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Texting 911: The tech is there but cities aren't ready
Governing
With more than 80 percent of Americans using their cellphones to send and receive text messages, it only makes sense we should be able to text 911 in an emergency. But that ability is only now just coming online and there’s still a lot of work to do before it’s universal: Only 100 call centers out of more than 6,000 across the country are capable of receiving and responding to text messages.
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Big Brother's eye in the sky: Use of red-light cameras in accident litigation
Claims Journal
Intersection accidents represent a disproportionate share of vehicle crashes and, therefore, a disproportionate share of litigated cases. Credible witnesses are the key to winning cases, but credible witnesses are rare, can be cross-examined, and are often reluctant to cooperate. The growing ubiquitous presence of red-light cameras and traffic surveillance are beginning to serve as rock-solid witnesses in these often tragic incidents — witnesses who won’t recant, move to Mexico, or crater on the witness stand. Even the most agnostic juries tend to believe their own eyes.
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A smarter school lockdown
Fast Company
Since the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, American schools have participated in an average of more than two dozen lockdowns a day. In neighboring Massachusetts, schools have responded with a three-pronged attack of gun control legislation, teacher training, and security technology. Case in point: Weymouth, Massachusetts-based ELERTS built a system that allows teachers trapped in a volatile situation to use “Internet of Things” technology to keep their students safe.
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NYC doesn't track sightseeing bus accidents
The Associated Press via Hattiesburg American
Companies that run New York City's growing armada of double-decker sightseeing buses, like the ones involved in last week's Times Square crash, have no legal obligation to report accidents to the city agency that licenses them. The Consumer Affairs Department — one of at least five entities involved in regulating the brightly colored behemoths — disclosed the loophole with The Associated Press as scrutiny of the buses intensified following the crash that injured 14 people.
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Storm forecasters add extra warning levels
Claims Journal
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said it will add two threat levels to its weather outlooks so people aren’t surprised by really bad storms on days with just a “slight risk” of tornadoes, hail or high winds. Beginning Oct. 22, forecasters can say whether slight risk days are “enhanced” or “marginal” or just plain “slight.” Other categories remain, including “high” and “moderate.”
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Flagstaff, Arizona, funds wildfire prevention with bonds
Governing
The cash-strapped U.S. Forest Service is way behind in treating its lands to prevent wildfires. So Flagstaff, a northern Arizona city that sits in the middle of a national forest and sees 300 fires a year, is paying for treatment on nearby federal lands itself. The city is spending $10 million to thin 15,000 acres of forest in an effort to make Flagstaff more resilient in the face of bigger forest fires, floods, violent storms and temperature extremes. The money is coming from city bonds funded by a property tax hike approved two years ago.
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Columbia cancels concert amid safety concerns
The New York Times
After months of criticism about its policies on addressing sexual assaults on campus, Columbia University has canceled a campuswide concert known as Bacchanal scheduled for next month, according to a student group that organizes the event. The student group, the Bacchanal board, and seven other student organizations issued a statement in which they said the administration had given no specific reasons for canceling the concert. But the groups said that at a July 28 meeting, administrators made “general comments about safety concerns associated with drinking and sexual harassment.”
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Christie signs bail reform measure, lauds lawmakers for bipartisanship
NJ.com
Gov. Chris Christie took to the steps of Trenton’s City Hall to sign a bill into law establishing an alternative pre-trial release system so that poor defendants aren’t stuck in jail because they can’t afford bail. The governor also promised to do what he could to advocate in favor of a constitutional amendment (SCR128) that would allow judges to deny bail to some offenders.
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Federal judge upholds assault rifle ban
The Baltimore Sun
A federal judge recently upheld Maryland's new ban on assault rifles and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, handing at least a temporary victory to state officials who say the measures could ward off mass shootings. A collection of gun owners, stores and industry groups had sued the state, saying the bans violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
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Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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