“Local resident’s controversy on floating structure in St. Johns County waters”

“Local resident’s controversy on floating structure in St. Johns County waters”

Photo: CBS 47 Action News Jax

“…St. John’s County Commissioners discussed an ordinance that would prohibit floating structures.

Jeffrey Thomas is the owner of Hurricane Watersports on the Matanzas inlet.

Some of the water rentals he provides to visitors are paddle boards, kayaks, water trampolines and platforms.

A county commissioner said people in the area don’t like the look of this.

‘Several residents referred to it as a real eye-sore in what is probably one of the most beautiful inlets in the state of Florida,’ said St. John’s County Commissioner, Henry Dean.

According to Florida law, a floating structure can be defined as a floating entity that is not primarily used as a means of transportation on the water but serves purposes or provides services.

Commissioner Dean said several residents have complained about parties taking place on the structure in the Matanzas Inlet.

‘I think we have an obligation to keep it relatively pristine and relatively quiet so people can enjoy the sunset, enjoy swimming and enjoy the recreational activities without these wild parties going on,’ said Commissioner Dean.

Thomas told Action News Jax he had one live music festival but does not sell alcohol, and he uses this mainly for his rental business. He said it’s common in other places…

If the ordinance is passed, St. Johns County would be able to ban anything that’s considered a floating structure.

There will be a second reading for the ordinance in early August.”

— Alexus Cleavenger, CBS 47 Action News Jax

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“Residents Protest Clearwater’s Plan To Cut Down Hundreds Of Trees”

“Residents Protest Clearwater’s Plan To Cut Down Hundreds Of Trees”

Photo: Denise Buttacavoli

“The Clearwater City Council put a hold on its city tree ordinance after 4,000 healthy trees were tagged for removal.”

“When Denise Buttacavoli left for work that morning, her front yard was fully shaded. When she returned home, she discovered that the city had cut down every tree in her front yard.

Patricia Kirby, a 20-year resident of Clearwater, confessed that she broke into tears when she returned home from work and saw the condition of her neighbor’s yard.

That morning, Denise Buttacavoli’s front yard at 1660 Magnolia Ave. was filled with mature, healthy camphor trees that provided a canopy of shade and sheltered a host of wild critters.

When Kirby returned home that night, she said Buttacavoli’s yard was a barren wasteland. Every shade tree in the yard had been cut down by city of Clearwater tree service contractors.

A former federal park ranger, federal forest ranger and an independent contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency for more than 20 years, Kirby said she’s spent her career trying to protect the environment and the wildlife that call it home.

‘This kind of thing hurts my heart,’ she said.

Kirby displayed before and after photos of Buttacavoli’s front yard on the overhead screen at the Clearwater City Council meeting Thursday night.

There was an audible gasp from the audience when Kirby showed the photo of Buttacavoli’s yard after the trees had been cut down…

She said the problem with the city’s tree ordinance, as outlined by Dan Mirabile, director of the city’s public works department, at Tuesday’s city council work session is that the ordinance doesn’t take a tree’s health into consideration.

Mirabile said the city is divided into five zones and each zone is inventoried every six years by an arborist at a cost of $30,000 a year.

This year the arborist tagged 4,000 of the 20,000 trees in that zone for removal using a rating system from 0 to 6.

He said trees are rated based on their species, diameter, health, whether power lines are overhead and whether they’re home to nesting birds and other wildlife.

Under that rating system, said Mirabile, if a tree is rated a 3 or below, it is subject to removal. As a result, he told council members, the city has needlessly cut down healthy trees.

‘I lost 100 percent (of trees) — 100 percent of the natural beauty, 100 percent of the wildlife connection, 100 percent shade and comfort and 100 percent of the joy,’ Buccavoli said.

She urged the city to amend its tree ordinance and ‘model your new policy after a city who’s doing the right thing.’

At the very least, said Kim Begay, vice president of the Clearwater Audubon Society, property owners should be notified in writing before the city cuts down a tree on right of way in front of their property so the residents can challenge the decision to cut it down…

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said the council already agreed following the work session to put a hold on enforcing the tree ordinance until it can be reviewed.

‘We have completely stopped the program and are going to reexamine it,’ he said.”

— D’Ann Lawrence White, Patch

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New study: “Space advertising would cost $65 million to set up—and the ads would cost less than Super Bowl commercials”

New study: “Space advertising would cost $65 million to set up—and the ads would cost less than Super Bowl commercials”

Photo Credit: Yuting Gao (Illustration by Devin Coldewey/TechCrunch)

“Space-based advertising has been on the minds of every marketer on the planet since the Apollo era, yet no one has made it happen. A new study suggests that a billboard-like constellation of about 50 satellites, costing $65 million all in, could shine ads to every corner of the Earth for months — and potentially make money while doing so.

Of course, just because they could doesn’t mean they should. But let’s focus on the former for now.

The study, from Russian researchers at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), presents a fairly compelling case that is bolstered by the recent controversy around SpaceX’s highly visible Starlink satellites.

The paper’s proposal involves sending up a constellation of about 50 satellites at a 12U CubeSat volume — think about the size of a full paper grocery bag. The satellites would enter a sun-synchronous orbit, meaning they’ll always be in direct sunlight as they pass around the Earth.

Once in orbit, they would deploy large, parabolic reflectors that would bounce sunlight down toward the Earth. These could be tilted to best present the sunlight to a target area they are passing over, and from the ground would appear to be a group of stars moving in synchrony for a period of perhaps three to five minutes. (To be clear, the image at top is just for illustration — it would be much dimmer in reality.)

The 50 satellites could rearrange themselves in patterns, from letters to simple graphics — not fast, but fast enough that the shape could evolve over their visible time, or change advertisers between target cities. They would deorbit after 1-3 months, depending on several factors. I’ve asked the researchers for clarification on the lifetime, display length and a few other details and will update this post if I hear back.

The physical possibility of doing this doesn’t seem outlandish at all considering how visible existing satellites can be in these orbits, and the precision with which they can be arranged already. So with that established, a good deal of the paper is dedicated to an economic analysis. After all, we probably could have launched a Nike logo to space in the ’90s (and there were attempts) if the world came together on it… but why would they? The thing has to make financial sense.

The cost of the mission is estimated at $65 million, most of which goes to manufacturing the 50 satellites ($48.7 million), then to testing, support and engineering ($11.5 million), and of course launch ($4.8 million). That seems reasonable enough in theory.

But it gets a little fuzzy in the income estimates. A complicated equation for determining which cities, in which regions and at what times of the year would make more money suggests that winter provides the greatest ROI. You might think: but people stay inside during the winter. Yes, but not in the tropics and much of south and southeast Asia, where winter brings longer nights but nothing like the inclement weather of northern latitudes. And it happens some of the most densely populated cities in the world are there.

Illustration: Skoltech/MIPT showing potential configurations of satellites into Olympic rings and Eiffel Tower shapes. Image

Their most optimistic estimate puts net income at around $111 million, over three months and 24 displays — that works out to around $4.6 million per ad. Super Bowl ads cost more than that, and only last 30 seconds — though of course they’re in 4K and full color with sound. But the money and appetite for stunt advertising is definitely there.

The more important question is does anyone want to see ads in the sky? Almost certainly not. While the novelty of a satellite-based display might briefly fill some with awe, that display forming the Pepsi logo — or more likely, Crypto.com or something — might quickly turn awe to disgust. ‘That’s it? A crummy commercial?’ if you will.

It would be an enormous reputational gamble: the first company to set its advertisements among the stars. Sure, we’ve had sponsored content and logos up on the International Space Station, but that’s different. When you see the ISS pass overhead, it doesn’t blink down ‘SNICKERS SATISFIES’ in Morse code at you…

Will we see ads in the stars any time soon? Unlikely, but anything profitable tends to occur sooner or later in this mad, mad world of ours, so don’t be surprised if you hear about attempts being made. Perhaps we’ll outlaw it — but who has jurisdiction? Or maybe launch companies will decline — but do they want to be put in that position? It’s a strange possibility and very sci-fi, but so is a lot of what takes place these days.”

— Alice Hearing, Fortune

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Energy Sign Protests: “Is the climate cost of digital billboards too high to justify?”

Energy Sign Protests: “Is the climate cost of digital billboards too high to justify?”

Photo: The Drum article by John McCarthy

“Outdoor or out-of-home (OOH) ads are modernizing, ditching static paper and paste formats for ever-changing illuminating digital screens. Media owners are locked in an upgrade race, but with climate crisis anxiety heating up, is the sector’s savior tech compatible with the sustainability needs of society?

Earlier this month, Greenpeace tweeted a vandalized Clear Channel six-panel, which read: “This ad uses the same electricity as three average households. Global heating machine.” It was posted as a video of parkouring teens turning off overnight street signage did the rounds on social, while Europe hit all-time high temperatures. The Drum investigates…

Is the writing on the wall?

Are OOH units ‘global heating machines’? The answer is complicated. The device you’re reading this article on is technically a global heating machine. Everything uses energy – the question is whether the sector’s use of energy is irresponsible.

One 2010 study claimed a 48-sheet digital billboard (6.096m x 3.048m) consumes about 30 times more energy than the average American household in a year.

2019 research from Adblock Bristol showed that a much smaller but double-sided digital freestanding unit from Clear Channel used more electricity than four homes each year. Meanwhile, a large JC Decaux billboard was found to consume the equivalent of 36 homes ‘if it was running for a full year at maximum output.’ These are thirsty machines.

This year, a freedom of information request from The Guardian found that 86 digital out-of-home (DOOH) boards in Manchester city center each use an average of 11,501kWh of electricity every year. That’s roughly 345 households’ worth. But these units deliver £2.4m a year in rent, plus 2.8% of the revenue from each ad. That’s well in excess of £6,956 per ‘household.’

In cities all over Europe, tens of thousands of these units consume several homes’ worth of energy each year… so is it worth it?

Outdoor industry responds

Media owners have been cleaning up their act as they transition from analog to digital real estate. Their involvement in urban architecture is dependent on the public’s permission, therefore it must demonstrate utility and be receptive to their needs.

Tim Lumb, insight and effectiveness director at Outsmart, the trade body representing UK OOH, issues a defense saying media owners have been seriously reducing their carbon impact, prioritizing energy-efficient suppliers and supply chains, buying renewable energy and offsetting carbon. Anything from adopting non-fossil fuel fleets to ditching plastic coffee cups is on the table.

Richard Kirk, chief strategy officer at media agency Zenith, believes OOH is bearing the brunt of a wider anti-ad sentiment because it is ‘highly visible and very physically tangible,’but adds that the sector has a ‘much better sustainability story to tell’ than other channels.

Agencies are now calculating their carbon footprint across the entire media ecosystem in a bid to offset their impacts. They know consumer sentiment is turning hostile toward the biggest polluters, but right now the tools lack sophistication.

Research from Cavai estimates that the average online ad impression emits the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere as driving an electric car between 0.4 to 9.65m, watching a 40 inch $K OLED TV between 1.5 to 35 seconds, or having a LED light bulb on between 30 and 700 seconds.

The energy consumption of a single impression is between 0.14Wh and 1.93Wh. Meanwhile, Ovo estimates the average annual UK household electricity consumption sits at 3,760,000Wh per year, the equivalent of a mere 26,857,142 ad impressions. This sounds like a lot, but a study from Good-Loop estimates that programmatic tech handles 2,000 times more bids than the New York Stock Exchange on any given day – 8tn transactions all in the name of targeted advertising. That’s a lot of online impressions. Furthermore, advertising likely added an extra 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every single person in the UK in 2019. So the OOH sector might be the tiniest tip of the melting iceberg of advertising’s damaging impact.

So with the wider context laid out, as Lumb points out, OOH doesn’t ‘just’ deliver advertising but serves as a public and community message board too. On billboards, advertisers formed coherent pandemic advice before the government, encouraged the public to clap for the NHS and – increasingly – issue weather warnings during periods of high heat. You’ll also see them try to rejuvenate the high street, with local businesses often embracing the tech now it’s more accessible and affordable than it was in static formats.

When considering the energy expenditure of OOH, it’s worth remembering that it, like TV, is a broadcast media – it serves one ad to many people at once (unlike ads on your mobile or computer, which are targeted and rendered on each individual device at a greater energy cost). Clear Channel reckons the UK hosts 30,000 DOOH panels – a small share of some 100m video screens in the UK…

One study [not named] claims that a 14×48m digital billboard with LED bulbs uses only twice as much power as a static billboard, and adds that LED lights use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs (although you need way more of them). Other studies have digital using as much as 13 times more energy.

Comparatively, a digital site will always use more energy than a static one – but if correctly implemented, media owners could meet advertiser demand with fewer sites.”

— John McCarthy, The Drum

More detail on the positioning of the industry is in the full article which can be read here

Energy Sign Protests: “Billboards ‘hacked’ across Europe in protest against adverts for airlines and fossil fuel”

Energy Sign Protests: “Billboards ‘hacked’ across Europe in protest against adverts for airlines and fossil fuel”

Photo: Brandalism

“Environmental campaigners hijacked billboards across Europe in a protest against the advertising of air travel.

Adverts promoting services and products that use fossil fuels should be banned in the same way that those for tobacco products are, the protesters argue…”

— Lamiat Sabin, Independent

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“Targeted Billboard Ads Are a Privacy Nightmare”

“Targeted Billboard Ads Are a Privacy Nightmare”

Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images in Gizmodo

“A new report details ways advertisers are taking lessons learned from mobile ads to create intimately targeted ads in the physical world.

Advertisers are using insights gleaned from targeted digital advertising and applying it to create physical billboards capable of serving up tailored advertisements catered to the types of people viewing them. If that concept sounds eerily familiar that’s because it’s precisely the type of physical targeted advertising vision Tom Cruise encounters when walking through a shopping center in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi hit, The Minority Report.

These targeted billboard ads, which have existed for several years but are growing in popularity, are the subject of a new report from U.K., backed civil liberties group Big Brother Watch. The report, aptly called ‘The Streets are Watching,’ provides a deep dive into ways a handful of companies use facial recognition enabled billboards to analyze the world around them and then use that data to serve up pedestrians personalized ads…

The report claims advertisers can analyze pedestrians based on their precise GPS location, gender and age demographics, and behavioral data—like how they interact with certain apps—to create tailored advertiser profiles. Though sophisticated targeted advertising on mobile phones has become the defacto standard of modern life, advertisers want to apply that same framework to physical billboards…

The report digs deep into a handful of companies creating digital billboards with high quality cameras capable of detecting human faces. Some of those companies, the report notes, use facial recognition software to determine demographic and even emotional details of the users in front of users gazing at content. In other cases, facial recognition can be used to determine whether or not a viewer is actively looking at a certain advertisement or not.

In recent years, Big Brother Watch says billboard facial recognition tech was used in ad campaigns for the Emoji movie, an anti-suicide charity, a Royal Navy recruitment drive and for an organization raising awareness around prostate cancer, amongst other cases. Other billboards in busy pedestrian areas reportedly change their advertisements based on the perceived emotional state and gender make up of crowds passing by. Most people, all the while, remain unaware they were ever scanned.

‘Going about the world with the feeling that cameras are not just recording video but analysing you as a person to shape your reality is an uncomfortable concept,’ the report reads. ‘This data is being gathered not just to work out if an ad campaign was successful but to alter how people experience reality without their explicit consent, all in an attempt to make more sale…’

ALFI, one of the companies highlighted in the report, reportedly sells a ‘plug and play’ computer vision tool to advertisers which uses an algorithm to analyze ‘small facial cues and perceptual details that make potential customers a good candidate for a particular product.’ The company’s product, according to the report, claims to be compatible with many major digital billboards on the market. Last year the company reportedly provided Uber and Lyft drivers around 10,000 facial recognition equipped tablets in an effort to serve passengers personalized advertisements. That creep into transportation services drew criticism from activists and prominent lawmakers like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar who wrote letters to Uber and Lyft expressing privacy concerns…

The report goes on to highlight two prominent U.K. billboard owners, Ocean Outdoor and Clear Channel, who both reportedly utilize face scanning tech from a French company called Quividi. That firm claims its products can detect gender, age within five years, up to 100 faces in a crowd at the same time, and the amount of time someone spends looking at a billboard screen. Quividi, according to the report, can ‘see you coming’ and then adjusts its ads at just the right time…

Big Brother Watch highlights fundamental issues around “blanket consent” once relegated primarily to digital ecosystems. Now, with the rise of digital billboards, those same concerns increasingly apply to pedestrians simply trying to make their way home or around town. However, while smartphone users could theoretically adjust certain privacy settings to reduce their surveillance footprint, the same can’t necessarily be said for pedestrians in public spaces. ‘Consent cannot be meaningfully given to any of these data processes, as an individual is often in the sight of the cameras linked to the billboards or tablets before they are alerted to the processing and have the option to walk away,’ the report reads. ‘This data is being gathered not just to work out if an ad campaign was successful but to alter how people experience reality without their explicit consent, all in an attempt to make more sales.””

— Mack DeGeurin, Gizmodo

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