Dutch police are undertaking an experiment to see if augmented reality can help officers process crime scenes. In many instances, the first officer to a crime scene is not the best person to investigate it, either because they are preoccupied with a suspect or are not expertly trained. Under the pilot, Dutch police officers wear body cameras that stream video to forensic experts, who then virtually annotate the crime scene so the officers can best document evidence, take samples, and even look for a hiding suspect. The officers view the notes on a smartphone or head-mounted device. Aside from ensuring that evidence is not contaminated, officials hope that the technology can help them investigate crime scenes more efficiently and effectively.
Maryland has launched a new program that will pay off student loan debt for homebuyers who purchase certain properties in the state’s custody. The Department of Housing and Community Development’s SmartBuy program is aimed at helping buyers burdened with student loans while reducing the inventory of homes acquired by the state’s Community Development Administration after foreclosures on properties. To participate, a qualified buyer must make a down payment of at least 5 percent, financing the rest of the purchase with a mortgage through a selected lender. The buyer’s outstanding student debt — up to 15 percent of the purchase price — will be paid off at the time of the purchase. Officials estimate that the program can assist 50 homebuyers, with an eye to helping recent college graduates relocate or remain in the state.
Several years ago, Gaithersburg, Maryland, helped make it easier for low-income youth to participate in enriching sports programs by giving them the option of simply checking a box to waive registration fees. Often, poorer families are deterred from enrolling their children in youth sports programs because of the costs, and the normal application process to waive them might be cumbersome or embarrassing to navigate. With the new procedure, Gaithersburg saw participation for children attending economically disadvantaged schools jump 80 percent. Although the fees were initially paid for by a foundation grant, Gaithersburg is studying how to make the waiver process permanent. Research shows that participation in youth sports can improve physical and mental health, lower crime and teen pregnancy rates, and increase college enrollment.
A new initiative by the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs and several Connecticut veterans groups directly encourages and provides resources to veterans with less-than-honorable discharges to gain a higher discharge classification. The program is geared towards veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) whose resulting "bad paper" discharges are negatively affecting their livelihoods. The move is designed to counter what is perceived to be greater hostility by administrative boards in reviewing PTSD-related reclassification requests.
Japan is looking to utilize its advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) to impact everyday government operations. Under a new trial, AI will be used to help parliament officials draft responses submitted to the parliament, in part by having it study past opinions on policy issues and five years of parliament agenda summaries. If successful, Tokyo will expand the use of AI to other branches of government.
As part of New York City’s persistent war on rodents, the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, which has been performing “Trap-Neuter-Return” operations to reduce the number of stray and feral cats in the city, is now releasing cats into rodent-infested areas of the city as a method of pest control. The idea, which exploits the food chain and nature itself, solves the problem of handling cats who cannot be re-released into their original habitats (due to construction and other reasons) by placing them in an environment where they can be beneficial. The deployment of cats also eliminates the need for harsh chemicals and poisons, benefiting the environment.
The Massachusetts State Police will begin using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconstructing car accidents. The UAVs will survey, photograph, and measure car crashes, helping authorities more quickly investigate crashes, clear the scene, and reopen highways. The department is one of the first police forces in the country to employ such technology for this purpose.