Reports from the IT horizon. 

by / November 7, 2007

Calculating Collisions
Traffic signals may soon be smart enough to prevent car crashes. A team of scientists at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, is creating such signals by connecting computers and cameras to "stop" and "yield" signs.

When the cameras spot two cars approaching an intersection, the computer calculates the collision risk, then flashes warning lights on the sign to alert drivers to slow down or stop. The team's next goal is to invent a smart traffic light, which would delay a green light so an offending driver can clear an intersection without causing a crash. - Businessweek.com


I Spy
London is equipped with 10,000 crime-fighting closed-circuit TV cameras - which cost approximately $400 million - but doubt has been cast on their ability to help solve crime, thanks to an analysis of the publicly funded camera network.

By comparing the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there, researchers found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any. Four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a below-average record of solving crime. - Thisislondon


Smile :-)
Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman said he was the first to use three keystrokes - a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis - as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message 25 years ago.

Language experts say the smiley face and other emotional icons or emoticons, have given people a concise way in e-mail and other electronic messages of expressing sentiments that otherwise would be difficult to detect.

Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote light-hearted comments. - Yahoo.com



Mobility on the Move
As notebooks become mainstream PC platforms throughout federal agencies, questions abound about the implications for data security. A study by the Telework Exchange, which interviewed 35 federal chief information security officers (CISOs), revealed that federal CISOs do support telework and mobility.


Laptop Luxury
CISOs were asked if laptop use has increased.

No 17 percent

Yes 83 percent


CISOs were also asked if they have direct input into their agency's telework infrastructure.

Significant input 51 percent

Some input 37 percent

No input 12 percent


Kiosk Nation
An estimated 800,000 customer kiosks, excluding ATMs, will be installed in North America by the end of 2007 and will hit 1.2 million by 2009, according to a report by consulting firm Summit Research Associates Inc.

A 2007 forecast showed that North American consumers would spend more than $525 billion at self-checkout lanes, ticketing kiosks and other self-service machines, including postal kiosks by the of the year. That could reach $1.3 trillion by 2011. - IHL Consulting Group


Online Living
Surfing the Net has become an obsession for many Americans. One in three adults give up friends for the Web, according to a survey of 1,011 American adults by advertising agency JWT. Conducted Sept. 7-11, 2007, the survey found that 28 percent of respondents admitted spending less time socializing face-to-face with peers because of the amount of time they spend online.

Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.