Hands-Free Tool For Field Workers Wins 2019 CIO 100 Award

The U.S. employs a significant number of field workers. From public safety employees to the individuals in the military that work overseas, they need technology that can keep up with their needs and their environment. These devices, whether they’re laptops of tablets, need to pass strict standards such as the MIL-STD-810 (Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests) in order to ensure their functionality in the field. Until now, that is; Ricoh, USA Inc. has recently made it onto IDG’s CIO 100 list in 2019 for their hands-free development. It’s called Smart Hands, and it offers field technicians the ability to connect directly and immediately with cloud-hosted knowledge repositories and subject matter experts (SMEs); as a result, both first-time fix rates and customer satisfaction are improved. “Smart Hands is a natural evolution of Ricoh’s strong focus on customer outcomes, including uptime, productivity and service satisfaction,” said Kris Rao, Vice President and Head of Information Technology, Ricoh USA, Inc. “We help customers improve employee productivity, grow their business effectiveness and efficiency, and better serve their own customers. [Smart Hands] empowers Ricoh’s technical services to ‘practice what they preach,’ by creating a shared knowledge platform that enables immediate access to the information required to solve complex customer issues.” IDG’s CIO 100 is a place for greatness to come together. The awards celebrate 100 organizations and the teams within them that are striving to use IT in innovative ways. “Across the business landscape, companies everywhere recognize the vital role that an innovative, value-driven approach to information technology plays in their success,” said Maryfran Johnson, Executive Director, CIO Programs, IDG. “This year’s CIO 100 winning companies are inspiring examples of how IT leadership, business collaboration and digital transformation will drive future growth.” Ricoh’s development certainly fits the bill. Smart Hands enables the company’s 4,500 field techs to have instant, hands-free contact with its resources — including live support. Businesses the world over (especially those with large employee bases) can benefit from the immediate access Smart Hands provides to its distant technicians. At the end of the day, customers are satisfied, and business is...

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New Legislation Could Put Texas Pipeline Protesters Behind Bars For 10 Years
May23

New Legislation Could Put Texas Pipeline Protesters Behind Bars For 10 Years

Every year, more than 4 billion metric tons of oil is produced globally, and gas and oil together power 60% of U.S. energy consumption. Much of that oil and gas is extracted in Texas, which is typically friendly to oil and gas industries, a major economic driver in the Lone Star state. To protect those interests, state lawmakers recently passed legislation to protect oil pipelines in Texas. Texas lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature just approved legislation that criminalizes certain actions of oil pipeline protesters. Under the new legislation, any protester who interrupts operations or damages equipment could potentially face up to 10 years in prison. According to the legislation, protesters who are found guilty of delaying the construction of an oil pipeline or halting its service could be charged with a third-degree felony. A felony could also be charged to anyone found guilty of these actions against pipelines for natural gas, a resource that powers up to 66.7 million homes in the United States. Under federal law a third-degree felony is punishable by serving anywhere between two to 10 years in prison. For reference, this is the same sentence that drive-by shooters who miss their targets face when found guilty. The measure is meant to protect the pipeline companies that build the 72,000 miles of crude oil lines in the United States. According to the proposed legislation, pipelines would be classified as “critical infrastructure,” which is the same category that covers power plants and water treatment facilities. The Texas Oil and Gas Association is in support of the bill’s passage because of this protection. The biggest opponents to the legislation are environmental groups. They view the bill as an attack on the protesters’ right to freedom of speech. “The bill was never about safety and security. It was about silencing protesters trying to protect their water and land,” Cyrus Reed, interim director for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said in an email to Bloomberg. Texas isn’t alone in putting this bill through its legislative bodies. As of early 2018, there were 58 anti-protest bills moving through the legislatures of 31 states. Similar legislation has already passed in Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Louisiana. All of these bills come in the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests that took place during the summer of 2016 and the decade-long battle over the Keystone XL pipeline. These bills, however, are being met with opposition. A lawsuit was recently filed in federal court in Louisiana to challenge the critical infrastructure law. The lawsuit alleges that the law allows authorized personnel to prohibit people from any of...

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SEO in 2019: What’s Changing?
May23

SEO in 2019: What’s Changing?

SEO, like all aspects of digital marketing, changes rapidly. It can vary greatly from year to year, or even month to month. This is why it’s so important for businesses to be up to speed with what’s going on in the world of SEO. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some information provided by industry experts to share with you. Optimize for Voice Search Over the past few years, voice search has become increasingly popular. By just speaking a few words, consumers can have easy access to related search results. And many industry experts say that keywords and pages should absolutely be optimized for voice search. According to Danny Star from Websites Depot, “SEO in 2019 has two new paradigms: Artificial Intelligence and Voice Marketing. The evolution of AI makes it fundamental to invest in content that is as useful as it gets. Google’s goal is not only to provide the best answers but actually to predict user’s search intentions. An advanced level of keyword research applied to engaging, useful content is key. On the other hand, voice marketing is also changing the game on keyword research, as they need to adapt to the way users talk. Local businesses are the primary beneficiaries of this emerging type of marketing.” And Daniel Lewis from Lewis SEO agrees with the importance of voice search, saying, “Search is a constantly changing universe and a lot of times people come to the party late. By the time the general populous learns about a technology being important, its been important for a while. The technology you should be dealing with because its already here is voice first. If you are not already optimized for voice first you need to get the lead out and get it moving!” With more and more people investing in voice technology, like Alexa, businesses need to adapt to how consumers are conducting searches. Andrew Ruditser from MAXBURST explains, “With the development of Siri, Alexa, and many other personal assistance voice apps, businesses and services are going to have to change the way they present their content. For these voice applications to distribute their information properly, companies will have to change their content to more of an answering questions/problem solving type of presence. This will become a bigger trend in 2019 as the development of these products continue to expand.” Know What Consumers Want Search results pages are designed to provide the best possible resources related to the user’s search — and sites like Google are really honing in on providing the best search results possible. Maria Cieslak from Onely says “Recently, we can see that Google is paying more attention to providing...

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Medical Costs Rising In America
May20

Medical Costs Rising In America

Across the United States, healthcare costs have been rising in recent years. Now, many Americans struggle to pay their medical costs without going into debt or struggling financially as a result. While certain prices may be expensive due to insurance companies not covering medically unnecessary procedures, many are facing debt and financial hardship due to being underinsured or uninsured. The top five medical diagnoses given in urgent care centers during 2016 were acute upper respiratory infections, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, cough, and fever. Cost Of Living Across the nation, health care costs are increasing and creating barriers to care for many families. According to a recent report, as many as 137 million Americans have suffered financial hardships as a result of increasing medical costs. That amounts to roughly 56% of the adult population of the United States who have faced significant financial trouble as a result of medical expenses. While some Americans write off rising costs as being associated with elective care and expensive medicine, this is not the case, as many medical procedures have not changed significantly in many years, even though the U.S. is the number one consumer of prescription drugs and medical devices in the world. Gibbon developed the cardiopulmonary bypass in 1953, and the technique has not significantly changed enough to warrant steep rises in costs. Instead, many of the costs and financial issues related to medical care come from the large percentage of Americans who remain underinsured or entirely without insurance. Without a stable insurance plan, many Americans are forced to pay for most or all of the bill entirely on their own. Elective Procedures Elective procedures and medical products are often not covered by a majority of insurance plans, leading to increased costs for medicine. For example, it’s estimated that by 2024, the global skin care market will reach $180 billion. Many medical-grade skin care products are helpful for treating painful or embarrassing conditions, but unless they are deemed medically necessary by an insurance provider, patients will be forced to pay out of pocket for them. It’s not just elective procedures that can cause problems for those who are underinsured. Many insurance companies will not cover certain procedures, even if they will help improve quality of life. Around 12% of people in the United States experience TMJ disorders at any one time, and not everyone suffering from this disorder will have insurance that allows them to seek proper treatment. Even twice-yearly dental checkups must be covered under specific dental insurance. Life-Saving Care For some Americans, a lack of reliable health insurance can become a matter of life or death. Consider patients with occupational lung...

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Feeling Sheepish? So Is One French School That’s Enrolling Sheep as Pupils
May20

Feeling Sheepish? So Is One French School That’s Enrolling Sheep as Pupils

One French primary school has started feeling a bit sheepish, but it isn’t because of “shear” embarrassment: in an effort to prevent classes from being canceled, a farmer has enrolled 15 sheep from his herd to boost class numbers. This comes after concerned parents in the French Alps feared that falling student numbers would cause some classes to close. Upon hearing that the student numbers had fallen from 266 to 261 at the Crêts en Belledonne, herder Michel Girerd brought his flock to the school. He then enrolled 15 sheep out of his 50-strong flock as symbolic pupils to prevent one class from closing. The farmer even brought the sheep’s birth certificates to ensure they were enrolled properly. It was thanks to Girerd and his collaboration with concerned parents that the classes were able to stay open. “Now we won’t have to close any classes,” noted Gaelle Laval, one parent behind the initiative. Laval was one of the parents who accused the national education authority of caring more about the numbers behind the school than the actual students. The comic ceremony amused staff and children alike. The students were more than happy to pet the sheep whose skin and wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture. “Now we won’t have to close any classes,” Laval continued. “And so now, with this surge in numbers, we are good.” If the school had chosen to close one of its 11 classes, the average class size would have increased from 24 to 26. This is more than the recommended number of students supported by French President Macron who hopes to make 24 students the upper limit in his education proposal. It’s estimated that 5% of children entering first grade will already suffer from a noticeable speech disorder, making smaller classrooms essential in the learning process. Smaller classes enable teachers to give the necessary one-on-one time each student needs to succeed. Because every child learns differently, it’s thanks to smaller classes that each student is given the time, effort, and recognition they deserve in an educational setting. The decision to enroll the sheep was approved by Mayor Jean-Louis Maret, who had officially recognized the schooling of sheep as an additional boost to the parents’ campaign. Among the symbolic sheep pupils include Baa-bete, Dolly, and Saute-Mouton, the last translating roughly to “leapfrog.” And leapfrog the education system, they...

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