe with the goal to understand its lifestyle and what led to its members having such healthy hearts.

Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

“I went spearfishing with one [tribe member], who thought he was 84-years-old, but he really didn’t know for sure. His shirt was off, and he was ripped, balancing himself on the canoe, just looking at the water, spearing fish. His eyesight was perfect. The entire indigenous tribe was just like this,” Gupta recalled.

After examining the Tsimane tribe’s diet, Gupta noted it was a hunter-gatherer society, meaning there was nothing technological. “The most mechanical thing I saw was a pulley for the well,” he said. Seventy percent of what they eat is carbohydrates—unrefined and unprocessed—while 15 percent of their diet is protein, and 15 percent fat, he added. “You need farmed food because oftentimes you don’t have successful hunting days, so the farmed food was the food in the bank. And they would do intermitting fasting, too. These are the people with the healthiest hearts in the world,” Gupta exclaimed.

When it comes to activity, when hunters are hunting, they’re not ever outrunning their prey, but rather outlasting it, noted Gupta. “We found that they walked about 17,000 steps per day. But they didn’t run; they only walked. They are active, but not intensively active. They also hardly every sit—they are either lying or standing all the time. And they would get nine hours of sleep per night, waking up to the rooster’s crow. There are no devices. Again, these are the people who have the healthiest hearts in world. They don’t have a healthcare system and don’t spend a dollar on healthcare,” Gupta stated.

What’s even more interesting about this tribe is that each of its members lives with some degree of a parasitic infection, which they usually get it early in life, have a few days of illness, and then just live with these parasites in their bodies for their entire lives. “The belief is that so much of the disease we talk about—that leads to this $3.3 trillion price tag [the total cost of U.S. healthcare spending in 2016]—is actually ignited or worsened by our immune systems. So the parasitic infections could be part of the reason they are protected from all types of diseases,” Gupta offered.

Essentially, it’s living this basic, undeveloped life that “inadvertently provides them extraordinary protection against heart disease,” noted a report in HealthDay last year. “Thanks to their unique lifestyle, most Tsimane [members] have arteries unclogged by the cholesterol plaques that drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in modern Americans,” Gregory Thomas, M.D., medical director of the Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Memorial, in California, said in that report.

Tsimane tribe (source: University of New Mexico)

You might be asking what the story of the Tsimane tribe has to do with U.S. healthcare since its lifestyle would obviously never be replicated in a developed country. And while that is true, it’s tough to ignore the $1 billion per day that our healthcare system spends on heart disease—compared to the Tsimane tribe that doesn’t spend a single dime, yet has the healthiest hearts in the world.

In this sense, perhaps we can use the Tsimane story to push ourselves to develop a greater understanding of why we spend so much money on healthcare and don’t have the results to show for it. Gupta asked this $3.3 trillion-dollar question in his speech—why does healthcare in the U.S. cost so much and what do we get in return?

“If you look at the statistics, it’s not impressive. More people die from preventable disease in the U.S. than in 12 other nations. People live longer in 30 other countries compared to the U.S.—including places like Chile and Costa Rica. We still have tens of millions of people who don’t have access, and we still spend all this money on healthcare. Why?” he asked.

Gupta explained that the nation’s high healthcare costs come down to the following: high administrative costs, technology, new drugs and development, and the cost of chronic disease—the last which is incredibly self-inflicted. About 70 to 80 percent of chronic disease is self-preventable, he said.

Indeed, as most of us know, about 5 percent of the U.S. population accounts for 50 percent of the healthcare costs. These are folks who are defined by illness, not by health, Gupta stated. This is why the modern-day healthcare system has proactively taken to targeting that 5 percent to improve their chances of preventing disease and staying healthy. “Data shows that home visits, nutritional counseling, one-on-one coaching, and diligent follow-up care can go a long way in preventing someone from getting sick in the first place, and from turning a disease into something more chronic. Some of these interventions can actually reverse disease. The die is not cast,” Gupta said.

For me, Gupta’s keynote highlighted the need for efforts around value-based care, care management, and population health to be intensified. A big part of that, as noted in the speech, is addressing patients’ social and environmental factors. It’s not at all surprising to see studies such as this one from earlier this year, conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health, Tampa, and WellCare Health Plans, and published in Population Health Management, which found that healthcare spending is substantially reduced when people are successfully connected to social services that address social barriers, or social determinants of health, such as secure housing, medical transportation, healthy food programs, and utility and financial assistance.

And with that, there is also an enormous opportunity for data and IT to play a role. Information sharing, so that providers have access to the right information at the point of care—no matter where the patient is—will be critical to reducing unnecessary costs. As will the robust use of data analytics, so that patient care organizations can be proactive in predicting which patients are at highest risk, when they might need services, and how to intervene at the appropriate time.

But to this point, Gupta, who noted that our society can get too caught up in high-tech, also suggested that “medicine seems to play by slightly different rules when it comes to innovation as opposed to other sectors. Sometimes, innovation moves painstakingly slow in respect to medicine.” At the end of the day, he said, it will be “the innovations that make us, [as a society], healthier, happier, and connect us in frictionless ways, that will be the biggest winners.”

So, will the U.S. population suddenly turn off their iPhone alarms, wake up to the rooster’s crow, and become a hunter-gatherer society? No, I would say that’s quite unlikely to happen. But hearing stories such as the one of the Tsimane tribe might just serve as good enough motivation to bring down the astronomical and unsustainable costs of U.S. healthcare.

Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo Concept: 340-Mile Range Electric Work Van

Volkswagen says the Buzz Cargo previews technologies due for the mid-2020s in the form of its I.D. Pilot automated driving assist system, which falls under SAE Level 4 autonomy (which we believe to be a flawed system of measurement). This will be activated by pressing on the steering wheel for a few seconds, causing the wheel to retract into the dash with the system active, similar to the Peugeot e-Legend concept also revealed Thursday.

A head-up display on the windshield shows information necessary for the driver, while an in-vehicle tablet controls climate control and infotainment. Cameras and screens eliminate side mirrors, reducing aerodynamic drag, and extending its range. Another rang booster is the large roof-mounted solar panel, capable of gathering enough energy from sunlight throughout the day to add 9.3 miles of range to the Buzz Cargo’s battery.

Speaking of which, the battery is embedded in the Buzz Cargo’s floor, to keep its center of gravity low. Volkswagen has announced two different battery capacities, a 200-mile, 48 kilowatt-hour option, which it recommends for urban use, and a 111-kWh battery, for longer ranges. The latter was originally showcased with the original Buzz, and is capable of pushing the Buzz Cargo as far as 340 miles on Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure—more conservative than old New European Driving Cycle standards, but a more liberal estimate than granted by the Environmental Protection Agency standards. Fast-charging to 80 percent with a 150-kilowatt system takes 15 minutes for the smaller battery, and 30 with the larger. Charging can also be handled through standard 230-volt, 2.3-kW wall outlets, or Volkswagen can sell intermediate options as strong as 11 kW.

Propulsion comes from a 201-horsepower AC induction motor mounted to the rear axle, though Volkswagen says all-wheel-drive versions with synchronous AC induction motors will also be doable. It will push the Buzz Cargo to speeds as high as 99 mph, where an electronic limiter steps in to prevent it from going any faster.

Venture Capital Firm, Standards-Setting Group Forge Partnership Around Interoperability

An organization that promotes “interoperability” in school districts–the seamless sharing of data across ed-tech products and systems–is partnering with a venture capital firm in trying to bring fledgling education companies on board with the concept.

The IMS Global Learning Consortium, a nonprofit that crafts interoperability standards, announced it will work with New Markets Venture Partners, which invests in early- and growth-stage education, information technology and business-service companies.

Companies pay to belong to IMS, generally anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. The partnership will give companies in New Markets Venture Partners’ portfolio a break on their membership costs while those businesses are growing, in exchange for working to meet interoperability standards.

By joining the IMS consortium, companies will enter a network of school districts and other companies, and gain insights about the direction of interoperability in K-12 systems, and how it will affect them, said Rob Abel, the CEO of the consortium.

“It’s one of the biggest hurdles you have: How do you work with partners? How do you get your product to work with other products in the marketplace?” Abel said in an interview. “If you’re a startup and you adopt these standards, you get in the middle of a pretty big ecosystem, very fast.”

The IMS consortium has about 500 members, many of them K-12 vendors, and it is adding nearly 50 per year, he said. At least 60 of its members are school districts, which collectively serve about 13 million students.

The partnership is IMS Global’s first with a VC firm, added Abel, though the organization may seek out similar arrangements with other investment groups in the future.

Bringing New Players Into the Fold

Interoperability is the goal of making it easier for schools to manage the array of different proprietary ed-tech tools and platforms by requiring those system to allow for the easy exchange and transfer of information. Other groups besides IMS Global promote interoperability, including Ed-Fi.

For students and teachers, that can mean finding a way around a maze of separate log-ins, passwords, and proprietary roadblocks that trip them up throughout the school day. For educators and administrators, it can mean ensuring easier transfer of both managerial and classroom data, from grading to attendance to learning analytics.

By paying to participate in the IMS consortium, companies get the right to help define interoperability standards and begin implementing them, said Abel.They also go through various tests to prove they are implementing the standards correctly–which gives them “certification” from the consortium, Abel explained.

His organization should be judged in part by its ability to set clear standards for districts and companies trying to get a foothold in K-12, said Abel. Good standards ultimately “make it easier for new entrants to come into the marketplace and create innovation.”

New Markets Venture Partners has about 20 education companies in its portfolio, half of them working in the K-12 market, said Jason Palmer, the general partner of the firm. Future companies that his firm invests in will be eligible for the IMS partnership too.

The typical company receiving support from New Markets Venture Partners has less than $10 million in revenue and between 10-50 employees. The partnership will save those vendors money on IMS membership costs, and will benefit the standards consortium by bringing new, smaller businesses into the organization, adding to the lineup of established players, he predicted.

IMS Global offers many interoperability standards; the organization and venture firm will help the startup education companies focus on meeting the ones that matter most to their school districts, the buyers of their products, said Palmer.

Palmer formerly worked as a deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has contributed funding to IMS Global. He has also served as an observer on IMS Global’s board.

“Standards have been helpful in every industry on the planet, and they can be helpful in education, too,” Palmer said in an interview.

Many districts are telling companies they expect their various tech applications to work together, even if they define interoperability in different ways, he said. IMS Global’s standards lend clarity to vendors’ work, because they are “preexisting, widely adopted” and “robust.”

Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.


See also:

Inspired by ‘Shark Tank,’ fintech competition prompts tech firms to dive in

Got a hot technology concept for advisors but need a funding boost?

There’s a fintech competition styled after the popular television show “Shark Tank” that’s looking for fresh meat — sorry, applicants.

ScratchWorks, a startup accelerator, has launched the second year of its competitive program to connect young firms with investors.

The fintech accelerator is founded by five prominent chief executives, including Marty Bicknell of Mariner Wealth and Dick Burridge of RMB Capital — who head firms that manage approximately $27 billion in combined assets under management, according to SEC filings. A spokesman for ScratchWorks put the figure at as much as $60 billion in combined assets.

ScratchWorks held its inaugural event at Barron’s Top Independent Advisors conference in March and selected three winning fintechs — two of which landed significant investments from the group.

“You’re sitting with the best and the brightest,” says Shannon Eusey, chief executive of Beacon Pointe Capital, who will be sitting on the panel for the first time in 2019. Barron’s advisor summit is scheduled to be held in Salt Lake City in March.

“Technology is really driving our industry right now and having the perspective of what is on the forefront really helps,” Eusey says, who oversees 70 employees managing $2.25 billion in assets at Beacon Pointe, according to the firm’s filings. “The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is seeing things before they hit the market.”


What new technologies have the advantage?

“Analytics and big data and making sure we have a better understanding of our clients and the market,” Eusey says. With more data being produced than any other time in human history, there are troves of actionable information hidden within a complex soup of customer data, she notes.

“Investor behavior is so important — whether or not a client is at risk, or what’s going on within a client’s life that can help beyond just general investment advice,” she says, such as helping pay down college loans or buying a new home. “What data trend sets are our clients looking at that can help us better understand them.”

ScratchWorks invested in two of the three finalists from its inaugural competition. It first invested an undisclosed sum in InvestmentPOD, a platform that can deliver tailored service to select clients. The latest beneficiary is marketing technology firm Snappy Kraken, which automates marketing services for RIAs, including online advertisements and social media, among other services.

The exact amount of the funding has not been disclosed, although the firms are in talks for a second round that should be well into the seven figures, says Snappy Kraken CEO Robert Sofia. “There was a small, immediate investment, but that also gave us exposure to the group of investors, and once we started working with them more closely to close on the initial amount, talks began about additional funding,” Sofia says.

Revenue has grown 145% year-over-year and the firm’s client base has expanded to more than 1,000 clients, Sofia adds.

“You’re in a room with some of the most successful advisors in the industry and you get to see them respond to what you’re building,” Sofia says about his experience pitching his product to room packed with hundreds of advisors. “It’s extremely validating.”

The funding will help the marketing technology firm provide infrastructure for recent growth, offer more content and better technical support, he says.

“You look at a screen in real-time and see that 80% of the advisor in the room would invest,” Sofia says. “Now, that’s market research.”

Submissions close December 14. ScratchWorks reduced the application fee almost 75% from last year to encourage more startups and students to apply, according to the firm.

Town Hall Ventures Close First Fund at $115 Million – Healthcare Informatics

Blockchain is an innovative technology that has garnered a significant amount of interest across many industries, and, within the U.S. healthcare industry, thought leaders and innovators continue to weigh in on the potential opportunities, and the countless complexities, around the adoption of blockchain technologies.

Many healthcare organizations are pushing forward with pilot projects and proof of concept initiatives to explore the development of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, yet this is a technology that is still very much in its nascent stages. Potential use cases for blockchain in healthcare will be topic of discussion by a panel of experts during the Healthcare InformaticsBeverly Hills Health IT Summit, scheduled for November 8-9 at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

As noted in a Fast Company article, companies like IBM and Microsoft are exploring how the technology can be used in traditional industries to sync up data like logs and transaction records between business associates, like health providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). IBM and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics are collaborating to build a proof of concept for an electronic health record (EHR) blockchain, and there is the potential for the technology to be used as a data system that could track public health issues.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics collects a large amount of health data from surveys. The blockchain project is focused on the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), which is a national survey designed to provide information about the provision of medical care services in office-based physician practices in the U.S. NAMCS is designed to meet the need for objective, reliable information about the provision and use of ambulatory medical care services in the United States. Findings are based on a sample of visits to non-federally employed office-based physicians who are primarily engaged in direct patient care and, starting in 2006, a separate sample of visits to community health centers, according to the CDC’s website.

Askari Rizvi, chief of the technical services branch of the CDC’s Division of Health Care Statistics, says the CDC looks for innovative solutions to resolve business problems and is developing a blockchain use case to potentially see what types of current and future EHR data collection challenges can be addressed. Rizvi recently spoke with Healthcare Informatics Associate Editor Heather Landi about this proof of concept project, what project leaders have learned so far about blockchain’s potential and what they hope to accomplish with the project. Below are excerpts of that interview.

What is the CDC-IBM blockchain collaboration focused on and what is the aim of the project?

The collaboration started about a year and a half ago. The CDC has an official collaborative agreement with IBM. The CDC is a large organization, and we have a lot of different centers and I’m part of the National Center for Health Statistics. The CDC’s Innovations Committee reached out to several centers to see if anyone had a project to utilize blockchain for, and I made a case for the EHR proof of concept on a blockchain project, and it was well received within the CDC community along with IBM as well. I picked one of our services, called the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, or NAMCS, and we based the proof of concept on the NAMCS to get us started. Currently, it’s quite a process to capture that data [for the NAMCS], so the idea is to capture EHR data, so that we can bypass a lot of that and so we can get the data in real-time.

Askari Rizvi

We have created a proof of concept, but we do have a small application where we can demo the project. I’ve spoken at a number of conferences and events where we have demoed the project. The entire project is hosted at IBM and it is a research and development project. It does not have any real data. I want to be very clear because we take privacy and security extremely seriously here at NAMCS; all the data that in this proof of concept is completely synthetic data. And, because it is an R&D project, and there’s no real data involved, we could put it offshore. There’s a lot of legislation and regulations we would normally follow in a traditional federal application, which you don’t have to do when you’re doing a research and development project. But as we move toward a production solution, which would be a long-term strategy, then we would need to get the appropriate approvals and the authority to operate.

Based on what you have seen so far, what are the benefits of using blockchain?

Essentially, we’ve created a promising EHR blockchain proof of concept based off our NAMCS. Thus far, the primary benefits that seem quite promising are consent management, sharing of data, enhanced privacy and security controls and embedded audit trails. The long-term vision is to be able to collect large sets of data, which should provide researchers and organizations the ability to develop deeper insights and trends. We are at a stage with our proof of concept where we are recruiting for partners, specifically EHR vendors. The vision is to partner up with EHR vendors to build capability in our solution where the sharing of the data becomes simple for the providers, and, at that point, all we would need is consent from the providers.

What drew your interest to exploring blockchain technology? Are there particular challenges that blockchain might help to solve?

I have a hefty background in IT; I’ve been doing it for a few decades. Anytime I see a new technology, I’m interested in finding out what it has to offer, so essentially, that is what piqued my interest. By no means am I a blockchain expert. It was more so as an R&D project, to see what it is and how can it possibly help us manage our national healthcare surveys. As we’ve been through a series of meetings and working sessions, we began to realize that it will enhance the privacy and security of our service, which is always a key aspect, along with better sharing of the data, consent management, and the audit trails.

But, besides that, there was another primary goal. The survey response rates have been declining throughout the industry, so we wanted to think out of the box in order to compensate for that. The idea was if we can build a solution with EHR vendors or these larger systems that host a lot of the data that we need for research, then it would become a lot easier. We would have larger data sets, and we would have them in real-time; there wouldn’t be any issues with the frequency of the data that we are receiving. Some people describe blockchain as a decentralized database, and it really depends on the model that we create going forward. We’re flexible; we have capped the proof of concept at a very high level in terms of flexibility, because depending on the partners that we select, we want to make things as easy as possible for them. I think for the next steps, once we have a number of partners, then we would ask for them to send data from their EHR system and then we would move forward.

What are the next steps with this project, and what is the long-term goal?

What we’ve built so far, it is promising. I see that it does offer several benefits, in terms of privacy and security and audit trails. For the next steps, when we’re able to get a number of providers and if we’re able to build a bridge, or let’s say [the providers] are a node on our blockchain, then it becomes easier to share data from that EHR system for any of the providers, because we would build that bridge between our application and the different EHR vendors. All the providers would need to do is to give us consent, and then we would have that data, from that EHR system. It’s a very long-term strategy. It’s not going to be done any time in the next few months. It is a holy grail of where we are headed, and then we can tap into the data, and depending on the different data sets, we can even enhance the data collection that we currently do. There are many data elements that we collect, and EHR systems have a lot more data elements, so we’re increasing our ability to capture additional data sets, and then providing the flexibility for researchers to be able to run their analysis, look at deeper insights, and come up with trends.

I just want to, again, that all the data for this blockchain prototype is completely synthetic; there is no real data that we’re using here. And, I want to be clear on our current state versus our “to-be” state. So, current state is, we have developed this proof of concept, it’s off-site, no data, and, on top of that, we’re simulating providers. The “to-be” state would be to get providers, partner up with them, start collecting synthetic data from them and then moving toward production state.

What does the status of this proof of concept signify to you about the potential for blockchain adoption in healthcare? Do you see other potential use cases?

There are a number of different centers in CDC that are focused on solving different business problems for CDC, and their mission and goals are very different. I think blockchain could be used for a number of those business units. The idea over here is to get this R&D project off the ground, get it working, have providers on board and move forward towards a production stage. I think that will open things up where others can see that this product looks promising and that it could resolve certain issues. People use blockchain for supply chain management, so another use case could be where the CDC could see the different areas when you are tracking down let’s say, some sort of bacteria in a product. If you have a system that’s developed on a blockchain, you can see where that product originated from. Essentially, you could work your way backwards, go all the way to the origins of where that product came from, and you could identify the source. That would be another use case.

Moving forward, what are some of the potential challenges with thisproject?

We’re at a juncture where we need to partner up with the EHR vendors or different providers or systems. I think that would be the current challenge, or the biggest challenge for us to face. We want to make sure we’re able to pick the right partners, so we can get something going and continue to make progress.