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Spectrum: Safeguarding Pedestrians, Bypassing Censorship

Also, network-neutral SIM cards, and will we see a universal phone charger standard by 2017?

by / May 2, 2014

Protecting Pedestrians in London

Mayor Boris Johnson is using technology to make it safer to walk in London. The Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique, or SCOOT, uses cameras to detect the number of people waiting to cross a given street. Traffic signal times are extended to allow more pedestrians to safely cross. Officials hope that the trial will help meet stated goals to cut the number of deaths and injuries in the U.K.’s capital city by 40 percent by 2020. Source: Cities Today

Bypassing Censorship

Increased violence and rising inflation in Venezuela has the government concerned about its image, leading it to block Twitter images and other sites depicting anti-government protests. A VPN service called Hotspot Shield from AnchorFree is offering affected Venezuelans its premium iOS app free of charge, allowing users to go online securely without being pinned to a specific location, effectively side-stepping site-blocking. The Silicon Valley-based company bills itself as a disruptor of censorship and a proponent of a democratic Web. Source: Business Insider

Many Phones, One Charger  

Anyone with a drawer full of tangled chargers from smartphones and devices long abandoned might appreciate a recent vote by the European Parliament to incorporate a universal phone charger standard into law by 2017. The specs will apply to all charger components, including the connector and the plug. While consumers will surely benefit from charger interoperability, environmental concerns were behind the decision too. Worldwide mobile communications industry group GSMA estimates that 51,000 tons of duplicate chargers are produced every year.
Source: International Electrotechnical Commission

Does Network Matter?  

Regulators in Holland have cleared the way for companies to produce network-neutral SIM cards that aren’t tied to a specific carrier. If the idea catches on, companies like Apple would sell connectivity directly to iPhone users according to their needs. The switch could make overseas travel easier, since the carrier could reassign the SIM card to a local network, instead of roaming. A more flexible SIM card would also impact drivers of new cars equipped with LTE connectivity, allowing drivers to link to their carrier of choice, rather than the operator chosen by the vehicle manufacturer. Source: Gigaom

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Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.

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