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American Housing Survey: 2013 Detailed Tables

October 20, 2014 Comments off

American Housing Survey: 2013 Detailed Tables
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The first findings from the 2013 American Housing Survey are now available in the form of dozens of detailed tables and a microdata file. The American Housing Survey is conducted biennially and, as in past years, provides current national-level information on a wide range of housing subjects. Topics unique to this survey include characteristics and physical condition of the nation’s housing units, indicators of housing and neighborhood quality, and home improvement activities. Specific examples include the presence of appliances, respondents’ rating of their homes on a scale of 1 to 10, and the average cost of kitchen and bathroom remodeling.

Topics new to the American Housing Survey this year are disaster planning and emergency preparedness, public transportation, household involvement in neighborhood and community activities, and the prevalence of “doubled-up” households, such as those with an adult child living at home. Specific examples include having an adequate food or water supply in case of emergency, key amenities accessible via public transportation and neighbors willing to help one another.

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What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use?

October 10, 2014 Comments off

What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use? (PDF)
Source: Addiction

Research in the past 20 years has shown that driving while cannabis-impaired approximately doubles car crash risk and that around one in 10 regular cannabis users develop dependence. Regular cannabis use in adolescence approximately doubles the risks of early school-leaving and of cognitive impairment and psychoses in adulthood. Regular cannabis use in adolescence is also associated strongly with the use of other illicit drugs. These associations persist after controlling for plausible confounding variables in longitudinal studies. This suggests that cannabis use is a contributory cause of these outcomes but some researchers still argue that these relationships are explained by shared causes or risk factors. Cannabis smoking probably increases cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged adults but its effects on respiratory function and respiratory cancer remain unclear, because most cannabis smokers have smoked or still smoke tobacco.

DHS OIG — Flawed FEMA System Could Hamper Disaster Relief

October 7, 2014 Comments off

Flawed FEMA System Could Hamper Disaster Relief (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

After spending more than $247 million on a high-tech system, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may still not be able to efficiently deliver emergency supplies to survivors of a catastrophic disaster, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit has found.

OIG Report 14-151, “FEMA’s Logistics Supply Chain Management System May Not Be Effective During a Catastrophic Disaster,” found the system, developed over nine years, cannot interface with those of its partners and suppliers, making it difficult to track and locate emergency supplies. The report also noted that FEMA does not have enough trained employees to efficiently operate the system.

+ Full Report (PDF)

How Was Life? shows long-term progress in key areas of well-being

October 7, 2014 Comments off

How Was Life? shows long-term progress in key areas of well-being
Source: OECD

People’s well-being has generally progressed since the early 20th century across a large part of the world, according to new research published by a consortium of economic historians (CLIO-INFRA) and produced in collaboration with the OECD and OECD Development Centre.

How Was Life? Global Well-Being since 1820 shows that, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, countries have generally become more equal to each other in terms of well-being than in terms of per capita GDP – particularly in recent decades.

The study presents for the first time systematic evidence of trends in areas such as health, education, inequality, the environment and personal security over the past 200 years.

By bringing together long-term, historical data, the study makes an important contribution to key questions on the extent to which well-being has been linked to economic circumstances.

The historical data covers real wages, per capita GDP, educational attainment, life expectancy, height (used as a proxy for physical health and nutrition), personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, and income and gender inequality. The topics mirror those of the OECD’s regular How’s Life? report on measuring well-being.

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Police Department Investments in Information Technology Systems
Source: RAND Corporation

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in 2007 and 2008, public service providers, including police departments, have been asked to tighten their financial belts and, in some instances, do more with less. Whereas some departments have cut their information technology (IT) investments and staffing as a way to avoid cutting sworn officers, others have increased their investments in IT, believing it can serve as a force multiplier, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the department. IT has become increasingly integrated into modern police organizations, particularly for systems related to records management, dispatch, crime investigation, personnel records, information sharing, fleet management, automated booking, and resource allocation. But the trade-offs among personnel, technology, and costs are not straightforward. With this report, the authors explored the rationale and evidence supporting the idea that IT investments can increase efficiency in policing, and do so cost-effectively. The correlation modeling suggested both expected and unexpected relationships between IT and efficiency. For various reasons, the efforts to carry out a full statistical analysis of police IT use matched with activity types using existing survey data did not succeed. However, they did yield insights that are relevant to the design of future efforts to assess the effects of IT systems on law enforcement performance.

Using Forecast and Observed Weather Data to Assess Performance of Forecast Products in Identifying Heat Waves and Estimating Heat Wave Effects on Mortality

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Using Forecast and Observed Weather Data to Assess Performance of Forecast Products in Identifying Heat Waves and Estimating Heat Wave Effects on Mortality
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives (CDC)

Background:
Heat wave and health warning systems are activated based on forecasts of health-threatening hot weather.

Objective:
We estimated heat–mortality associations based on forecast and observed weather data in Detroit, Michigan, and compared the accuracy of forecast products for predicting heat waves.

Methods:
We derived and compared apparent temperature (AT) and heat wave days (with heat waves defined as ≥ 2 days of daily mean AT ≥ 95th percentile of warm-season average) from weather observations and six different forecast products. We used Poisson regression with and without adjustment for ozone and/or PM10 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm) to estimate and compare associations of daily all-cause mortality with observed and predicted AT and heat wave days.

Results:
The 1-day-ahead forecast of a local operational product, Revised Digital Forecast, had about half the number of false positives compared with all other forecasts. On average, controlling for heat waves, days with observed AT = 25.3°C were associated with 3.5% higher mortality (95% CI: –1.6, 8.8%) than days with AT = 8.5°C. Observed heat wave days were associated with 6.2% higher mortality (95% CI: –0.4, 13.2%) than non–heat wave days. The accuracy of predictions varied, but associations between mortality and forecast heat generally tended to overestimate heat effects, whereas associations with forecast heat waves tended to underestimate heat wave effects, relative to associations based on observed weather metrics.

Conclusions:
Our findings suggest that incorporating knowledge of local conditions may improve the accuracy of predictions used to activate heat wave and health warning systems.

Implications of Health Literacy for Public Health: Workshop Summary (2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Implications of Health Literacy for Public Health: Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: Institute of Medicine

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions. Nearly half of all American adults – 90 million people – have inadequate health literacy to navigate the health care system. Implications of Health Literacy for Public Health is the summary of a workshop convened by the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy in November 2013 that focused on the implications of health literacy for the mission and essential services of public health. The workshop featured the presentation of a commissioned paper on health literacy activities under way in public health organizations. Other presentations examined the implications of health literacy for the mission and essential services of public health, for example, community health and safety, disease prevention, disaster management, or health communication. This report includes the commissioned paper and summaries of the workshop presentations.

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