The Mongolian Post Office has partnered with a start-up to assign three-word identifiers to each 9-square-meter plot in Mongolia to assist in the delivery of the mail. Navigation and making deliveries is difficult in Mongolia, a large yet sparsely populated country where a quarter of the population is nomadic and many roads lack names. The new system will allow deliveries to precise and unambiguous locations by essentially translating GPS coordinates into more memorable phrases. The United Nations and some private courier companies already use the system.
In recent years, New Orleans has transformed itself into a national model for water management. Using federal and other funding, the city has embarked upon novel experiments that store and filter storm water into detention areas, including empty fields, parks, under streets, and parking lots rather than flushing it out, helping to make the city greener in the process. The city has also adopted zoning regulations requiring the installation of porous pavement, water-capturing land elements, and ponding areas for certain commercial projects. The federal government hopes to spread the lessons learned here, which arise from other strategies employed by the Netherlands, to other American urban areas as they cope in an era of climate change and unpredictable weather.
In Massachusetts, the Hampden County Correctional Center system is being praised for its unique approach to rehabilitating its inmates. The system employs day reporting that allows inmates to work out in the community while wearing an electronic ankle bracelet. In addition, it has opened in-house career centers for inmates that provide job application and training assistance; transfers federal and state offenders back to their hometown jails so they can connect with jobs and services before they get out; and even offers support services, such as food stamps, housing, interview suits, and even haircuts for people no longer in custody. Hampden County’s program generates such enthusiasm that each year hundreds of ex-offenders attend a celebration with food, music, and dancing that the Sheriff’s Department holds to honor their successful reintegration. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently proposed spending $1 million to expand the Western Massachusetts reentry model statewide.
San Francisco’s mobile ticketing app is rolling out the capability for users to rate in real-time their public transit experiences in the city’s various buses, trains, cable cars, and paratransit vehicles. Rate My Ride will allow riders to provide specific feedback about trip time, vehicle conditions, and fellow-rider etiquette with a few simple swipes. The city’s Municipal Transportation Agency hopes that the app’s ease of use will encourage more rider input, helping the agency determine where and what the main problems are and to target resources accordingly.
Pittsburgh recently launched PGH Lab, a pilot program that connects start-ups with various city departments to test new technologies and services for a three-month period. Under the pilot, a select group of promising start-ups is provided the opportunity to test their products and services in real work environments, while the city benefits from the cutting-edge service or technology to improve operations. The areas of focus include citizen engagement, municipal operations, and environmental improvement.