Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.
Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S. Special district leaders face an array of challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – from maintaining critical services, to scaling up digital content and transactions, to protecting essential workforces. The Special Districts Program is hosting a series of virtual events designed to help district leaders share insights, ideas and industry best practices as they manage through the crisis.
More than 200 government leaders joined our first summit to hear Bryan Sastokas, CIO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, discuss his district’s COVID-19 response, and get advice from AT&T security expert DuWayne Aikins on how to address cyber risk in this new environment.
Takeaways from the conversation include:
We’ll continue this important and timely conversation on May 7 with a virtual summit focused on securely enabling remote work. This session will take a deep dive into how the rapid transition to virtual workforces and workspaces impacts your people, processes and technology. We’ll offer practical insights on operating safely and effectively in remote settings, and we’ll ask audience members to share their own experiences and best practices. Bring your questions, solutions and best practices – and join us for this interactive and informative event.
An analytics startup is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard to offer low-cost coronavirus testing to wastewater districts. Biobot Analytics, a company launched three years ago by MIT researchers, says it has shipped about 30 test kits to wastewater facilities across the country designed to detect the presence of COVID-19 in sewage.
Newsha Ghaeli, co-founder of the company, says results from the wastewater analysis can be used to help health officials understand the presence of the virus in specific areas and improve predictive models.
“We think wastewater epidemiology can help capture all the other individuals that aren’t being tested because there’s limited access to tests,” she said. “Furthermore, it’s been shown that some patients are asymptomatic … so our technology can also capture those patients.”
The company originally developed its wastewater testing and analysis technology to help communities detect and understand opioid abuse. Read the full story here.
Here are more stories from special districts around the country. Share your own news with us for inclusion in the next newsletter.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pa., launched an electric bus service. The first two vehicles hit the road in March, and the authority plans to purchase more for a new bus rapid transit route.
Transit districts are seeing a steep decline in farebox revenue as citizens limit travel to slow coronavirus spread. Ridership at some California transit systems, for instance, has decreased by 50 percent or more.
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority expects to offer free Wi-Fi to riders across its route network by next year. The authority will add routers to more than 1,700 buses and trains after running a Wi-Fi pilot last year.
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