Recent analysis indicates cell phone distracted driving crashes vastly under-reported
Source: National Safety Council
Today, the National Safety Council released findings from a recent analysis of national statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes, in a report entitled, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” funded in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use.
Even when drivers admitted cell phone use during a fatal crash, the Council’s analysis found that in about one-half of these cases, the crash was not coded in Federal data (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System). In addition, there are an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.
The report also brings up large differences in cell phone distraction fatal crashes reported by states. For instance, in 2011, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes that involved cell phone use, but New York, a state with a much larger population, reported only one. Texas reported 40, but its neighboring state Louisiana reported none.
Source: Microsoft Research
Taxonomies are a useful and ubiquitous way of organizing information. However, creating organizational hierarchies is difficult because the process requires a global understanding of the objects to be categorized. Usually one is created by an individual or a small group of people working together for hours or even days. Unfortunately, this centralized approach does not work well for the large, quickly-changing datasets found on the web. Cascade is an automated workflow that creates a taxonomy from the collective efforts of crowd workers who spend as little as 20 seconds each. We evaluate Cascade and show that on three datasets its quality is 80-90% of that of experts. The cost of Cascade is competitive with expert information architects, despite taking six times more human labor. Fortunately, this labor can be parallelized such that Cascade will run in as fast as five minutes instead of hours or days.
Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends
Source: Economic Policy Institute
This paper reviews and analyzes the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) labor market and workforce and the supply of high-skill temporary foreign workers, who serve as “guestworkers.” It addresses three central issues in the ongoing discussion about the need for high-skill guestworkers in the United States:
- Is there a problem producing enough STEM-educated students at sufficient performance levels to supply the labor market?
- How large is the flow of guestworkers into the STEM workforce and into the information technology (IT) workforce in particular? And what are the characteristics of these workers?
- What are the dynamics of the STEM labor market, and what are the employment and wage trends in the IT labor market?
Analysis of these issues provides the basis for assessing the extent of demand for STEM workers and the impact of guestworker flows on the STEM and IT workforces.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Climate Change: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers. GAO-13-242, April 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653740.pdf
2. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal. GAO-13-378, April 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654091.pdf
3. Defense Infrastructure: Communities Need Additional Guidance and Information to Improve Their Ability to Adjust to DOD Installation Closure or Growth. GAO-13-436, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654598.pdf
1. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Billions of Dollars in Savings, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-627T, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654606.pdf
Source: Microsoft Research
Personalized search systems tailor search results to the current user intent using historic search interactions. This relies on being able to find pertinent information in the user’s search history, which can be challenging for unseen queries and for new search scenarios. Building richer models of users’ current and historic search tasks can help improve the likelihood of finding relevant content and enhance the relevance and coverage of personalization methods. The task-based approach can be applied to the current user’s search history, or as we focus on here, all users’ search histories as so-called “groupization” (a variant of personalization whereby other users’ profiles can be used to personalize the search experience). We describe a method whereby we mine historic search-engine logs to find other users performing similar tasks to the current user and leverage their on-task behavior to identify Web pages to promote in the current ranking. We investigate the effectiveness of this approach versus query-based matching and finding related historic activity from the current user (i.e., group vs. individual). As part of our studies we also explore the use of the on-task behavior of particular user cohorts, such as people who are more expert in the current topic, rather than all users, with potentially-promising results. Our findings have direct implications for improving personalization in Web search engines.
Source: National Association of State Chief Information Officers
The National Association of State Information Officers (NASCIO) has launched a catalog of native mobile apps available from state governments for tablets and smartphones. Users can click on the interactive map to see what apps are offered by their state or territory. Apps are also searchable by a list of 20 different categories, including health and wellness, economic development, tax and payment information and education loans and grants.
“This tool offers a convenient way to see what other states are producing in terms of mobile apps, and allowing states to generate ideas for their own state or territory,” said Brenda Decker, NASCIO president and Nebraska CIO, in a statement. “Some states lead the way in mobile app development and can pose as models for those growing their mobile app capabilities.
The National Security Agency just released “Untangling the Web,” an unclassified how-to guide to Internet search. It’s a sprawling document, clocking in at over 650 pages, and is the product of many years of research and updating by a NSA information specialist whose name is redacted on the official release, but who is identified as Robyn Winder of the Center for Digital Content on the Freedom of Information Act request that led to its release.
It’s a droll document on many levels. First and foremost, it’s funny to think of officials who control some of the most sophisticated supercomputers and satellites ever invented turning to a .pdf file for tricks on how to track down domain name system information on an enemy website. But “Untangling the Web” isn’t for code-breakers or wire-tappers. The target audience seems to be staffers looking for basic factual information, like the preferred spelling of Kazakhstan, or telephonic prefix information for East Timor.
Hat tip: PW
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Bureau of the Public Debt: Areas for Improvement in Information Systems Controls. GAO-13-416R, May 9.
2. Federal Reserve Banks: Areas for Improvement in Information Systems Controls. GAO-13-419R, May 9.
3. Preliminary Results of Work on FAA Facility Conditions and Workplace Safety. GAO-13-509R, May 9.
1. Transportation Worker Identification Credential: Card Reader Pilot Results Are Unreliable; Security Benefits Should Be Reassessed, by Stephen M. Lord, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-610T, May 9.
2. Federal Retirement Processing: OPM Is Pursuing Incremental Information Technology Improvements after Canceling a Modernization Plagued by Management Weaknesses, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resource issues. GAO-13-580T, May 9.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654450.pdf
3. Missile Defense: Opportunity to Refocus on Strengthening Acquisition Management, by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Committee on Armed Services. GAO-13-604T, May 9.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654457.pdf
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
Increased reliance on the Internet and other networked systems raise the risks of cyber attacks that could harm our nation’s cyber infrastructure. The cyber infrastructure encompasses a number of sectors including: the nation’s mass transit and other transportation systems; banking and financial systems; factories; energy systems and the electric power grid; and telecommunications, which increasingly rely on a complex array of computer networks, including the public Internet. However, many of these systems and networks were not built and designed with security in mind. Therefore, our cyber infrastructure contains many holes, risks, and vulnerabilities that may enable an attacker to cause damage or disrupt cyber infrastructure operations. Threats to cyber infrastructure safety and security come from hackers, terrorists, criminal groups, and sophisticated organized crime groups; even nation-states and foreign intelligence services conduct cyber warfare. Cyber attackers can introduce new viruses, worms, and bots capable of defeating many of our efforts. Costs to the economy from these threats are huge and increasing. Government, business, and academia must therefore work together to understand the threat and develop various modes of fighting cyber attacks, and to establish and enhance a framework to assess the vulnerability of our cyber infrastructure and provide strategic policy directions for the protection of such an infrastructure. This book addresses such questions as: How serious is the cyber threat? What technical and policy-based approaches are best suited to securing telecommunications networks and information systems infrastructure security? What role will government and the private sector play in homeland defense against cyber attacks on critical civilian infrastructure, financial, and logistical systems? What legal impediments exist concerning efforts to defend the nation against cyber attacks, especially in preventive, preemptive, and retaliatory actions?
See also: Cyber Infrastructure Protection (2011)
Source: National Research Council
Over the course of several decades, copyright protection has been expanded and extended through legislative changes occasioned by national and international developments. The content and technology industries affected by copyright and its exceptions, and in some cases balancing the two, have become increasingly important as sources of economic growth, relatively high-paying jobs, and exports. Since the expansion of digital technology in the mid-1990s, they have undergone a technological revolution that has disrupted long-established modes of creating, distributing, and using works ranging from literature and news to film and music to scientific publications and computer software.
In the United States and internationally, these disruptive changes have given rise to a strident debate over copyright’s proper scope and terms and means of its enforcement–a debate between those who believe the digital revolution is progressively undermining the copyright protection essential to encourage the funding, creation, and distribution of new works and those who believe that enhancements to copyright are inhibiting technological innovation and free expression.
Copyright in the Digital Era: Building Evidence for Policy examines a range of questions regarding copyright policy by using a variety of methods, such as case studies, international and sectoral comparisons, and experiments and surveys. This report is especially critical in light of digital age developments that may, for example, change the incentive calculus for various actors in the copyright system, impact the costs of voluntary copyright transactions, pose new enforcement challenges, and change the optimal balance between copyright protection and exceptions.
Source: Microsoft Research
Providing personalized and interactive education (as in one-on-one tutoring) remains an unsolved problem for standard classrooms. The arrival of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), while having provided a unique opportunity to share quality instruction with massive number of students, only exacerbate this problem with an even higher student to teacher ratio. We believe that automated intelligent tutoring can play a revolutionary role in this context. In this article, we motivate four problem definitions, namely problem generation, solution generation, feedback generation, and content authoring in the context of intelligent tutoring. We describe how formal methods can play a useful role in addressing these problems. We present some recent results that have been applied to a variety of STEM subject domains (including logic, automata, programming, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry) as illustrative examples.
State U Online (PDF)
Source: New America Foundation
Online learning has become a permanent fixture of postsecondary education—approximately 32 percent of all postsecondary students in the United States took at least one online course in 2010. Many for-profit colleges have jumped at the opportunity online learning provides to reach more students. The University of Phoenix, with more than 300,000 online students, is now the largest accredited university in America.
But the nation’s public higher-education system—the twoyear colleges and four-year universities that educate the large majority of all college students—has been visibly slower to embrace the potential of online credentialing. Many of these institutions were founded with a mission to serve their citizens, including those unable to attend in residence. Traditionally, this was done through a combination of extension services, correspondence courses, and other means. Yet even as the technological means to achieve this goal reaches new heights, many public universities are shying away from the challenge.
At a time when educational credentials are more important to individual and collective prosperity than ever before, students need online courses and degree programs that are effective, affordable, and grounded in public values. This report includes an in-depth analysis of how public universities are contending with the challenges and opportunities of online education. It finds that state institutions have tremendous untapped potential to grow enrollment, increase revenues, contribute to economic development, and fulfill their historical missions—if they adopt a series of policies that a few innovative states and public higher-education systems have already pioneered.
To understand why more public institutions haven’t moved as quickly into the virtual world, it helps to begin with similar historical attempts to provide distance education. While the technologies of online learning are new, the underlying conflicts and challenges of serving students at a distance are anything but—indeed, some of them are older than the nation itself.