We’ve all read the note on the bathroom stall – “please leave these restrooms in the condition you found them”. While the appearance of cleanliness and the pungent aroma of bleach gives us a sense that the toilets we use at work are sanitised, studies show this is not the case.
A report prepared by Crisis Science reveals that public restrooms (even “clean” ones) are contaminated by enteric bacteria (bacteria of the intestines). According to the report, the most contaminated areas in public restrooms were the toilet, floor, sink and sanitary napkin disposal. E. coli was most commonly isolated at the sanitary napkin disposal, drain in the sink basin, and inside the urinals. Mops used to clean restroom floors contained coliform bacteria, but not E. coli. Coliform and E. coli bacteria were found everywhere but the top of the urinal, including being detected on the paper towel dispenser, trash bin door and paper towel lever.
So why aren’t these “clean” restrooms sanitary? According to John J Coetzee, CEO at Green Worx Cleaning Solutions, the answer is simple. “All sanitising active ingredients used in toilet and urinal sanitisers are required to be in direct contact with the organism for a minimum period of time depending on the organism it is intended to kill. This is an absolute scientific fact. Simply spraying the sanitiser on (which is then flushed away) does not meet the minimum time required, and the product is diluted, further decreasing its efficacy.”
Coetzee encourages businesses to consider the health of their staff when considering restroom sanitation. “How much money is spent by corporate South Africa for a product or safety facility that may or may not actually do what the manufacturer says it can do? Are staff members actually safe? Are hygiene requirements being satisfied?”
To answer these questions, Coetzee conducted a urinal challenge, pitting traditional sanitising agents against green cleaning products that utilise enzymes and live, good bacteria to do the dirty work. “By incorporating a selected blend of highly active bacteria cultures, that are both non-volatile and non-corrosive, harmful organisms found in toilets and urinals were eradicated,” confirms Coetzee. “The active bacteria in these products grow at a faster rate than the harmful bacteria, and use the organic waste as a food source. This means they actually digest the harmful bacteria, leaving nothing behind.”
The key seems to be the “live agents” which spread around the area of application, rather than remaining only where the chemicals have been applied. According to an article released by Cleanlink, training is also essential; “The science of cleaning is important in all custodial applications, but it should be particularly prioritised in restrooms, where a unique and potentially dangerous mix of germs, bacteria and pathogens lurk. Cleaning and disinfecting restroom hot spots — including door handles, sink and counter areas, toilets and urinals, and floors — requires constant vigilance and attention to detail by a properly trained staff.”
Achieving a safe, sanitised space is crucial to occupants’ health and that of custodial and janitorial workers. “When nature offers a solution that cleans more effectively, is healthier than exposing staff to chemicals, and offers the added benefit of being environmentally friendly, it seems to be the only logical choice,” concludes Coetzee.
The total cost of road traffic accidents across South Africa’s roads was estimated at R142.95 billion in 2016, equating 3.4% of GDP in that year. With Easter holidays approaching, these figures could increase if no effective drastic measures are taken. “These accidents put a strain on the country’s economy,” says Lawrence Kandaswami, MD at SAP South Africa. “It is important for all sectors, including the private sector, to understand the impact of these costs on the economy, so that we can develop strategies on how to partner with the public sector in managing the influx of a growing population in need of safe, reliable public transport.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to become a $1.46 trillion industry by 2020. This innovation will have a positive influence across all sectors of business, including public transport, security and in the provision of public healthcare. According to the United Nations, as much as 66% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. This means that cities will face many challenges, mostly centred around having to leverage limited resources to deal with a growing influx of people needing services. Public transport is one of the many sectors that will experience strain because of high traffic volumes which can lead to increased road fatalities.
Solving traffic problems with an IoT mindset
Accessibility and safety of public transport is one of the major challenges facing modern urban centres. Navigant Research predicts that from 2025 onwards, public transportation itself will become more of an on-demand service, involving a more efficient use of buses. An IDC report also illustrates that there are 152,000 smart devices being used every minute globally, pointing to a future where the success of cities will be heavily determined by the level of smart and innovative technologies they use.
Additionally, a more citizen-centric business model for service delivery can help alleviate problems such as traffic congestion, safety and shortages of resources especially in public healthcare facilities. Citizens need tangible outcomes, enjoyable experiences and more personalised services. This is what will capture the hearts of many citizens across the continent.
“Smart traffic and IoT are critical for cities to operate more efficiently with better managed traffic flow and open lines of engagement between cities and citizens. This innovation offers the potential of a much safer and inclusive community with the amplified use of digital devices for municipal services across the country,” added Kandaswami.
In this age of innovation, cities are urged to think differently, have a clear vision of the city’s future and a digital transformation roadmap to get there. IoT, like other innovative technologies, presents cities such as Nanjing, China, with exciting fresh methodologies and real-time insights on finding new ways to connect, manage their operations better and provide real value to citizens.
Reimagining the ways cities work with IoT
South African cities stand to benefit immensely from IoT, especially with the high quality and speed that comes with network connectivity and infrastructure. The escalation in urbanisation and climate change is also putting pressure on cities’ management. These require speed and agility, to be able to respond in real-time to challenges such as road accident emergencies and service disruptions. “The biggest challenge we see, so far, is the adoption of technology into cities’ services models, the process requires an innovative technology platform with the ability to work with multiple data sources across all services while providing real-time insights for cities to make fast, accurate decisions,” says Kandaswami.
Cities need to capitalise on innovation opportunities by identifying solutions and planning better for natural disasters and emergencies. Connectivity and data analytics will play an increasingly critical role in helping cities and governments to provide more efficient and effective healthcare, transport and security services, using real-time technology platforms such as SAP S4/HANA.
Big data drives smart traffic
There are three key factors contributing to a smart traffic city namely; people (both drivers and passengers), vehicles and road infrastructure. Innovation is transforming how these key factors could operate harmoniously. As an example, organisations such as Keifuku Bus Company in Japan provide services and solutions that are putting people first using the SAP connected transport safety technology, which allows for data sharing amongst most major cities that are installed with traffic light sensor technologies to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Innovation helps city managers make decisions for traffic planning and policies fast.
“SAP is convinced that, with the amount of traffic data available in South Africa alone, we could help measure, analyse and manage traffic volumes much better, by using technology and taking advantage of the traffic big data. The ability to analyse traffic big data will help cities consolidate different data sources into a single reliable source for better traffic management, reporting and insight,” explains Kandaswami.
The current South Africa road traffic data availability is not integrated, as it is collected from multiple sources which makes the quality of data unreliable. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation of South Africa, having a quality comprehensive traffic management system is vital for accurate data collection, analysis and reporting across all factors including human casualties and related costs.
“Leveraging technology will present cities, transport authorities with innovative ways of how to improve road safety, provide sustainable, efficient public transport, manage traffic flows and speed up response time to the inevitable challenges of rapid urbanisation.”
Anirudh Sharma is a Singaporean who has pulled ink from thin air.
Polluted air, to be exact.
For those who haven’t heard of Air-Ink, it’s this nifty invention by Anirudh Sharma (co-founder of Graviky Labs), and it’s the world’s first ink created by collecting soot emitted from vehicles and purifying it into a carbon pigment that can be used to manufacture various types of inks and paints.
So basically, it’s air pollution that’s transformed into ink — and it’s a pretty cool way of contributing to saving the environment.
Former World Bank vice-president Ismail Serageldin famously predicted that “the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water”.
But now a plan has emerged to ensure that if violence erupts, it bypasses South Africa. It has been put together by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Boston Consulting Group.
Among the steps suggested in the report are:
Water-use compliance and disclosure reporting requirements for JSE-listed companies;
Equipping communities with the skills to fix leaks;
Strictly enforced penalties for abuse of water; and
Incentives for the private sector to save water.
WWF’s senior manager for fresh water, Christine Colvin, said the worst drought for 20 years had taught some harsh lessons.
“Although the Cape is still in the grip of a deepening disaster, a greater danger may be that the floods in the rest of the country wash away the good resolutions to be better prepared and strengthen water governance,” she said.
South Africa would face a water deficit of 17% by 2030, the report said. By then demand for water was expected to have grown from 15-billion cubic metres to 18-billion cubic metres.
Delegates at the Future of Water workshop in January imagined four scenarios:
Ample water across the country but excessive waste due to decaying infrastructure, and a depressed socioeconomic environment;
Adequate water and a booming economy leading to growing demand;
High economic growth but water scarcity due to drought and pollution; and
Severe drought coupled with recession.
Four key goals emerged: becoming a water-conscious country; implementing strong water governance; managing water supply and demand; and becoming “water smart” by commercialising low-water technologies for industry and agriculture.
Drops in the bucket
Average annual rainfall is 490mm; the worldwide average is 814mm;
Agriculture uses 63% of water, households 26% and industry 11%;
35% of household water is used in gardens, 29% to flush toilets and 13% on laundry;
R700-billion is needed to upgrade water infrastructure;
While Eskom has committed to moving towards green energy, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has warned that the process will result in job losses.
The Times reported on Thursday that Brown says 6,000 jobs could be lost should Eskom shut down its four aging coal power stations. Brown was reportedly briefing parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises.
Brown also reportedly says that its plans to buy power from independent power producers could “crash the Eskom balance sheet” over the next two decades.
This was because Eskom would pay these producers more.
Brown says the move to greener energy would have to be carefully managed to make sure that workers were reskilled.
She reportedly says that there were about 1,500 people working at each coal plant, and that they would lose their jobs if they were not reskilled. And Eskom’s environmental compliance obligations would cost R340-billion, which could increase the price of electricity, the portfolio committee heard.
According to the paper, Brown was asked why the country needed nuclear energy if the power utility was worried about excess power generation. She reportedly says that there would be excess of power until 2025 and thereafter, “the economy will pick up and we will need more”.
With growing concerns about the environment, office supplies are no exception to the consumer drive for products that promise wellness and sustainability.
More than half of small office and home office consumers buy environmentally friendly office supply products, according to Understanding the Small and Home Office Consumer, the latest report from global information company The NPD Group. That number increases to 76% among those purchasing for an office of 31-50 employees, who have a larger carbon footprint.
“Consumers today are becoming increasingly cognisant of the products they use and food they put into their bodies. With office products also part of everyday life, they are just as important,” said Leen Nsouli, director, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The emphasis consumers and marketers are placing on green products presents a big opportunity for revenue and innovation within the office supplies industry.”
Paper products such as notebooks and janitorial supplies are the most popular green supplies purchased, driven by printer/copier paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.
Overall, purchasers are pleased with the choice of green products, with nearly 80 percent indicating they are very to extremely satisfied. In particular, green product users like the fact that they are using non-toxic products, and are doing their part to help the environment. At the same time, some feel they lack the quality of non eco-friendly products, and can be expensive.
“Environmentally friendly products are popular among office supplies purchasers; however, there is room for improvement and further development,” said Nsouli. “Manufacturers should take consumer dislikes into consideration, to further capitalize on this trend and get ahead of the competition.”
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Understanding the Small and Home Office Consumer 2016
An online survey was conducted in July 2016 among a U.S. representative sample of males and females age 18 and older. Qualified respondents indicated they work in a home office or for a small business of 50 employees or less, and have responsibility for purchasing office supplies for themselves or their office location.
To assist in sorting your insurance claim after a storm, you will need to take the following steps:
First inspect your property to identify any damage caused. Ensure that you take photos for your records. Record the date and time of the hail storm as your insurance company may need to verify the information with the weather bureau.
Be aware of the size of the hailstones as well as the quantity of hail on the ground, your vehicle, roof, patio or any other area of your property. This is important because it indicates the possible level of damage caused. After a storm check for leaks both inside and outside the house – if not attended a leak could lead to more damage and escalated water bills. If you spot damage to shrubs, trees and plants chances are, there will be damage on other areas like the roof, gutters and windows. If you identify any of these problems or if your house is in an emergency situation (leaking roof, broken windows), call your insurance company to identify a local authorized contractor.
Should your house not be in an emergency situation, find a reputable contractor to inspect your roof for hail damage. This service should be free, so beware of signing anything that holds you to paying for the service. Having an inspection will make your life easier when it comes time to making a claim with your insurance company.
Vehicle hail damage
Do not wait to log your claim. Call your insurance company immediately after the storm to report the damage. The insurance company will recommend a preferred car repair supplier. They will either request an assessment from the supplier or send an assessor to your home to evaluate the damage.
It is always helpful to take photos of the hail damage you can send to your insurer; it also means you have a record of it for future reference. Your insurance company will determine the severity of the damage and consult with you and the car repair supplier on what will make most sense for repairing your vehicle.
Always check your vehicle carefully once it has been repaired if you notice any flaws you should be able to have it fixed at no additional charge. It’s also important to check with the repair shop if they offer a guarantee on their work and will repair any areas they may have missed at no additional cost.
Top tips to avoid damage
The start of the rainy season is the ideal time to ask professional roofers to check your roof for damage or weak spots that will leave it vulnerable to the next hailstorm.
Keep your gutters clear of leaves, and make sure all gutters can lead large quantities of water to a drain.
If you have glass doors install storm doors and shutters on the exterior to protect them from damage. If you cannot afford this, replace glass doors with wooden doors or install rails outside the windows with rolled-up plastic sheeting that can be rolled down in the event of a storm.
Download the WeatherSA app which will assist you in proactively monitoring possible storm conditions.
Hail causes more damage to moving vehicles due to the speed at which both the car and the hailstones move; ensure you plan your trips so you don’t have to drive during hailstorms, alternatively if you are on the road at the time of a hailstorm find a safe place to take shelter until the storm eases.
Claiming from your insurance
Having all your records on hand will help you go through the process smoothly.
Once you’ve submitted your claim, your insurance will send an assessor to your home to assess the financial damage.
It’s not uncommon that the estimated payout ends up being less than the invoiced amount. This would be dependent on the amount you are covered for.
Contact your insurance supplier to find out if you are covered for home and vehicle insurance and know the value of your insurance as well as any excess payable.
Despite efforts by businesses to go green, busy offices still generate a lot of paperwork. What many high-functioning businesses don’t know is that reams of paper actually reduce business efficiency and increase costs. As businesses are thrust into the digital space, analysts predict the arrival of the paperless office – yet more and more paper is produced every year.
Working intelligently with documents is a critical factor in reducing paper waste. It’s much more than well-organised storage and quick searches – it’s about creating secure and efficient processes. So what are the benefits of digital documents? Here’s how businesses can digitise and reduce paper to run more efficiently:
Let go of old-school
Paper storage isn’t secure or safe. Documents are susceptible to theft and vulnerable to external damage, such as fire and water. It’s also difficult to track physical documents as retrieving them takes time. The sharing and distribution of hard copies is highly impractical as information is limited to the confines of the document.
Digital documents are easier to store and send, easily searchable and more versatile than paper. Paperwork on desks and shelves isn’t just untidy, it’s inefficient too.
The beauty of digital storage is an entire company’s documents can be stored on a single server instead of endless rooms of shelving. If there’s a fire or flood, recovery from digital backup is effortless. Digital filing also means costs saved on printing and postage. A paperless office allows for easier expansion, as moving is seamless and efficient.
The paperless solution
Nashua’s Docuware and NashuaDocs help organisations gain control over their information and data. Managed Document Services (MDS) digitise crucial documents and help automate internal business processes. This is a customisable solution designed for fast document storage, retrieval, enhanced efficiency and optimised business processes.
This software reduces the time spent searching for, printing, copying and labelling documents by simplifying document-related tasks in the office. Both Nashua solutions are tailor-made for current and future business requirements. They allow for seamless workflow and boosted productivity.
Going paperless doesn’t happen overnight. Businesses can strategise to reduce paper, together with a Nashua consultant. Cutting paper use also gives modern businesses flexibility to operate from anywhere, and faster access to information needed. Piles of paperwork belong in the past. The future is digital.