Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Can drones save the black-footed ferret?

Can drones save the black-footed ferret?

The Fish and Wildlife Service could soon be using drones to drop vaccine-coated food pellets to black-footed ferrets in Montana.

Listed as an endangered species since 1967, the black-footed ferret is and considered one of North America’s rarest mammals, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has been working to help the population recover.

After considering various methods of distributing a vaccine to the sylvatic plague, which affects the ferrets and prairie dogs, the ferrets’ primary food, FWS biologist Randy Machett realized that an unmanned aerial system dropping vaccine-laced bait could treat an acre in less than a minute.  Drones offer “potentially the most efficient, effective, cost-conscious and environmentally friendly method of application,” according to the environmental assessment.

Machett told The Guardian that a “glorified gumball machine” could be attached to a drone, which would use GPS to shoot out vaccines at 30-ft intervals, potentially treating 200 acres in an hour.

Most of the feedback during a public comment period was “highly supportive” of the plan, Manchett said. He hopes the drone-delivered vaccine plan will be approved by FWS and be operational by September, he added.

Posted on Jul 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM0 comments


data to decisions

GSA recognized for cloud analytics platform

The General Services Administration’s analytics-as-a-service program was recently recognized at Red Hat’s annual innovation awards.

The Data to Decisions platform collects, manages and analyzes data for internal and external agency stakeholders. D2D can process operational reporting data on past events and perform predictive and diagnostic analytics, according to GSA.  

The platform collects data from multiple sources and in different formats and organizes it into physical and virtual data marts. It provides a single source for enterprise information management, data visualization tools and dashboards and a repository accessible through the customer’s site, cloud or hybrid solution. It also offers a suite of analytics tools so customers can use data to make executive-level decisions.

GSA said D2D enables agencies to better use data resources to lower costs, address security requirements, improve analytical accuracy and encourage open source technologies.

Thus far, available datasets on D2D include federal mail expenditures and training certificates, GSA building vacancy, buildings and leases. A number of governmentwide reports and dashboards are also already accessible.

Posted on Jul 13, 2016 at 3:06 PM0 comments


Inmate release map shows demographic data by county

Inmate release map shows demographic data by county

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections recently posted a new interactive map to its website that provides statewide totals on inmate releases for 2013, 2014 and 2015.  In addition, by clicking on individual counties, users can access localized data the gender, race and risk scores of those released.

Developed by DOC staff, the risk score is a risk screening tool that helps determine offenders' general risk to re-offend after their release from prison.  The tool classifies individuals as low, medium or high risk for reoffending, which helps to show the general risk composition of different individuals returning to communities.

"Our agency has focused resources on a number of reentry initiatives that also are expected to reduce recidivism, such as performance-based contracts, employment initiatives and expedited enrollment in health insurance coverage," Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.  "This interactive map can assist providers of these services to estimate the need and the number of returning citizens they can service."

Wetzel also noted that the map supports his agency's effort to provide information to the general public directly. The DOC will continue to update the map with new tabs as subsequent year's statistical information becomes available.

Posted on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:34 AM0 comments


DHS funds blockchain-based tech to secure IoT

DHS hopes blockchain can help secure IoT

In its efforts to develop technology to secure the Internet of Things, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate awarded $199,000 to Austin, Texas-based Factom Inc. for a blockchain-based solution.

Factom proposes to create an identity log that captures the identification of a device, the manufacturer, available updates, known security issues and granted authorities while adding timestamps for added security. The goal is to limit would-be hackers’ abilities to corrupt the past records for a device, making it more difficult to spoof.

The award was made under a DHS Silicon Valley Innovation Program solicitation, which launched in December 2015 to encourage non-traditional performers to offer solutions to some of the toughest threats facing the homeland security mission.

Posted on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:47 PM0 comments


NYC library partners with Google to teach coding to kids

NYC library partners with Google to teach coding to kids

The Queens Library is partnering with Google to give free coding classes to more than 300 children across 26 locations in the New York borough. As a partner in the Google CS First program, which aims to increase student access and exposure to computer science, the library can expand its STEM activities and increase computer literacy in the community, library spokesman Joanne King told DNAinfo.

During the two-week programs designed for children between 9 and 14, students will learn the Scratch visual programming language that will then allow them to code projects in fashion, game design, music, animation and storytelling. In addition, 20 high school students will receive high school credit for learning the Google CS First curriculum and helping kids in the summer and fall programs.

The library previously partnered with Google in 2013, when the company donated 5,000 Nexus tablets for library patrons after Hurricane Sandy, Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott said.

In addition to getting more kids interested in computer science, the program also aims to create more diversity in the tech industry by encouraging girls and minorities.

“Diversity is a big goal of ours and if we want more digital creators out there that look like New Yorkers, we need to go out and find them and inspire them,” William Floyd, Google's head of external affairs for New York and New Jersey, told the New York Daily News.

Posted on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:33 AM0 comments