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10 Bits: The Data News Hot List

by Travis Korte
The UK will build a centralized horse information database.

This week’s list of data news highlights covers September 3-19 and includes articles about France’s plan to appoint its first Chief Data Officer and the new risk analytics office at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

1. France to Appoint First Chief Data Officer

The French government has announced that it will soon appoint its first Chief Data Officer. While the official announcement has not yet been released, Henri Verdier, the director of French open data startup Etalab, is expected to be nominated. The Chief Data Officer will work closely with a digital services integration team to improve data sharing infrastructure among various government ministries and employ data science to forecast the impact of policy decisions.

2. SEC Forms Analytics Office

The Securities and Exchange Commission is launching an Office of Risk Assessment, an entity that will coordinate the agency’s work on using data to model financial risk. The office, which will be housed within the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, will focus specifically on building data-driven tools, including tools to detect fraud in different areas of finance. The office’s first project will be developing a tool to identify irregularities in financial reporting.

3. Cheap Camera Could Bring Vision to Internet of Things Devices

A cheap, lens-less camera could help Internet of Things device makers add vision capabilities to their products. The device, created by San Francisco-based sensing hardware firm Rambus, also uses extremely small amounts of power, making it ideal for factory settings and other high-automation contexts. The camera, which produces low-resolution images, would still be sufficient for sensing applications such as motion detection.

4. Public Safety Sensors for Public Housing

The Safe Community Alert Network (SCALE), a sensor system for public housing, is now operational in Montgomery County, Maryland. SCALE can send alerts to authorities when smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors are triggered or when residents fall. The project presented significant data interoperability challenges, but got help from 10 public and private sector organizations, including IBM, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Schneider Electric.

5. Basketball Team Makes Analytics Push

California’s Golden State Warriors basketball team is leading the charge toward more comprehensive analytics in the sport. The Warriors employ three people just to collect data, as well as a small team of analytics experts to track player movements, heart rates, and other biometric information. The Warriors were one of the first National Basketball Association (NBA) teams to install optical tracking systems to collect fine-grained positional data during games. The team’s management is also experimenting with using predictive analytics to curb player injury.

6. Virginia County’s Crime Search and Visualization App

Fairfax County, Virginia has launched a mapping app that offers search and visualization capabilities for crime data. The data, which is updated daily, goes back to 2006. Building the system proved to be a formidable data integration task and the county had to build custom data sharing infrastructure to move the data between different servers in order to power the app. Users can search by location, data range, or any of 12 kinds of crimes, including assault, drug, and sex offenses.

7. Ant-Sized Radios for Internet of Things Communication

Engineers at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley have developed tiny radios that could serve as controllers for Internet of Things devices in the future. The devices draw their power directly from incoming radio signals, meaning they can last much longer than ordinary, battery-powered devices. The radios, which are the size of ants and use no external power source, could help connected devices in remote areas or energy-sensitive settings wirelessly transmit data to one another.

8. Using Data to Fight Veteran Unemployment

The unemployment rate for veterans exceeds the rate of the economy at large by around 30 percent. To help close the gap, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and a coalition of other technologists and public and private sector organizations have launched Veterans’ Talent, a data and visualization resource on veteran unemployment. The coalition integrated data on job-seeking veterans and veteran-friendly employers from online sources such as Monster.com and LinkedIn, in hopes of encouraging developers and the public to explore some of the skills mismatches that give rise to veteran unemployment. The site features an interactive map that can contrast veteran locations and employer locations.

9. UK to Get Centralized Horse Database

In the wake of the 2013 horse meat scandal, the UK plans to establish a new central equine database to support a “horse passport” system for horses moving in and out of the country. The database will help the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs trace the spread of any diseases among the horse population and identify fraudulent activity. The country’s previous system shut down in 2012 following funding cuts. The new system will help the UK comply with increasingly strict EU regulations around equine identification.

10. Circuit Building Technique Could Save Power for Internet of Things Devices

Charlottesville, VA-based startup Psikick hopes it can reduce Internet of Things devices’ dependence on battery power with an advanced circuit design technique called subthreshold processing. The technique makes use of the tiny amounts of current that continue to flow when a circuit is nominally “off” to produce useful work. Circuits capable of subthreshold processing could be used to power electrocardiograms, wireless sensing applications, and other low-power applications. Such circuits can be customized to draw power from harvested energy sources such as vibration, solar, or even ambient heat, meaning that devices using them would not need to use replaceable batteries or be plugged into an electrical outlet.


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