According to Dylan Martin at BostInno, a new startup called Dispatch has successfully raised a $12-million round of venture capital from an enviable list of investors that includes ServiceMaster, Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, Salesforce and Assurant.

What does Dispatch do?

The easiest way to describe Dispatch is this: the Boston startup has built a software platform that lets people book home services professionals for things like pest control and appliance repair, with the ease of use found in apps like Uber.

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Dispatch’s software helps home service providers offer features that people have come to expect with the proliferation of apps like Uber, OpenTable and Airbnb, such as the ability to schedule appointments, communicate with providers directly, receive job updates and make payments. The startup said its software now serves more than 50,000 homes a day.

Why does this matter? Dispatch’s CEO and founder Avi Goldberg says that, “by creating that operating system and infrastructure, we’re giving the toolkit to enterprises so they can compete for homeowners that want a modern customer experience.”

Jennifer Hermes, writing for Environmental Leader:

Risk management professionals should be leading the charge to help their companies understand how disruptive technologies will affect business strategies and operations – and those risk managers who don’t lead the way will be relegated to a support role, according to the new 2017 Excellence in Risk Management (PDF) report. Disruptive technologies as defined in the report – for example, telematics, sensors, smart buildings and the Internet of Things – are those that either purposefully displace existing products or that introduce groundbreaking ways of doing business. The report, created by Marsh & McLennan Companies in partnership with Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS), suggests that risk managers may be focusing, to their detriment, on current rather than emerging risk.

Companies that integrate such technologies early on are generally able to stay ahead of their competitors, but they also face a significant challenge: while innovation allows companies to keep their business models fresh, it also disrupts an organization, making risks more complex. Risk management professionals need to adopt a proactive approach to these technologies, understand the risks and rewards, and educate executives on how those risks and rewards will impact business strategies, the report suggests.

What are some ways to approach risk in a more proactive manner? Excellence in Risk Management states the following:

  • Engage key stakeholders, from senior leaders to operations employees and even suppliers, in looking at risk and bringing their insights to the decision-making process;
  • Invest in the use of data, analytics and technology;
  • Educate about risk management across the organization;
  • Integrate risk management into strategic planning.

Smart homes of the future may just as readily respond to instructions sent by text, as the voice-powered interfaces that dominate the early entrants to the market for the Internet of Things in the home. Amazon, Google and Apple all have technologies largely relying on speech recognition, but as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discovered after installing an extremely sophisticated voice-powered smart home system, not everyone is comfortable with that style of user interface.

Jeremy Wagstaff, writing for Reuters:

Facebook (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, was working on Jarvis, his own voice-powered AI home automation, and found he preferred communicating by text because, he wrote, “mostly it feels less disturbing to people around me.”

A small Singapore-based firm called Unified Inbox is working on the challenge:

At Unified Inbox, Ruckert looks ahead to being able to communicate not only with one’s own appliances, but with machines elsewhere. Bosch executives in Singapore, for example, have demonstrated how a user could ask a smart CCTV camera how many people were in a particular room.

As famous inventor James Dyson stated in a recent interview:

For me, the future is making everything happen for you without you being particularly involved in it.

Bryan Clark, via The Next Web:

After five years of fighting to increase profits, J.C. Penney is shutting down 130 stores nationwide. For one California startup — and anyone who’s been inside J.C. Penney lately — this didn’t come as a surprise.

Orbital Insight, a venture-funded startup in Palo Alto, uses satellite imagery to track the health of major retailers by analyzing car groupings in the parking lot. Year-over-year, J.C. Penney saw a five percent decrease in the number of cars parked outside, and down over 10 percent for Q1 so far, according to Orbital Insight.

The Outline’s Adrienne Jeffries has more:

The number of cars in J.C. Penney lots was down 5 percent year-over-year in Q4 of 2016, and is down 10 percent year-over-year for Q1 so far, Orbital Insight said.

Orbital Insight, a venture capital-funded satellite intelligence startup based in Palo Alto, tracks 250,000 parking lots for 96 retail chains across the U.S.

Ronald Ray, writing for Construction Specifier, has a great article on different methods for detecting, diagnosing and pinpointing the location of leaks within various types of roofs. What makes Ray’s article so great is some of the cool new technologies outlined representing the bleeding edge of building forensics:

All roofs eventually leak—it is just a matter of when and where. Nevertheless, the hope is that new roofing systems do not leak right from the start. It is critical to verify the watertightness of roofing, especially if it is to be covered with ballast or a vegetated roof assembly. This verification is a field quality-control measure beyond the scope of a roofing manufacturer’s visual inspections for issuance of a warranty. For existing buildings being considered for a reroofing program, conducting a roof survey to determine the location and extent of wet substrates is essential to making fiscally responsible decisions related to the program’s extent…

Other technologies, such as electronic leak testing, can detect leaks with far more reliability than flood-testing. Some electronic leak-testing methods include:

  • electrical capacitance/impedance testing;
  • infrared thermography;
  • nuclear hydrogen detection;
  • low-voltage electrical conductance testing; and
  • high-voltage spark testing.

Man, depositions can be rough on some people. I personally know of situations in which various parties have thrown their laptops down in a temper tantrum, expert witnesses breaking down in tears or faking illness to take more time to prepare, or the time when an infamous developer parked his Ferrari right outside the room where his deposition was being held where he would try to claim he was broke, and have even seen video of a deposition in Texas where a fist fight broke out (Google it – you won’t be sorry…). (more…)

As the construction industry becomes more reliant upon technology, we must follow the proven examples of other industries and adopt standards for exchanging information.

It started with CAD. All of a sudden there was a way to create drawings electronically that could improve the precision of the design process and reduce the repetitive labor associated with manual drawing/drafting. As software developers saw the opportunity for creating CAD programs for the AEC industry, a bunch of different options sprouted up, each with its own unique file format. Quickly it became apparent that it was in the industry’s best interest to standardize those file formats to make it easier for design teams comprised of multiple distinct entities to collaborate.  (more…)