Launched in July 2010, just months after the iPad reached retail, Flipboard effectively reinvented print periodicals for the tablet form factor, aggregating content from a vast range of publishers, news sources and social networks to create touchscreen-enabled, swipe-friendly personalized magazines bolstered by a growing arsenal of customization tools, multimedia features and sharing options. The free Flipboard app also spearheaded a revolution in digital advertising, introducing full-page, click-through ads that emphasize both design sophistication and reader relevance.
Four years after hitting Apple's App Store, Flipboard boasts more than 100 million active readers and adds 250,000 to 300,000 users every day. The company touts direct partnerships with more than 8,000 publishers.
It's not the type of plane either Kent Brantly or Nancy Writebol likely planned to take home.
But when health officials evacuate the two American aid workers infected with Ebola in west Africa, it will be the plane they take.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outfitted a Gulfstream jet with an isolation pod designed and built by the U.S. Defense Department, the CDC and a private company. The pod, officially called an Aeromedical Biological Containment System, is a portable, tent like device that ensures the flight crew and others on the flight remain safe from an infectious disease.
I had traveled from New York to Nairobi to learn how to do exactly this—to pay for things with a phone—and to understand why Kenya has gained a reputation as the mobile payments future. Almost everyone in the country uses M-pesa (M, for mobile;pesa is payment in Swahili) to transfer money from one phone to another via encrypted short message service, or SMS. In all, there are about 18.2 million active customers in a nation twice the size of Colorado.
Despite delusions of being an early adopter, I’d never used my phone to pay for anything, not even a macchiato at Starbucks. Also, though I believe myself well-traveled, I’d never even set foot in Africa. All to the better, my editors said; there were already too many self-styled experts on how East Africa was leapfrogging more mature economies on mobile payments. My mission was more grounded: survive a 10-day tour on a phone and nothing but a phone.
At Tesla, Popple could rely on early adopters eager to pay a premium for an electric car. As the new chief executive officer of Proterra, which makes an $850,000 electric bus, he’s got a tougher audience: municipal governments that are used to paying as little as $300,000 for a diesel-guzzler. They’re reluctant to invest so much in the promise of energy savings down the line. Proterra argues that the wait isn’t long. “We’ve seen paybacks against diesel and hybrids in as little as two years and as long as six years,” says Popple. He’s persuaded some powerful backers. On June 18 he announced a $40 million round of investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (where he remains a partner), GM Ventures (GM), and the Pritzker family’s Tao Invest, bringing Proterra’s total outside funding to $100 million.
Twice is one of many startups attempting to make the environmentally sound choice preferable and easy for consumers while making a profit in the process. The statistics driving these efforts are shocking: In the U.S., 90% of mobile devices are thrown away rather than recycled. Up to 40% of the food produced gets trashed. Americans junk some 12 million tons of textiles each year. “There’s no way we can continue to produce waste at the level that we are and survive on this planet,” says Adam Werbach, a co-founder of Yerdle, a site where people trade things they might otherwise throw out. “It really is much easier to click a button than it is to knock on your neighbor’s door.” And that is the convenience gap these enviro-preneurs hope to close.
“Cities tend to operate in silos,” says Judith Rodin, Rockefeller’s president. “And resilience is very much about building a systems approach. The idea is having a single post that really is integrating across systems--both within city government, but also between city government and other elements of the fabric of the community.”
The new CROs will think about how to prepare for natural disasters, but will also consider aspects of social and economic resilience. Rodin shares the example of New York after the recession; when Mayor Bloomberg realized the city was too reliant on the financial sector, he started working to bring in more tech companies. On the opposite coast, San Francisco is thinking about how to add more non-tech jobs so the city can try to stay strong if technology companies start to falter.
After running a global challenge last year, the Rockefeller Foundation narrowed down a list of 400 applicants to 100 winning cities across seven continents, and will start the program with a smaller group of 33. Some, like Ramallah, or Byblos, Lebanon, were very much at the beginning of their resilience planning, says Rodin. Others, like San Francisco and Rotterdam, have spent more time planning for disasters, and are well positioned to help create and test new technology that they can later share with other cities in the program.
Companies ranging from established giants such as IBM, SAS, and Microsoft to startups such as Tranzlogic and Kaggle offer affordable, cloud-based data-crunching services-which can help you get nondigitized data into data-crunchable form-and today virtually anyone can get his or her hands dirty in the great Big Data mud pile.
Businesses successfully mining Big Data are cross-referencing their internal information-pricing histories, customer traffic patterns-with multiple outside sources to increase revenue by understanding customers' behavior better, reducing costs by eliminating inefficiencies and human bias, strengthening client bonds by anticipating clients' needs, enriching service offerings with new knowledge, and giving employees new tools to perform their jobs better.
Metlife has been piloting insurance kiosks at Walmarts in a few states
“The initial screen requires the user to select from three options based on whom they are buying coverage for – themselves, a family member or as a gift. The next screen offers policies for four age groups – 18-44, 45-54, 55-59 and 60-65. Once the user selects the appropriate age group, the following screen presents two coverage amount options. Based on their inputs, the system notifies the user of the annual rate for their term policy and which color policy package to grab from the kiosk display.
The user then locates their designated colored box on the kiosk display, which contains a prepaid $5 card for the policy amount, and scans it at the store checkout. Once paid, the individual must call the firm to answer six health questions, with no medical exam required. If approved, individuals can activate the term life policy for a full year. Those who don't qualify can get a refund at Walmart."