San Jose, California, is launching a waste collection program that will convert certain types of discarded food into animal feed. Under the yearlong, voluntary pilot program, households will use either a special garbage cart that is divided in two for capturing both food waste and garbage, or one extra cart solely devoted to this collection. Officials note that conversion is possible through the use of a new type of processing facility that can remove moisture from organic matter. Aside from helping the city achieve its goal of “zero waste” by 2022, the move helps to reduce landfill usage and resources used to create the animal feed, and combats emissions.
Chicago is establishing itself as a proving ground for driverless cars in some of its neighborhoods. The process is part of the Beta City Initiative, a plan to make Chicago more welcoming to new and existing technologies, as well as the startup community behind them. The Beta City Initiative will be generally focused on "urban experimentation," which will include forging natural partnerships between companies and city governments.
New York City's police department has recently stepped up efforts to encourage subway dance artists to work in legal performance spaces as an alternative to dancing in subway cars. Instead of arrests, officers are handing out palm cards to subway dancers that read, "Make money. Avoid arrest. Dance!" that direct them to participate in outdoor space set aside by the city for the performers to dance safely. The program is part of New York’s attempt to balance the needs of order with the desire to avoid unnecessary entanglements of young men in the justice system.
Boston is working on a way to represent all the data it receives as a city in a single score, helping officials determine whether the city is generally on the right track. CityScore will reflect an algorithm used to fuse metrics from diverse datasets such as housing, crime, infrastructure, and diversity among others, into one number that changes daily. While observers question the utility of any single number that purports to weight different policy subjects, planners note that the statistic is not meant to supplant traditional data analysis or on-the-ground evaluation.
Starting this fall, all second graders in Washington, DC public schools will learn to ride a bicycle and about bicycle safety in an effort to make physical education classes more relevant and useful. In partnership with the city's transportation department and private donors, the district bought 1,000 new bikes, which will rotate throughout the year to every elementary school in the city. Officials note that many youth in lower income neighborhoods have limited or no access to bicycles and thus may not learn how to ride, even as bicycle infrastructure and bike commuting becomes more common. The push is part of efforts across the country to design physical education classes that are more focused on healthy lifestyles and fitness habits.
To aid inventors and patent evaluators alike, the US Patent Office is implementing a new electronic patent application process. The eCommerce Modernization, or eMod, aims to improve the process for making patent applications and follow-up document submissions, provide simpler authentication procedures, and assist patent examiners by making the patent submission, review, and management process more efficient, ultimately leading to better patent quality. While the Patent Office plans to pilot the new platform next summer, it is currently seeking feedback from the public on how to improve its offering.