Soon, the New York Police Department will ask residents how they are doing through apps already installed on their smartphones. An offshoot of the department's CompStat program — a data-driven tool for addressing hot spots for crime — the "sentiment meter" is intended to gauge the areas where police-community relations could be improved. The system will use location technology to send out smartphone ads that contain survey questions along three themes: Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Do you trust the police? Are you confident in the police department? Responses to the eight-second surveys will be bundled anonymously, and precinct commanders can use real-time measures of public attitudes they receive to change block-by-block deployments or take other steps to address residents' concerns. Policing watchdogs and civil libertarians will be monitoring the rollout.
Las Vegas will soon become the first place in the country to have vending machines that dispense free needles to drug users as part of an effort to reduce the transmission of diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The vending machines will dispense kits that contain a box of sterile syringes and needles, along with a compartment for used needles that can be disposed of safely at the machines. In addition, an information sheet about treatment options will be included. The cost of each kit is under $10, but will be free for users. Organizers note that providing free and easy access to clean needles will reduce both the spread of infectious diseases and health-care costs. The effectiveness of traditional needle exchange programs has been widely documented.
The Department of Justice and the General Services Administration’s digital consulting team “18F” are collaborating on a national Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) portal that would save users time by avoiding the need to search each agency's website for its unique request system. The move comes on the heels of last year’s FOIA Improvement Act, which mandates the creation of a centralized portal that is interoperable with current agency request processing software. Around 119 federal agencies are subject to FOIA.
With an eye on a future where automated processes, devices, and eventually vehicles make their way into the marketplace, the commonwealth of Virginia has created a new office geared to managing this transformative change. The Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence will seek to foster business relationships and incentives for unmanned systems, as well as serve as a testing facility for autonomous technology across sectors. Officials believe that Virginia is one of the top states poised to benefit economically from autonomous technology.
In Québec, Canada, the construction of what will be the biggest health center in North America, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), will concurrently house the highest concentration of public art in Montréal since the 1967 Expo, with 13 large-scale artworks currently being contemplated. The public art will serve to make the institutional confines of the hospital feel more human-scaled. Québec currently has an ordinance requiring that 1 percent of a public project’s total construction costs be set aside for public art and the CHUM currently has an art budget over $2 million. The first phase of the CHUM will be operational in fall 2017.