How Ventura Bus Lines cleaned up its Act

Melbourne?s Ventura Bus Lines grew from a single bus in 1924 to a mega 308-vehicle fleet by the start of 2014. The family-owned provider has always been community centric; when climate-change became an issue it took quick and urgent action. As a result it now stands head and shoulders above many others. Let’s take a closer look at some of its decisions that made the difference.

The Important Things to Focus On

Ethanol Buses ? Ventura is the only Australian company that uses ethanol power produced from sugar cane for experimental public transport. It compares emissions within its fleet, and knows that these produce significantly less CO2 while also creating jobs for locals.

Electric Buses ? The company has been operating electric buses since 2009. These carry 42 seated among a total 68 passengers. The ride is smooth thanks to twin battery banks kept charged by braking and forward momentum. When required, a two-litre VW engine kicks in automatically.

Ongoing Driver Training ? Ventura provides regular retraining sessions emphasising safe, environmentally-friending operations. Drivers are able to see their fuel consumption and carbon emissions online and experiment with ways to improve these.

Bus U-Turns ? The capacity to measure throughput convinced the company to abandon the principle that buses don’t do U-Turns for safety?s sake. Road re-engineering made this possible in a busy downtown street. This reduced emissions equivalent to 4,000 cars and reduced vehicle downtime for servicing.

Increased Business – These initiatives allowed Ventura Bus Lines to improve its service as customers experience it. This led to an uptake in patronage and a corresponding downturn in the number of passenger car hours. The pleasure of travelling green no doubt contributed to this.

How Measuring Made the Difference

Ventura Bus Lines is big business. Its 308 buses operate out of 5 depots, cover 31% of the metropole, and transport close to 70,000 passengers on average daily which is no minor task. The ability to track, measure and analyse carbon emissions throughout the area has earned it compliance with National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Threshold 1 legislation.

It also uses the data to re-engineer bus routes to further reduce fuel consumption, energy consumption and operating costs. It’s amazing how measuring is affecting its bottom line, and the health of the Melbourne community at large.

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How Small Irish Businesses Avoid the GDPR Sting

Accountants providing chartered accounting services and tax advice are alerting smaller Irish companies to the consequences of the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They believe these are going to feel the most pain come 25 May 2018, if they do not implement GDPR by then. We are trying our best to help avoid this situation by providing advice.

How to Kick the GDPR Ball into Play

The Irish Information Commissioner?s Office has produced a toolkit regarding where?s best to start. They suggest beginning with an information security assessment to determine the gaps companies need to close. Once quantified, this leads naturally to a plan of action, and resources needed to fulfil it. Here?s how to go about it:

1. Start by assessing your current ability to identify, assess, and manage threats to customer data security. Have you done anything at all to date? You must be holding some customer information surely, and it is highly likely the GDPR applies to you.

2. Next, review your company?s current customer data security policies. Are they documented and approved, or do new employees discover them sitting next to Nellie? Rate yourself on a scale where ten is successful implementation.

3. Now consider how well you have pinned responsibilities on individuals to implement policies and take the lead on GDPR. The latter should be the business owner, or a board member with clout to make things happen.

4. By now, you should have a grasp of the scale of work ahead of you, remembering the EU deadline is 25 May 2018. If this sounds overwhelming, consider outsourcing to your accountant or a specialist provider.

5. Under the General Data Protection Regulation you have only 72 hours to report a breach of customer data security to the Information Commissioner?s Office. Do you have a quality assurance mechanism to oversee this?

Tangible Things to Bring Your Own People on Board

With all the changes going on, there is a risk of your employees regarding GDPR as ?another management idea going nowhere.? Thus, it is important to incorporate the new EU regulations in staff training, particularly with regard to data security generally. They may fully come on board only once they see tangible signs of progress. You should in any case put the following measures in place unless you already have them:

1. A secure area for your servers and for any paperwork your customers provided. This implies access control on a need-to-know basis to protect the information against loss, damage, and theft.

2. A protocol for storage media and record disposal when you no longer require them or something supersedes them. You are the custodian of other people?s information and they deserve nothing less.

3. Procedures to secure customer data on employee mobile devices and computers: This must extend to work done at home, at consultant sites, and by remote workers.

4. Secure configuration of all existing and new hardware to minimise vulnerability and storage media crashes. These quality assurance measures should extend to removable media and remote backups.

So Is This the Worst of the Pain?

We are at the heart of the matter, although there is more to tell in future articles. You may be almost there, if you already protect your proprietary information. If not, you may have key company information already open to malware.We should welcome the EU General Data Protection Regulation as a notice that it is time to face up to the challenges of data protection and security generally. The age of hacking and malware is upon us. The offender could be a disgruntled employee, or your competition just down the street. It is time to take precautions.

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  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK
Uncover hidden opportunities with energy data analytics

What springs to mind when you hear the words energy data analytics? To me, I feel like energy data analytics is not my thing. Energy data analytics, however, is of great importance to any organisation or business that wants to run more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase productivity. Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals.

Energy efficiency is not about investment in expensive equipment and internal reorganization. Enormous energy saving opportunities is hidden in already existing energy data. Given that nowadays, energy data can be recorded from almost any device, a lot of data is captured regularly and therefore a lot of data is readily available.

Organisations can use this data to convert their buildings’ operations from being a cost centre to a revenue centre through reduction of energy-related spending which has a significant impact on the profitability of many businesses. All this is possible through analysis and interpretation of data to predict future events with greater accuracy. Energy data analytics therefore is about using very detailed data for further analysis, and is as a consequence, a crucial aspect of any data-driven energy management plan.

The application of Data and IT could drive significant cost savings in company-owned buildings and vehicle fleets. Virtual energy audits can be performed by combining energy meter data with other basic data about a building e.g. location, to analyse and identify potential energy savings opportunities. Investment in energy dashboards can further enable companies to have an ongoing look at where energy is being consumed in their buildings, and thus predict ways to reduce usage, not to mention that energy data analytics unlock savings opportunities and help companies to understand their everyday practices and operating requirements in a much more comprehensive manner.

Using energy data analytics can enable an organisation to: determine discrepancies between baseline and actual energy data; benchmark and compare previous performance with actual energy usage. Energy data analytics also help businesses and organisations determine whether or not their Building Management System (BMS) is operating efficiently and hitting the targeted energy usage goals. They can then use this data to investigate areas for improvement or energy efficient upgrades. When energy data analytics are closely monitored, companies tend to operate more efficiently and with better control over relevant BMS data.

Malware

In the past, viruses were created with the sole purpose of wreaking havoc on the infected systems. A large fraction of today’s malware, on the other hand, are designed to generate revenues for the creator. Spyware, botnets, and keyloggers steal information from your system or control it so that someone else can profit. In other words, the motivation for making them is now more attractive than before.

Keyloggers can reveal your usernames, passwords, PIN numbers, and other authentication information to their creators by recording your key strokes. This information can then be used for breaking into various accounts: credit cards, payment programs (like PayPal), online banks, and others. You’re right, keyloggers are among the favourite tools of individuals involved in identity theft.

Much like the viruses of old, most present day malware drain the resources, such as memory and hard disk space, of contaminated systems; sometimes forcing them to crash. They can also degrade network performance and in extreme cases, may even cause a total collapse.

If that’s not daunting enough, imagine an outbreak in your entire organisation. The damage could easily cost your organisation thousands of euros to repair. That’s not even counting yet the value of missed opportunities.

Entry points for malware range from optical disks, flash drives, and of course, the Internet. That means, your doors could be wide open to these attacks at this very moment.

Now, we’re not here to promise total invulnerability, as only an unplugged computer locked up in a vault will ever be totally safe from malware. Instead, this is what we’ll do:

  • Perform an assessment of your computer usage practices and security policies. Software and hardware alone won’t do the trick.
  • Identify weak points as well as poor practices and propose changes wherever necessary. Weak points and poor practices range from the use of perennial passwords and keeping old, unused accounts to poorly configured firewalls.
  • Install malware scanners and firewalls and configure them for maximal protection with minimal effect on network and system performance.
  • Implement regular security patches.
  • Conduct a regular inspection on security policy compliance as well as a review of the policies to see if they are up to date with the latest threats.
  • Keep an audit trail for future use in forensic activities.
  • Establish a risk management system.
  • Apply data encryption where necessary.
  • Implement a backup system to make sure that, in a worst case scenario, archived data is safe.
  • Propose data replication so as to mitigate the after effects of data loss and to ensure your company can proceed with ‘business as usual’.

Once we’ve worked with you to make all these happen, you’ll be able to sleep better.

Other defences we’re capable of putting up include:

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