Tag Archives: drinking

Why Microsoft thinks the future of water depends on the future of technology innovation – Microsoft Green Blog

Clean drinking water is critical to all life, but unfortunately it is not easily available for everyone around the globe. According to the World Health Organization, nearly a billion people around the world lack a basic drinking water service, and at least two billion use a drinking water source that is contaminated with feces.

This situation will only become more acute as populations grow and the planet continues to warm. In fact, WHO suggests that by 2025 nearly half of the world’s population will have a difficult time accessing clean, drinkable water. In areas already stricken by drought or lacking in water sanitation facilities, things will only become direr as climate change exacerbates the strain on water resources. Beyond the immediate humanitarian impact of water shortages, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that water availability and quality could become a primary pressure point for society under climate change. Given this, it’s no surprise that access to water routinely makes the top five of the list of global risks identified annually by the World Economic Forum.

This view of the future, of course, presumes we continue business as usual. But water is in the midst of a digital transformation that promises a much brighter future, and nowhere is this more apparent than at World Water Week. I had the pleasure of attending this yearly event on behalf of Microsoft last week, delivering our vision of the promise of technology to address both water quality and quantity issues. I was joined by hundreds of governments, businesses and civil society leaders, who also shared their reasons for being optimistic about the future of water.

In addition to speaking, we made a new commitment. Microsoft is proud to join the UN CEO Water Mandate, a collaborative effort of corporations and NGOs designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of corporate water stewardship practices and policies.

We’ve diligently pursued water stewardship across our global operations, and one of our most ambitious projects was our new Silicon Valley campus. Last year, we announced that campus would be one of the first net-zero potable water tech campuses in the world. 100% of the buildings non-drinking water will come from rainfall or on-site recycled water – beyond drinking fountains and sinks not a drop of water for more than 2,000 employees and 15 acres of landscape will come from municipal sources. In addition, we’re designing our campus with the nearby wetlands in mind and taking steps to improve our local water environment.

As a global technology company, we know we can have an even greater impact by empowering others beyond our four walls. One example of how we’ve applied technology to the water space is the Water Risk Monetizer, a powerful tool built in partnership with Ecolab and Trucost. The tool shows the costs of using water in every step of business operation, from manufacturing to delivery, and can give companies an idea of how those costs will increase if water becomes a limited resource. This helps them manage water more effectively and has the potential to reduce water consumption in many different industries.

We’re also working to apply AI to the issue of water. Through our AI for Earth program, a $50M over five-year program, Microsoft is putting AI tools into the hands of individuals and organizations working on the frontlines of environmental challenges, including water. To date, 20 percent of our 137 AI for Earth grantees are working on water-related projects. Our grantees work on the breadth of issues – some use AI to map coastal ecosystems to create a more accurate view of coastal resilience and inform real-time conservation and disaster response efforts, while others work on the impact of storm water or Superfund sites on local water resources, and still others are working to better predict, track and prevent floods. We’re particularly excited about the use of AI to inform and address water scarcity. WetDATA is creating a water data and innovation hub that collects and disseminates information on water scarcity and risks to drive informed, data-driven, decisions regarding water practices. They also encourage researchers to discover and innovate new ways to conserve water with the hopes of driving water sustainability in a myriad of industries.

We’re looking forward to expanding our work, both within our operations and through AI for Earth, in the coming year. After a week at SIWI, I’m even more encouraged about the digital transformation of water. We think that the glass is half full of water solutions already and are confident that those working on today’s pressing water challenges will be able to use AI and machine learning to fill the glass the rest of the way.

Free course targets candidates for network engineering jobs

Get prepared for a high-paying IT job. Deliver clean drinking water to developing countries.

That’s the pitch from newly opened IT training company NexGenT, which is offering a course that prepares budding tech workers for a networking certification exam for as little as a $5 donation.

The San Jose, Calif., startup partnered with Charity: Water, a nonprofit that funds clean-water initiatives worldwide, hoping to rake in donations — and new business, said NexGenT’s David Torres, who goes by the title of growth marketer.

The monthlong course, which has a list price of $997, gets help desk technicians, network admins or other IT apprentices ready for CompTIA’s Network+ certification, a useful, but not mandatory, credential for getting network engineering jobs.

“It not only prepares you and helps you get a job, but it also gives you a very strong general foundation of networking,” Torres said. Whether the recently launched two-in-one freebie — jumpstart an IT career and help provide safe drinking water to people in need — will prove irresistible is an open question.

In any case, people who take NexGenT up on its course-for-donation offer can enroll, schedule a Network+ examination date with CompTIA, pass it and, the industry organization holds, confidently put themselves out on the market. But they will also get pitched NexGenT’s flagship offering, Zero to Engineer, an intensive, $12,500 online program designed to get people ready for an IT career in three to six months, no matter what their level of competency.

Network engineer boot camp
Students take part in a five-day network engineering boot camp at NexGenT’s San Jose, Calif., campus in April.

One word: Networks

Network engineering — planning and designing the computer networks that support the flow of data and communication and, essentially, enable modern organizations to function — is NexGenT’s educational focus at a time when the astronomic popularity of coding boot camps has shown signs of leveling off amid shifting employer demand. The network, Torres said, is where a lot of tech’s future lies — with the expected millions upon millions of devices that will hook into the internet of things in the future, “we need more people that know how to manage all this information.”

According to a CompTIA study on IT skills, released in May, companies are having the most trouble attracting and retaining emerging tech skills such as artificial intelligence and automation, with 59% of companies seeing a moderate or significant skills gap. In software development, it’s 55%. The shortage is less acute for network engineering and systems administrator jobs, with 44% of companies having trouble pinning down the right skills — but a skills gap is a skills gap.

And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there will be a 6% increase in the number of network and systems admin jobs between 2016 and 2026, close to the 7% average projected growth of all jobs together.

NexGenT aims to not just widen the pool of people poised for network engineering jobs but to also bolster the skills themselves by turning out “full-stack network engineers,” which it describes as IT pros with a mastery of core routing and switching but also cybersecurity, cloud, automation, virtualization and voice over IP.

Network engineer boot camp
NexGenT co-founder Jacob Hess (right) speaks with Edgar Montes, a student in a five-day network engineering boot camp at the training company’s campus in San Jose, Calif.

Gunning for $100K

The company’s goal is to get people to “break the six-digit salary figure as soon as possible,” Torres said. That can be done in four years, he said — and with network engineers bringing in an average starting salary of $70,147, according to salary and benefits website PayScale, that seems doable.

NexGenT also wants its students to land network engineering jobs without racking up a huge amount of school debt. The flagship course costs $12,500 for its online-only modules that include the ins and outs of IT architecture and networking, protocols and technologies, a keystone networking project and a community of mentors. For $15,500, students can add a five-day boot camp at the San Jose campus, where they will set up, configure and secure networking equipment.

The cost isn’t peanuts, but it’s low compared with the tens of thousands of dollars in loans students are leaving college with today. The company offers discounts and payment plans to help with tuition, Torres said.

Military, NFL pedigree

NexGenT was founded by Terry Kim and Jacob Hess, who were IT instructors in the U.S. Air Force, training people “who in most cases didn’t have any IT experience, to be ready to work on tactical networks in just a few months,” Hess said in a statement.

The company graduated from startup accelerator AngelPad and got seed funding from Liquid 2 Ventures, an investment fund run by former NFL quarterback Joe Montana.

The Zero to Engineer program has 143 students. The company hasn’t posted a job placement rate yet, since students are still in the program, which started in February. There are success stories on its website, though, Torres said — they belong to graduates of a beta-version course offered last year. And there’s Kevin Lee, a project manager who had “absolutely zero experience” in IT and is now a network engineer at Samsung.

The Network+ course, meanwhile, has drawn 110 people since the offer launched earlier this month, and NexGenT will be ramping up its online and social media ad campaigns in coming weeks.