Work-Life Balance & Exploring the Transformative Power of Computer Vision: A Conversation with Elizabeth Spears

MarineSitu underwater machine sitting on a cement dock near water

(Credit: Plainsight)

by | Mar 21, 2023

MarineSitu underwater machine sitting on a cement dock near water

(Credit: Plainsight)

What questions do you have for Elizabeth and her team? We’d love to know your thoughts on the first C-Suite Series in 2023.

In part four, we jump into the best piece of advice Elizabeth has ever received – and it’s a good one. We finish our discussion talking about Plainsight’s exciting partnership with MarineSitu. Once again, thank you to Elizabeth and her team for providing such incredible insight over the past month and a half. My team and I look forward to working with you more in the future.

Is there such a thing as being “done” with work when you are a business owner? 

JH: My Co-president Sarah and I – we’ve been working for the company for years and then the acquisition finally went through in December. So it’s very difficult for me to stop and just take a break. So, I’m going to ask you for some advice since you’ve been doing this a lot longer than me. I’m trying to give myself an hour a day, whether it’s lifting in the garage or a ride with my sister or reading one of the books on my list.

ES: I have a similar situation where I work with one of my best friends, and it is so easy when we go out to still just be talking about work, and so we have rules – we’re going to talk about it for 10 minutes, and then we absolutely need to stop. This works a solid 50% of the time. But more seriously, one of the questions you have here is “what advice would you give your younger self,” and one of those things is keeping the balance. Maintaining interests outside work and activities like meditation and exercise are things that help me do this.

JH: So what’s the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?

ES: Not every problem needs to be solved. Especially in an organization where there are many interdependencies, sometimes the outcome of solving a problem is worse than leaving it alone.

JH: I like that.

ES: That advice reminds me to look at organizations and people holistically before deciding to tackle any one problem. I think it has really helped me identify what’s best for people and organizations more effectively than I would have otherwise.

JH: OK, I love that. I’m going to start using that, and then I’m going to try to implement it. Add that to my list of things I’m trying to do too. I can’t control everything, only focus on the things I can control – advice that my husband continually gives me month after month.

ES: And even though you can solve a problem doesn’t mean that you should. Objectively, it might not be your biggest problem once you’ve taken a step back and look at the system and its people as a whole.

JH: We talked a little bit about this before, but can you kind of share where Plainsight is in terms of setting its ESG goals or plans?

ES: AI can be such a transformative force in managing, setting, and creating ESG goals. Computer vision, in particular, can make a big impact. At Plainsight, we break it down into a number of categories where computer vision can contribute and one of the big ones is measurement or monitoring.

One project that we’re working on now is with an organization called MarineSitu. They essentially have a continuous marine environmental monitoring product, and we bring computer vision to that. This product allows marine energy systems like tidal turbines and wave energy converters to be deployed in the environment and essentially coexist with marine life.

Edge hardware has advanced, the tech and the computer vision capabilities have advanced, and the ability to apply it has advanced. The combination of these things allows for insights that weren’t possible in the past. For the turbines, it’s helping answer questions like how many fish are there and how big are they? Do those things change over seasons? What do migration patterns look like? Are there any visible health indicators? Are those changing over time? Are there anomalies in the populations? Again, there is so much data and this kind of continuous monitoring just hasn’t been possible in the past. Together, we enable both enterprises and government organizations with solutions that automate regulatory compliance. With this type of technology, you can actually create regulation around things like continuous monitoring, whereas before, it just wasn’t economically feasible.

JH: Are there other use cases that come to mind?

ES: Another category of solutions is reduction and removal. For example, computer vision can provide a more accurate understanding of the volume and intensity of emissions and identify places where there may be inefficiencies in the system.

We can point cameras at the hardware itself – right at the machinery. Whether that’s a wind turbine or a water source, we can provide partners and customers with an understanding of how their assets and resources are functioning. A lot of these environments are in remote locations. There may be machinery that isn’t working and it may take some time for operators to learn, for example, that diesel backups have kicked in and there are now more emissions than necessary.

Aggregating more and more high-quality visual data allows for a better understanding of what the emissions are and, then, better, faster planning for mitigating excess emissions. Another area where computer vision provides for transformative change is forecasting. Computer vision enables enterprises to connect a lot of disparate types of data. That might be cameras spread over different areas, sensors designed to “write” sounds, or even just stores of traditional alphanumeric data. Pulling everything into one place creates a more holistic understanding of what’s going on and what will happen in the future. With a better understanding of short and long-term trends related to things like rising sea level levels, infrastructure degradation, emissions, and extreme weather, we can start to forecast in a more accurate way because we can integrate this type of AI modeling into existing systems.


Plainsight, a software development company headquartered out of San Francisco, CA streamlines vision AI for enterprises with new ways to analyze, share and benefit from valuable visual information. Their intuitive, low-code platform gives every team across organizations the ability to build, manage and operationalize solutions. With actionable insights and unblinking accuracy, Plainsight powers enterprise-ready applications to automate processes, mitigate risk, enhance product portfolios and increase revenue opportunities.

E+E Leader’s C-Suite Series highlights advice, best practices, lessons learned, etc., from executives in the environmental, energy management, and sustainability C&I Fields. Over the next year, our readers will have the opportunity to view first-hand advice from C-Suite Executives across a variety of industries. The conversations will be informational, and personable. You’re sure to take away invaluable advice, strategies, and tips to help you grow as an individual, professional, and entrepreneur.

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