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Google Launches Sidewalk Labs; Aims to Help Fix Cities


Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page speaks during the keynote presentation at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco.(Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Google (GOOG) is starting a new, independent urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs that aims to improve cities, according to a post on Google+ by CEO Larry Page. The Street - by Jessica Guynn - June 11, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Google, famous for its ambitious projects to build self-driving cars and high-altitude balloons that beam the Internet to earth, is now taking aim at fixing another major problem: city life.

The new initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, will use technology and innovation in an effort to improve urban life at a time when the U.S. population is gravitating to cities, according to Google CEO Larry Page.

Based in New York, it will be run by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City who will combine his experience in managing cities with funding from Google.


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International Ebola Recovery Conference Ending Ebola: “Get to Zero, Stay at Zero and Rebuild”

Congo Town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP

Image: Congo Town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP - May 9th, 2015

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host an International Ebola Recovery Conference in July to ensure that the affected countries receive the resources and support they need to overcome the wider socio-economic consequences of the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 10 July 2015 will take place in cooperation with the Governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, together with other partners. 

With numbers of Ebola cases have dropped, the affected countries still need the support of the international community to get to zero cases, stay there, and to move forward on the road to recovery.


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Shaking Up the Status Quo in Nepal



Hand image - Status Quo Nepal, NYT

“Ke garne?” an old lady said to us, tears pouring down her cheeks, as we visited her earthquake-battered village in the Dhading district of Nepal last month: “What to do?” With a history of repeated crises — political, economic and natural — it has become the Nepali way to shrug one’s shoulders and hope for the best.

Sadly, people have been hoping for a long time: even before the earthquakes, Nepal was one of the poorest, most corrupt and least equal countries in the world. 

 (Read Complete Article)

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The Other Grade 3 Emergencies Apart From Ebola


Men walk past damaged buildings after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. The disaster is just one of six Grade 3 emergencies that require a massive response from the World Health Organization.
Photo by: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi / UNDP Nepal - by Jenny Lei Ravelo - May 21, 2015

There is no doubt that Ebola was 2014’s biggest health emergency, which required — and continues to command — a massive response from the World Health Organization and the wider international community.

But it was not the only emergency that demanded WHO’s attention and resources over the course of the past year.

During the special session of the executive board on Ebola in January, member states requested the health agency submit a report containing information on all Grade 3 emergencies the organization responded to as from May 2014.


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WHO Director-General Addresses High-Level Meeting on Ebola R&D


From crisis to sustainable development: lessons from the Ebola outbreak - May 10, 2015

. . . three changes will do the most to improve the world’s collective defence against the infectious disease threat.

First, invest in building resilient communities and well-performing health systems that integrate public health and primary health care. Ideally, health systems should aim for universal health coverage, so the poor are not left behind. This requires new thinking and a new approach to health development.

Second, develop the systems, capacities, and financing mechanisms needed to build surge capacity for responding to outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies.

Third, create incentives for R&D for new medical products for diseases that primarily affect the poor. A fair and just world should not let people die for what boils down to market failure and poverty.

These three things also fit well with the coming agenda for sustainable development that seeks to distribute the benefits of economic growth more evenly and respects our planet’s fragile resources.

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Ebola-Free, but Not Resilient - by Judith Rodin and Bernice Dahn - May 10, 2015

. . . A resilient health system combines active surveillance mechanisms, robust health care delivery system and a vigorous response to disease. When the first signs of contagion appear, a system should be able to act quickly to stop it in its tracks — all without compromising its core functions. . . .

. . . Resilient systems share several characteristics. One is awareness, which in the case of health systems means, first and foremost, strong disease surveillance. A second characteristic is the ability to adapt to changing conditions. . . . 

. . . A third characteristic is diversity: the ability to address a broad range of challenges. . . .

. . . resilient systems are integrated: information is shared across different levels of government. . . .

. . . When a resilient system is in place, cities and countries alike are prepared to yield what we call a “resilience dividend” — benefits that are independent of crises. Building trust with the public, enhancing access to quality care, and investing in public health are all wise investments at any time, helping to increase productivity and growth. . . .


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Building and Maintaining Resilience to Address Global Health Challenges -                        (CLICK HERE - EVENT RSVP)

This panel discussion will focus on how key local stakeholders are working to build systems capable of addressing long-term global health issues like NCDs while maintaining resilience to outbreaks like Ebola. In light of the need to develop domestic financing mechanisms to pay for long term health solutions, stakeholders are moving beyond public-private partnerships to a model of country stakeholder engagement that includes and leverages the strengths of all actors. 


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Resources - Energy - Communication - Water - Sanitation

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Here we present a list of ideas and resources that might be beneficial for use in disaster response, or for use in areas with inadequate infrastructure . . .



A Box Full of Light Saves Lives

Voltaic Systems - Solar Chargers

Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet


CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet

As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Image source: F. Pharand-Deschênes /Globaïa

Planetary Boundaries 2.0 – new and improved

As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed

Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the journal Science (16 January 2015). The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen).

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