Are ‘Smart’ Portable Air Conditioners The Next Big Thing?

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For just over 100 years, air conditioning has been hailed as a revolutionary, life changing technology embraced by people living in subtropical conditions or in warmer countries. In the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, and by 2050 it is anticipated that globally, the number of air conditioning units in use is expected to quadruple, increasing from 3.6 billion today to 14 billion in 2050, according to a new report published by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. People can’t deal with the heat the old fashioned way, it seems, and air conditioning is just too simple a solution.

But now there is a competitor to challenge the traditional AC unit: that of the ‘smart’ portable air conditioner. Controllable via phone or remote, these quiet portable air conditioner models are small, compact and highly efficient, and can be integrated with intelligent home systems with the click of a button. To enable smart features such as remote control via WiFi and voice control with Google Assistant and Alexa, all that is required is the download of a smart compatibility app like SmartThinQ, and upon setup it is possible to control your air conditioner from afar. This means that on your way home from work in the evening, you can switch on your AC via voice control from your car, and by the time you return home your kitchen, office or bedroom will be cooled to a comfortable temperature.

In terms of energy efficiency, this is serious progress. We all know the environmental ramifications of excessive air conditioning use, particularly if your house is fitted with central air conditioning or a unit that isn’t energy efficient. The chemical compounds known as HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons that are responsible for keeping air conditioners and fridges running on hot days – or any days – represent a significant contribution to our planet’s global warming. In America alone, more than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released every year because of inefficient air conditioning units. To be able to control a unit remotely, and switch it on only when needed rather than leaving it on all day and guzzling up unnecessary energy is a wonderful thing. Game changing, from an environmental perspective.

But newer models and devices aren’t only being designed with remote control in mind – they also offer features including a “follow-me” function, that can measure the temperature of both the unit and the remote control to get a more accurate estimate of the room’s temperature before setting the unit to the right temperature. Some also come with a ‘Sleep Mode’ feature, meaning that you can set it to turn off automatically after one to seven hours – making it ideal to use in your bedroom overnight. Others come with built-in air purifiers, or the ability to send you mobile alerts when it’s time to to clean the filter.

No longer is an old-school, energy guzzling air conditioner going to make the cut, it seems. People want new, they want efficient, they want affordable and they want smarter air conditioning, something that syncs with the rest of today’s smart home device offering and voice enabled assistants.

Science has even brought us to the point where retrofitted air conditioners could potentially convert carbon dioxide into renewable hydrocarbon fuel. The idea was pitched in a comprehensive piece published by the journal Nature Communications by Roland Dittmeyer of the Karlesruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and has excited developers and researchers worldwide. Imagine if a seriously smart AC machine could – rather than perpetuate the problem – solve the problem of global warming instead?

The future of home living is smart. There is no doubt about it. With health sensors embedded in bathrooms to detect signs of illness, electric cars recharging in the driveway, automated smart-enabled shower heating systems adjusting shower temperatures according to the outside temperature, voice-controlled smart air conditioning and alarm clocks synced to users’ Google calendars, our homes will soon become highly evolved, highly intelligent technology hubs.

Swedish research firm Berg Insight predicts that 63 million American homes will qualify as “smart” by 2022, and, according to advisory firm ABI Research consumers will spend $123 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) products by 2021.  As consumers adopt more and more devices, most of which are compatible with the two most popular smartphone devices in the world (Samsung and Apple), and as global availability of products and services increases, homes will only continue to get smarter. It is as though we as humans can’t regress: once we have become used to a certain level of comfort and technological prowess, we can’t go backwards. Once we truly begin nailing artificial intelligence and robotics, there’ll certainly be no going back. We are truly addicted to ‘superior’ technology, and in future experts predict that homes will be built ‘smart’ from the outset, just like plumbing and electricity are today the first considerations in building a home or building.

Secrets to Successful, Lasting Businesses in The Digital Era

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Business is an industry that is constantly evolving from one iteration into the next. This is the industry that is responsible for the ongoing advancement of companies and entire industries. The term ‘business’ itself is quite broad, but the fundamentals that help the industry to not only survive but positively thrive, are more or less set in stone. Now, as we move further into the digital era, those fundamentals are modernising more and more. Reshaping and realigning with the way the world is moving. A successful business has always been about driving company fundamentals ever-forward to bring consumers the next experience, products, and services. That has not changed, but the ways in which companies and entire industries go about gravitating towards that experience have. So, what is the key to successful and lasting business in the digital era? Longevity and success in any business is always fantastic, but it is maintaining that longevity and success, and consistently growing it, that many businesses find difficult to nail down.

Growth Is the New Ambition for Businesses

Thankfully, there is a solution to a point, and it centres all around forging, building, maintaining, and growing human relationships in a professional setting. The decision to become an entrepreneur is one that should never be taken lightly, and nowhere else is this truer than in the case of modern business. Thanks to ongoing advancements in digitalisation and technological innovation, modern businesses are more focused than ever on achieving longevity and success not just instantaneously, but on an ongoing basis. It is more easily said than done, as well, as no business is without its challenges and hurdles. But there is one primary focus that ultimately has proven to be the key to ongoing longevity and success in modern business, time and again, across varying industries. Quite often, this is a business strategy that is crucial but too often overlooked, but what exactly is it, and why is it so important in the first place?

Catering to Your Target Market

First and foremost, no business and hope to survive past its first fiscal year (if it survives that long at all) without the loyalty and support of its consumers. Here’s the reality: no matter which industry a business thrives in, that business quite literally lives to serve a purpose. And in every case, across every industry, that purpose always centres around the consumers and giving them the best possible experience, product, or service available on the market. Keeping those consumers happy and drawing and maintaining their business, while continuing to grow your company, is no easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work, grit, and ongoing consumer communications both with consumers and within the company itself, to give consumers the best that you possibly can. But alas, that is the goal (and it always will be, for that matter). Your consumers are like your business’ family, so keeping them happy and loyal to your company is the most important foundational aspect of all.

Focussing on Your Loyal Consumers

Your business will thrive and excel if you take note of this advice, going on to become stronger and stronger all the time, on an ongoing basis. Consumer focus helps to ensure that all parties are getting the most benefit out of transactions, always. Everything else of course has its place (think everything from business meetings on a Webinar Software platform to industry networking events, and everything in between and beyond), but at the end of the day, consumer focus is the primary key because, without it, even the strongest business concept cannot hope to live a very long and healthy life at all. At the end of the day, your focus as an entrepreneur and business owner should always be on the consumers and what you can do to ensure that they have the best perception of your company and the best experience using the experiences, products, or services that your company provides. If you cannot achieve that, your business cannot hope to last very long at all. Harsh as it may seem, that is the unwavering truth of the matter.

Conclusion

The professional landscape of business is one that is literally always in the midst of its own evolution. Companies and entire industries are always working towards becoming bolder and stronger iterations of their former and current selves. Reshaping and realigning to move in the same pivotal direction as the rest of the world, modern businesses are realising the power of digitalisation and technological advancement and using that power to their distinct advantage. In a professional landscape that is more capable and more competitive than ever, there is immense power in modern business. The secret to unlocking that power? Consumer focus. More than anything else, consumer focus must be the prominent focus because at the end of the day, no business amounts to anything without resonating with consumers and making them see its value. Everything else will come in due time.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agriculture and Human Civilization

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Technology is a blessing to humanity, without which, society would crumble and communities lost to starvation. Agriculture has been a part of human civilization since the beginning of time. Being able to cultivate crops and having enough yield to sustain the population was instrumental to how we populated the world. In the beginning, domestication was the most crucial step in creating successful and effective agriculture. Plant domestication included how to sow and harvest crops in order to maximize the yield. 

Farmers and scientists worked together in figuring out how best to domesticate wild plants to suit us best. While scientists are able to work out the optimum requirements such as environment, water, climate, farmers go about it in the most basic manner: keeping the seeds of plants that provided the best fruit or yield. For instance, the seeds from the sweetest mangoes will be kept and perhaps even sold, which propagates the plant further and longer for more generations to come. Conversely, a plant that does badly is often cut down and discarded, removing its opportunity to further propagate. Through artificial selection, undesirable traits are extinguished over time, while the opposite is that plants with promising traits are kept, well cared for and flourish. These are the evolutions that agriculture had to go through, from domestication to coevolution, with science always hot on the industry’s tail in order to further improve the system. 

With the world now at 7.9 billion people, agriculture has to undergo yet another upheaval in order to continue providing for hungry mouths all over the world, making agriculture an uphill battle as the numbers continue to increase. Farmers are also forced to adapt to emerging technology as best they can in order to keep up. 

Vertical farming and grow lights are two of the more popular buzzwords of 2019 as sustainability came into the picture. According to statistics, the world is only able to sustain a maximum population of 10 billion people, but only if everyone became vegan as cattle and livestock takes up more than 33% of agricultural land worldwide. Therefore, in an attempt to capitalize on the remaining land, vertical farming was introduced, a method that is much more sustainable as it uses less land, less water and less fertilizer – plus with the help of grow lights, you can potentially grow crops all year round, even in the dead of winter because you will be growing the crops in a controlled environment. Farmers in South Africa have used this technique to great success, and the practice should see a spike of interest well into 2020 as it is converted into full scale, commercial farming, replacing the traditional farms of yesteryears. 

Another reason why vertical farming is becoming popular is because anyone can start a vertical farm. Regardless of whether you’re living on landed property or in an apartment, which is great for apartment dwellers. They don’t need to sacrifice having a bit of greenery in their lives by moving into apartment buildings. Walls are the new real estate to those with green thumbs. While it is not a new invention, having been introduced as early as 1988, vertical farming has only recently been picked up by the masses purely due to the fact that urban dwellers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the concrete jungle that surrounds them and the rate of disappearing jungles due to logging and the agricultural industry. 

Aside from that, vertical farming has the potential to shorten the supply chain. Instead of flying in product from another part of the country, you could have a farm right next to your grocer. Why not? It’s not as though it takes up a lot of space. Quite the contrary, consumers would be happy to purchase produce fresh from the garden, without having to drive for miles out of the city to a proper, conventional working farm. 

While vertical farming might be the solution to the fact that the world is becoming increasingly smaller and that we have less and less land every day, there is still the question of how technology can further aid agriculture and researchers and inventors come up with new solutions every day: drones to monitor growth, big data analysis, drip irrigation and even mobile applications that can monitor their crops, help with plant identification or troubleshooting on farm devices and technology. Farmers can also ask for advice on forums that are able to help give professional help on how to save their crops or maximize yield. The internet has a wreath of information that everyone should take it upon themselves to study and understand their industry better, especially in a field much like farming where technology is being produced at an unprecedented rate and where there are no one-size-fits-all system, due to land, climate and other factors that can affect one’s farm. 

Personalisation Advancements Seek to Revolutionise Health and Fitness Industry

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It is no secret that the health and fitness industry is always evolving. Like the rest of the modern world, there is an undeniable sense of continuous evolution that has propelled the health and fitness industry to unprecedented heights (in mostly positive ways, of course). The modern health and fitness era is all about giving the power back to the people and essentially putting them in charge of their own trajectory towards their healthier selves. To some people, it sounds kind of strange. To others, it makes perfect sense – and then some. The movement to introduce a more personalised approach to health and fitness has been spinning on its axis in the peripheral vision of the health and fitness industry for quite some time now, but it was not until recently that it has truly kicked into active gear. Now, the personalisation advancements that are rippling through the health and fitness industry are not only changing the game, but are revolutionising the way that we approach health and fitness from the onset.  

The current advancements in personalisation are changing the health and fitness game tenfold. Whether it is the latest wearables or the technologies that are enhancing the individual’s experience with their diet and exercise, the point is always the same: personalisation is the core of the modern era in health and fitness advancement – and for good reason. The more information that we get about health and fitness, the more aware and knowledgeable we become about the ways that we should be stepping up to ensure that our personal levels of health and fitness are at their best. Inevitably, that means walking the line between inclusive information and personalised approaches that not only showcase the elements of health and fitness that apply to everyone, but the intricate specifics that assist that select individual in not only meeting their goals, but smashing them out of the park. 

That is where the magic starts, and personalisation is the driving force behind propelling that magic onward and upward. For every individual, their approach to their own health and fitness differs from those on either side of the. Sometimes, the differences are minute, and in other instances the differences are more significant. Some individuals buy clenbuterol while others exclusively eat a plant-based diet. Some individuals thrive in the structured environment of the gym, while others bloom in the natural environment around them out in the great outdoors. Regardless of who you are or what your specific approach to health and fitness is, however, the core underlying concept is that personalisation technology is here and it is advancing at exceedingly rapid rates, spelling the beginning of the next era in health and fitness. It is a beginning that is full of hope and promise, and one that is more than a little exciting to boot.

Personalisation advancement seeks to revolutionise the health and fitness industry, and to this end the movements thus far (think wearable technologies, apps, etc) are certainly positive. At the end of the day, personalisation advancements are worth their weight in gold. This is a fact that this fresh newfound approach to health and fitness is effectively proving time and again. The introduction and ongoing advancement of personalisation in the global health and fitness industry is a testament to the fact that consumers want solutions that work for them specifically and are not just broadly catered to the many people. Personalisation is the aim of the game these days, and it is certainly off to a flying start in the health and fitness industry. Best of all, is the fact that what we are currently seeing now is just the beginning of what is sure to be a very exciting, even life changing era in health and fitness.

The health and fitness industry is one of the most enduring and impressive industries in the world. This is an industry that is renowned for being instrumentally aware and responsive to the shifting priorities and needs of its consumers. And lately, the advancements rippling through the health and fitness industry have been primarily geared towards personalisation. This is an incredible movement, and it is one that is gaining considerable traction even now, several months into the global shift in the health and fitness industry. At the core of it all, personalisation advancements in health and fitness are all about giving the power back to the people and letting them run with it in ways that are truly relevant to them individually, not just as a collective group. It has taken some time to get to this point, but finally we are seeing incredibly healthy and supported movements in health and fitness towards a more globally personalised approach to all things health and fitness. The best is yet to come, so buckle up.

Is Tech Making Real Estate More Profitable?

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Real estate investment offers extraordinary financial opportunities, but properties also take a lot of time and effort to effectively manage. With the rise of new technology, however, real estate is becoming more profitable than ever before. The proptech industry is changing everything from how we buy and sell property to daily management activities, and these improvements are also making the industry more profitable. 

The Nature Of Ownership

In order to understand what makes real estate so lucrative, it’s important to understand how properties are distributed. While apartment buildings are obviously owned by investors, with some units individually held, condos are increasingly becoming privatized; in Toronto, nearly 40% of condos are not owner occupied. Some of these may be second homes, but others are vacant or otherwise being rented out to tenants. This trend is increasingly common, both in other Canadian cities and in the United States. It also means that it’s not just huge conglomerates managing properties. There are a lot of investors with just a few properties trying to navigate this changing space.

Proptech’s Sales Shift

At the simplest level, proptech offers owners a simplified way of managing rental properties, from collecting rent to managing maintenance requests, but these tools are among the least remarkable. Rather, it’s the way that proptech facilitates sales that is having the greatest impact on the industry. 

Through new proptech-driven interfaces, buyers can now participate in 3-D viewings or schedule their viewings online, a growing number of independent owners can make sales without relying on a traditional broker as an in-between. Even the mortgage industry is taking the steps necessary to become digital-first. Stepping back from conventional mortgage offerings, new finance companies are supporting co-ownership models that can help people take steps toward ownership without taking out a conventional mortgage and which have the potential to reduce home ownership disparities. 

Cutting Operating Costs

Simple management programs have an obvious impact on cutting operating costs, but many real estate investors don’t realize just how sales-focused proptech can also boost net operating income. Net operating income specifically refers to whether a company or investment group has enough income to cover basic operating expenses like insurance, utilities, maintenance, and property taxes; it can be evaluated using a net income calculator. It isn’t a comprehensive financial evaluation, however, as net operating income ignores both income and expenditures outside daily management, including overall capital structure, income taxes, and company overhead. However, net operating income can provide a basic sense of how much it costs to operate a given property, as well as whether or not that property is generating enough income – it’s a good way to isolate a portion of a larger operation.

Companies using sales-focused proptech are better positioned to increase their basic operating expenses by cutting out a number of core real estate costs. Startup Opendoor, for example, is essentially a high-tech home-flipping service. The company will clean up a posted property, let users schedule their own tours, sans agent guidance, and even accept bids on the property. Considering how much owners and buyers typically pay to agents for their services in the course of a sale, as well as how much time agents spend performing labor that doesn’t directly generate income, such platforms offer an opportunity for all participants to shift into more immediately profitable roles.

Competition For Market Share

The current proptech revolution has been in process for years now, but ultimately what will make or break a given company is how much market share they’re able to claim. In addition to Opendoor, there’s also Redfin, Offerpad, and Knock, as well as traditional real estate and banking companies like Keller Williams and Coldwell Banker moving to offer iBuying options. And, of course, there are also sites like Zillow that are looking to shift from showing listings to facilitating sales more directly. It’s a crowded market and none of the players are quite identical, but they’re likely to look more and more alike as they each launch additional services. 

As various proptech firms compete for the home sales market, they should also be mindful of how their current offerings could serve the apartment market. These tools could help boost landlords’ income by automating or facilitating many of the same activities that they support for owners looking to sell – scheduling tours or providing virtual ones, managing background and credit checks, and generally removing a lot of the labor typically performed by office managers. Even larger property owners could potentially do away with these administrative roles, or cut back on them significantly, by implementing new proptech.

The Human Touch

Exactly how proptech will be used is sure to vary based on both owners and potential consumers, but anyone who’s worried about the importance of professional expertise and the value of the human touch can rest easy. Several companies currently specialize in pairing digital users with agents, and while the profit potential is high with proptech, landlords are unlikely to do away with all office support. Housing is still a community-driven field and landlords want to facilitate connection in whatever way their audience of potential tenants demands.

Why the Dropout Rate is Rising for USA College Students

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Since the 1970’s, the college completion rate in the United States has consistently seen a decline. This has become a growing concern especially as the 16-24 year old age bracket has been affected the most.

A considerable more amount of high school students have been entering college since the 1980’s. While this can be viewed as a positive change, unfortunately the number of graduating students has not increased. Compared to the 1970’s, there has been a 5% decrease in a 25 year olds likeliness of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This data was found through a study performed by professors Michael Lovenheim, John Bound, and Sarah Turner.

Why the college dropout rates have increased is because of numerous reasons. Those along with the repercussions on the economy and steps to resolve it are outlined ahead.

Increase in College Tuition

FundingU, a student loan lending company, surveyed their customers and found that more than half were forced to drop out of college due to lack of funding. Approximately 79% of the surveyed students claimed they would have to delay their graduation due to financial constraints. 55% said they had issues finding enough to pay for college.

The average cost of tuition during the 2017-2018 school year was $34,740 at private institutions. Public colleges averaged at $9,970 and $25,620 for out-of-state residents. After mortgage debt in the United States, student loan debt is the second largest debt category. It amounts to approximately $1.48 trillion across 44 million borrowers.

It’s clear that the rising cost of tuition is out of reach for many students. This is causing financial situations that result in prolonging graduation or not reaching it at all. These are loans that most likely won’t be paid back for a decade. Understanding this, some young adults may not even be considering a college education knowing the financial repercussions.

However, cert IV training and assessment online has seen an incline in interest, especially in Australia. Many students have chosen to pursue a digital education in light of the rising prices for conventional brick and mortar institutions.

Forced to Work Longer Hours

To meet the rising costs of college, students are forced to work longer hours to be able to afford tuition. An increase in hours of employment means less time is available to study and attend classes. This can easily have an affect on students ability to graduate or the time it will take them to reach it.

As well, having less time to complete labs or extensive assignments such as an expository essay can decrease grades. Together these factors can increase stress or anxiety levels. This potentially further adds to why those enrolled may consider dropping out.

How it Affects the Economy

It’s common knowledge that the level of education someone reaches can raise their income level. This is because they are able to specialize in specific fields and acquire in-demand occupations. Without higher education, it can be more difficult to find these high paying jobs.

So, if less students are graduating from college, there will be a decrease in higher earning and specialized employees. According to the American Institutes for Research, $4.5 billion in earnings and tax revenue was lost in 2010 because of the college dropout rate. This was the result of 1.1 million students entering college to receive a bachelor’s degree and 500,000 not graduating.

The lost tax revenue and earnings could have helped develop institutions, communities, and similar infrastructure. Also, less educated individuals may struggle to find employment and will have to rely on government assistance. This only further worsens the problem.

What’s Being Done About it

This is not an issue that has gone unnoticed. Certain states are beginning to reallocate their resources in an attempt to raise graduation rates. Specifically, an increase in expenditures for student services has had positive affects on such rates.

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden spoke on this topic, sayingRight now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline… We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the register’s office. The dreams and skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation “.

Since then, the federal government has begun developing college completion tool kits. These are strategies that governors and states can implement to help raise higher education rates. Financial incentives are one of the many propositions. Others include:

  • Allow high school students to more easily gain college credits.
  • Improve high school preparation for college.
  • Restructure curriculum and grading to aid students in graduating on time.

While the college dropout rate in the United States is a definite problem, it not unfix-able. Lowering tuition rates, preparing high school students more and reallocating resources are crucial areas to target. More action is being taken than ever before to help students graduate. With this momentum, it’s fair to assume that the United States could see a decrease in college dropouts in further years.

Turning an affinity for communication into a career

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For millions of students a year, university is their primary focus, their way of working toward a bigger goal. The sole aim of going to university or college is to come out of the experience with a degree. Not only that, but important skills that have been obtained over the duration of studying for said degree. Students everywhere are taught that their future financial stability depends on their ability to hone and utilise specified skills when it is most needed. There tends to be an emphasis on the importance of learning specific skills in the name of having a flourishing, successful career. As students focus on these specific skill sets, the more ‘general’ skills like confidence and communication go unnoticed and underutilised. While it is a certainty that these skills are more aligned with everyday skill sets, they are still incredibly important. In fact, communication is one of the most fundamental skills that any person can have these days. In practically every aspect of life, every potential career path, communication is ingrained into it in some way or another. While students study a vast array of courses and topics, they ultimately become communicators in a sense.

Regardless of what a student’s chosen degree or major is, being able to articulate thoughts and progressively have them play an integral part in the college or university experience ultimately allows students to take those thought processes and years of practice into the real world once they finish their degree and move on from the campus. Even the most introverted students come out of their shells and engage while learning the fundamentals that will form the basis of their future careers – they have to. To ignore those around you as a student is to plead ignorance, and that simply will not do. Professors and future employers prefer to have students and staff in their midst that want to go better, that reach for more, and go out of their way to squeeze every last drop out of the university or college experience.

Communication is the lifeblood of the university or college experience; those that go out of their way to speak to their educators, fellow students, and potential employers while they are still in the stage of learning on campus, set themselves up for heightened successes ahead of the game. Going out of one’s way to communicate with those around them while part of a university or college campus makes students feel more connected, giving them more of a complete sense of belonging and confidence in an otherwise alien environment.

Some students take their keen sense for communication further by going on to study a communication-driven degree, such as marketing, authorities, IT, or even HR management. For students that opt to invest in and study a HR management course, they go on to become the primary key instigators in their chosen company’s talent management system. Additionally, HR students tend to go on to become the face of a company’s people sector…taking care of the individuals that make up the company’s employee body. The transition from the student in need of guidance to the career-driven individual that offers guidance is one that is increasingly becoming a popular career choice, as students revel in the opportunity to prove their abilities and their compassion for others by communicating honestly and openly.

When prospective employers are asked what the biggest deciding factor is when they hire (or do not hire) someone, they nearly always come back with something along the general lines of communication skills. It is simply not enough anymore to have the necessary, specific skills required for a particular job. To be taken seriously, prospective employees must be able to communicate honestly and openly, as communication is vital in any career, but especially in the initial stages of that career. Employers want individuals that can speak of their passions, as well as demonstrate them. The ability and willingness to do every part of the job – and do it well – is what sets potential job-getters apart from the masses. It has never been more important for students to learn these communication skills before they successfully earn their degree, never more invaluable to understand the advantages and the drawbacks of life, in every sense of the word. To thrive in this modern-day society, people must be able to communicate as well as do.

Annually, there are millions of students that go through the motions of the university or college experience, learning skills and undergoing tests along the way on their path to their future. Securing any student’s future is not only about the specified skillset their degree and their university or college teach them, but about the skills that they learn for themselves along the way. University has a distinct way of bringing students out of their shell through in-class learning methods, as well as the environment itself. As students make the transition from being seasoned learners, comfortable in their environment, to fresh prospective employees of their chosen field, their communication skills become their best friend, allowing them to navigate this newest stage of life with as much ease and velocity as possible.

 

The pressure of university causing a global panic

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For individuals that opt to go to university or college, they make the decision knowing that the path to graduation will not come without its mountains to climb. Year after year, students are given assignments to write, practicals to complete, and exams to study for. The issue is not so much with the work itself – anyone that goes into university as a student expects it to be hard work…after all, that is the point. The stresses come with students having to work to survive and still having to cope the sheer number of hours they must invest in their education to sometimes even make passing grades. It is quite rare that a university student only has their studies to commit time to. Most students work – some of them even working full time hours or positions – while simultaneously balancing their studies, spending time with their families, seeing their friends, and having time to themselves. University is a constant balancing act, and it is not at all uncommon for some students to struggle trying to stay afloat as their responsibilities whir around them like an immense whirlpool of stress, anxiety, and overwhelming responsibility. With finals week being arguably the most anxiety-inducing time for any university student, universities everywhere are coming up with inventive ways to ease the stresses on students around the most important time in the semester.

University finals tend to be one of the most frenzied times of a student’s year, and they are definitely the most chaotic times of the university calendar year. There is nearly always a build-up to several assignments and multiple exams all being due in the one week, and the truth is that students are simply not built (in most cases) to deal with so much, all at once. While universities impress upon their students that they should be giving their studies 110% all the time, they seem to forget the reality that is most university and college student’s lives. Most students work nearly full time hours while attending university, with some even having shifts in the morning, class in afternoon (or vice versa) and having to put in study time outside of campus as well. Top this with the basic human need to have quality time with loved ones as well as treasured time alone, and students can barely keep up with the expectations placed upon them.

While there are various causes of anxiety and stress among students, there are a few that stand out as primary causes. Overinvested parents and students being solely focusing on achieving the desired grades are a potentially lethal combination. As students invest too little or even too much time on maintaining and excelling at their students, their parents can sometimes be too invested in their futures, causing the weight of the world to feel more like an entire galaxy upon the student’s shoulders. It can be argued – as can anything – that stresses and issues can only impact students as much or as little as they allow them to, but when the pressure is constant and the stress is unyielding, students are placed in the impossible circumstances of needing to measure up while trying not to fall down.

There are many contributing traits that have the potential to build up and throw a student off.

Personal and family pressures creep into a student’s psyche and turn even the most confident of students into anxiety-driven individuals that can barely keep themselves afloat in the sea of assessments, examinations, and overall academic performance (among all the other moving pieces of their life). Universities themselves can be less than supportive at times, which makes students feel alone in their higher education experience. While the stresses pile up, there are now thankfully multiple tools and outlets now available to students that can help ease the anxiety that they experience on the daily while on campus. Students can invest in the help of a trusted tutor to bump their knowledge and skill set up. Students have access to online portals that are their saving graces, offering various kinds of academic essay writing service that can take the pressure off the student’s shoulders when it matters the most. Support groups and online forums are now available for students to connect with others that are experiencing the same or similar struggles to themselves.

The mental health of students should always be the first priority but unfortunately for some, their schools lack adequate (if even existent) assistance for students – as well staff – struggling with mental health issues during their time as members of the educational institutions. As more campuses invest in stress relieving assistances like puppy playgrounds and free sausage sizzles to boost student morale during examination hot spots throughout the year, students are being given little boosts to help keep them afloat. For students that are struggling on a more serious level to deal with their studies, there are now mental health assistance programs and spaces that can be of crucial support when individuals need it most.

While university is often referred to as one of the most exciting times of a student’s life. While this could not be more true, it is also one of the most anxious, stress-driven periods of a student’s life. Year after year, students are weighed down by the pressures that university puts on them, and yet the ones that can cope persevere despite the crushing accountability of all that lays before them. Mental health support is crucial on university and college campuses, now more than ever. As it is becoming increasingly apparent that students find it difficult to cope, there is comfort in knowing that universities and colleges are coming up with new and inventive ways to offer support to their students when they need it most. More importantly, more and more universities and colleges are now offering mental health assistance year-round. It is a pivotal turning point in the global epidemic that is mental health struggle, and it could not come at a more crucial time.

Technology and its assistance in climate change related natural disasters

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In recent years, the world has experienced a record number of back-to-back natural disasters. In the U.S. over 110 large fires burned throughout the country last summer alone, with California facing its deadliest heat wave ever. One study found that the area affected by forest fires in the West has more than doubled over the past 30 years, with Washington state having experienced the most damaging fire in state history in 2015. Hurricane Harvey and Irma brought devastation to Texas, the Caribbean and Florida last year, wreaking widespread havoc and earning Harvey earning the reputation of the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Southeast Asia suffered catastrophic flooding in 2017, killing 1200 people, displacing tens of thousands and causing more than $3.5 billion in total losses. Then there was the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan that contributed to losses of over $354 billion in today’s dollars, the extreme heatwave of Europe and California’s severe drought of 2017. According to global insurance firm Swiss Re, economic loss in 2017 were estimated at $306 billion – almost double 2016’s loss and also much higher than the 10-year-average of $190 billion.

And the verdict is in. Scientific studies are beginning to reveal that climate change is exacerbating the naturally-occurring risks we already face as inhabitants of planet Earth. Extreme event attribution is one of the most rapidly expanding fields of climate science, with one major conclusion being drawn by those studying it: extreme weather events are here to stay.

So how do we prepare for what lies ahead? The answer is one that, ironically, is perhaps responsible for getting us to where we are today. Technology.

Technology can help solve inefficiencies within humanitarian responses to natural disasters. Next gen technology such as robotics and AI can help improve the efficiency and productivity (in terms of cost savings) to emergency responses, as well as allow humanitarian organizations to share data in order to better collaborate with other organizations. Through technologies that enable electronic payments, people in need of fast and secure cash relief can be helped quicker than ever before. But perhaps aiding the coordination and communication effort following a disaster is where we see technology have the most impact. Be it for relief workers on the ground, families seeking loved ones, authorities wishing to locate the missing or hospitals trying to treat the injured, traditional communication channels are often overloaded or broken down and unable to be used during times of crisis. ‘Crisis maps’ is one example of a Google-owned product that works to aid emergency communications and disaster response, using open-source software with information provided live by locals to develop maps of the crisis and publish real time information regarding the impact. Through this platform, messages and texts submitted by those trapped under rubble are able to be heard, enabling quick and efficient response by rescue teams. In the U.S., there are countless apps geared towards survival and rescue during an emergency. The official FEMA app is one example, which allows users to stay updated with weather-related alerts from the U.S. National Weather Service as well as upload and share disaster photos to support the emergency response effort. In a more generalized way, social media can also help save lives and reconnect separated families in the wake of a natural disaster – as well as enable communities to hold agencies to account by spreading awareness of abuse or poor conditions in refugee camps.  

Early warning systems and capabilities via mobile technology can also allow people to prepare for oncoming disasters. For example, had Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia utilized early action systems they could have avoided as many as 100,000 deaths during the most recent famine, more than half of which were children, one Oxfam and Save The Children study found.

Technology can also facilitate the development of materials and products that prevent damage inflicted by natural disasters. Bushfire shutters, for example, are designed to withstand extreme heat, preventing windows from shattering and causing curtains or furniture to catch aflame. This significantly reduces the risk of houses of being burnt down during a bushfire, which can potentially save lives. Better yet, the technology of today can converge architectural, engineering and geo-spatial data to put into place better town planning, enabling builders, architects and government to prioritize restoration efforts in the wake of a natural disaster – as well as better plan towns to prevent further damage by natural disasters.

Technology can also help us mitigate climate change through innovations such as renewable energy, in order to reduce the risk climate change poses in terms of natural disasters. Finding and harnessing alternative energy sources are key to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and in turn, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Through tech innovation we will see the complete transformation of the automation industry into one that uses resources more efficiently to reduce waste, pollution, energy usage and use of raw materials. Technology can also allow for large scale growth of lab-developed meats, lessening our dependence on livestock farming which contributes significantly to global warming and uses valuable amounts of land and water.

We simply need to harness all the incredible opportunities technology presents us in order to better cope with the inevitable increase of climate change-related natural disasters we will experience in our lifetime.

Technology growing in the workplace requires appropriate guidelines for employee usage and responsibilities

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Workplace environments are vastly shifting the way professionals communicate with others. As technology becomes an integral portion of workplace, employees, bosses, and coworkers are all affected by this changing communication. Workers must learn and keep up with digital communication to make sure they are updated on company announcements and concerns. The workforce used to heavily rely on vocal communication as a means of dissenting information, but now businesses continually seek new ways to maximize communication efficiency.

Although sending an email may be easier for some than just making an office announcement, there’s no set rules for responding to emails. This is pertinent to all types of businesses, from restaurant management to property management. Many communication errors could be eliminated if professionals would make an avid effort to make sure they are reading all emails as this is an important step in understanding new ways of communicating in work environments. Too many times excuses have come up with an employee ‘not reading the email.’ To avoid that communication issue, it would be beneficial for companies to assemble a technology guidelines and expectations book or manual that allows employees to understand what is expected of them when utilizing technology in the workplace. In said manual, the company or organization could provide rules for replying to emails in an efficient and timely manner and provide guidelines for always reading company emails.

A technology manual will also help workers understand how they are to utilize technology within the workplace. A large issue with having personal laptops and mobile devices in the work environment is that they can provide a large distraction to individuals and their coworkers. It’s easy to open a phone to check a text message and then opening various other apps to check social media or scores of games. Having technology at consumer fingertips fosters a society of desiring continuous and constant updates on everything. People feel as if they need to know exactly what is going on all the time because the fear of missing out would mean possible societal and/or social isolation due to feeling left out over a national or global phenomena that happens via the internet. Having the internet readily available for employees at all times can disrupt productivity if company computers and laptops aren’t being used effectively.

With the implementation of heavy amounts of technology and devices powering offices and professional work environments, it’s become crucial to have an IT employee or team on-site as much as possible. If the technology fails, the work will be impossible to complete until it is fixed. Asking managers and employees to call a help center instead of having a live person working IT can be difficult in regards to communication. Conversing via telephone with others on how to fix a technical issue doesn’t always provide the same results as actually employing IT personnel to come resolve issues. It’s important for companies to maintain awareness of internet issues an stay well prepared in the event the wifi would fail or another form of internet access stops working. Having a backup plan incase technology would fail can be a highly beneficial tactic.

As digital communication becomes a main form of interaction between workers, it’s important for companies to implement standards regarding expectations for digital communication. Some industry professionals have concerns over the future of face-to-face communication. Workers must now learn the professional business standard of having company conversations as well as learn how to maintain a strong sense of responsibility for having a positive digital presence through email communication. Some things can be difficult to express and explain via email, so having effective communication skills is vital to the success in any job.

Technology growing in the workplace is inevitable. The solutions for technology disruption isn’t necessarily to remove it, but to provide guidelines and rules for employees using it. Companies and businesses will have to learn how to implement new standards for new ways of working. Being flexible with growing industries is crucial to economic growth as complacency can be dangerous to the stagnation and fall of a company. As profitable revenue is the goal of most companies, this can only be generated if workers are effectively doing their jobs and communicating. Many errors made can be reduced if workers are effectively communicating with each other.

It would be effective companies add a communication portion to their employee orientation. A communication section should include a thorough guideline for business communication expectations. Along with face-to-face professionalism standards, the company should also include their rules for utilizing technology in the workplace and expectations for digital communication responsibilities. After explaining the rules of expected behavior, then companies should give examples in employee orientation about the right and wrong ways to perform these communication behaviors. If they take the time to explain what is irresponsible behavior when utilizing technology or what is appropriate conversational behaviors, they will reduce the amount of future communication discrepancies and disruptions. The last thing to be explain is the repercussions and consequences for employees failing to follow company guidelines. To implement these tactics into an employee orientation with help teach new employees therefore, it is important that a manager employs an outstanding trainer to teach and train them. As technology grows, the rules and guidelines for professional usage will continue to grow with it.