Urban Air

There are only four states in the US that do not allow billboards: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont. What do these states have in common? Natural beauty. As a member of the advertising/marketing community, I wouldn’t deny considering a billboard as an option for OOH, but sometimes I would like to look at trees or mountains and the like instead of “Girls! Girls! Girls!”

Stephen Glassman of Los Angeles came up with an interesting idea that has the support of Summit Media, who volunteered to donate prominent billboards in LA for the first prototype. The idea: create “floating, globally connected urban forests growing where billboards stand.”

Each billboard/eco-system will also be included with a self-sustaining water and lighting system, so once the initial setup is finished, little maintenance is required. Stephen also has experience in participating in large-scale projects in the public realm.

So, if you think this is a good idea and/or live in a major metropolitan area, like Atlanta, LA, Chicago, New York, or Miami, and wouldn’t mind taking a small moment out of your commute home to take a deep breath of “fresh” air, donate $5.00 because I’m curious to see how this plays out.

Find the link to Stephen’s Kickstarter page here. His goal is $100,000 by December 11. As of November 12, they are at $19,288.

@BCulture_Matt

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Hurricane Sandy: How can we better prepare for disasters using technology?

Hurricane Sandy may have tested our skills beyond what we could have ever imagined…this past week has been a humbling experience to say the least. Hurricane Sandy left many areas in the Caribbean, Connecticut, New York/NYC areas, and New Jersey crippled. Living in Jersey City I have seen first-hand the damage that was done by flooding (not even remotely taking into account the massive destruction in many other areas). I was without power for 5 days, which is certainly just an inconvenience in comparison to how some people have to live and survive right now. I do wish we would have heeded to the warnings our technology was bringing our way…

Emergency Alerts/Smartphones

On behalf of the entire B Culture Media staff, our hearts go out to all of those that lost their homes due to flooding and/or those that are dealing with massive destruction that the hurricane left behind in one way or another. Unfortunately, just because the hurricane/cyclone itself was over in about 2 days that doesn’t mean that there now aren’t weeks and months (if not longer) ahead of us trying to recover from this disaster. Here is a Recent Update on news about the storm’s destruction and aftermath.

My boyfriend and I didn’t prepare for this storm (#Frankenstorm) as we should have (not even close); however, instead of looking back on what we didn’t do right; I would like to focus on how we can all prepare better for the future. We can’t assume another tragedy like this won’t happen.  How can technology help in these scenarios? Obviously, given I was without power for a week; I realized that powering up my cell is the hard part, and then no cell service and/or access to Wi-Fi is another.  But, there are simple things that I could have used that would have helped immensely, and of course only finding this out after the fact, but again I feel it is better late than never.

I have compiled some things that I have done a lot of research on since my power was restored, and just wanted to help others as well.

First off, it would have been very smart to have one of these: http://tinyurl.com/79sftaa

The way that I even found out that these bags existed is by meeting a new hurricane friend while we were all camping out at the grocery store, Shop Rite, where all of us were sprawled out in the aisles sucking up juice from the outlets sporadically placed throughout the store. We were at this store for hours a day (or elsewhere) to try to fully charge our phones and other electronics.  For about $170 this bag will charge a smartphone up to 4 times, so you can charge multiple things with just this one source! Therefore, having this would have made it a bit easier to call loved ones during the disaster, get in touch with our offices that are out of state, etc.

Secondly, having a SpareOne Emergency Phone is a necessity (see picture below). It runs on one AA battery and will connect within range of GSM cell towers worldwide. It would have been an amazing emergency backup phone given that we all could not communicate with anyone due to the massive outages in cell towers and our smartphones losing juice in too short of a time. This phone starts at $60 and can be purchased from www.spareone.com.

Thirdly, there are a ton of smartphone/tablet apps that are available that could be of great help during emergencies like we experienced this past week. I have collected the top 8 apps available on various types of smartphones/tablets that can help in times of dire need:

  1. DriveSaf.ly is a free app available on Android smartphones, Blackberry and Apple (iPads, iPhones, etc.). This app comes in handy if you are in a situation where you’re driving in a hurry, but need to be on the phone at the same time.  Clearly, in a state of emergency the last thing that a person should do is be careless and cause potential harm to others on the road, so texting and/or holding the phone to the ear while driving is a bad idea. This app uses text-to-speech functionality so your incoming text messages and emails are read aloud while driving.
  2. RepairPal: Auto Repair is a free app available on Apple products and Android. It helps you get accurate repair estimates based on your location and includes customer reviews of repair shops in the area. Given many persons had their cars damaged, this is a great app to help ease the pain to find out where to take the vehicles to be fixed.
  3. SAS Survival Guide/Lite. This is a $5.99 app or free (for the lite version) that was created by a former Special Air Services soldier. This will help you learn how to build fires, find water, navigate by the stars and includes a sun compass, Morse Code signaler, pictures of plants that are helpful and/or poisonous, first aid help and much, much more. Available on Apple and Windows.
  4. Maverick is a free app that uses Google, Bing and Open Street Maps to track where you are and where you’ve been. This is an amazing app in case you’re in territories that you’re not familiar with.  Only available on Android smartphones.
  5. Tiny Flashlight + LED is a free app that will light through your phone’s screen or its LED light and is available on Android and Apple.
  6. The Merck Manual – Home Edition is a $9.99 app that gives you access to learn about medical conditions and procedures, medical terms and how to handle emergency situations. This app is only available on Apple.
  7. PressReader is a free app that gives you access to 2,100 newspapers from 95 countries in 54 languages. This is also only available on Apple. A great app to help aggregate news during a time of disaster.
  8. Radar Now! is a free app that provides the most current National Weather Service (NWS) enhanced radar base images along with the current weather conditions and storm indicators.  This is available on Android only. Other ones that provide Apple and Blackberry notification are The Weather Channel (free app) and WeatherBug (also free).

For some other references, for us candles were also very, very scarce, so here is a way to get really creative to build your own out of things you may have in your cupboards: Crisco Candle

Not to mention, walkie talkies would have been more than helpful! Here are some deals on those as well: http://amzn.to/YEUstb

There are also great points of reference on CBS’s Money Watch site for people that are seeking help as to how to deal with insurance companies after this storm:  http://tinyurl.com/bljrzmn

And, are you curious about whether your insurance covers floods? Go here: http://tinyurl.com/axkswf4

I am hoping that soon all of this can be put behind us, but it isn’t going to be easy. To help with relief efforts, as there are many families and pets that have had their lives destroyed, please go to these sites to serve as reference points:

Red Cross: http://tinyurl.com/bpjb7v5

Animal Rescue/Help: http://tinyurl.com/c8w8zn8

Remember, donating monies and doing what you can even from afar is a great way to help as we can all rebuild our communities together. Best wishes to everyone!

@natbdold

Natalie B. Dold

6 Tips for Improved Twitter Experience

Twitter is taking the social media world by storm with no signs of slowing down in the future. As flocks of media heads join Twitter daily, staying afloat amidst a sea of tweeters requires more effort. Here are a few tips to help take your account to the next level:

1. Announce to existing networks of your recent transition to Twitter using existing social media platforms. Post a Facebook status making friends aware of your social endeavors and invite them to follow along and join in. Who’s better in supporting your than your existing and loyal connections?

2. Be in the right space, talking to and with the right people. Put yourself in a Twitter space that is well suited to your industry, personal interests, and/or goals. The point is to create and maintain connections with like-minded individuals and groups in hopes of increasing reach and influence. Try to only follow accounts that lead you in the right direction.

3. #Hashtags are key. Know what’s happening with popular and trending hashtags is vital. Use hashtags to join in to top conversations, ultimately increasing your social visibility. Know of an interesting topic that will immediately cause a buzz? Create a hashtag. As more people catch on, more people are introduced to your account.

4. Tweet and retweet everyone. From Fortune 500 CEOs to the next-door neighbor; if the information or statement is legitimate and authentic, share it! Interact with individuals on all levels. Take an active approach and watch your account come alive. Tweeters are more likely to promote your account if they know you will support them in return.

5. Content is king. Keep your audience interested by posting great content, specifically photos. Research shows that tweets have higher rate of activity with an image attached. Refrain from repetitive information and exhausted trends opting for something more original.

Which leads to the final yet most important tip:

6. Be 100% genuine. Profiles are proven to be more attractive when tweets and information are unadulterated. In this social world, it is important to come off as personable and genuine. Robotic jargon comes off as extremely suspicious and will likely cause many to question the validity of you and your account. Refrain from repetitive and exhausted information.

Use these steps to improve your overall Twitter experience and come to really appreciate the site, and the connections that it creates. Being in the right space and speaking to the right people about the right things are the basic elements necessary to building a great account. Stop the endless chatter and unlock your full Twitter potential today. The effort is definitely worth the results.

@BCulture_CourtB