How does your neighborhood smell? Local tech pioneers + more
“What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done.” – Tim O’Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media
Introducing the SmellLouisville app
Tech company helps local businesses grow
Using technology to promote healthy aging
UL helps NASA with blood rehydration
Know your city!
February 4, 2020
HOMETOWN TECH HEROES
Introducing the SmellLouisville app
There are odors in the air that smell bad and then there are odors in the air that are bad for your health. Thanks to technology, there’s now a way for Louisville’s “citizen scientists” to report those odors in order to drive attention to them and maybe affect a change.
The app, SmellLouisville, which was adapted from an app created at Carnegie Mellon University, is a tool residents can use to report odors they detect within Louisville neighborhoods. The data collected is to be used to hold people and industries accountable, with the end-game of changing behaviors.
There have been thousands of calls to the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District over the last six years from people concerned about odors in the air. Whether it’s the neighborhoods around Rubbertown, home to about 11 Title V chemical plants, or the Butchertown area that’s sometimes blanketed by odors coming from the JBS Swift meatpacking plant, people are concerned about what these odors could mean to their health.
Dr. Ted Smith is the Director for The Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil (part of the Envirome Institute at UofL), whose mission is to create a healthier Louisville by building a modern urban laboratory using the power of citizen science. His son was actually the first person to try to manipulate the first app’s code to adapt to Louisville. He told TechRepublic at the national rollout of the product, “Because a lot of times when people smell things that disturb them, they have reason to believe that there could be health problems. And so, this kind of crowdsourcing is a fresh way to bring collective voices together.”
Louisville Geek: A Hometown success story
Since its start in 2004, Louisville, KY, IT company Louisville Geek has been helping businesses take advantage of the technologies that can help them grow. Flyover Future spoke to Ben Lawrence, managing partner of Louisville Geek to learn about their road to success.
How did Louisville Geek come about?
Louisville Geek started with Bobby Bailey and Patrick Mann in 2004. Computer viruses were beginning to make a name for themselves and, at the time, not many people knew how to fix infected computers.
They recruited a handful of savvy engineers, opened an office the size of a closet in St. Matthews, and began fixing computers for friends and family. Word began to spread, and they quickly found themselves supporting IT for small businesses. Over the years, they made a few acquisitions and before they knew it, they were providing IT support to businesses across the country.
What kind of growth have you experienced?
We’ve experienced steady growth since our inception in 2004, and we don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Business First of Louisville has recognized us as one of the Fastest 50 Growing companies for 8 straight years (the list ranks private companies in the Louisville area by revenue growth). We recently moved into a 20,000 square foot office space that we purchased and renovated, which houses the vast majority of our 92 employees.
Your business was founded locally. What obstacles did you face growing a tech business in Louisville?
When we were first getting started, our biggest obstacle was finding suitable talent. The pool in Louisville is not as big as a large metropolis like New York or San Francisco, so we had to find creative ways to find and retain talented engineers. We developed relationships with local colleges and made a commitment to providing ongoing training for our employees, which is a must if you want to succeed in the technology sector.
What factors worked in your favor?
Louisville is home to a lot of growing businesses, and we’ve been fortunate to partner alongside some of the most innovative companies in the city. As they’ve grown, we’ve grown.
The Thrive Center: Promoting healthy aging with technology
According to Genworth's Cost of Care Survey, on average in the United States, a private room in a nursing home costs $8,365 per month, or $275 a day. For a semi-private room, the average cost of a nursing home is $7,441 per month, or $245 a day.
The Thrive Center is a 7,500-square-foot space located in the heart of Louisville’s Innovation District dedicated to showing how technology can enhance the lives of older adults at a cost lower than skilled nursing facilities.
Mark Ray, writing for Next Avenue, took a tour of The Thrive Center and its prototype of a smart home for seniors. Some of the features include a smart refrigerator with a camera that lets you view the contents from anywhere. For example, if you have an elderly parent, you can check to see if there is food in the fridge.
There is also a home-monitoring system that lets caregivers monitor older adults without being intrusive. The system learns a person’s habits and will trigger a smartphone alert if those habits change. Thrive’s smart home also includes stovetops that get hot only when a pan is in place and fully automated lights that come on when a senior gets up to use the restroom in the middle of the night and go back off when they come back to bed.
For more information about the innovations, click here.
UofL working with NASA to rehydrate blood
In a series of experiments sponsored by NASA, UofL researchers are working on ways to ensure astronauts have access to medical care while they’re on long-range space missions.
The researchers, Michael Menze, PhD, associate professor of biology, and Jonathan Kopechek, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, are specifically looking at ways to rehydrate dried red blood cells in a weightless environment. The group completed more than 50 weightless cycles during two flights aboard a ZERO-G aircraft. The ZERO-G is a privately owned company that has modified a Boeing 727 jet to create a weightless environment.
The UofL team has developed several methods for drying blood so it can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration. Then the blood can be rehydrated using sterile water. (Current methods for storing blood require constant refrigeration, which means the blood can be stored for only six weeks.)
Dr. Menze worked with George Pantalos, who is a professor in the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Pantalos customized a glove box enclosure for his research for these experiments.
The scientists and students completed all the planned tests on the blood cells, which had been dehydrated either by spray-drying and freeze-drying in the glove box on the aircraft. After the aircraft landed, the rehydrated samples were analyzed by a ground crew to see if they would be suitable for infusion into a patient.
“We found that the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood was comparable to what we find when we are rehydrating our blood at one-earth gravity,” Menze said in a press release.
Click below to check out a cool video about the project.
An authentic local won't have a problem with these three questions. Can you answer them?
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