Human-like robots, for real, in 2016!
Wow..take a look at the video above. Unbelievable. But it’s real. A human-like robot, made by the geniuses at Boston Dynamics, a company that was acquired by Google recently. Kinda scary, actually, although on the bright side, this could mean massive changes to the way rote manual grunt work is done in the future. (Oh, it happens to be funded by DARPA, so I’m pretty sure it has military implications.)
But clipboards, paper, and Sharpies still rule in our industry
Now contrast that amazing robot technology to the state of things in the environmental industry: We still use paper-based processes for the vast majority of data collection. And by vast, I mean like 90% of the data being collected. Think about that for a second. It’s 2016, not 1999:
- The iPhone was invented almost a decade ago, not yesterday.
- Everyone and their mother has a smartphone in their pocket. If you are reading this, I’ll bet you do too.
- Internet access is nearly ubiquitous, even in really remote areas.
- Millions and millions of apps exist on the Google Play and the iOS app stores.
- Hundreds of thousands of APIs, plugins, and other integrations have been published.
- Electronic signatures were adopted by the Clinton administration 16 years ago.
- The buzz is now about about the Internet of Things (IoT) and self-driving cars.
- And we are starting to see real robots that move like humans.
Yet in our industry, for a myriad of reasons, we still—to this day—swear by the old manual paper-based processes of yesterday.
I’ll list a few reasons I hear every now and then:
- “We don’t give our techs smartphones or tablets for field use. That’s cost-prohibitive.”
- “What if you lose the phone/iPad/tablet/laptop?”
- “What if someone hacks into the device?”
- “Does it work in remote locations with no cell service?”
- “Our folks don’t have the time to learn yet another new technology…they are already too busy.”
- “Are electronic signatures even legal?”
- “I’ll never be able to get my employees to use that thing.”
- “Can it do [insert a feature here]? If you can get it do that, we definitely would use it, but until then, we will stick to paper.”
The list goes on and on.
We already use this stuff in our daily lives, so why not in our industry? Is the environmental industry that “special”?
Here we are, using all sorts of modern software tools for nearly everything we do in our daily lives…for example, with one single smartphone we check the news, check the weather, video chat with friends, post things on social media channels, play games while killing time, take and share pictures with friends, get directions, look at the street view in a city far away, find movie listings, read restaurant reviews, book a flight, rent a room for a night at a stranger’s house, shop online, store our credit card details, use it as a wallet, show your boarding pass at the terminal gate, hitch a ride from a total stranger, watch live sports, buy tickets to a live event, send disappearing pictures and videos to friends, listen to music, read, do some research, track the number of steps walked each day, set an alarm, scan a barcode, call someone, and a myriad of other things. All.From.A.Single.Device.In.Our.Pocket.
Yet a huge percentage of the people working in the environmental industry cannot even fathom using that same device for conducting environmental work. It’s almost as if there’s something magical and complicated in our industry that somehow doesn’t mix with tech or makes it incompatible. And that’s just with smartphones. Try talking to them about integrations and APIs with other software products and data behind the company firewall. Might as well forget about it….
But it’s not true at all. It’s a myth. It’s inertia. It’s laziness to learn something new. It’s the pressure to be billable and the thought of losing billable hours to a tool. It’s short-sightedness. It’s an embarrassment.
We can do better
The EnviroTech Summit was created in an effort to shine a light on those pioneers who are attempting to change all of this, with the hope of speeding up the development of more and better tools. Tools that solve real problems. Tools that help improve our work. And tools that make our jobs easier and better.
At our first annual event April 10-11 2016, we will have a whole host of smart folks that will talk about why all of this matters. And a whole host of other techie folks that will showcase their modern and ingenious tools and how they have applied them in our industry.
Will you join us? Claim your ticket today.