Seattle city councilors are forming a new commission to focus on tenants, many of whom are becoming long-time renters as residents are faced with rising rents and generational shifts against homeownership, yet who often lack political power. This 15-person commission, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, will work on a range of issues — many that address residents of color and those with lower income — such as fighting against tenant displacement from gentrification, addressing transportation problems, and highlighting public safety concerns. The city council recently approved the commission, and hearings could start in late spring or summer.
In Hong Kong, police are using 3D printers to reconstruct crime scenes during police investigations. While handcrafted models have historically been used to create scale models of buildings and other area features, officials hope that the 3D printers will speed the construction and review of complex architectural and other features. These scale reconstructions are used during court hearings, allowing witnesses to relay more detailed testimony, as well as to aid judges and other observers in understanding what occurred and where.
The IT department of Belmont, Massachusetts, is giving some seniors their own computers, helping them to become computer-literate, and addressing the town’s e-waste all at the same time. Each year that Belmont replaces some of its older computers, it donates the used computers (reinstalled with basic software) to some of its senior citizens, and offers them an introductory computer course on how to use the machine for a small fee. Aside from basic computer skills, the seniors begin the course by taking their computers apart, learning about the different components, and then putting them back together, making the machine less intimidating.
The city of Indianapolis is partnering with Gleaners Food Bank in a pilot program that provides police officers with sacks of groceries to distribute to residents in need while they are on patrol or responding to calls. The Community Action Relief Effort (CARE) Bags program is meant to display to the community that officers are not just there to fight crime, but to serve the community in a broader sense to make it a better place for everyone. The program, which is currently being tested in select districts of the city, will be evaluated for the potential to expand citywide, and to include the participation of fire and emergency responders.
In their continuing battle against public urination, Paris officials have high hopes for the cost savings potential and eco-friendliness of the Uritrottoir, a public urinal that doubles as an attractive flower holder and that does not need to be manually scrubbed and maintained. The sleek urinal is environmentally sound because it does not use water and can produce compost to be used for public gardens and parks. Urine levels will be stored in a bed of dry straw, sawdust, or wood chips, which will be electronically monitored and carted away to be composted once the toilet is full.