The Boston City Council is testing Google Hangouts as a platform for remote testimony on the mayor’s proposed budget, hoping to increase transparency and include more feedback from residents. During each hearing, up to 10 people can testify through the Google app.
Hangouts is the Google’s messaging application that lets users make voice and video calls. In order to use Hangouts, users need a microphone and camera on their computer, laptop or smartphone and have to sign into their Gmail accounts -- or sign up for one. Users of the Hangouts option will have to sign up with their name and contact information just as if they were to testify in person.
Boston has been a frontrunner in using digital tools for civic engagement. Last year the city’s Office of the Parking Clerk began letting out-of-towners use Skype to appeal tickets they’d received. Two-way video is also used in Pima County, Ariz., where the Development Services Department offers a remote inspection program through Skype for clients that need building inspections done quickly or at a specific time.
Posted on May 06, 2016 at 2:09 PM0 comments
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance halted more than 239,000 suspicious refund claims during income tax season, which saved more than $400 million, an 18 percent increase over the same time last year.
The state uses predictive analytics to review personal income tax returns and determine when a refund request should be processed or postponed for further review. With this model, the state has saved more than $4 billion since 2003.
“The system enables us to target our efforts at questionable claims while efficiently processing the vast majority of returns,” New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone said
Last year, New York rejected 286,777 refund requests, which saved more than $500 million. Since 2008 the state has been able to save at least $248 million per year with more than 181,000 refund requests being rejected annually.
Posted on May 03, 2016 at 1:46 PM0 comments
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released a solicitation for a contactless ticketing system that will allow riders to pay fares by tapping a bank card, smartphone or smart credit card over an electronic reader.
Transit riders shouldn’t expect a quick upgrade, however, as the MTA said a fully operational system wouldn’t be up and running until 2021.
The current Metrocard system was rolled out in 1997 and is now considered outdated compared to those for transit systems in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cities.
This is not the first time the MTA has experimented with a contactless payment method. The agency signed two deals with MasterCard – the first for a radio frequency ID card payment system in 2006 and then for a PayPass smart card technology in 2010 -- but neither made it to the implementation stage.
Proposals are due June 23.
Posted on Apr 26, 2016 at 4:29 PM0 comments
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is expanding its efforts to crowdsource innovation through a partnership with NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation.
Partnering with NASA to develop new technologies through publicly crowdsourced prize competitions lets DHS S&T leverage the resources of CoECI, which was established to assist other federal agencies in the use of crowdsourced challenges to solve tough, mission-critical problems.
“The partnership allows us to broaden our reach to others in the innovation community, that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach,” DHS spokesman John Verrico told GCN.
S&T’s partnership with NASA’s CoECI will provide access to end-to-end solutions on all aspects of implementing challenge-based prize competitions from problem definition to challenge design and administration, DHS officials said.
Posted on Apr 18, 2016 at 1:27 PM0 comments
The U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network has launched a new website to improve researchers’ and policymakers’ understanding of the connections between marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
The site profiles current projects that are integrating biological and environmental datasets and testing molecular and remote sensing technologies in the Arctic Ocean, in kelp forests off the coast of California and on coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys. It also outlines the network’s future goals, including data integration, animated seascape mapping and new ways for genomic sampling and analysis.
The Marine Biodiversity Observing Network is a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Posted on Apr 11, 2016 at 9:41 AM0 comments