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The Crime Report: ShotSpotter Study: Gunfire Down in 2014

April 14, 2015 Comments off

The Crime Report: ShotSpotter Study: Gunfire Down in 2014
Source: SST

Gunfire declined significantly in 2014 in American cities monitored by ShotSpotter, according to a study released recently by the company. SST, which operates ShotSpotter, examined data in 28 cities that used the gunfire detection system in both 2013 and 2014. Instances of recorded gunfire dropped by 28.8 percent, according to the company.

All but two of the 28 cities saw reductions in their rates of gunfire.

ShotSpotter uses an array of microphones to record, identify and locate instances in which weapons are discharged. During 2014, it was used in 47 total cities.

The technology recorded 33,975 separate gunfire incidents nationwide in 2014, with 117,161 rounds fired. That breaks down to roughly 105 incidents per day.

CREDO Study Finds Urban Charter Schools Outperform Traditional School Peers

April 1, 2015 Comments off

CREDO Study Finds Urban Charter Schools Outperform Traditional School Peers
Source: Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), the nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness, released today a comprehensive Urban Charter Schools Report and 22 state-specific reports that combine to offer policymakers unprecedented insight into the effectiveness of charter schools.

Across 41 regions, urban charter schools on average achieve significantly greater student success in both math and reading, which amounts to 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading. Compared to the national profile of charter school performance, urban charters produce more positive results. CREDO’s National Charter School Study results in 2013 found that charter schools provided seven additional days of learning per year in reading and no significant difference in math.

Some cities are still more unequal than others—an update

March 31, 2015 Comments off

Some cities are still more unequal than others—an update
Source: Brookings Institution

More than five years after the end of the Great Recession, and three years since the Occupy movement took on Wall Street, high and growing levels of income inequality continue to animate debates on politics and public policy. Inequality provided the economic backdrop for President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, the recent report of a transatlantic Commission on Inclusive Prosperity, and one of the most talked-about books of 2014, French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Although each of those examples focuses on the actions that national governments should take to address inequality, continued gridlock in Washington has inspired growing interest and activity at the sub-national level around ameliorating inequality and promoting social mobility. In 2014 alone, 14 states and the District of Columbia enacted increases in their minimum wages. Many cities adopted or considered similar measures, most notably Seattle, which is raising its minimum wage to $15/hour by 2017. Some observers argue that cities themselves are better positioned to enhance social mobility for low-income residents than the federal government.

This report updates a 2014 analysis that looked at levels of income inequality in the 50 largest U.S. cities, and examines in particular trends between 2012 and 2013, the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Like the earlier analysis, it focuses on incomes among households near the top of the distribution—those earning more than 95 percent of all other households—and households closer to the bottom of the distribution—those earning more than only 20 percent of all other households. It then measures the gap between the two, or the “95/20 ratio.” All dollar amounts are adjusted for inflation to 2013 levels.

OpenStreetCab: Exploiting Taxi Mobility Patterns in New York City to Reduce Commuter Costs

March 29, 2015 Comments off

OpenStreetCab: Exploiting Taxi Mobility Patterns in New York City to Reduce Commuter Costs
Source: arXiv.org

The rise of Uber as the global alternative taxi operator has attracted a lot of interest recently. Aside from the media headlines which discuss the new phenomenon, e.g. on how it has disrupted the traditional transportation industry, policy makers, economists, citizens and scientists have engaged in a discussion that is centred around the means to integrate the new generation of the sharing economy services in urban ecosystems. In this work, we aim to shed new light on the discussion, by taking advantage of a publicly available longitudinal dataset that describes the mobility of yellow taxis in New York City. In addition to movement, this data contains information on the fares paid by the taxi customers for each trip. As a result we are given the opportunity to provide a first head to head comparison between the iconic yellow taxi and its modern competitor, Uber, in one of the world’s largest metropolitan centres. We identify situations when Uber X, the cheapest version of the Uber taxi service, tends to be more expensive than yellow taxis for the same journey. We also demonstrate how Uber’s economic model effectively takes advantage of well known patterns in human movement. Finally, we take our analysis a step further by proposing a new mobile application that compares taxi prices in the city to facilitate traveller’s taxi choices, hoping to ultimately to lead to a reduction of commuter costs. Our study provides a case on how big datasets that become public can improve urban services for consumers by offering the opportunity for transparency in economic sectors that lack up to date regulations.

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America

March 26, 2015 Comments off

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America
Source: Brookings Institution

Proximity to employment can influence a range of economic and social outcomes, from local fiscal health to the employment prospects of residents, particularly low-income and minority workers. An analysis of private-sector employment and demographic data at the census tract level reveals that:

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commute distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent.

As employment suburbanized, the number of jobs near both the typical city and suburban resident fell.

As poor and minority residents shifted toward suburbs in the 2000s, their proximity to jobs fell more than for non-poor and white residents.

Residents of high-poverty and majority-minority neighborhoods experienced particularly pronounced declines in job proximity.

Solar panels reduce both global warming and urban heat island

March 24, 2015 Comments off

Solar panels reduce both global warming and urban heat island
Source: Frontiers in Environmental Science

The production of solar energy in cities is clearly a way to diminish our dependency to fossil fuels, and is a good way to mitigate global warming by lowering the emission of greenhouse gases. However, what are the impacts of solar panels locally? To evaluate their influence on urban weather, it is necessary to parameterize their effects within the surface schemes that are coupled to atmospheric models. The present paper presents a way to implement solar panels in the Town Energy Balance scheme, taking account of the energy production (for thermal and photovoltaic panels), the impact on the building below and feedback toward the urban micro-climate through radiative and convective fluxes. A scenario of large but realistic deployment of solar panels on the Paris metropolitan area is then simulated. It is shown that solar panels, by shading the roofs, slightly increases the need for domestic heating (3%). In summer, however, the solar panels reduce the energy needed for air-conditioning (by 12%) and also the Urban Heat Island (UHI): 0.2 K by day and up to 0.3 K at night. These impacts are larger than those found in previous works, because of the use of thermal panels (that are more efficient than photovoltaic panels) and the geographical position of Paris, which is relatively far from the sea. This means that it is not influenced by sea breezes, and hence that its UHI is stronger than for a coastal city of the same size. But this also means that local adaptation strategies aiming to decrease the UHI will have more potent effects. In summary, the deployment of solar panels is good both globally, to produce renewable energy (and hence to limit the warming of the climate) and locally, to decrease the UHI, especially in summer, when it can constitute a health threat.

Comparing LGBT Rankings by Metro Area: 1990-2014

March 24, 2015 Comments off

Comparing LGBT Rankings by Metro Area: 1990-2014
Source: Williams Institute (UCLA School of Law)

For two decades, San Francisco, Austin and Seattle residents have been among the most likely in the country to report that they are part of a same-sex couple or are LGBT. But growing social acceptance of LGBT people, even in conservative Utah, may explain why Salt Lake City now ranks among metro areas with the highest proportion of residents who identify as LGBT.

This report analyzes data from a Gallup ranking of the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas based on their percentage of residents who identified as LGBT in surveys conducted from 2012 to 2014 and 1990 Census data to rank the same metro areas by the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

San Francisco, Austin and Seattle came in the top five on both rankings. Salt Lake City ranked 39th for its proportion of same-sex couples in 1990, and now ranks 7th in the proportion of LGBT adults today.

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