Industry News

News In Brief – May 2023

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  • As if we needed another reason to be grateful to live in this precious corner of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle was just ranked 2nd on the list of healthiest cities in the country. Personal finance website WalletHub released its 2023 report on the healthiest and unhealthiest cities. The study was based on 42 metrics, including access to healthy food, fitness clubs per capita, mental health and quality of public hospitals. San Francisco ranked healthiest, followed closely by Seattle. Honolulu, San Diego and Salt Lake City round out the top 5. Seattle scored in the top 10 for access to healthy food, fitness and green spaces. The unhealthiest cities on the list are Brownsville, TX, Gulfport, MS, Shreveport, LA and two Georgia cities: Columbus and Augusta. See the full study here.
  •  A new law aims to protect workers on Washington state highways. Senate Bill 5272, which received unanimous support from the Washington state legislature, authorizes the use of speed safety cameras in state highway work zones to help increase worker safety. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday. The law comes as the state has seen an uptick in traffic collisions and fatalities including in work zones. In 2021, there were 283 minor injury crashes, 28 serious injury crashes, and five fatal crashes in work zones, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The data found that distracted driving, following too closely and speeding were the main factors in the collisions. According to WSDOT, speed safety cameras are a known deterrent for speeding drivers. Speed safety cameras are already in use in school zones and railroad crossing across the state. The law goes into effect in July 2024.
  • The new car smell is actually a cocktail of chemicals that are found to cause cancer, according to a new study and reported by KOMO News. That study was done by a research team from the Beijing Institute of Technology, who says in the report that the new car smell is actually a blend of formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals floating in the air that could irritate your skin, eyes, nose, and throat and even cause cancer. These chemicals are linked to myeloid leukemia and rare cancers such as in the nose. The study says that people who spend just 30 minutes daily in a car can expose them to enough of these carcinogens to put them at risk. Also, concentrations of the chemicals increased with warmer weather. The study says that when the temperature in the car increases, the higher amount of those volatile chemicals is released. Spending an hour and a half in a car every day was found to expose a person to enough formaldehyde compounds to exceed the suggested limit.
  • The International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum found in 2022 that 5.3 billion mobile phones were thrown away. It’s an estimate based on global trade data that highlights the growing environmental problem of what’s known as e-waste. uBreakiFix has partnered with Samsung to take most electronics, including tablets, drives, batteries and phones. It also repairs broken electronics and assists in recycling unwanted electronics. Electronic products are made of valuable materials that can be recycled, and toxic chemicals that should be kept out of the landfill. E-Cycle Washington is a free program that also makes it easy for Washington state residents to recycle some broken, obsolete or worn-out electronics.
  • Michele Toh of CNN reported that as many as 300 million full-time jobs around the world could be automated in some way by the newest wave of artificial intelligence that has spawned platforms like ChatGPT, according to Goldman Sachs economists. They predicted in a recent report that 18% of work globally could be computerized, with the effects felt more deeply in advanced economies than emerging markets. That’s partly because white-collar workers are seen to be more at risk than manual laborers. Administrative workers and lawyers are expected to be most affected, the economists said, compared to the “little effect” seen on physically demanding or outdoor occupations, such as construction and repair work. In the United States and Europe, approximately two-thirds of current jobs “are exposed to some degree of AI automation,” and up to a quarter of all work could be done by AI completely, the bank estimates. While workplaces may shift, widespread adoption of AI could ultimately increase labor productivity — and boost global GDP by 7% annually over a 10-year period, according to Goldman Sachs.
  • It’s because of that wildfire smoke that nearly a dozen Washington counties received an “F” grade when it comes to air quality, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 State of the Air report. The report took a look at the air quality across the country and collected data from air monitors in more than 900 counties. The American Lung Association issues a report card every year, but this year’s report comes with mixed news. Ozone pollution is improving, but particle pollution is not as 11 counties in Washington state received an “F” grade for particle pollution. However, there is an exception. Skagit County received an “A” grade for particle pollution, according to the State of the Air report. Further north in Whatcom County, Bellingham was listed as the sixth cleanest U.S. city by year-round particle pollution, and tied for first for the cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for ozone. Wildfire smoke not only takes a toll on our air quality, but also on our lung health.
  • SniffSpot has come a long way since David Adams wanted to get his dog some exercise. Adams launched a marketplace four years ago in Seattle to connect dog parents with homeowners. The idea was to give dogs an alternative to the dog park, and generate passive income for people with extra space on their property. It caught on. Sniffspot is now active in every U.S. state across 3,600 cities and has signed up more than 20,000 hosts — a number that’s increasing 15% each month. You create an account and can search hosts. Each listing has various details (fencing height, host rules, amenities like dog toys) and reviews from other users. You can book for 30 minutes or several hours, depending on availability. Rates range from a few dollars an hour to more than $20/hour. Sniffspot also offers monthly memberships; some hosts offer member-only hours. Sniffspot takes a 22% cut of each transaction. Hosts are responsible for the payment processing fee, and then keep the remaining revenue. Some hosts on Sniffspot make upwards of $3,000 per month. The marketplace model mirrors other gig economy companies such as Airbnb or Uber, but Adams pointed to a few differences with Sniffspot, including the frequency of usage — getting your dog exercise is a recurring need, versus finding a place to stay on vacation. The visits are also outdoor and not overnight, which can help prevent potential trust and safety problems. The company has implemented more than 100 features and processes to improve the safety of the platform. Hosts are covered by a $2 million liability policy. Sniffspot is one of many tech startups aiming to take a bite of the growing pet care industry. From 2013 to 2021, the average annual household spending on pets rose from $460 to $770, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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