Helping close divisions in the US: Insights from the American Well-Being Project

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Editor’s Note:The American Well-Being Project is a joint initiative between scholars at the Brookings Institution and Washington University in St. Louis.

Issues of despair in the United States are diverse, widespread, and politically fueled, ranging from concentrated poverty and crime in cities to the opioid crisis plaguing poor rural towns. Local leaders and actors in disconnected communities need public policy resources and inputs beyond what has traditionally been available.

Scholars at Brookings and Washington University in St. Louis are working together to analyze the issues underlying America’s disaffection and divisions in order to provide policy ideas for a better, more inclusive future. Through on-the-ground community research in Missouri—a microcosm of America’s problems—as well as the application of ongoing policy research, we hope to develop approaches that can tackle factors like lack of access to health care, scarcity of low-skilled jobs, weak education systems, and hollowed-out communities.

Simply put, we are asking how has the American Dream been broken and how can it be restored?

WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT IS MISSING

In general, indicators such as economic growth and unemployment rates continue to improve in the U.S., as do some markers of well-being, such as longevity. Yet the aggregate indicators mask inequality of access and outcomes. Such indicators do not account, for example, for the decline in prime age male labor force participation, nor do they reflect the rising numbers of “deaths of despair” due to opioid or other drug overdoses, suicide, and other preventable causes. Such deaths are concentrated among less than college educated, middle-aged whites.

The past few decades have also seen a dramatic increase in the disability rate (the number of disabled Social Security beneficiaries), greater income inequality, and stagnating mobility rates. Different regions have had divergent fortunes, meanwhile, and many, particularly in the heartland where manufacturing has declined, are characterized by “left-behind” populations in poor health and with little hope for the future, and a hollowed out middle-class.

As such, the macro numbers simply do not capture the full picture of inequality, public frustration, and socioeconomic distress. Well-being metrics could be part of the solution in understanding trends among and across subpopulations.

Looking back on recent episodes of political upheaval, previous decades produced clear indicators that should have been seen as red flags for the current crisis. If we can better identify these risk factors in advance, then we can provide appropriate policy recommendations to those working in communities most affected, as well as anticipate the challenges of those populations and places at greatest risk.

HOW CAN RESEARCH AND DATA BE USED AT THE LOCAL LEVEL? THE APPLICATION OF SUBJECTIVE MEASURES

As we further explore metrics of well-being, the question will be how to analyze data in a way that is useable and valuable to local leaders. While well-being measures offer interesting insights, they are inherently subjective and focused on mindset rather than quantitative outcomes. Pairing well-being measures with traditional “hard” measures like GDP and employment rates has proven useful in the past.

As shown by research in Peru into the relationship of traditional economic and social measures to perceived well-being, status, identity, and inclusion, hope is a significant factor in determining success. People who are more hopeful tend to have better economic and social outcomes.

Communities should also strive to achieve a balance between hope and realism. Although our research shows that hope is a key determinant of well-being, excessive optimism can easily lead to disappointment.

Personal responsibility for success is also an important factor. To the extent that people blame themselves (or their neighbors) for the current social and economic challenges, pressure for policy responses is lost. Too much blame on individual agency makes a community unwilling to try to make things better through policy. The goal should be to achieve a healthy balance of outlooks, personal responsibility, and realistic understanding of chances for success.

Better indicators of people’s outlooks on life combined with indicators of opportunity and deprivation could help achieve this at the grassroots level. Novel approaches that combine quantitative and qualitative data can inform a range of community efforts. Scholars at Washington University have already taken the lead by using national data from call-in distress services for individuals and families, with the goal of identifying specific geographic information, down to the neighborhood level, on vulnerable areas.

Brookings scholars actively participated with the state of Colorado to implement a comprehensive system for monitoring mobility and opportunity—the Colorado Opportunity project, and in a separate effort, with the city of Santa Monica to design an effort to regularly monitor a range of well-being dimensions.

NEXT STEPS

Now is an opportune moment for local, regional, and state leaders to make positives changes in communities, rather than waiting for action at the federal level. And, given the complex nature of our crisis of divide and desperation, policies must be better targeted to different age, racial, and socioeconomic groups—and their circumstances, something best achieved at the local level.

Even if analyses and practices are adapted for specific geographic regions and demographic groups, local governance challenges will still make implementation difficult to achieve on the ground. Many communities lack local leadership and empowered community organizations. Nongovernmental organizations, state level governments, and even the private sector can help fill the leadership void in communities and support existing local efforts.

The fact is that the issues of despair in America have no one answer, nor does the responsibility fall on a single sector, institution, or group of people. It will take a concerted effort from many stakeholders, focusing on an immense set of challenges that differ from community to community.

Our collaboration between Brookings and Washington University aims to help those taking the lead by providing valuable data, analyses, and policy ideas.

[“Source-brookings”]

Things 3 Is Great at Helping You Get the Job Done

Things 3 Is Great at Helping You Get the Job Done

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Things 3 is a “getting things done” app
  • It’s available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac
  • It’s expensive, but the design is excellent and it works very well

Every single day, we find ourselves saddled with countless small tasks to complete, errands to run, mails to send, and in general — things to do. Almost always, we end up forgetting one thing or another and that wastes a lot of time. We’ve tried a lot of different ways to avoid this — a to-do list in a notebook, basic reminder apps, and even a proper “getting things done” (GTD) app in Todoist.

For various reasons, all of these approaches have failed us eventually. We kept forgetting to write things down in our notebook, Apple’s Reminders app was too basic, and we aren’t big fans of Todoist’s design – or its subscription model. Things weren’t looking good, at least until Cultured Code released Things 3.

Cultured Code’s design prowess is well-known and the company has done a stellar job yet again with Things 3. This writer been using the app on iPhone and Mac for over a month and it’s certainly become a vital part of his life.

When you first fire up Things 3 on any platform, you’re going to notice how clean it looks. You’ll see “Today” or “Upcoming” or the title of your project in a large font size right at the top and all of your tasks below. There’s just the right amount of gap between the heading and your tasks, and between different tasks themselves. It doesn’t feel like these are sticking to each other and it definitely doesn’t feel like there’s a massive chasm between these either.

things 3 iphone projects Things 3

The way Cultured Code has used white space is commendable as it keeps the design from feeling cluttered. Ideally, a GTD app should remind you about pending tasks, but if it’s cluttered it starts to feel intimidating and then we feel there’s a high chance of people abandoning the app altogether. Not with Things 3, where every design choice feels deliberate and tastefully executed.

On the iPhone, Things 3 is a pretty straightforward app. It lets you add tasks, create projects, and you can even use the share sheet to add tasks from other apps. If you’re browsing the Web or watching videos online, you can send the link straight to Things 3 via the share sheet. You can even share your tasks and checklists to other apps.

One of the best features of Things 3 on iPhone is its 3D Touch implementation. If you have an iPhone 6S or a newer iPhone, you can hard press the Things 3 icon hard to reveal a neat widget where you can mark up to two tasks as complete. You can also use 3D Touch to create a new task, jump to the Today page, and jump to Quick Find (for searching within the app).

Things 3 for Mac

We love using Things 3 on iPhone, but the Mac app is where it really shines. Not only have the developers used the extra screen space very well, but they’ve also added a bunch of small features that wouldn’t be possible on iPhone. For instance, pressing Ctrl + option + space in certain apps such as Safari or Mail, opens a Things 3 pop-up with a link to the website or email added. You can quickly add webpages or emails to your to-do list via this shortcut.

things 3 mac logbook Things 3

Similarly, you can use the Ctrl + space shortcut in any app to add a task manually to Things 3. When you set a reminder for a task, the notification stays on your Mac’s screen until you either snooze or dismiss it. We feel any good GTD app should be good at nagging you until you get the job done, and based on our experience of using it to manage work tasks, Things 3 is good at this.

The developers have created neat tutorial projects to familiarise new users with the app and all its features. We found these extremely useful and learned about several advanced features that have now become a part of our daily workflow.

When you mark a task complete, it changes the font colour from black to grey for a couple of seconds, before moving to the the Logbook (where all completed tasks go). This allows you time to uncheck the task if you’ve accidentally marked it complete. When you create a project, the icon is a circle which slowly fills up like a pie chart as you complete tasks under that project. Lots of small touches like this make Things 3’s design feel tastefully designed.

Cultured Code uses its own Things Cloud to sync your tasks across devices. It works just fine and we had no issues whatsoever with syncing tasks and projects across devices.

things 3 mac quick entry Things 3

At the moment, Things 3 doesn’t let you attach images or other files to your tasks. This feature would allow us to attach screenshots or important documents to our tasks, which would help a lot while researching for stories.

It also doesn’t allow you to create repeating reminders on an hourly basis. You can create daily, weekly, or monthly repeating reminders but not hourly ones. That makes it less useful if you want to set reminders for drinking water or to remind yourself to stop working nonstop and take a break.

Things 3 is not for everyone. It’s available only on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. You need to buy it separately on iPhone (Rs. 800), iPad (Rs. 1,600), and Mac (Rs. 4,000), so it’s definitely not cheap. But if you value good design and you need a GTD app for your Apple devices, Things 3 is an absolute must-have.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

This New Routing Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

Have you ever made three or four errands in a row, traveling from place-to-place, meticulously crossing the errands off your list?

If you have, chances are good you didn’t input all of your stops into a smart routing system that used advanced algorithms to determine the best order, and most efficient routes for your errands.

But if you did, just imagine how much time you could have saved, compounded over all the errands you’ve made in your lifetime.

Today, many small businesses still rely on similar methods to deliver goods and services to their customers with a fleet of vehicles; often times grouping jobs together loosely based on location, letting drivers decide, or plotting what seems to be the most efficient route on a free online mapping service.

Unfortunately, these methods can be very time-consuming and often don’t produce the best results. The good news is that there is a new technology for small businesses that can make routing easier and more efficient.

FLEETMATICS ROUTIST, A TECHNOLOGY DESIGNED FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

Today’s digital economy is dominated by a small handful of technology companies, and although each company supports small businesses in some way, their primary focus isn’t to deliver new and innovative technologies that cater primarily to small businesses.

Fleetmatics, a company co-based in Dublin, Ireland and Boston, Massachusetts, has been delivering technology solutions tailored specifically for small businesses for over a decade.

They’ve helped tens of thousands of small businesses from across the globe gain increased visibility into their fleet of vehicles, drivers and jobs.

That’s why they introduced a new product called Fleetmatics Routist, an intelligent routing optimization solution that takes routing to an entirely new level.

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

According to Todd Ewing, Director of Product Marketing at Fleetmatics, “Fleetmatics Routist systematically builds cost-effective, customer-friendly routes and operates by taking locations, vehicles, time windows, technician skills, and costs and capacities into consideration, among other inputs.”

Interestingly, Fleetmatics Routist also incorporates historical traffic data into its algorithm, elevating traffic and routing optimization for drivers in metropolitan areas. It can even match drivers to jobs based on their skillset and history with customers.

Ewing added, “Small business owners and operations managers tasked with planning routes say that Fleetmatics Routist saves them a lot of time, and is simple and intuitive to use. It’s as easy as selecting your drivers, the jobs that need to be completed, and hitting the optimize button.”

Once you select optimize, Fleetmatics Routist generates a timeline view where users can see the number of jobs, distance traveled, and time expectancy for the day – giving small business owners and operations managers more time to focus on other areas of their business.

EARLY ADOPTERS: FROM TRADITIONAL TO CONTEMPORARY

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

From carpenters and coffee shops to farmers and food delivery services, small business can benefit from more efficient routing.

Take Joyride Coffee, for example, a company based in New York City that provides “the world’s best coffee, tea and cold brew on tap to America’s most innovative offices and cafes.”

Joyride is one of the early adopters of Fleetmatics Routist, and found that they have experienced significant time savings since using the tool.

“We deliver in Manhattan, which is a challenge,” said Adam Belanich, President of Joyride Coffee. “Delivering to 18 miles of coverage can take up to six hours depending on traffic. And with many one-way streets plus strict rules on right turns for commercial vehicles, we needed a system that would take everything into account and determine our routes for us.”

Take a look at this video to see how Joyride Coffee is using Fleetmatics Routist to solve its biggest fleet management and routing challenges.

According to Belanich, “We’ve also seen an increase in driver safety since installing the tracking devices on our vans. Now that our drivers know they are being monitored, their behavior has improved without any interference from our managers.”

PEACE OF MIND, FOR YOU AND YOUR MOBILE WORKFORCE

Once your routes are live, dispatchers and managers can stay current on a driver’s progress against route stops in near real-time and make adjustments as needed.

Drivers can also receive their daily routes and notifications on mobile devices, meaning there is little to no paperwork, or a need to touch base frequently about stops throughout the day.

Finally, when the day is complete, actual versus plan analysis is available to compare stops made against work orders, so managers can provide appropriate coaching around route deviations.

For more information about Routist – which is available as an add-on module to Fleetmatics’ REVEAL solution – you can visit https://www.fleetmatics.com/reveal/route-optimization.

Copyright ©2017 Fleetmatics Development Limited. All rights reserved. Fleetmatics and the Fleetmatics logo are registered trademarks of Fleetmatics in the U.S. and other countries.

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[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Facebook Says Committed to Helping Mobile-Driven Businesses in India

Facebook Says Committed to Helping Mobile-Driven Businesses in India

Facebook Says Committed to Helping Mobile-Driven Businesses in India
At a time when mobile is transforming the way people connect, Facebook is committed to help mobile-driven businesses to grow in India, a top executive said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the “Mobile Moves Business” event here that brought together businesses, industry experts and marketers on one platform, Umang Bedi, Managing Director, Facebook India, reiterated the company’s commitment to tap the power of mobile to empower entrepreneurs in the country.

“We are committed to helping businesses grow. Whether it’s brand building, generating demand, driving leads or sales, we are focused on helping business unlock growth opportunities and help them move their business through solutions that drive results,” Bedi said.

As of the third quarter this year, Facebook reported 166 million monthly active users, 159 million mobile active users, 85 million daily active users and 81 million mobile daily active users in India.

Facebook, which has 1.71 billion users globally, has a strategic partnership with India’s top 100 advertisers.

There are over two million small and medium businesses (SMB) pages on Facebook in India and more than 30 percent of active SMB pages on Facebook are owned by women entrepreneurs.

Forty one percent of people on Facebook are connected to at least one business in a foreign country.

Facebook is available in 12 languages in the country and over 80 percent of top-grossing apps in India are integrated with the social networking platform.

Facebook’s ‘Mobile Moves Business’ aims to shift decision makers’ perception about the impact of mobile on the consumers, the company said.

Tags: Facebook, Mobile Business, Mobile Moves Business, India, Social, Internet

[“Source-Gadgets”]