The city of Austin is developing the use of blockchain technology — the same distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies — to make it easier for the city's estimated 7,000 homeless residents to have a secure ID to access housing, employment, and social services. With funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the city will create a prototype program that assigns unique identifiers for this population, storing them on a blockchain. The program’s design includes an advisory committee comprised of those experiencing homelessness to help ensure the program meets their needs. The idea to use blockchain to provide aid and services was inspired by a UN program that uses the technology to transfer food-assistance funds to Syrian refugees.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi recently unveiled a series of 10 billboards each featuring a different work of art from the new museum’s collection, which have been installed along a roadway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The initiative, being touted by Abu Dhabi's Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, will use participating radio stations to transmit a 30-second narrative about each piece as drivers approach the billboards. Planners hope the roadside gallery increases visits to the museum and provides exposure to art for novice museum-goers. The highway supports over 12,000 commuters daily.
To address the paradoxical problem of coexisting labor shortages and unemployment, a growing number of states are establishing or growing apprenticeship programs, particularly in rural areas where it is often difficult to attract and retain new workers. In many cases, those searching for employment lack the skills needed for the positions sought, not only in manufacturing and building trades, but also in banking, cybersecurity, accounting, and health care. These apprenticeships are being fostered at the state level through tax incentives, structural changes in the approach to governmental oversight, and strengthened partnerships with community colleges that allow participants to receive an academic credential when they complete an apprenticeship.
Delaware may become the first state to rollout digital driver’s licenses if a new pilot program is successful. The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles recently launched a six-month trial to test the mobile license in real-world scenarios, which will involve around 200 DMV employees and stakeholders. Features of the mobile licenses could include enhanced privacy for age verification, the ability to transmit driver’s license information to police officers before they walk toward a vehicle at a traffic stop, and secure PIN or facial recognition access.
Over the past five years, Boston has been rolling out a more "play-based" curriculum along with student-led activities to early education and elementary schools, emphasizing a more exploratory model for learning over a traditional top-down approach. The curriculum is designed to adjust to the varying needs of young students with different skill sets. Observational reports from teachers are encouraging, while further research is investigating whether this new early childhood approach is making an academic difference.
Louisville, Kentucky, could become the first US city to deploy autonomous drones equipped with cameras to sites where gunshots have been detected by the ShotSpotter sensor system, providing law enforcement with a live situational assessment. Under the plan, currently being reviewed by the FAA, a drone would arrive on the scene after a gunshot is detected, provide an aerial view of what is occurring while capturing video evidence, and allow officers to avoid having to respond to false alarms. Privacy advocates are concerned that this use of drone technology has the potential to disproportionately target low-income and communities of color.