Man of the Mountains: Hugh Irwin receives Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award

first_imgA soft-spoken scientist who often works behind the scenes, Hugh Irwin doesn’t typically grab headlines or seek the spotlight. Yet for over thirty years, he has been one of the most powerful voices in conservation, responsible for protecting some of the wildest places in the mountains, including Citico Creek Wilderness in Tennessee and Fires Creek in western North Carolina.Irwin recently received the first-ever Southeastern Stewardship Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center for his dedication and determination in protecting Southern forests. He shared his thoughts on three decades of protecting wild places in Appalachia. From a conservation perspective, why is Southern Appalachia important? Southern Appalachia comprises one of the most significant biological hotspots in North America and one of the most important areas for conservation in the world. The area has been continuously vegetated for at least 65 million years and has served as a biological refugia during key phases of evolution. Our large number of endemic species and high diversity of animal species is globally significant. The Southern Appalachians is one of the most important centers of biological diversity for salamanders in the world. The diversity of aquatic species is also remarkable.What are the personal highlights of your conservation work over the past few decades?One major highlight was the Roadless Rule, which protected all inventoried roadless areas at the end of the Clinton Administration. We had been working to get protection for Roadless areas for decades. The designation of Citico Creek Wilderness and other areas in Cherokee National Forest in 1984 and 1986 was also a highlight. So was the publication of “Return the Great Forest,” a conservation vision for the Southern Appalachians that identified the critical conservation lands and connected corridors that could serve as the backbone of a conservation network to protect the biological diversity of the region for the long term.Have we made any progress on that conservaton vision?It is a long-term vision of what the region could be in a hundred years and more if we worked for conservation protection of these vital areas. We never thought it would be easy or would be uninterrupted progress fulfilling this vision. Indeed, there have been ups and downs since it was published. Some wilderness areas have been protected in Virginia. Key conservation tracts identified in the vision, such as the Rocky Fork tract in Tennessee, have been acquired as public lands.However, there is much remaining to do. The Nantahala-Pisgah planning process illustrates both the potential and the challenges of making progress toward building this conservation network. The Nantahala-Pisgah lies at the heart of this Southern Appalachian network. In many ways the success or failure of this vision rests on the fate of Nantahala-Pisgah lands. A large part of the remaining unprotected wildlands are on the Nantahala-Pisgah. Much of the remaining old growth in the region is on this forest. Critical rare species habitat is on the Forest and will be either protected or put into timber production.The planning process also initially failed to inventory important potential wilderness areas – essentially uninventoried roadless areas. It was only when conservation groups insisted that the Forest Service properly follow their own rules that areas that had been improperly left out were added to the inventory. However, these areas are not protected by the Roadless Rule.The stakes are very high, and the fate of these lands is far from assured. If the public does not insist that these and other critical conservation lands are protected, they could go into management that allows timber production.This is a tough time to be in conservation. How are you holding up?  Although most of our conservation problems can be traced to human activity and past management, some people believe that these problems can only be addressed by doubling down and doing more active management. Some of the abuses of past management can be addressed through ecological restoration, but we also need to have humility. Nature and natural processes are the most reliable healer. Our lands that are in the best and most intact condition need to be protected. These are lands that are functioning as they should. They include old growth forest and forest that is returning to old growth.I am able to keep a positive attitude when I keep the long view and remember how special our landscape is. This landscape is tremendously resilient. The complexity of the mountain habitat represents innumerable niches for adaptation. Every change in elevation, every different slope and aspect represents a slightly different habitat in which species can adapt. Different parent rocks and their soils give a different substrate for plants to thrive in. This landscape is waiting to be a refuge in our time of ecological challenges and climate change as well. It also gives me hope that many other people also recognize and appreciate the unique landscape that we live in.What were some of the most memorable moments you’ve experienced in Southern Appalachia?Years ago, when I was first exploring the Citico Creek area, I heard a terrible racket immediately above me. It was a mother bear coming out of a tree as fast as she could, slowing herself as she came down with her claws dragging against the side of the tree. She was down within seconds and two cubs followed her, running down the holler. It was all over within a very short time, but it left a lasting impression.Another recent memorable experience also involved a bear and was very different from the first. I was hiking in the Big Creek area of the Smokies three years ago, and I saw a very large bear a few feet from the trail digging up roots. I expected that the bear would see me and run off. When that didn’t happen, I yelled and waved my arms again expecting it to run. The bear just looked up at me and then returned to digging. At this point I carefully considered my options. I could become more insistent, yelling louder and waving more aggressively. However, that didn’t seem the right thing to do. After all, the bear was more in its home than I was. So I left the trail and bushwhacked in a wide swing to give this bear the respect it deserved. Both experiences taught me respect and awe for this creature that in many ways epitomizes the wonder, mystery, and richness of our forests.last_img read more

Rosemary H. “Rosie” Prickel

first_imgRosemary H (Rosie) Prickel, age 86 of Batesville, died Saturday, August 11, 2018 at St Andrews Health Campus in Batesville. Born April 6, 1932 in Batesville, she is the daughter of Olivia (Nee: Dietz) and Fred Scheele. In 1953 she married Alvin “Buster” Prickel in Batesville and he preceded her in death August 30, 1991. Over the years Rosie touched many lives in her work at Hill-Rom and the Batesville schools.  Her favorite work and passion was catering.  Many thousands have enjoyed her famous roast beef.  Rosie and Buster also owned and operated The Clay Chalet for several years.Rosie was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for the Batesville Firemen, Knights of St John and Fraternal Order of Eagles.  She was a lifelong member of St. Louis Catholic Church, a founding member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and a longtime member of Rosie Reds.She is survived by her children, Joan (Jay) Wagner of Batesville, Jerry (Jan) Prickel of Batesville, Karen (Joe) Enneking of Batesville, Kathy (Mike) Ferringer of Chicago, Peg (Ron) Fasbinder of Oldenburg, and Rick (Shelly) Prickel of Batesville; sister Louella (George) Voegele of Batesville and brothers George Scheele of Batesville and Fred (Ruth Ann) Scheele of Florida; eighteen grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren.  In addition to her husband and parents, she is also preceded in death by her sister Arnelda (Mark) Prickel.Visitation is Wednesday, August 15th, from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Weigel Funeral Home.  Funeral services are 10 a.m. Thursday, August 16th at St. Louis Church with Rev. Shaun Whittington officiating followed by burial in the church cemetery.  The family requests memorials to Margaret Mary Health Foundation Hospice or the St. Louis Cemetery Fund.last_img read more

Doing business in South Africa: quick guide

first_imgA quick guide to doing business in South Africa.With a stable democratic government, a sound financial system and a highly regulated banking sector, the country is a haven for investors. (Image: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa ReporterSouth Africa is always open for business – in every economic sector. With a stable democratic government, a sound financial system and a highly regulated banking sector, the country is a haven for investors.Check out our quick guide to doing business in South Africa – including quick facts and figures, growth plans, opportunities by sector and province, and investor support and incentives.Reading, sharing (and more) made easyUse the icons at the bottom of the viewer box to view in full screen, share, download, zoom and page through.2088 Business Brochure a5 Final by Libby Young on ScribdWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Poison hemlock: It’s everywhere

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A few weeks ago I posted a piece about identifying and controlling poison hemlock on the Fairfield County Extension Facebook page and the response I got back immediately was simply, “It’s everywhere!” Indeed, in recent years it seems to have become widespread throughout many Ohio counties, Fairfield included. Perhaps we are seeing it spreading most quickly in road and other right-of-ways that are difficult to mow and seldom ever sprayed with herbicide. From there this noxious weed seems to be spreading into fence rows, barn lots, hay fields and areas of pasture fields that lack enough competition to keep it crowded out. Last week I received a note from a friend in Seneca County explaining he suspects Hemlock poisoning is what recently killed one of his three year old bulls. That said, let’s take a closer look at poison hemlock.Poison hemlock is a biennial member of the carrot family — Conium maculatum —which can cause respiratory failure and even death when ingested by livestock or humans. It’s a non-native invasive that may, at times, be confused with giant hogweed – Heracleum mantegazzianum – a plant with many similarities and also spreading in parts of Ohio.In fertile soils poison hemlock may easily grow up to 10 or 12 feet, producing small white flowers that are typical of the carrot family. The plant began flowering around Ohio a few weeks ago. The herb has a smooth, purple-spotted stem and dark, glossy bluish-green fern-like triangular leaves. It has a fleshy white taproot. Both the leaves and roots have a disagreeable parsnip-like odor.All parts of the plant are poisonous including the leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Simply handling the plant seldomcauses a toxic reaction in humans, but ingesting it through the eyes, open wounds, or orally causes poisoning. Perhaps poison hemlock’s most famous claim to fame was when it was used to execute Socrates in 329 B.C.The taste of the leaves and seeds of poison hemlock is unpleasant to livestock, so toxic quantities are seldom consumed when ample desirable feed is available for the animals. Cattle can usually survive poison hemlock if consumed in amounts less than 0.4% of their body weight (4 to 5 pounds for mature cows) although abortions are possible at lower rates. The toxicity of the plant changes little if fermented with silage or dried in hay.Being a biennial, poison hemlock is most easily controlled late in the fall after emergence. Crossbow, Banvel and 2,4-D are fairly effective on small poison hemlock even in the spring. Taller plants may need to be controlled with glyphosate. Mowing after the plants have bolted and before seed set will prevent seed production.last_img read more

Learning to Co-Exist With Wildfires

first_imgThis post originally appeared at Ensia.In 1992, the city of Wenatchee, Washington, experienced a devastating wildfire that roared through a neighborhood, destroying more than 30 homes and burning over 3,000 acres in a matter of days. It left the community shaken.“It’s a terrible thing for the community to go through,” said Wenatchee economic development director Steven King.The wildfires began in the shrub steppe and grasslands that surround the city. Recent development had pushed new housing into undeveloped areas, creating what ecologists refer to as a wildland-urban interface (WUI). WUI landscapes are common in the western half of the United States, but exist throughout the North and Southeast, too. Homes and other buildings constructed along such interfaces are becoming increasingly prone to fire disaster, thanks to a perfect storm of conditions: a warming climate that produces more fuel for wildfire combined with short-sighted development that ignores the risk inherent in wildfire-prone ecosystems. A growing body of wildfire experts and policy-makers now agree the vulnerability to disaster for these communities is ultimately a development planning issue — not a wildfire prevention issue.Former U.S. Forest Service research scientist Jack Cohen, who spent his career studying wildland fire and helped develop the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating system, is quick to point out that wildfires in WUI zones are not only completely natural, they’re also unavoidable. “They have been an ecological factor for almost all of the ecosystems in North America in their development since the last ice age,” he says. How can we better live with the reality of wildfires? Cohen recommends that preparedness policies expand beyond firefighting and vegetation burning in public lands toward measures that help ensure that homes located in WUI areas can actually survive a fire.“The bottom line is that we need to get compatible with wildland fire occurrence,” he says. “We need to get proactive.”Fire-adapted development requires a fundamental shift in perspective about wildfires and the threat they pose to residents in WUI areas. Preventive strategies include improved urban planning and land management; collaboration among federal, state and local agencies; and campaigns aimed at educating the public about wildfire preparedness.Designing better neighborhoodsCohen is an early pioneer in efforts to minimize fire damage to homes. In 2001 he devised an assessment concept called the home ignition zone (HIZ) that helps homeowners determine how vulnerable their homes are to wildfire by looking at factors such as building materials, vegetation, and debris within a 200-foot (60-meter) area immediately surrounding the house.Urban planning for WUI areas now centers on creating and maintaining development and building codes that incorporate the HIZ principles. These codes promote practices such as using fire-resistant building materials for siding and rooftops; maintaining “defensible space” by clearing dead leaves from rooftops, gutters and decks; trimming trees and removing vegetation that can fuel fires during the dry season; and governing subdivision design to include multiple routes by which residents can flee and fire-fighting equipment can enter. Collectively, these types of policies are loosely referred to as WUI codes.The city of Wenatchee adopted a set of WUI codes in 2011 based on guidelines developed by the International Code Council. “We were pretty well ahead of our time for this part of Washington for doing that,” King says.But implementing new codes takes years. In 2015, the city suffered its worst wildfire season to date and lost more than 30 homes. “Unfortunately, those WUI codes didn’t exist when those homes were developed. As a result, that disaster was worse than it could have been if those homes had been built today,” King says.Wenatchee neighborhoods destroyed by wildfire in the past are now being rebuilt with the new building codes in place, bringing hope for better outcomes in the future. “The homes are built differently,” King says. “The landscape is different, and there’s a heightened awareness.”Collaboration Is keyWUI regions can be checkerboards of U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private lands. The big challenge is getting land use management agencies, fire departments, and private landowners to work together to develop and maintain strategies for preventing wildfire damage.Alison Green, program director of Project Wildfire in Deschutes County, Oregon, says collaboration across all levels of government is a critical piece of wildfire preparedness. Begun in the 1990s, Project Wildfire is a community-led effort that functions as the county’s official wildfire mitigation body. It’s governed by a 27-person steering committee whose members include elected officials, residents, and representatives of the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, local fire districts, insurance companies and homeowners’ associations.By bringing everyone to the same table, Project Wildfire is able to coordinate efforts such as public education campaigns, prescribed burns, community-wide debris cleanups, and home risk assessment events.“We make sure we are helping our partners’ goals move forward, and they are doing the same for us,” Green says. “Half my job is buying coffee for people to make sure that we’re still good when it comes to collaboration. The network is still a healthy, breathing network that can solve complex problems.”Shifting perspectives on wildfire riskAnother important piece of the wildfire adaption puzzle is getting residents on board with strategies to reduce the threat to their homes. Ultimately, this requires convincing homeowners to take personal responsibility for wildfire preparedness.Homeowners in WUI zones have much more power over their home’s ability to survive wildfire than previously thought. They can dramatically reduce risk of their house catching fire by doing things like creating and maintaining defensible space and keeping HIZ areas clear of debris.Communities across the U.S. have taken different approaches to public outreach and WUI code enforcement, says Kimiko Barrett, policy analyst at Headwaters Economics, which co-manages Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) in partnership with the community wildfire planning organization Wildfire Planning International. San Diego, California, for example, is notorious for its code enforcement: The fire department inspects homes located in high-risk areas and fines homeowners not in compliance. “They take a very aggressive approach to structure development and building code standards for high-risk areas,” Barrett says.But enforcement requires resources, so many communities rely instead on education. Initiatives include holding workshops on how to prepare for wildfire season, appointing wildfire ambassadors in at-risk neighborhoods, and offering free debris pick-up events.Even without enforcement, there’s proof that such preventive wildfire adaption approaches are worth the effort. Thanks to remarkable efforts undertaken by elected officials, agency representatives, and engaged residents — and all coordinated through Project Wildfire — Deschutes County hasn’t lost a single house to wildfire since 2003.That’s exactly the type of result WUI communities like Wenatchee are working to achieve today.“One of the most challenging parts of this is social change, social awareness. What we desire to see is an awareness within the community of personal responsibility to manage their property,” says King. “It’s a culture that’s being developed.”Kendra Chamberlain is a freelance investigative reporter based in Louisiana. RELATED ARTICLES California Fire Damage to Homes is Less ‘Random’ Than It SeemsCalifornia Needs to Rethink Urban Fire RiskReeling from the California WildfiresResilient Design is a Money-Maker Q&A: Alternative Detail for Continuous Insulation in Wildfire-Prone Arealast_img read more

CANUCK AUTHOR TIMOTHY CAULFIELD ON CELEBS HEALTH AND DEFYING DEATH

first_imgCanadian professor, researcher and author Timothy Caulfield took on pop culture health gurus in his award-winning 2015 tome Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash. Two years on, the 54-year-old is back to tackle the truth behind fad diets, detoxes, genetic tests and other medical methods humans turn to in an attempt to stay forever young in A User’s Guide to Cheating Death – a six-part documentary series that launches on VisionTV (a ZoomerMedia property) on Sept. 18. Caulfield recently spoke with Zoomer about longevity myths and methods and whether cheating death is actually a good idea.MIKE CRISOLAGO: Why are we so willing to accept a celebrity’s opinion on health and science but so quick to question actual scientists?TIMOTHY CAULFIELD: I do think there is a little bit of erosion of trust in the traditional sources of scientific information. And whether that has to do with the involvement of industry or the involvement of particular political agendas, it’s causing people to look to other sources of information. And I think that celebrities are filling that void to some degree. People don’t necessarily turn to celebrities for advice but the mere fact that they’re talking about this stuff, whether it’s Gwyneth Paltrow or Tom Brady, they hear this stuff and it helps to validate crazy ideas about how we’re supposed to be healthy. Login/Register With: Advertisement MC: When it comes to cheating death, though, haven’t humans always tried to fake out the Grim Reaper? LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisementcenter_img Photo courtesy of Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc. & VisionTV. Advertisement Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Gas prices rise in San Diego County to highest amount since July

first_imgGas prices rise in San Diego County to highest amount since July 2015 KUSI Newsroom May 2, 2019 SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County rose three-tenths of a cent today to $4.092, its highest amount since July 28, 2015, one day after increasing four-tenths of a cent.The average price is 2.9 cents more than one week ago, 45.8 cents higher than one month ago and 43 cents greater than one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.“Price averages in the region have not moved up too much in the last several days but they are not coming down either due to continued refinery production problems,” Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California said. “Once refineries start coming back online, the prices should start to come down. The expectation would be that refineries would be up and running at full capacity sometime in May, but that all depends on the extent of needed repairs.” Posted: May 2, 2019 KUSI Newsroom, Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitterlast_img read more

Observing the Quantum Hall Effect in Real Space

first_img “The real space observation of rather complex phenomena due to quantum mechanics is the key access to a descriptive understanding” of the world that governs quantum physics, Hashimoto continues. Hashimoto currently belongs to Tohoku University and to JST-ERATO in Sendai, Japan, but while he was at Hamburg University in Germany, he started experiments with Markus Morgenstern in a group led by Roland Wiesendanger. Getting support from theoretical groups at Universities of Warwick and Ryukyu, he and his collaborators finally succeeded in showing quantum Hall transition in “real” space. The results of the experiments are reported in Physical Review Letters: “Quantum Hall Transition in Real Space: From Localized to Extended States.”The Hall effect results when an electric current flows in the presence magnetic field with a potential difference across an electrical conductor. As one might expect, the quantum Hall effect is a quantum-mechanical rendering – one that is observed in two-dimensional electron systems and at low temperatures. Hashimoto points out, “The quantum Hall effect as a paradigmatic and nicely tunable example of quantum phase transitions provides a very adaptable access to simple results of complex descriptions.” According to Hashimoto, the experiments done in Hamburg represent “the first real space observation of a quantum Hall transition by performing scanning tunneling spectroscopy on ‘surface’ two-dimensional electron system.” He describes the system as operating at a temperature of 0.3 K and in a high magnetic field of up to 12 T. As a result of these experiments, Hashimoto says that spatial resolution has been increased over other scanning probes by more than a full order of magnitude: “The resolution is now below relevant length scales to probe electronic wave function in quantum Hall regime and, consequently, we could observe for the first time the quantum phase transition from localized to extended states directly.”While the measurements show the quantum Hall transition of how single particles behave in probing states well away from the Fermi level, they do not include many body electron-electron effects. These effects are also important when wants to create a picture of how the quantum world functions. However, Hashimoto points out that what the group found could possibly be extended to a many body system. He says, “In principle, our experiment can extend to two-dimensional electron system at Fermi level where electron-electron interaction can be strong, using p-type semiconductor sample. …We could reveal a wealth of further quantum phase transitions.”With a p-type sample, Hashimoto continues, it would be possible to see greater energy resolution. He believes that if the findings could be expanded and applied in further experiments, it would be possible to truly address universal critical behavior at the quantum level, bringing us a better understanding of the fundamentals of quantum physics. And, Hashimoto points out, the experiments using a p-type sample are starting in a group led by Markus Morgenstern at Aachen University.More Information: Katsushi Hashimoto, et. al. Quantum Hall Transition in Real Space: From Localized to Extended States. Physical Review Letters (2008). link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.256802Copyright 2007 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. First-ever direct observation of chiral currents in quantum Hall atomic simulation (PhysOrg.com) — When water transforms into steam, or magnetized iron changes to demagnetized iron, Katsushi Hashimoto explains to PhysOrg.com, a phase transition is taking place: “Classical phase transitions…often share many fundamental characteristics near the critical point. Quantum phase transitions also show universal critical behaviors, which are affected not only by temperature but also by quantum mechanics.”center_img Citation: Observing the Quantum Hall Effect in ‘Real’ Space (2009, January 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-01-quantum-hall-effect-real-space.html Explore furtherlast_img read more

To Earn Customer Trust on Data Privacy You Need to Change the

first_imgJuly 18, 2018 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Every morning, people are willing to cough up a few bucks for a dark roast. But, four out of five Facebook users say $1 per month is too steep a price to pay for the privilege of logging in. A funny fact, considering it is a little harder to make a platform that connects 2 billion people than it is to make a morning beverage. Nevertheless, many of these same people have reacted strongly to the recent data collection so-called scandals.Related: What Small Business Owners Need to Know About CybersecurityBut, even if anger over these scandals is more hype than reality, it does not mean tech companies can ignore the problem. Considering that anger is the emotion that spreads fastest on social media, companies should be more careful than ever when it comes to the hot-button issue of data — first and foremost by being sure to develop secure products and services, and having integrity.Beyond that, however, there are a few more proactive steps companies should take to prevent this “manufactured” outrage from being directed at them:Take control of the narrative.For days after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — the only public faces of the company — were silent and unavailable to the media and users. This allowed everyone other than the company to define the narrative, and led to rampant speculation about the company’s culpability. In fact, it quickly led to the explosion of the #DeleteFacebook movement, which even garnered support by tech leaders like Steve Wozniak.It is not exactly clear what took the tech giant’s leaders so long to respond (perhaps it was to avoid Zuckerberg’s public perception issues, or to protect Sandberg for a future run for political office). But, what is clear is that had Facebook leadership activated a ready-made crisis plan and put senior management in front of a camera to take control of the narrative, it could have stemmed the tide and somewhat mitigated the fallout. Starbucks, for example, had success doing just that in the wake of its recent racially charged public relations crisis.Related: Beyond the Privacy Fine Print: Making Privacy More TransparentWith that in mind, Facebook (and other famous-founder companies) would be wise develop more public faces — ones that are market-research tested, viewed credibly, and willing to sacrifice personal time and reputation to commit to the task. And other companies should do the same as well, in order to be able to get ahead of the issue and shape the story themselves.Facebook has since made an ad about how bad it has become, as it tries to be introspective and pledges to do better. While this is a great example of taking control of the narrative, it is something that should have been done early and proactively, before the issue spiraled out of control. In this, other companies can learn from Facebook’s mistake.Simplify the terms of service.A second step companies should take to reduce the risk of generating outrage over their use of data is to make sure their users are aware of exactly how they are using it in the first place. And this begins with simplifying companies’ terms and conditions — something that TechCrunch actually calls “the biggest lie of our industry.”Faced with language that is intentionally (and unnecessarily) lengthy, complex and vague, a recent Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S. found that a whopping 91 percent of people actually consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. For younger people, aged 18-34, the rate is an even higher 97 percent.Related: 3 Reasons Why Privacy Matters to Your Business, Your Brand and Your FutureAs such, companies should take it upon themselves to educate their users by making their terms and conditions easier to read — more specifically, by using plain language summaries similar to those required for legislative ballots in many states across the U.S., or the ones now required under GDPR. In fact, a recent poll by my company Probolsky Research found a majority (52 percent) of U.S. adults support legislation that would force companies to present short, easy-to-understand summaries of their terms of service agreements.Other experts suggest that another solution to address the no-reading issue is to change the design of terms of service. “One approach is to move the contract out of the one-second moment before access is granted, and to place its terms before the user when they become relevant,” writes David Berreby for The Guardian. The experts in the article actually cite Facebook as a positive example, referencing the company’s “Who can see this?” feature that appears when users are about to post a photo.Inspire confidence in the model you have.Just as Winston Churchill said about democracy, one could say that the free, big data advertising model is the worst business model, except for all the others. Results from the same national survey by Probolsky Research found not quite half (43 percent) of Americans know that big technology companies collect and sell their user data and show them ads. So, while not everyone is familiar with how many FANGs make money, it is not a secret either.Companies must realize that they are never going to please everyone, and instead strive to inspire consumer confidence by making a commitment to data security. By highlighting the steps they are taking to protect their users — and actually “bragging” about it as part of their marketing and PR strategies — companies can make sure consumers are aware of the steps they are taking to protect them and begin to get more users on board with the model.Related: 5 Technologies That Can Prevent PR NightmaresThis, however, does not stop users from being skeptical of how companies are using their data. For this reason, companies should also pull the curtain back on their processes to show consumers exactly how their data is being collected and used. As an example, companies could make an explainer video, taking viewers on a tour through their data warehouses and showing them where their data is being stored, what it is used for and how it is being protected — just as Google does here.At the end of the day, this is not just transparency for transparency’s sake — but also a way to demonstrate all of the good the data does for individuals themselves and for the world around them. As Google, again, demonstrates, companies therefore have an opportunity to highlight in their messaging exactly what consumers would be missing if their services were not there. After all, it is tough to imagine a world without access to Google, for example.While data privacy — particularly in light of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal and the even more recent GDPR implementation — is at the heart of many media conversations today, companies can change the existing narrative of outrage by beginning to take more proactive steps. Among them, companies should take control of the narrative in the immediate aftermath of scandal, improve their terms of service and work to educate the public about the benefits of their existing business models. Register Now »last_img read more