Digital Down Low: December 23rd
French cars will now drive on solar panel roads
- According to Mashable, The village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, France, is taking solar panelling from the roof to the street. The town says it’s just unveiled the world’s first solar panel road. The 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) route, covered by 2,800 square metres of electricity-generating panels, was declared open on Thursday by the country’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal. The panels have been covered with a protective resin that consists of fine sheets of silicon to help withstand the 2,000 motorists which use the road, while ensuring there is good grip between tyres and the roadway.
- Officials will see if the technology, called Wattway, can provide enough energy to power street lighting in the town of 3,400 residents over the next two years. It’s not a new idea however. A similar project in the Amsterdam, The Netherlands opened back in 2014, but on a cycle path instead of a regular road. If the trial proves successful, Royal wants to see the panels installed in one out of every 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) of road in the country. France currently has a total of 1 million kilometres (621,000 miles) of road.
- But the technology comes with a mighty price tag: The stretch of road cost 5 million Euros (US$5.2 million) to build, leaving some experts questioning the project’s value. “It’s without doubt a technical advance, but in order to develop renewables there are other priorities than a gadget of which we are more certain that it’s very expensive than the fact it works,” Marc Jedliczka, vice-president of Network for Energetic Transition (CLER), told Le Monde. Colas, the road’s manufacturer, is hoping to reduce the cost of production of the panels. It’s also currently working on a hundred small solar experiments, half in France and half from abroad.
Twitter overcharges Android advertisers
- According to Marketing Land, for more than a month, Twitter incorrectly measured brands’ video ads running on Android devices and overcharged advertisers as a result, the company said on Thursday in an emailed statement, “We recently discovered a technical error due to a Twitter product update to Android clients that affected some video ad campaigns from November 7 to December 12. Once we discovered the issue, we resolved it and communicated with affected partners. The impact was limited given this happened only on Android clients over the course of a month. This was a technical error, not a policy or definition issue, so we are confident it has been resolved”.
- Twitter has refunded the affected advertisers, according to a person familiar with the matter. In some cases, the refunded amount was as little as $1, the person said, though that may say as much about Twitter’s video ad prices as about the scope of the error. The glitch inflated Twitter’s video ad measurements by as much as 35%, according to Business Insider. The Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
- Twitter’s ad measurement error followsa string of math mess-ups by Facebook that have caused marketers to question how much they can trust the social network’s metrics. But as bad as Facebook’s mistakes have been, none of them affected how much money advertisers were charged for their campaigns. Twitter’s did. Unintentional as Twitter’s error appears to be, it will likely be held up by advertisers as another example of why digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter need to open themselves up to third-party measurement audits. Advertisers’ demands for such audits were already expected to heighten next year following Facebook’s flubs.
Alphabet/ Google ready to hit the reset button for 2017
- According to Tech Crunch, for eight years, Google always held its biggest event of the year, its I/O developer conference, in San Francisco. This year, however, it moved it out (and outdoors) to an amphitheater in Mountain View, right next to its campus. Looking back, that move now feels symbolic. In many ways, 2016 was a year of change for Google: It was the first full year after the surprise Google/Alphabet reorg and the year that saw Google get serious about its own hardware, the cloud and the enterprise. Across the industry, 2016 was also the year of AI and machine learning — and Google was very much at the forefront of this.
- Google used the last year to sharpen its product portfolio and to go after potentially lucrative markets that it previously allowed to linger. Hardware is an obvious example here. After years of working with different hardware manufacturers to produce what were essentially Android reference phones under the Nexus brand, Google ditched that effort this year and launched its Pixel phones under its own name and brand.
- A lot of that change — and Google’s clearly renewed efforts to finally take the enterprise seriously after letting both its productivity tools and cloud platform linger for a bit as both Amazon and Microsoft made huge strides in the last few years — comes down to Google bringing Diane Greene onboard in 2015. Her arrival signalled that it wasn’t going to cede a lucrative market like that to its competitors. Most of these are small moves, but taken together, they show Google has hit the reset button on its enterprise efforts and started to go after this market.