Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


USDA helps students get hands-on data science experience

USDA helps students get hands-on data science experience

Forty Washington, D.C. area high-school and middle school students spent part of their summer vacation at Open Data Summer Camp, learning how to apply data science to food safety and agricultural issues.

Working with the Department of Agriculture, New York University’s Governance Lab designed a curriculum to help students understand the fundamentals of data science and how it can be used to study agricultural issues such as the monetary costs of foodborne illness.

Using data supplied by USDA, the students worked with tools and data science methodologies to get experience gathering and cleaning data, analysis, visualization and presentation. They created blog posts, spreadsheets and surveys, and learned to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Tableau and CartoDB.

“As more government data becomes available for re-use and redistribution… we need more people to be able to use that data to solve hard problems,” GovLab’s Director Beth Noveck said. “The Open Data Summer Camp aims to get kids excited about data and about public service and, hopefully, inspire a next generation of more data-literate public servants.”

Posted on Aug 05, 2016 at 1:02 PM0 comments


Moving DOD tech to responders

Moving DOD tech to responders

The Pentagon’s Defense to Response Technology Program (D2R) is working with Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service  (TEEX) to identify and commercialize Department of Defense-funded technologies that can be used to enhance public safety and homeland security.

The D2R technology transfer program will identify three technologies a year and provide up to $110,000 in services from TEEX’s Product Development Center to bring promising technologies to market.

The 2016-2017 D2R program is focusing on four technology areas:

Responder health and safety:  Risk-informed countermeasures and policies protecting people, borders, structures, materials, products and systems associated with key operational activities and critical infrastructure.

Enhanced communications operability: Capacity for timely communications for security, situational awareness and operations for communities and response forces in impact areas.

Situational awareness and detection:  Decision-relevant information regarding the nature and extent of hazards, cascading effects and the status of the response as well as the identification and discovery of hazards through active and passive surveillance and search procedures.

Virtual training tools: Systems to train first responders, incident commanders and emergency managers in an interactive or virtual environment.

D2R is also looking for any cutting-edge, dual-use technology that can provide a solution to a first responder that does not fit one of the focus areas listed above

Applications are due Aug. 31, 2016. Visit https://teex.org/Pages/events/defense-to-response-technology-showcase.aspx to apply.

Posted on Aug 04, 2016 at 10:02 AM0 comments


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