GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by , / October 2, 2006 0
Breathe for Your Life
At the end of July, the London Hydrogen Partnership released a contract notice to solicit proposals for 60 hydrogen-fueled vehicles for the city's motor vehicle fleet.

London's mayor created the London Hydrogen Partnership to, in part, stimulate the development of hydrogen technology for vehicles to help fight air pollution. As part of this initiative, Transport for London is managing a project to procure, deliver and operate a hydrogen-fueled motor fleet in London by 2010.

The phased project will deploy as many as 60 hydrogen cars, vans, motorbikes and other vehicle types from a range of suppliers. Both hydrogen and fuel cell technology will be considered.

The vehicles will be operated by London's public-sector fleets, with a focus on Central London operation. Dedicated hydrogen refueling facilities will be constructed within the city to support this project. -- London Hydrogen Partnership

Researchers in France, Switzerland and Belgium hope to combat cockroaches with matchbox-sized robots that can mingle with the roaches and influence their collective behavior. The machines are programmed to behave like the insects and are even doused in pheromones that imitate roach scent, which roaches use to recognize each other.

The droid enters a roach habitat, interests the bugs via its motions and odor, and then lures them into a better-lit area.

The scientists hope the research will help them better understand collective intelligence. In the works are more complex droids that herd sheep and chickens. --

Vote for Me
A candidate for general treasurer in Rhode Island may have broken new ground in political campaigning earlier this year. Cable companies have cast an eye on "politics on demand," an advertising strategy that allows candidates to purchase political ads, which are then aired on cable companies' on-demand channels.

Frank Caprio's campaign for the Rhode Island treasurer is one of the first to use this media alternative to reach potential voters. Spots for the video "Frank Caprio: The Biography" are airing across 50 cable networks ranging from CNN to Lifetime. -- Caprio for Treasurer

Rain, Rain, Go Away
People may soon get more precise short-term forecasts of rainfall, thanks to tests by atmospheric scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

The effort, nicknamed REFRACTT (refractivity experiment for H2O research and collaborative operational technology transfer), uses multiple Doppler weather radars to track water vapor in the lower atmosphere.

Measuring low-level moisture is expected to help forecasters pinpoint the location and timing of storms. Along with the four radars, the project uses computer models, satellites, special launches of weather balloons called radiosondes, and moisture sensors that intercept GPS signals.

Scientists are measuring how refraction -- the bending of light as it passes through different substances, in this case, air and water -- changes the speed of radar signals. That reveals the presence or absence of atmospheric moisture. If successful, the technique could be added to the national network of Doppler radars operated by the National Weather Service. -- National Science Foundation

Parental Advisory Warning
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Deleting Online Predators Act" on a 410 to 15 vote in late July. The bill would have serious implications for Web sites such as My Space.

The bill, H.R. 5319, requires schools that receive Federal Universal Service Funding to prevent the access of children to a chat room or social networking Web sites. Schools may disable protection measures in order to allow use by students with adult supervision for educational purposes, or by adults;

The bill would also require libraries that receive Federal Universal Service Funding to prevent the access of children without parental authorization to a chat room or social networking Web site. It also would mandate the Federal Trade Commission to create a Web site and issue consumer alerts to inform parents, teachers and school officials about the potential dangers on the Internet, specifically online sexual predators and their ability to contact children through social networking sites and chat rooms. -- U.S. Rep Michael Fitzpatrick

I Pledge Allegiance ...
As of July 1, Medicaid recipients must provide documentation proving their U.S. citizenship to receive benefits. The new law implemented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was passed by Congress in late 2005 as part of the Deficit Reduction Act. The act directs states to require all individuals applying for or renewing Medicaid coverage document their citizenship.

Citizenship and legal immigration status have always been a requirement for Medicaid eligibility. But prior to the enactment of the act, no proof of citizenship was required; applicants simply checked a box on a form. --

Big Spenders
In June, personal income increased $66.5 billion, or 0.6 percent, and disposable personal income increased $53.2 billion, or 0.6 percent. In May, personal income increased $41.7 billion, or 0.4 percent, and disposable personal income increased $34.6 billion, or 0.4 percent. -- Bureau of Economic Analysis

Topping the Spam Charts
The United States continues its reign as the top spam-relaying country, even as zombie computers gain European momentum, according to the Dirty Dozen report by Sophos. The top 12 spam-relaying countries from April to June 2006 are as follows:

1. United States: 23.2%
2. China (incl. Hong Kong): 20%
3. South Korea: 7.5%
4. France: 5.2%
5. Spain: 4.8%
6. Poland: 3.6%
7. Brazil: 3.1%
8. Italy: 3% (new entry)
9. Germany: 2.5%
10. United Kingdom: 1.8%
11. Taiwan: 1.7%
12. Japan: 1.6%
13. Others: 22%

Small Spending
Personal spending in the United States increased only a small percentage in June -- by only 0.4 percent, according to Bloomberg News. This was also the increase in May, and reflects an increase in gasoline purchases that left Americans with less to spend on other goods.

EMRs on the Rise
The growing trends toward electronic record keeping in the medical community according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics include:

  • Nearly 24 percent of physicians reported using full or partial electronic medical records (EMRs) in their office-based practice in 2005 -- a 31 percent increase from the 18.2 percent reported in 2001.
  • Physicians in the Midwest (26.9 percent) and West (33.4 percent) were more likely to use EMRs than those in the Northeast (14.4 percent).
  • Physicians in metropolitan statistical areas (nearly 24.8 percent) were more likely to use EMRs than those in nonmetropolitan areas (16.9).
  • Only 1 in 10 (9.3 percent) physicians, however, used EMRs with all four of the basic functions (computerized orders for prescriptions, orders for tests, reporting of test results and physician notes) considered necessary for a complete EMR system.

-- CDC's National Center for Health Statistics Electronic Medical Record Use by Office-based Physicians: United States, 2005.