How tech can protect us from heat waves
Illustration: PrettyVectors/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Protocol

How tech can protect us from heat waves

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Good morning! As a devastating heat wave plagues much of Europe, climate tech solutions could be key to keeping everyone safe.

Climate tech to the rescue

Europe and the U.K. are really, really hot right now. And many homes aren’t ready for it.

Buildings and homes in the area are old and ill-equipped to protect people from extreme heat spreading throughout the region. And that’s not only going to affect high-risk groups: The U.K. Health Security Agency said all populations are at risk of illness or death.

  • Many homes, apartments and buildings in the U.K. and Europe lack air conditioning, and the price of those ACs is now rising as electricity prices soar. If you can get one at all, that is.
  • Air and rail traffic may be disrupted, too, because services could lose power.
  • "Our infrastructure is not built for the heat at all,” Hannah Cloke, a climate expert at Britain’s University of Reading, told CBC News.

Tech can play a role here. There’s a two-pronged approach to saving people from the effects of this crisis: on the physical front (creating cooler buildings) and on the social front (getting people to communicate and help one another).

  • Heat pumps — which are becoming more mainstream — are a good way to cool things off.
  • But what about the buildings themselves? Protocol climate reporter Michelle Ma spoke with ecoLocked, a startup that’s creating “carbon-negative” concrete. Homes built with that material would require less energy to cool or heat.
  • Social media companies could also play a role. Facebook could check in on users affected by deadly heat waves as it has for people affected by hurricanes.

But maybe it should be a multi-pronged approach. EcoLocked CEO Mario Vaupel said green energy solutions like heat pumps shouldn't be the only way to address extreme heat. "These heat waves are getting more and more frequent, and I can’t really see a way around that. The question is, 'Where does the energy for the HVAC systems come from?'" he told Michelle.

— Sarah Roach

Snapchat grows up

Many of Snapchat’s users were in middle school when it launched in 2011, back when everyone thought phones would replace computers. That hasn’t happened, of course, but because switching between the two is pretty seamless, people use both interchangeably. And Snapchat has finally noticed.

Snapchat is launching a web version, beginning with users in Australia and New Zealand as well as Snapchat+ subscribers.

  • Snap’s Nathan Boyd told The Verge that users are on their desktops more often, so it only makes sense to add a web version of the platform. “It just felt like something that was an unmet opportunity,” Boyd said.
  • It could be that Snap’s users are on desktops because they’re growing up, and the company is now trying to meet older users where they are, as CNBC pointed out.

Snap needs to hold on to its aging users for the sake of revenue. The company is trying to get into AR, but it’s still a messaging platform with competitors like Instagram, YouTube and Discord. All of those platforms have a desktop version.

  • Snap’s also under pressure to make more money. One of its main revenue streams is ads; Snap needs another way to monetize, even if it won’t happen right away (the desktop version won’t initially feature ads).

The trick is attracting new, younger users while retaining an aging user base while — something Facebook has struggled with. (TikTok, welcome to your future.)

— Sarah Roach

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People are talking

Brad Smith said slow population growth is affecting the labor force:

  • "That helps explain part of why you can have low growth and a labor shortage at the height at the same time. There just aren't as many people entering the workforce.”

And the White House is worried about the cybersecurity talent gap:

  • “America faces a national security challenge that must be tackled aggressively.”

Making moves

The first hearing in Twitter’s trial with Elon Musk is today. It’ll take place on Zoom because the judge has COVID, and Twitter's still pushing for a quick trial despite Musk's objections.

Netflix earnings happen today, and shareholders are bracing for bad news.

Uber's federal affairs team held a conversation about the midterms at its D.C. office last night, according to Playbook.

Brian Crofts is BambooHR’s new chief product officer. Crofts served in similar roles at Auditboard and Pendo.

Ashley Grech and Jamie Sutton joined Recharge as COO and GM of new markets, respectively. Grech was Block’s global head of sales, and Sutton is a longtime Shopify leader.

The Center for Democracy & Technology created a task force on protecting reproductive health information, which includes reproductive justice and health data privacy experts.

In other news

Apple’s the latest to slow hiring and spending, sources told Bloomberg. It’ll only affect some teams, and the company is still planning product launches early next year.

The FBI is warning people about fake crypto apps. The bureau has found 244 victims that were defrauded by fake apps, losing $42.7 million altogether.

A few Amazon warehouses got inspected yesterday as part of a federal investigation into the company's workplace safety.

Apple's being sued for allegedly preventing other tap-to-pay competitors from offering its services on the iPhone.

Slack's increasing prices for the first time since its launch in 2014. The increase will only affect Pro subscribers and takes effect Sept. 1.

Meta’s Giphy purchase needs a new probe by the Competition and Markets Authority to fill some gaps in its analysis, a U.K. judge ruled.

Christie’s is dropping millions on startups in the coming weeks. The company launched Christie’s Ventures yesterday with a focus on the arts and crypto.

Uber settled a lawsuit with the Justice Department over “wait-time” fees for people who took longer to get into a car. Uber’s giving over $2 million to affected passengers.

Remote work helped Meta bring in a more diverse workforce, the company said. Employees from about three-quarters of Facebook teams are working in different places, and Meta saw slight increases in the number of underrepresented employees.

Don’t pick up the phone, and cancel everything

I’m only half kidding, but Faire’s Marcelo Cortes does it so maybe we should all do it. He walked us through his typical day, and here are a few things that stood out:

  • Cortes checks his calendar frequently for dead weight. If meetings don’t serve a purpose, he’ll cancel them or “change the cadence” of them.
  • Zoom calls are better than phone calls. “I don’t answer my phone. It’s too many random calls, people trying to sell me things.”
  • Carve out personal focus days. Faire has no-meeting Wednesday afternoons, but Cortes said he’s thinking of creating focus days for just himself.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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