Google’s Project Sunroof makes the tricky business of estimating energy savings from a solar panel installation strikingly simple by combining massive datasets and aerial imagery.
The fight against climate changes is a war of economics. Entities at every scale are more motivated to make climate-conscious changes the more those changes benefit the bottom line. Project Sunroof makes that benefit obvious and easy to calculate, replacing a vague sense of doing the right thing with a practical justification. Beyond the big data calculations, Project Sunroof provides information on the solar installation process and will also put you in touch with solar providers in your area. A great example of a massive company helping out the little guy for the greater good.
GOOD Magazine has undergone a transformation recently, refocusing on its mission as a journal for the global citizen. In the nearly 10 years since it’s start, GOOD has been unafraid to try new things, which may have gotten it slightly lost along the way. Now, the global climate has prompted it to go back to its roots and relaunch with renewed focus on featuring the stories and people shaping our world.
The spring and summer journals are carefully considered volumes with a great variety of content. There are single-spread profiles, revealing discussions and even some short-fiction for your enjoyment. The magazines feel a little slim to be quarterly but this may be because they’re also slim on advertising.
Aside from some odd design choices (lots of rotated text?) the new GOOD seems to be a great improvement. It’s once again the magazine for people who give a damn. Consider subscribing today.
I didn’t end up applying but I do wish there were more things like IDEO Fortnight. I feel like a lot of designers would be into short, intensive design residencies to stretch and grow their skills. I’ll be keeping an eye out for next year’s incarnation and any similar programs in the mean time.
I can’t recall whose tweet lead me to it (as so often happens) but thank you to whoever it was. I found myself on Octobox’s page on Assembly, the platform for collaboratively creating software, and from there I was hooked. A beautiful, working bookmarking system that championed the importance of users owning their data by storing it all in Dropbox. And since it was on Assembly the potential is there for me to contribute to its success beyond just being a user. So I’m going to jump in and see how I can lend a hand.
I haven’t gotten the opportunity to work with a client in renewable energy but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about the sorts of things we could build together.
I want to work on a tool that helps owners of solar panels monitor their production and consumption of energy and manage how that energy is sold back to power companies or even shared with friends and neighbors.
Ikea in the UK has started a solar panel program with Hanergy. If and when this comes to the US I’d love to be involved in designing and building some of that software.
When I heard about the opportunity to spend the night in the National Aquarium working to solve sustainable fisheries challenges I jumped at the chance.
The inaugural Fishackathon was held across the country at 5 different venues with all teams working problems posed by fish sustainability experts from around the world.
Our team decided to work on a problem posed by USAID and ECOFISH for sustainable fisheries in the Philippines:
Our field enumerators need to be able to collect more accurate data more quickly and more efficiently to be able to monitor more gear landings and cover more ground.
Currently the enumerators (data collectors) travel between landing sites recording catch data on paper, asking fishermen to estimate where various catches were made.
Since we were told the US State Department is planning on providing mobile devices to data collectors in the region we created an Android app to enable them to more easily record data in the field.
Built with PhoneGap and deployed as a native app, the collector can be used with or without an internet connection. Recording data in a digital form means it can be relayed to a central service more easily. The form itself is designed to speed up the data entry process and enhance data with more accurate location data and optional photos of the catch (to identify fish and fear type).
We had a lot of fun creating the app and although we didn't move on to the final stages of the competition we were glad to have contributed something to managing sustainable fisheries. Learn more about what we made on Github.
Building off of Anand’s initial prototype, we created a free-form exploration tool for BNIA’s neighborhood data. The small multiples allow users to browse the neighborhood indicators by geography.
Since the event, Anand and I have continued to enhance the tool with histograms showing the distribution of values across the map and scatter plots comparing any two data sets. You can also select individual neighborhoods and track them across visualizations.
We're still in the process of building the tool, adding and taking away features, so if you have any ideas for it don't hesitate to get in touch or fork the project on Github.
I hate to say it but with every new, seemingly useful, service I come across I feel a pang of anxiety over whether it’ll still be around in a year.
Sometimes I think I’m being overly cautious. A software as a service model doesn't doom a business to failure. But with each acquisition, security breach and shutdown I become less and less convinced it's a sustainable idea.
I wish the solution were as simple as purchasing and hosting my own instances of existing software but that's rarely an option. Only a fewcompanies offer this (and most never will). Blogging also seems to be the only web task established enough to have generated companies that use this model.
Why is this the case? Are there flaws inherent to distributed software? Is SaaS really a superior model? What can we do to become less reliant on potentially flimsy services?
If you’ve had thoughts along these lines be sure to reply via twitter or email.
@bryanconnor because part of the value in hosted software is not having to maintain it. Lots of moving parts in an app like Basecamp.
Project Ara really is a phone for the future. With an endoskeleton and customizable modules to attach and swap, this phone epitomizes openness in hardware and future-friendly design. Third party developers can even create components for the phone by following a set of guidelines.
Project Naptha is a pretty incredible chrome extension that blurs the lines between text and image.
From the project’s website: Project Naptha automatically applies state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms on every image you see while browsing the web. The result is a seamless and intuitive experience, where you can highlight as well as copy and paste and even edit and translate the text formerly trapped within an image.
I’m a huge fan of the original iA Writer (and of this amazing video) but Writer Pro falls flat as a significant upgrade. Its four writing modes change the document’s typography and some available features but not much else. I was hoping the writing modes would store different versions of the text in a package so that notes, drafts and final pieces could exist together.
When I first came across GRID I was really excited for the potential this strange iPad app held. When it was released I was disappointed that using it required you to log in with Facebook. Now I’m happy to report that that is no longer true. GRID also has a iPhone companion