Category Archives: Liverpool

Corporate Social Responsibility

Tyler Elm had an interview with Canadian Tire in 2008 and he gave them the vision that there’s money to be made in environmental sustainability. At first they thought: ‘Why should we care about environmental sustainability?’. But Elm explained to them that for example excessive packaging is a waste of paper, plastic and money. He said that a smaller package reduces waste and unit size, therefore meaning more products per shipping, translating in lower shipping costs. His idea to make a smaller package led to a 15 per cent cost reduction in the shipment of that product.

Elm is now Canadian Tire’s Vice President of corporate strategy and business sustainability. He sees sustainability as a business strategy and tailored that concept to their for-profit mandate. He and his team have thought of many ways to reduce costs by thinking of sustainable ways to make business. They discovered that changing the position of overhead lights could reduce energy use by up to 25 per cent. And they also discovered that a white roof, reflecting light and retaining less heat, leads to savings on air conditioning costs in the summer.

So they are improving the company’s environmental records, and they are making money. The best win-win situation! And Canadian Tire is just one example of a company that is using this win-win situation. There are a lot of other large and small companies that have rallied under the banner of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This CSR stands for businesses having a moral conscience on social issues and a concern for the needs of the future generation when it comes to the environment.

Ford Motor Company is probably not the first company that you think about when you think about sustainability. This is because they used to be famous for their heavy-dusted, gas-guzzling pickup trucks. But nowadays they get associated with their line of fuel-efficient motors, their EcoBoost-branded engines and the all-electric Focus.

Stephanie Janczak, Ford’s manager of electric vehicle infrastructure and policy, says that about a decade ago, the company started looking into designing hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. This is because they felt that there was demand for this and they could earn a lot of money. They want a quarter their global fleet of vehicles to be electric by 2020.

Tima Bansal, executive director of the Network for Business Sustainability at Western University’s Richard Ivey School if Business, will soon release a study. The study claims that for companies to survive on the long-term, they need CSR. She tracked the progress of 211 companies that are socially and environmentally responsible and have been since the early 1990. And she compared these companies with an equal number of companies that aren’t identified as responsible. She came to the conclusion that companies with a decent CSR are more likely to survive.

Heather Lang, director of research products with Sustainalytics, notes that consumers become more and more aware of the product that they buy. They start demanding safer, healthier and sustainable products. And she said that it can be up to consumers to demand social and environmental issues to companies.

In 2004, clothing company the Gap was seeing consumer backlashes worldwide after it came out that their supplier factories in the developing world were using child labour. Consumers couldn’t abide by this and they started boycotts so the Gap would cut ties with this supplier and clean up its damaged image.

Gap wanted to show that they were on the right path again so they started issuing annual reports on the safety standards and working conditions of its suppliers. Ford and Canadian Tire are also issuing CSR reports. With today’s social media, it’s easy for consumers to show when they’ve been duped, and destroy the reputation of a company. This has become one of the most biggest concerns of companies these days. If people perceive them as not doing the right thing, it can turn out very costly.

So when companies found out that a well-communicated and considered CSR initiative could mean more to them than just social responsibility but could also save them a lot of money and efforts, they heard the sound of business.

Liverpool: The Smart City

The smart cities idea is a massive initiative, covering all aspects of business and life with aim of changing our world for the better. Details of Liverpool’s ambition to becoming the UK’s first smart city were underlined by the city leaders, alongside the heads of business, industry and technology experts.

Six main areas are used to identify smart cities, that of: economy; mobility; environment; people; living and governance. Each of these areas include a wide range of needs that must be met in order to help communities grow and reduce strain on resources. Urban populations are fast growing, placing greater pressure on cities infrastructures which were not designed to service as many people as they are doing. Conversion to a smart city goes a long way in solving this complicated problem.

Speaking at the debate in Liverpool Town hall last week, Mike Parker, the Chairman of Liverpool Vision and Liverpool’s Smart City board had this to say:

“Future investment will flow into those cities that can demonstrate they have an innovative, green, adaptive infrastructure and this is why we want to become, a Smart City.

“Like our competitor cities Liverpool faces many economic, social and technological challenges but we are in a remarkably good position to meet them.

“Our ambition is matched by our determination and our enterprise is matched by our creativity.

“We have an elected Mayor on the Prime Minister’s mayoral cabinet who works closely with Liverpool Vision, an organisation configured for partnership and it is the strength of our relationships with the private sector, the universities, Homes and Communities Agency and other agencies that has enabled us to transform the city and raise our ambition and will continue to do so in the future.”

Concluding Parker’s words came a statement from Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool:

“Ultimately, Smart City is about jobs and it is about economic growth and creating a better future and they are my main priorities as Mayor.”

It would seem that all of Liverpool’s major players in both politics and business are on board with the smart city idea. What we now need to see is how quickly Liverpool can become such a city.

Who will be the showcase smart city for the UK?

As the smart city idea becomes increasingly important in the eyes of the world, the United Kingdom is on the look-out for one city to become its showcase for the technology. The  Future Cities Demonstrator project wished to invest £25 million in the integrated city systems marketing with an aim of demonstrating how transport, communications and other items of city infrastructure can be integrated to improve quality of life, the local economy and to reduce the impact on the environment.

Around twenty cities, Liverpool included, will be competing for the grant. Smaller grants of £50,000 are being given to run feasibility studies and produce proposals as to how the new technology will be integrated into their city. Ultimately only one city will gain the prize grant money needed to carry out their plan.

Cities globally face massive problems in terms of congestion, waste, pressure on resources and changes in population and demographics.  The Smart Cities initiative aims to reduce all of these areas through the use of technology. For now, the question is, who will lead the UK on this venture?

Liverpool as the UK’s first Smart City

Liverpool held Europe’s first Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March this year. The event is an inter-disciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world. It’s an event where entrepreneurs, government officials, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers work together to bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. It was the first time that this event was held in Europe since previous hosts have been Kansas City, Dubai and Shangai. It was organized by GEC’s principal sponsors, ScottishPower and Liverpool Vision.

By hosting this event, Liverpool shows again that they have the ambition of becoming the UK’s first “Smart City”. This has been underlined by City leaders, captains of businesses,  industry and technology experts. They debated on the benefits and challenges of addressing how more effective investments in IT, energy and human resources could provide better services to citizens.

A reason why Smart Cities will become necessary in the future is because population is growing, placing a greater demand on infrastructure and the vital services they deliver. Smart Cities are seen to be identified along six main criteria: economy, mobility, environment, people, living and governance. It is these criteria that will help meet the needs of communities in the future.

Mike Parker, Chairman of Liverpool Vision and Liverpool’s Smart City Board, told delegates the reason why Liverpool wants to become a Smart City. He said that future investments will flow into those cities that can demonstrate they have an innovative, green, adaptive structure. And although Liverpool, like competitor cities, faces many economic, social and technological challenges, they are in a remarkably good position to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Their ambition is matched by their determination and their enterprise is matched by their creativity.

Frank Mitchell, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said that ScottishPower is committed to supporting Liverpool’s Smart City ambitions since they are an integral part of the local community. They want to help make Liverpool a city of growth and they will continue to invest in its infrastructure and seek to create and support local employment.

Volker Buscher, Smart Cities Director of ARUP, Global thought leader in the Smart City space spoke about the mechanics of a Smart City and gave cutting edge examples of Smart City activity from cities such as San Francisco, Seoul and Helsinki.

And Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said that the concept of being a Smart City is one that must be embraced and investigated by Liverpool if they want to make the most of the giant steps that they’ve already taken in recent years. He states that Liverpool as a Smart City will have a smarter and fitter economy with first class transport and communications infrastructure. They city will have a smart environment with people enjoying the benefits of smart living; healthier, wealthier and happier. The Smart City concept holds the promise for Liverpool of being more competitive, investing in human and social capital and education. These investments hold an interest for everyone because it’s about the continuing well-being and future prosperity. Ultimately, Smart City Liverpool will help the Mayor to accomplish his main priorities; creating jobs, economic growth and a better future.

The speakers were joined by Mike Taylor, High Growth Director, Local Enterprise Partnership, Deputy CEO, Liverpool Vision and leading member of the Liverpool Smart City Board spoke about the pioneering technology being created by Connected Liverpool.