Truants Wear Ankle Bracelets, Smart Appliances: GT News Wrap

Health cost comparisons, thermal imagers for airport, online tracking of public records requests.

by / May 11, 2009

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot last week told judges that they may require students who skip school to wear electronic monitoring devices similar to the one pictured.


Maine Unveils Health Cost Comparison Web Site

Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci last week unveiled  "Maine HealthCost." The site enables the public to access information on prices at Maine hospitals and other health-care facilities. Users can enter their insurance plans and find out what the estimated total payment is for select services at hospitals and other health care facilities across Maine. Patients can see the cost of a procedure at all providers anywhere in the state. The actual cost to patients could vary based on a patient's status but the site provides a reference point that patients can use to determine out-of-pocket costs. The Web site provides payments for Medicare and for all commercial health plans in the state, as well as what uninsured patients will be asked to pay. According to a release from the Governor's Office, the site does not yet provide estimates for MaineCare.

Mexican Airports Purchase Thermal Imagers for Flu Screening

Recently, Mexican airport officials invested nearly a half a million dollars in thermal imagers to help them screen people for H1N1 influenza A, or swine flu. The portable infrared thermal imagers -- from Fluke Corp -- enable airport, transit, public health officials and others to quickly scan and measure the skin temperature of large numbers of people. Those who show temperatures higher than normal can then be isolated for further evaluation to help prevent the spread of disease


Dallas Area Rapid Transit Developing Digital Voice and Data Communications

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) agency has chosen Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems to design and deploy a new OpenSky critical communications system that offers digital voice and data communications for the 13-city regional transportation agency. The system will enable DART to track all of the fixed route busses with GPS to improve on time operations and to link ridership information for transitions between bus and rail services. Additionally, DART Police will now utilize the same radio system as the fixed route buses, light rail, and para transit services.

Law Enforcement

Texas Truants to Get Ankle Bracelets.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot last week told judges that they may require students who skip school to wear electronic monitoring devices like those worn by prisoners on parole. The question came up late last year when a Brazos county justice of the peace wanted to impose electronic monitoring.


Applicances to Become Smart Grid Compatible by 2015

"By 2015, Whirlpool Corp. will make all the electronically controlled appliances it produces -- everywhere in the world -- capable of receiving and responding to signals from smart grids," said a company official last week at the EE Global Forum & Exhibition in Paris.

Online Tool for Tracking Public Records Requests

Eskel Porter Consulting last week unveiled a new Web-based application designed to help the public sector more effectively respond to records requests and comply with the law. Public Records Tracker -- a completely Web-based program that doesn't require any software --- fills a void in the market, said the company in a release, by providing a new generation tool that offers a simple and affordable way for government to efficiently monitor and respond to requests from the media, advocacy groups and the general public.


311 Citizen Service Center Wins Award

Solano 311, of Solano County, Calif., provides one phone number to call for county information or non-emergency services, and the county benefits because the center is designed to be shared by additional communities, creating lower costs and efficiencies. Affiliated Computer Services Inc. which partnered with the county to develop the center and is responsible for day-to-day operations, was recently recognized for its role in this effort with the Corporate Partner Recognition Award by the Public Technology Institute.

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government