Thursday, January 15, 2015

random news round-up


In Baltimore last week, Heather Cook, a bishop in the Episcopalian church, was
charged with manslaughter for allegedly driving drunk and sending text messages 
when she struck and killed cyclist Thomas Palermo last month.

Read about the controversial story in the Baltimore Sun here, or in the NY Times here.

"Mr. Palermo, a software engineer at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, was well known 
in the Baltimore cycling community. He built custom bikes, advised friends and 
colleagues on cycling and advocated bike safety."

"On New Year's Day, hundreds of cyclists rode to the accident site to celebrate 
Mr. Palermo's life. The street has one of the city's oldest bike lanes, often filled with 
commuting and recreational cyclists and now featuring memorials. […] As in cities like 
New York and Washington, cyclists in Baltimore have pushed for greater safety 
measures for cyclists and tougher punishments for those who hit them. The death 
of Mr. Palermo has ignited a more intense movement for improvements to bike lanes 
and tougher laws for drivers here.

Meanwhile in Las Vegas last weekend, the annual week-long Consumer Electronics Show 
(CES) came to a close. The show increasingly is a showcase for the "smart connected car"
 
"From Auto Park systems to brain wave monitors, auto-mobile is the next big thing at CES".

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has blamed distracted driving for about 
a tenth of all crash fatalities, but NHTSA also notes that fatigue is responsible for more 1,500 
deaths annually. Several makers now use high-tech systems to try to detect when a driver is 
getting sleepy, Lexus relying on a camera that can watch a driver's head movements. A start-up 
named Impecca will bring to CES a new wearable device it claims is 90% accurate at detecting 
when a motorist is ready to fall asleep behind the wheel by monitoring their brainwaves.


As related in this article in the NY Times, the supplier of bicycles to NYC's CitiBike program
got its start in the municipal parking authority of Montreal. The company is now named PBSC
Urban Solutions, and its bike share solution is commonly called Bixi.  Back in 2012, they
" [got in] a pricing spat with 8D Technologies, the supplier that had created the software for Bixi. 
The city-owned company cut off its contract with 8D and developed new software on its own 
for future systems, including CitiBike in New York. PBSC's hurried software was a disaster, not
just because it was full of problems, but also in terms of customer relations. 

8D Technologies has since become the partner of  PBSC's rival, Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share.

Building sustainable green technologies - interview with Isabelle Bettez, CEO of 8D Technologies.

Speaking of Montreal, last winter Duracell (the battery company)  created a social experiment that
challenged strangers to unite. They set up a heated bus shelter that only activated when commuters touched
both sides. Strangers waiting at the stop were forced to create a human chain in order to connect the
two sides of the shelter - and create warmth. Learn more about Duracell's "Moments of Warmth" ad
campaign here or here.


 



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