Philadelphia City Hall Floods Again

Hands of Plumber with a wrench.
Frozen pipes can cause a lot of problems in winter, from snapping pipes and broken water mains to flooding. The Philadelphia City Council found that out the hard way earlier this week when a pipe burst in City Hall, causing water damage to the council chambers five floors below. The City Council will temporarily be housed in a courtroom on a different floor while the damage is assessed.

The council members’ desks appear to be undamaged, but the carpeting in the council chambers was completely soaked and may have to be replaced. Public property commissioner Bridget Collins-Greenwald told CBS Philly that the full extent of the damage is currently unknown, but fortunately, does not appear to be excessive. The current damage from the frozen pipe is far less severe than similar damage from an air conditioner leak in 2002, which required a year-long renovation costing upwards of $2 million.

There are many preventative measures homeowners and business owners can take to prevent the freezing of pipes during inclement weather. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be opened to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes, though any chemicals currently stored in the cabinets may need to be relocated to be out of the reach of children and pets.

Leaving thermostats set to consistent temperature throughout the entire day and night can prevent the drastic temperature changes that lead to frozen pipes. The thermostat should be set at 55 degrees minimum, though you may wish to increase temperature for comfort. Lastly, you can leave your faucets running at a trickle. The movement of the water, no matter how slow, will prevent the pipes freezing.

This winter, be sure to keep an eye on your water pipes. The increase in heating bills from having a consistent temperature in your home will be nothing compared to the costs of repairs needed should a pipe burst. Following these simple steps should keep your home from ending up like the Philadelphia City Hall.

Principle of Last-Click Attribution Clouding Analysis of Marketing Effectiveness

word cloud - advertising
When marketers advise businesses on how to spend their money, they look at statistics on effectiveness in order to tell businesses which marketing channels yield sales. However, one commonly used principle may be undermining the value of those statistics — and the decisions based off of them.

The principle itself is called last-click attribution, and it’s used to describe the belief that the final interaction a customer has with a brand before taking the desired action (becoming a client, buying a product, signing up for a list, etc.) is the most effective one.

In a recent article for industry site Internet Retailer, Robert Glazer uses the analogy of a soccer goal to describe last-click attribution. The principle would award credit only to the player who actually makes a goal in a soccer match, instead of the players who stole the ball from the other team, moved it downfield, and defended it from interception.

When marketing decisions are made based on the same type of reasoning, it can lead to some serious errors in the assessment of certain marketing channels. “Last-click attribution does not account for the entirety of the marketing budget that included brand building, email campaigns, and any number of other interactions with prospective customers,” Russell Ratshin explained in a Feb. 12 Forbes article.

The same problem presents itself when print marketing is thrown into the mix.

For example, a person might see an advertising banner or receive a direct mailer but search the company’s website online before making a purchase. Last-click attribution would give the credit for the resulting sale to search engine marketing, artificially inflating the importance of that method while discounting all the branding and marketing work done through other channels up to that point.

Print advertising is an important part of company’s branding, but the direct results can be difficult to measure,” said Adam Sturm, president of Apple Visual Graphics. “We recommend that any print campaign have clear goals and an easy way to measure the results. For example, if you’re company is doing a direct mail campaign we would like to see a code on the mailer that the customer would use to get a discount upon checkout.”
Multi-Channel Attribution Methods
The growing solution to the obvious flaws of last-click attribution is a system called multi-channel attribution.

In this strategy, marketers track not only the interactions that lead to sales, but instead map all the interactions each customer has had with a brand. As Ratshin explains, multi-channel methods use analyses to track sequences of many actions in order to establish a fuller idea of the relationship between a consumer and a business.

There are, of course, channels that are difficult to account for in this model. If someone sees a Nikon product placement in a film and then buys a Nikon online, the first part of that interaction will probably be missed. But the overall picture is still more nuanced than one that would be produced by a last-click analysis.

Marketers intimidated by the more in-depth process probably aren’t alone. But there’s no way around it if marketing data is to better reflect the way various channels actually impact outcomes. “If that sounds complex,” Ratshin sums up, “well, so is life.”

Two Groundbreaking New Treatments Can Practically Cure Sleep Apnea

Snoring man

Sleep apnea is a disruptive sleep disorder that causes the airways to collapse, making it difficult to breathe during sleep. Though most cases of sleep apnea can be treated using a CPAP machine that provides continual air pressure, a few alternative treatments are finding their way into the market.

A robotic surgery was recently cleared as a safe and effective treatment for sleep apnea. The treatment involves the surgical removal of excess soft tissue in the mouth and throat. This tissue collapses during sleep, forcing the sleeper to wake up continually to breathe, which can lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as chronic exhaustion.

The da Vinci Surgery System cuts soft tissue from the base of the tongue using high-definition 3D cameras to guide doctors through the procedures. The procedure, Transoral Robotic Surgery or TORS, has been around for years, but it was only cleared as a sleep apnea treatment last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This treatment may come as a blessing to patients who can’t seem to adjust to their CPAP machine, though most people just need time to get used to it.

“It is good that alternatives to airway obstruction and (SDB) sleep disordered breathing are continually being developed, however there is a reason that CPAP is still the gold standard in effectively treating (SDB),” says Mark Hixson, Chief Executive Officer, 1800CPAP. “CPAP, APAP , Bi-Level and Adapt SV machines are a cost effective way to treat all types of (SDB) without having to go under the knife. As always you should talk to your doctor about your treatment options.”

According to a local CBS affiliate in Fredericksburg, VA, a patient whose injured eye socket made it impossible to use a CPAP was able to be treated using a device similar to a pacemaker.

The device was placed underneath the skin on the right side of the patient’s chest and connected to a nerve in the throat. The device can essentially sense when the patient stops breathing in their sleep, at which point it sends a signal to the nerve in the throat that moves the tongue out of the way.

Sid Ghatak was the first patient to get the revolutionary implant at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The treatment is available to patients who can’t use CPAP machines but aren’t morbidly obese.

Why More Marketers Are Turning to Twitter for Social Media Campaigns

Cute twitter bird tweeting a message.

Two-thirds of marketers now consider Twitter to be the most effective platform for social media marketing campaigns, a new study has found — but Facebook is still highly important due to its sheer size.

In a recent survey of marketing professionals conducted by Edelman and the Marketing Institute of Ireland, 67% of respondents consider Twitter to be an effective marketing tool, while 59% of respondents said the same for LinkedIn and 55% for Facebook.

The numbers don’t lie — in the third quarter of 2014 alone, Twitter made an incredible 185 billion impressions on consumers, The Guardian reports.

Additionally, about 87% of the marketing professionals surveyed said they use Twitter; 74% use LinkedIn, 73% use Facebook, 50% use YouTube and 34% use blogs as a marketing tool. The importance of social media as a whole to a brand’s marketing strategy was acknowledged by virtually all respondents, with 91% agreeing that social media is important to business.

But while Twitter might have surpassed other platforms as the most effective platform, Facebook is still the most important platform due to the number of users it boasts — 1.19 billion active users each month. In comparison, Twitter only has about 288 million active users per month, according to The Guardian.

“Marketing today is live and fluent, we need to know and understand how to use our digital tools and resources and utilize the best platform(s) for our business,” says Tiffiny Hladczuk, President ITS- Integrated Technology Services

Despite the fact that 9 in 10 of the study’s respondents use social media to market their clients’ brands, there is still plenty of room for marketers to improve. Only 49% of the survey’s respondents said they know how to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their social media campaigns — meaning they don’t have an accurate way to observe how effective their social marketing efforts are.

Luckily, the survey found that 75% of today’s marketing professionals plan to increase the portions of their budgets allocated toward social media marketing — meaning social media marketing will continue to improve and expand throughout 2015.

The Inflatable Hip Protection of the Future

Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital Emergency
When elderly people fall, they may have more trouble recovering from injuries. Hips seem to be especially vulnerable during falls, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that there were 258,000 people aged 65 or older admitted to the hospital for hip fractures in 2010.

Hip fractures can also cause fatal complications, with 20% of patients with hip fractures dying within a year of injury. Moreover, one-third of adults who had previously lived on their own need to reside in a nursing home for at least a year after a hip injury.

Pennsylvania-based company ActiveProtective and Netherlands firm the Wolk Company are working independently to prevent hip fractures. Both companies are developing a belt that senses changes in motion that indicate a fall and inflates to protect the wearer’s hips. The Wolk Company has a prototype, but has yet to run any tests. ActiveProtective’s product is currently undergoing functional testing, with a 90% success rate, and human trials will begin this year.

The Wolk Company’s belt will be marketed toward the 300,000 people in assisted living homes in the Netherlands.

“Our launch customers are people in nursing homes,” Founder Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar told FastCoexist.com, “Ideally they would wear it from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they go to bed at night.”

ActiveProtective’s belt looks like a low-profile fanny pack, and can be worn over or beneath clothing, according to personal preference. When inflated, the airbag runs down the sides of the person’s hips. The Wolk Company’s prototype is a bit larger, but the company is committed to giving it a more ergonomic design to keep users from becoming self-conscious.

The Wolk Company expects their belt to be on the market early in 2016, and plans on pricing it at €400. ActiveProtective’s belt is planned to be ready for sale later in 2016.

Mississippi’s Tough Stance on Vaccination Protects State Against Measles Outbreak

Playing with doctor
The Magnolia State has taken the meaning of steel magnolias to a new level due to its strict — some say controversial — laws regarding childhood vaccination, which may have prevented the recent measles outbreak from taking hold in the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the outbreak, which began in Disneyland last month, has now affected at least 130 people and spread to 17 states and Washington, D.C. Mississippi, however, remains untouched.

“We understand a parent’s concern about medicine and vaccinations when it comes to their children, however there has been very little scientific evidence that proves vaccinations are more harmful than helpful for children,” explained Alison Hare, practice administrator at Doctors Express Englewood. “The risk a parent runs of choosing not to vaccinate a child is much greater than the possible outcome of something negative from vaccinating a child.”

Mississippi has the nation’s highest infant mortality rate, and the second highest level of childhood poverty. However, the state leads the nation in terms of having the highest childhood vaccination rates.

In 2014, 99.7% of kindergartners in Mississippi were considered “fully vaccinated” — compared to just 85% in Pennsylvania and 92% in California, the origin of the measles outbreak.

“I’m grateful, really grateful that we haven’t had any (cases of the measles) and, I’m hoping that it can continue,” said Vickie Kendrick, a mom who was at a local urgent care clinic.

Decades ago, Mississippi’s legislature passed a strict, mandatory vaccination law for young children. Unlike some other states, Mississippi does not allow exemptions for religious, personal, or philosophical reasons. Only rare medical exemptions are permitted.

“The bottom line is that if we don’t vaccinate our children we stand the potential for a public health crisis,” said Dr. Timothy Quinn, a family practitioner who has been in practice for 10 years and has never seen or treated measles case.

However, some parents feel Mississippi’s childhood vaccination laws may be too severe. Though her own children are vaccinated, MaryJo Perry and her group Mississippi Parents for Vaccination Rights, support immunization but also feel parents should have more say.

“We feel like parents should be able to do the research on vaccines and be able to discuss these things with their doctors and they ought to have the liberty to have vaccine choice,” said Perry, who wants Mississippi to make it easier for doctors to allow exemptions.

State health officials aren’t budging, however.

“This choice of not vaccinating their children actually affects the children around your child, not just your child,” said Dr. Mary Currier, of the Mississippi Department of Health.

“It’s extremely important as a nation that we take proper precautions to protect children and our community,” said Hare. “If a parent is concerned about vaccinations and their possible outcomes, we suggest that the parent speaks with their family pediatrician so that they can weigh the pro’s and con’s based on factual scientific evidence and make an educated decision on the health and future of their family together with a medical professional.”

Forecast of Solar Energy in Texas Suburb Seems a Bit Cloudy

Pannelli solari illuminati dai raggi del sole

Everything is bigger in the state of Texas, except for solar panels.

Slowly but surely, solar panels have begun to appear on the suburban rooftops of many Texas suburbs. However, some aesthetically-conscious residents feel the solar panels are visually disruptive to their painstakingly manicured housing developments.

A common aspect of modern life in many other areas of the country, solar power is being met with resistance in many Texas suburbs and communities as both residents and politicians express concern and distaste over the panels’ mechanical appearance, which they feel clashes with the appearance of their neighborhoods, giving it a more industrial look.

Since December, the Dallas suburb of North Richland Hills has required residents who are interested in installing solar panels that face the street to survey their neighbors prior to going before the planning and zoning committee. In the past, all that was required was a construction permit. However, now the process has become both lengthy and expensive, with costs upwards of $600.

“You got a few people who think they’re experts in aesthetics, telling us they look ugly. But like they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Steve Yoder, who installed a solar system on his North Richland Hills home five years ago.

As the costs of solar panels continue to drop, their popularity has subsequently risen. However, not all homeowners are installing panels as means of reducing their carbon footprint. Rather, more are concerned with reducing their electric and energy bills. This mentality has brought solar panels to Texas suburbs where they were once only seen in the state’s metropolitan areas or rural communities. But Texas suburbs have stringent aesthetic standards that solar panels just don’t meet.

In a vast number of suburban Texas neighborhoods controlled by homeowners associations, plans to install solar panels are continually met with delay and, in some cases, flat-out denied despite legislation protecting solar power.

Pharmaceutical Companies Budget for Marketing, Not Research

Doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patient
Upon his return to television, comedian John Oliver wasted no time taking aim at pharmaceutical companies’ spending practices. Nine out of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than they do on research and development. Only Roche had higher investments in its research and development department than in marketing.

According to Oliver, most of the marketing targets physicians, with companies spending $3 billion marketing to customers and $24 billion marketing to doctors and other medical professionals. Some companies have even been paying physicians to prescribe their products for problems they have not been approved to treat. In 2010, AstraZeneca agreed to pay $520 million as settlement amid allegations that they had been paying doctors to prescribe the schizophrenia medication Seroquel for unapproved uses. AstraZeneca was also accused of misleading consumers by hiding unfavorable research and emphasizing favorable results.

Some of the ways that pharmaceutical companies market their products to physicians is by buying them lunch, offering them well-paid speaking opportunities, and having their peers discuss the products with them. Doctors that are asked to discuss products are given materials and information by the manufacturer, then pass that information on to other doctors. Others are asked to speak at conferences about the product and its benefits.

Last fall, the Open Payments database was launched in an attempt to grant patients access to information about how much pharmaceutical companies were spending on marketing, research, consulting, and other hospital services. Unfortunately, many doctors disputed results, and so were not counted. The website containing the Open Payments database is also poorly maintained and plagued by glitches.

Oliver went on to finish his set with a parody commercial, discussing the side effects of receiving money from pharmaceutical companies, including “chronic overprescription, unusually heavy cash flow, dependency on free samples,” and “inflammation of confidence.” If Oliver’s past discussions of issues such as net neutrality and civil forfeiture laws are any indication, it won’t be long before viewers start asking their doctors for some answers.

France Works to Boost Its Growing Tech Industry

Hands typing on the laptop
Starting a business, creating a digital marketing strategy, and establishing a brand are almost always challenging feats. However, it can be even more difficult in a country which is often stereotyped as lacking a necessary entrepreneurial spirit.

This is exactly the challenge facing the technology industry in France. As a nation more likely to be associated with bohemian culture rather than business, tech startups in the country are frequently passed over for competitors in Germany or the United Kingdom. However, the French digital minister, Axelle Lemaire, is fighting for a change in this perception.On Friday, February 13, Lemaire visited the southwestern city of Toulouse to meet with the region’s emerging tech companies and local officials. By lunch, she had met with three businesses: La Cantine, a business consulting firm; Ekito, a tech startup studio; and Sigfox,a global cellular network. Her arrival coincided with several successes: Ekito, for example, officially unveiled its new, larger headquarters after almost a decade in business, while Sigfox recently announced that it had raised $115 million in venture capital, the largest round in French history.

Lemaire’s presence was an attempt to show the country — and the world — that France is ready for change and innovation. Yet the minister and the burgeoning industry she represents have a long way to go if they are to change international opinions and disprove old cliches.

In recent years, the French government has tried to change the country’s reputation through a program called “La French Tech.” Directed by Lemaire, the program awarded nine French cities the “French Tech” label last year, recognizing their robust small business communities or supportive local governments that helped create favorable conditions for new tech companies. Toulouse was selected as one of the winners after a spirited campaign. However, critics have claimed that the program is an empty marketing ploy. In response, Lemaire has stated that La French Tech, which was instituted by her predecessor, is designed to recreate an identity, raise awareness of widespread startup activity across France, and encourage companies to work together, not create more new businesses that don’t have the support they need.

Currently, the French government is trying to promote the country on an international level. In January, for example, Lemaire and Economic Minister Emmanuel Macron traveled to Las Vegas for the tech conference CES 2015, hoping to raise awareness of France’s 66 startups. Lemaire also holds monthly sessions in Paris where businesses can pitch various government ministries and venture capitalists. These meetings the quality and diversity of these startups, which span industries from medical technology to e-commerce. The government is also reportedly planning an international tech event to draw investors around the world to France.

As these efforts develop, French politicians have also announced a $250 million fund for startup incubators. When combined with the venture capital success of Sigfox, experts are hopeful that investors and entrepreneurs will take note of France’s changing legal, financial and social environments and decide to take part. After all, these changes are not only designed to make it easier for startups and small businesses, but the tech industry and further innovation are believed to be key to France’s economic future and international success.

How Car Wrap Advertising Has Become Increasingly Eco-Friendly

Car wrapping specialist in the station

The movement to “go green” and help reduce our collective impact on the environment has more momentum than ever before. As consumers and brands alike become more aware of growing problems like global climate change and environmental pollution, interest in more eco-friendly forms of advertising has reached an all-time high.

And as the advantages of car wrap advertising have become more widely known, it’s natural for many brands to wonder whether or not using vinyl vehicle wraps is good for the environment.

Luckily, recent findings reveal that these vehicle wraps are among the most eco-friendly ways to advertise a brand. According to a January 28 Web Wire article, the use of vinyl car wraps carries no harmful environmental effects.

Unlike the chemicals involved with applying a new coat of paint, none of the chemical compounds that form vinyl car wraps are classified as chemically abusive substances. Once applied to a vehicle, car wraps emit no dangerous gases or by-products throughout their lifespan.

No hazardous chemicals are needed to remove the wrap once its lifespan is over; isopropyl alcohol is all that’s needed to remove a car wrap. Best of all? When properly disposed of, vinyl car wraps won’t sit in landfills for centuries and pollute the soil around them.

“Vehicle Wraps offer one of the highest ROI when it comes to advertising dollars,” says Edmund Karam, Founder, Lucent Wraps. “The installation and removal of a vehicle wrap does not require any harmful chemicals. With the recent advancements in Ink Technology the new Latex and Ecco Solvent inks are environmentally friendly and offer a much better quality vinyl wrap.”

In addition to their eco-friendly properties, car wraps are statistically shown to be among the most effective forms of advertising available today. According to the Hamilton Spectator, an astonishing 97% of a brand’s target audience will respond to a car wrap advertisement. That’s because an individual vehicle wrap is viewed anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 times in an average 24-hour span.

Considering the numerous environmental benefits of car wraps — as well as their huge potential for increasing brand awareness — it’s clear to see why more and more companies are turning to vehicle wrap advertising across the country.