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BERT and the Pandemic – A New Wave for the Algorithm – ReadWrite

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Google BERT tweet


While we’re not saying that Google rules the world, the statement is not far from the truth. After all, when somebody is after information, the resounding response is almost always “Google it!” rather than a more mundane “Search for it.”

Anybody who uses the internet for business or pleasure will be only too aware of the importance of Google. The importance ranges from finding a local cake maker to sourcing those all-important business contacts.

BERT and the Pandemic – A New Wave for the Algorithm

Today, it’s the business end of Google that we’ll be looking at and, in particular, its all-star algorithm. If Google is the be-all and end-all of the internet, then BERT is its right-hand man.

Let’s take a look at this controversial algorithm and why it’s more important than ever in 2021.

Sweepin’ The Clouds Away

So, just who, or what — is Bert?

On the hit children’s TV show, Sesame Street, the peculiar-looking Bert plays the straight man to his roommate Ernie’s slapstick pranking, and BERT is very much the same as Baidu’s ERnie.

In 2019, Google announced BERT to help computers to understand language in a more comprehensive and relevant way. Short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT slips off the tongue a little more easily). This groundbreaking algorithm represented a giant leap in network-based natural language processing pre-training.

As soon as the update rolled out in October of 2019, it brought countless ramifications.

BERT had shifted search results of thousands of keywords and phrases to match the intent better. This meant that SEO specialists had to adjust both on-page and off-page efforts to the new NLP-based feature.

 

The objective of Google’s search service is to provide customers with the most relevant responses to their queries. And BERT was created to improve context understanding and to focus on the query rather than the web pages. By using sentiment analysis, salience, and context, BERT allows for far more natural results.

For customers, BERT has meant that they’re able to word their searches in a much more natural way than the old Yoda-style composition of a query. It also means that customers are more likely to gain super-relevant responses quickly. For businesses, the result has been more traffic — and more relevant traffic — which leads to more conversions.

BERT differs from everything that’s gone before in a number of ways

Pre-training – For the first time, BERT is able to pre-train on pure unlabeled text rather than labeled corpora, and it does this through unsupervised learning. Needless to say, both users and experts saw this as a quantum leap for searches.

Bi-directional – Until BERT, Google’s search engine struggled to understand sentences as a whole which led to some response errors. BERT is able to understand how each word in a sentence affects the others to gain a more natural understanding.

Transformer Architecture – This allows Google to go deeper by analyzing each word in an intelligent and natural way in order to do away with ambiguous meanings.

Masked Language – BERT’s architecture is able to identify words that have been masked out in a sentence and then effectively predict what that word might be. It then factors this into its determination of search intent.

Textual entailment – Not only can BERT predict what the next word in a sentence might be; it can even predict what your next sentence might be – taking the words right out of your mouth, so to speak.

While BERT was, without a doubt, a major breakthrough, it wasn’t without its critics.

Many website owners complained that their rankings plummeted following the launch of the new algorithm. Needless to say, they weren’t happy about it.

“BERT is amazingly effective at understanding the context behind a search and matching it with relevant pages. This means that, in most cases, it’s a great thing for brands and businesses. It won’t, however, help you if the focus of your page is weak or your content is badly written. This is generally where the complaints about BERT are coming from. People who are not focusing enough on great, well written, thought leadership content.”   —Jack Zmudzinski, a senior associate at future-processing.com

BERT and the Pandemic

Until around March 2020, brands and companies around the world had been quietly going about their business. The business included, in many cases, modest SEO efforts. Then COVID-19 began its whirlwind of disruption, closing the doors to brick and mortar businesses and sending everybody home.

The pandemic resulted in more businesses moving online in order to survive — and millions more people taking to the internet to do their shopping. The online stats included demographics who had previously shunned the world wide web in favor of traditional stores.

One such demographic is those aged 75 and over; a group whose internet use increased by 54% in 2020. As the world began to lock down, people began to teach their parents and grandparents to use shopping sites in order to retain their independence.

Can You Tell Me How to Get…

For businesses, the pandemic has meant that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is more important than ever. With a huge increase in competition, brands have had to grasp every possible advantage online if they want to have a hope of riding the wave of COVID-19 and coming out the other side.

SEO is all about figuring out what people are searching for in relation to your brand. You want your brand or product to appear quickly when someone searches for it. The process of having your brand appear closer to the top of a persons’ search involves working out “search intent,” which can be a teeny bit trickier.

Search intent speaks to what the user hopes to achieve from their search – i.e., What are they searching for? Do they just want information? — OR, do they want to buy something? Do they want a comparison of products or services? Do they want the local location to buy your product or service? — OR do they want to know where to find your item online?

 

User intent tweet

Having figured this out, brands can then tailor their content and advertising accordingly.

“The thing to remember about Google is that it’s not so much about handing over search results. It’s about solving problems for its users – whether they’re looking for a local hairdresser or they want a software developer to build them an app. The BERT algorithm has been a game changer for business owners and marketers. It essentially provides a kind of personal assistant which is able to understand what people are looking for and why they’re looking for it.”  —Dima Suponau, Founder of numberforliveperson.com

While many things have changed since the beginning of 2020, one thing remains the same. SEO is achieved most effectively through engaging, thought leadership content. Content marketing remains hugely relevant in 2021, with a leaning toward long-form articles and blogs which aim to provide real, actionable information. The devastating pandemic represented a call to arms in terms of SEO – and BERT rose to the challenge.

Search on in 2021

It won’t come as any surprise that 2020 was a busy year for Google. The year started with Google’s expected core update in January, which took just four days. Usually, it takes at least two weeks — something which sets the scene for the rapid changes which would follow.

During the year, several initiatives made the news, including Google’s organic shopping listings and a call for greater gender and diversity equality in the page experience update.

In October 2020, Google held its annual SearchOn event in which it showcased its achievements and future plans. During the event, the internet giant announced that BERT is now powering almost all English language queries. It rose to almost 100% from just 10% shortly after its inception.

You can argue that this makes BERT one of the most significant leaps forward for SEO in the history of the internet.

As Google continued its commitment to making BERT as effective as possible, 2020 saw the departure of Timnit Gebru, a member of Google’s Ethical AI team.

The story went that Google fired Gebru after writing and distributing a research paper on bias in AI systems; something which jarred with Google’s purported commitment to improving diversity and equality in its searches.

Despite this, Google maintains its claims of close to 100% effectiveness — something which is mirrored by millions of its users.

A Rite of Passage

One Google advancement which has people all hot under the collar is that of passage indexing. When somebody conducts a really specific, niche search, this can be quite difficult to get 100% right for Google. The required response may be buried in a random page within a large amount of text.

To get around this, Google introduced Passage Indexing. The platform performs its usual search magic and then shows specific passages from pages or documents within the search responses in order to provide another level of context.

Google’s Raghavan says, “Very specific searches can be the hardest to get right, since sometimes the single sentence that answers your question might be buried deep in a web page. We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages.

By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for. This technology will improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as we roll it out globally.”

passage indexing tweet

This increases the chances of being able to find relevant information which is unlikely to appear in a straight-up search. This, of course, goes hand in hand with our friend, BERT.

Beating BERT at His Own Game

Once marketers understand the importance of BERT, they’re then able to figure out how to make it work for them. Both advertising and content marketing can harness the power of BERT:

Content marketing

As we’ve mentioned, BERT’s job is to effectively give users what they’re after by doing comprehensive and natural language searches. By using technology known as Natural Language Processing (NLP), Google’s algorithm is able to put phrases and words into context, as well as learn semantics as it goes.

NLP tweet

For the content marketer, this presents some great opportunities. Focusing on search intent and placing this organically into their content will work to capture BERT’s attention. As also mentioned, BERT will tend to shun content that is unfocused or badly written. In 2021, getting your content right really is more important than ever.

PPC

Pay Per Click advertising is not new, but it is changing. For some time now, succeeding with these has meant getting on board with AI and search intent, but it’s so much more than that.

The advent of BERT has meant that Dynamic Search Ads are now very much the way forward for marketers. These naturally leverage Google’s artificial intelligence features in order to create relevant adverts.

These adverts work perfectly with BERT to drive ROI on your campaign and can also help Google to improve Featured Snippets going forward. These are, of course, the holy grail for business owners and marketers.

When putting together both your content and your adverts, you need to purge yourself of a particular myth that has been flying around regarding BERT. If you’ve spent any time online, there’s a good chance that you’ll have seen people claiming that you should only optimize your content or site for long-tail queries.

The “only long-tail query” is absolutely not true, as BERT is much cleverer than that. BERT’s very nature means that it is always looking to understand the meaning behind a query. For this reason, the combination of long and short-tail keywords is much more effective.

Conclusion

Google’s figures regarding BERT’s reach speak for themselves. With almost 100% of English language responses being covered, it makes it even more difficult to understand.

It is difficult to understand why so many marketers have not yet put in the time or effort to properly understand what BERT is — and what it can do for them.

Google does not, of course, standstill. I’m pretty sure we can expect even more revolutionary advances and updates in 2021. If you know what’s good for you, you best be ready!

Top Image Credit: hannah wright; unsplash

Milosz Krasinski

Managing Director at Chilli Fruit Web Consulting boutique London based digital PR agency. Co-Founder at Sigma Digital Oxford. International SEO consultant, speaker. Sometimes blogging at miloszkrasinski.com

Politics

How Blockchain Is Being Used With Smart Buildings – ReadWrite

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Saul Bowden


Whether you realize it or not, many of us live in buildings with some smart capacity. You probably have at least one smart device in your home.

With the smart device industry set to grow by $65 billion by 2024, the odds are, you’ll add more of these devices. The true potential of smart homes lies in the ability of smart devices to communicate together — and that’s where blockchain technology comes in.

How Blockchain is Being Used With Smart Buildings

On the surface, smart technologies make individual tasks easier, but the potential is much larger than that. A smart device is effectively a sensor able to collect significant amounts of data about everything, from your energy use to how well-stocked your fridge is.

Smart Technology Works Better in Swarms

On its own, this data is valuable; when combined with data from other devices, its usability becomes game-changing. A properly connected smart home would be able to automatically adjust the heating to your preferences while minimizing bills, ordering your favorite groceries, monitoring and adjusting energy usage, sending repair notifications if something breaks, and much more.

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are already used extensively in supply chain management. They help efficiently manage products passed through multiple stakeholders and verify that products are what the label says they are.

Catching Slave Labor in Fishing Supply Chains

One example where smart technology has been useful is in tracking fishing supply chains. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has used IoT to track sustainable tuna fishing.

The Western and Central Pacific tuna trade is rife with illegal fisheries — and, in some cases, slave labor — because tracking is either done via an easily-forged paper trail or not at all. However, savvy consumers and brands are demanding more accountability from the tuna industry.

The WWF’s branches in New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji have combined forces with blockchain software studio ConsenSys to implement secure traceability and track to address the problem.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or QR codes capture information as a fish moves through the supply chain from the boat to grocers. Tracking information is automatically saved in blockchain, making it nearly impossible to forge.

Privacy and Compatibility Remain a Concern

Although smart technology has many uses in enterprise settings, it becomes a thornier prospect for individuals. IoT devices collect huge amounts of data which can reveal a lot about their owners. Additionally, they are often poorly secured, creating significant security challenges.

Most smart devices must run on centralized platforms controlled by major tech companies, notably Amazon and Google.

There have been significant privacy concerns about both companies due to their access to an extraordinary amount of personal data.

Amazon Alexa’s Vulnerabilities

Setting aside concerns about microphones, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa also presents other significant security concerns.

Although Amazon provides some privacy protections, with 100 – 200 million Alexa devices and over 100,000 skills already deployed, there is a significant concern about malicious developers taking advantage of security holes.

For example, developer names aren’t verified, allowing a malicious developer to stage a phishing attack posing as a different company. This risk is especially high with some skills that link to email, banking, or social media accounts.

After a skill has been approved and added to the marketplace, a malicious developer can change its coding without getting Amazon’s approval or notifying the customer. Many developers also have misleading privacy policies — or none at all, meaning that customers will have no idea how their personally identifiable information will be used.

Lack of Device Compatibility

The second challenge is compatibility. Early adopters are painfully familiar with the concept of device divorce, where two smart devices cannot speak with another. Part of the problem is that Amazon and Google are used as primary smart home controllers, and there isn’t a platform-agnostic solution widely available to most consumers.

Blockchain Technology is the Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Blockchain technologies are working to provide the solution to these challenges and others since they can enable P2P connections without the need for a centralized validator.

With blockchain, it would be possible to connect numerous smart devices without being forced to hand that data directly over to the device manufacturer, mitigating privacy and security concerns. It can also provide increased transparency over how data is used, helping users understand what data their smart home is collecting and what it’s used for.

Blockchain technology is also hardware agnostic. Thus, it would be possible for users to pair together devices from different manufacturers without worrying about compatibility.

IOTA’s Tangle vs. Traditional Blockchain

One of the best examples of this vision is the IoT-focused blockchain IOTA.

It is important to understand that we are not talking about financial blockchain technology like Bitcoin. Blockchains based on traditional Proof of Work (PoW), like Bitcoin, lack the speed and scalability necessary to process the millions of data points produced by smart devices.

Instead, we are looking at smart device-focused technologies, most notably IOTA. IOTA uses a Tangle specifically designed for data and value transfer.

Blockchains like Bitcoin are essentially long chains of blocks containing transactions. The Tangle, on the other hand, is constructed as a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which is a collection of vertices connected by edges.

Eliminating Validators

IOTA’s implementation is designed in such a way that each new transaction (vertice) must approve two previous transactions when it enters the Tangle. This eliminates the need for Proof of Stake (PoS) or PoW consensus methods.

Because these transactions don’t require always-online validators, they are feeless and contain metadata that makes them suitable for micropayments and data transfer.

IOTA’s Partnerships

IOTA is interesting because the technology is more mature than many other IoT-focused blockchain solutions. The project has experienced past problems, but the roll-out of its improved Tangle has allowed it to secure some important partnerships, primarily in areas designed to improve transparency.

Properly Validating Smart Device Data Is The First Step

IOTA’s most important partnership for smart homes is undoubtedly Project Alvarium. The biggest challenge posed by IoT — and smart devices in general — is the sheer volume of data collected. The vastness of information makes assessing what data is trustworthy and useful difficult, especially in an automated environment.

To solve this problem, Dell and IOTA teamed up to create Project Alvarium, designed to provide a simple way to assess the trustworthiness of data gathered.

Project Alvarium’s system logs every datapoint as it travels across the system. Each interaction is given a trust rating, which is logged on the IOTA Tangle to prevent tampering. This provides a simple way to find problems or deliberate tampering within a network of data.

Blockchain Can Help Resolve Security Concerns About Smart Security

When smart home users are certain that they can trust the data being generated by their devices, it opens up a world of opportunities that could transform our daily lives.

The most immediate use of blockchain technology is in improving building security. The most high-profile problem is undoubtedly Amazon’s Ring. In late 2020, dozens of people sued Amazon over accusations that their Ring doorbells had been breached.

The breach enabled hackers to watch people inside their homes and talk to individuals in the house over the Ring speakers.

Additionally, the product’s privacy policy is porous and allows Amazon to share video and microphone data with numerous third parties, removing any expectation of privacy.

The Blockchain Difference

Blockchain has been shown to resolve both the problem of data breaches as well as hacking takeovers. Capturing a blockchain-powered device would require compromising the entire blockchain itself compromised.

But proper validation, such as that proposed by IOTA, allows malicious devices to be pruned from the network, significantly improving security.

Additionally, blockchain could enable consumers to understand how their data is being used, helping to make smart devices more privacy-focused.

Smart Building Management Solutions are Already Being Tested

The value of blockchain technology becomes even bigger at scale. One of the most impactful uses of IoT and blockchain technology is in building management. Whether for an apartment building or an office building, it’s often difficult to effectively manage a building’s heating, lighting, and security in a way that minimizes waste.

Example: How Blockchain Could Manage Heating Bills

In a traditional setting, most buildings are managed centrally. If there is a unified heating system, it is often controlled by the local administration. Although this system is more efficient than individually-heated buildings, there is significant room for human error. That’s because the system is not optimized to account for more efficient heating higher up in the building as heat rises.

A network of heating sensors could be used to automatically measure the temperature in each apartment or office in a building. If the different thermostats could communicate with each other, it should be possible to input all the data into a blockchain solution.

A scheme like this would allow the building operators to create a proper heat map of the building and understand the most efficient usage of energy. It would also enable residents to access the data and understand why the system works the way it does.

Theoretically, it could also enable a user to select a target temperature for their apartment by leveraging rising heat from lower apartments.

Solutions on the Horizon

This kind of project is already being tested. For example, Brickschain offers several products that minimize difficulties with building management and handover on sale. There are also an increasing number of studies looking at how blockchain can be positively implemented into the building management process.

The Future of IoT: Many-to-Many Marketplaces

When buildings are utilizing IoT devices and blockchains, a bigger opportunity opens up: decentralized marketplaces.

Currently, it can be difficult to get the best deal on energy or heating bills because it is a marketplace with many customers but only a few providers. Switching providers can be difficult and doesn’t guarantee a competitive rate.

However, with blockchain, it would be possible to change providers based on real-time pricing data. This setup would create a competitive many-to-many environment where many providers are looking to sell energy to many customers. The competition among providers would drive down energy prices and improve overall efficiency in energy markets.

Swedish District Heating Study

Sweden has conducted studies to investigate the utility of blockchain for a district heating market. The setup allows apartment blocks already utilizing blockchain to automatically select the most affordable provider at any given moment, minimizing bills without requiring micromanagement.

The same concept could be applied to many aspects of building management.

Decentralized Governance

One interesting idea is the concept of decentralized governance. This type of network could empower tenants and apartment owners to vote on changes to their apartment block’s management proceedings.

For example, renters could vote in favor of using only green energy sources or for changes to living space regulations. Building administrators could then better understand their occupants’ needs and create a better living environment for all involved.

Blockchain Will be Needed to do IoT Correctly

Adoption of IoT and smart technologies will likely increase. Governments like the UK are already pushing hard on smart meters and many of us have already adopted some form of smart technology in our homes.

This rush to adopt new technology will undoubtedly come with significant scaling problems as well as security concerns and significant privacy issues.

Additionally, a market dominated by a handful of major tech companies like Amazon and Google could prove damaging to the consumer in the long term.

To counter these eventualities, we’ll need a platform-agnostic solution that allows a more diverse field of producers to create new IoT devices.

Blockchain technology still represents the best way to utilize IoT for everyone’s benefit. If solutions like IOTA are implemented into existing smart homes, then we could build a new decentralized marketplace that will give us better control of our data, while improving the efficiency of our homes.

Image Credit: pixabay; thank you!

Saul Bowden

Saul writes about tech & business, he’s covered everything from cryptocurrency to the oil & gas industry. He spends time working with start-ups and writes for commodity.com.

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Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe? – ReadWrite

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social sign on's


Remembering passwords is always a hassle, especially when you have innumerable websites that require logging in to view or interact with their content. To make the process simpler (as little as a couple of clicks), webmasters worldwide have accepted and implemented social logins on their websites.

Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe?

So, what exactly is social login? How different is it compared to the traditional method of inputting your credentials such as username, email address and password manually? More importantly, is it safe enough for use on all kinds of browsing activities?

Disadvantages of Social Sign-On

In this article, we answer all the above questions and more, helping you understand what social sign-on is, and what the disadvantages of this convenient method are.

The history of social logins

Social sign-on as a method of hassle-free authentication has been around for over a decade now. Back in the nascent days of the modern internet in 2008, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, a service aimed at simplifying registrations on websites.

Once webmasters enabled FB Connect on their websites, visitors to the site would no longer need to fill up lengthy registration forms to sign up for the website’s offerings.

All they needed to do was connect their existing Facebook account to the website, enabling direct access to the site with a click of a button.

In 2009 and 2010, Twitter and LinkedIn respectively enabled their users to socially login to other sites using their existing social network credentials.

Google+ followed suit in 2011, and although no longer active as Google+, it still supports social sign-on using a Google account.

While it all sounds very convenient, social sign-on has many drawbacks and challenges that impact both website visitors and website owners.

Social Sign-on: The challenges and disadvantages

The Trust Factor

Most internet users do not trust the websites they browse to store and utilize their personal information safely and responsibly. Often, website visitors are concerned about how the information they have shared will be used.

In a June 2020 survey conducted by Insider Intelligence, 32% of US Facebook users felt that they somewhat disagreed that the platform could keep their data and privacy secure.

Not everyone has the time or patience to read the data handling and privacy policy put forth by a website, so they simply choose to be cynical of the data they share on such sites.

Data Accuracy

People tend to be wary of the private information they share online; they often resort to uploading falsified or inaccurate information about themselves on social media.

Considering that these social media sites do not verify or vouch for the authenticity of their user’s information, this could be less than ideal for a website looking for accurate data while accepting new user registrations.

In 2019, Facebook released data that said that 16% of the accounts on its platform are fake/duplicate accounts created by individuals or companies. What’s more worrisome are the findings of the research team at NATO StratCom that suggest 95% of the reported fake accounts still continued to remain active, with no action taken by the social media website.

With no checks on the actual profile that’s being used to socially sign-on to your website, you could soon have an imposter, Donald Trump or Joe Biden signing up for your global warming newsletter or purchasing a bag of your freshly powdered Mexican coffee.

Not everyone’s social — nor on social

While we talk about social media, we need to understand that although it is a global phenomenon with an insanely large number (read 3.6 billion) of people using it, there is still a sizeable chunk (>50%) of the population that is not on social media.

Using a restrictive method, you risk alienating a section of society that could be your potential target audience.

Transfer of Power

Enabling social sign-on seems pretty enticing at first, considering it would cut down your authentication work significantly. But this very ‘benefit’ could end up costing you dearly, as you lose control over your visitors’ data to a third-party service provider, i.e., the social media network.

Should there be any downtime at the social media service’s end, your website visitors would be stranded, unable to login to your site or access their data?

Access Control Issues

Many internet access places tend to have controls in place when it comes to accessing social media. For example, corporate and educational networks generally block access to social websites. Certain countries like Iran, China, Syria, and North Korea have blanket bans on the most popular social websites.

Social sign-on still depends on an API call-back to the social networking site to authenticate the user. Thus, by having social sign-on set up on your website, visitors authenticating on your site through these networks would end up facing a website with broken functionality.

Security concerns

Social media accounts are often the target of several hacking and phishing attempts. Thus, if your user’s social media account is hacked, it could lead to their account on your site being compromised as a result.

A University of Maryland study revealed a hacking attempt every 39 seconds on average, affecting a third of Americans every year.

Hacked social accounts could have an adverse impact on your website as well, by performing activities that might eat up your server resources or corrupt your files, if your security is not up to the mark. Secure authentication is the need of the hour, and knowledge of the security practices will help solve these concerns.

Too much to choose

People use many social media websites, so keeping a single social login can be counterproductive. However, providing multiple methods to login could likely confuse or overwhelm your visitor, leading to lower conversion or sign-up rates.

Lesser data to work with

Using a social sign-on for your website would mean limited access to user data, especially email. Not every social media network allows websites to access the customer’s email address. For businesses that rely on customer information for lead generation, this would be a major deal-breaker.

Awareness of all the security practices and malpractices (sawolabs dotcom) will help educate users as well as the website owners.

If not social sign-on, then what?

All the above drawbacks would make webmasters question the efficacy of social sign-on. But then, is there a better alternative that does not include such shortcomings?

Say hello to passwordless authentication powered by SAWO Labs. A new-age solution designed to address all concerns of security, compatibility and functionality.

Image Credit: yellow graphic — from author; thank you!

 Top Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!

Akshay Shetye

Akshay Shetye

“SAWO – Secure Authentication Without OTP – is a B2B2C service-based company whose API Integration enables one-tap authentication on your app (Android, iOS) and web to provide a passwordless and OTP-less authentication experience. We are a secure, sustainable, and cost-effective solution to making a business passwordless and OTP-less.”

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3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable – ReadWrite

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Eric Lander


I’m thinking about our planet today — I think about our planet every day. Our planet is hurting, and many businesses are encouraging their employees to live more sustainably. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry and agriculture account for approximately 32 percent of direct emissions.

3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable

Here are a few ways companies can encourage sustainability in their employees and work to lower the remaining 68 percent.

Employ a hybrid work model

With so many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve inadvertently been doing Earth a huge favor. The EPA shows that transportation is responsible for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with about half of that coming from personal vehicles that burn gasoline and diesel. Because many companies instituted a work from home policy, there were fewer cars on the road and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can continue this progress by instituting a hybrid work model once the pandemic is finally over.

Reduce waste in the office

One big way to reduce waste in the office is by offering snack and drink options that eliminate single-use plastic. For example, TechnologyAdvice uses a Bevi machine in the office, offering still, sparkling, and flavored water without single-use plastic. You might also consider snacks that don’t need to be individually packaged, like fruits or nuts.

While you may not be able to completely eliminate office waste, you can work to offset the waste you do generate. Make it easy for employees to recycle and encourage them to do so. You can create an employee-led recycling program, keep an “I don’t know” bin for those items that don’t always fall into the normal categories, and create challenges around recycling goals.

Continual education about climate change

However you decide to encourage sustainability in your office, it’s important that both you and your employees engage in continual education about climate change. Thanks to the different forms of media available today, educating yourself about climate change has never been easier.

For podcast listeners, consider checking out How To Save A Planet. It’s a Spotify original podcast hosted by scientist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and journalist Alex Blumberg, and it is the exact opposite of what people think when they hear “climate change resource:” it’s inspiring instead of depressing, entertaining, so accessible, and has great intro music.

Another Earth-friendly podcast you should listen to is Stories for Earth, which examines how climate change is discussed in pop culture.

If you like documentaries, check out Before the Flood, which was made by Leonardo Di Caprio and National Geographic. If you are a reader, consider these three: No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg, All We Can Save edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Hayhoe, and The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus.

Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!

Eric Lander

Content Writer

Eric Lander serves as the Director of Audience Development for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company that engages technology buyers through websites, email newsletters, and phone conversations. Lander, a father of children with speech and language impairments, currently resides in Topsail, North Carolina.

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