Visit to Dakar during campaign for first round of presidential election

first_img to go further Reports Help by sharing this information Organisation RSF asks Senegal to amend its new press law News January 8, 2021 Find out more November 27, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts Follow the news on Senegal Newscenter_img Reporters Without Borders began a five-day visit to Senegal yesterday with the aim of monitoring the level of freedom of information and the media’s behaviour during the campaign for the first round of the presidential election on 26 February. A “Mission Diary” will be available during the visit at this Internet address : http://journalmission.rsf.orgThe visit is being conducted by Ambroise Pierre, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa Desk, who arrived in Dakar yesterday morning. He is due to meet government officials and journalists during his stay, and will visit news media to discuss their campaign coverage strategy with their editors. He will evaluate the level of freedom of expression and information, assess whether the various political parties are getting equal access to the media, and question candidates about respect for freedom of information.The mission diary does not aim to be a constantly updated blog but entries will be posted as often as possible. It will allow the reader to follow Reporters Without Borders’ week in Dakar, its meetings, the way the media are covering the campaign, and any obstacles journalists encounter in their work.“This presidential election is an important period in Senegal’s political and democratic life,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Since the middle of last year it has been clear from the discussions about the validity of the incumbent’s participation and the opposition to his candidacy that this election would be accompanied by a great deal of tension.“We deplore the incidents that have affected the media during the past three weeks and we ask that journalists be allowed to work freely and without fearing for their safety. We are here to demonstrate our solidarity with Senegal’s journalists, to monitor the media’s election coverage and to stress the need for strict professionalism on the part of the media during the election.”More information (only in French) at: http://journalmission.rsf.org News RSF decries exceptional press freedom violations in Senegal February 14, 2012 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Visit to Dakar during campaign for first round of presidential election RSF_en SenegalAfrica March 5, 2021 Find out more The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africa SenegalAfrica last_img read more

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Records Show Lie Detector Missed Broward Sheriff Tony’s Concealed Past, Including 1993 Killing

first_imgBroward Sheriff Gregory Tony lied numerous times in order to get his first job as a police officer, then passed a lie-detector test despite saying that his answers were true, according to newly released records.Coral Springs police made Tony complete a questionnaire and undergo a voice stress test when he applied for a job there in 2005. He answered “no” to several questions that would have revealed that he killed a man in 1993, according to police records released Thursday.Tony was arrested as a 14-year-old in Philadelphia on charges of shooting another teenager, an incident which he has described as self-defense. The case was transferred to juvenile court, where he was ultimately found not guilty.However, those records are no longer available, leaving questions as to whether they were purged, sealed or expunged.During the Coral Springs interview fifteen years ago, Tony stated that he had never been taken into custody or questioned in regard to any matter.Police records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show Tony, who is running for sheriff for the first time, concealing the 1993 shooting, even when he is asked specifically about sealed or expunged cases.Last Thursday, Tony’s campaign responded in a statement: “This week the country has once again been rocked by stories of police brutality — an issue that Sheriff Tony has confronted head-on in Broward County and was ignored by his predecessor Scott Israel.”It continued: “So it is no surprise that once again opponents are trying to dredge up incidents from his teenage years and from his past. Voters in this election will make a choice between the job Sheriff Tony is doing in the job as sheriff today, as compared to the failed leadership of his predecessor — not on things that happened 15 or 27 years ago.”His campaign consultant, Eric Johnson, said at the beginning of May that Tony did not disclose the killing on police paperwork since the question asked whether a “criminal” record had been sealed. Johnson repeated that Tony had been found not guilty in the shooting. Some police agencies use the voice stress test because it is seen as being less invasive than a polygraph test, which requires that the person be strapped to a device in order to measure their truthfulness, according to Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Tony as sheriff in January of last year, after suspending former Sheriff Scott Israel for what the governor called negligence in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as the 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Israel is running against Tony to reclaim the job.Police records show that Tony was rejected for a job with Tallahassee police in 2004, after admitting he used LSD one time.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement recently began an investigation into whether he was untruthful about the Philadelphia shooting in job paperwork.In addition, the sheriff’s union took a no-confidence vote against Tony in April, adding that he failed to provide deputies with protective gear against the coronavirus.Tony said in a radio interview last week that he has become the focus of a “smear campaign” and “political slandering.”“I hate to say this, but for every time there is a minority candidate for any position of power, the first thing they want to do is portray you as having a gun in your hand, or needle in your arm, or some financial problems,” he explained.State Plans to Review Complaint that Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony Lied about 1993 Criminal Charge The Sun Sentinel says that when Tony interviewed for the Coral Springs job, he replied no to these questions, in preparation for his lie-detector test:-Had law enforcement ever been called because of something he was involved in.-Had he ever caused the death of another person.-Had he ever been in a fight that involved a weapon.-Had law enforcement ever questioned him as a suspect in an investigation.-Had he ever been arrested or charged, even if the charges were dropped, sealed or expunged or he was found not guilty.-Had he ever used a hallucinogenic drug.He stated that the most serious thing he had ever done in his life was “fighting.”Tony allegedly made similar omissions during the 31 questions that were asked in his voice stress test, answering “no” to questions about whether he had used hallucinogens, falsified any information on his application, or had been arrested or detained.He explained on the questionnaire that he had sprayed graffiti as a teenager on supermarkets, rooftops and abandoned homes. He also admitted to stealing $200 from his parents and siblings, as well as taking $10 worth of paper and pens, driving on a suspended license, and street fighting.Tony added that creditors were after him, and described himself as “irresponsible” for not paying traffic tickets. He also said he had written bad checks three to four times.“The examination indicated the candidate was truthful in his responses,” according to the Coral Springs police records. “No deception indicated,” the investigator concluded.When @bsosherifftony assumed leadership of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, there were hundreds of employment vacancies. This weekend, more than 1,000 people attended BSO’s Open House to express interest in joining #TeamBSO. Apply at https://t.co/oW5xUe2VTI. #jobs #hiringnow pic.twitter.com/1zzSHXmbrV— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) February 24, 2020last_img read more

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Pete DeBoer still a “little bit numb” after firing by Sharks

first_imgSAN JOSE — Pete DeBoer, fired last week as the Sharks’ coach, will remember his first four years with the team more than the last few months.“I had a beer with (Joe Thornton) after it happened and we talked about how great the last four years were,” DeBoer told this newspaper Monday. “When I showed up here, everyone told me the window was closed or closing, and the team had missed its opportunities.“We had a great group of men, professional and fun to be around. The best dressing room I’ve …last_img read more

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Misleading Data: Scientists Fooled by Their Own Assumptions

first_img(Visited 65 times, 1 visits today) Whatever the datum you think speaks verbatim, it ain’t necessarily so.While scientific observations are the key to reliable theories and predictions, they cannot speak for themselves.  Every person, including a scientist, filters the data through his or her own assumptions and expectations.  Here are examples of assumptions in diverse fields of science that have misled scientists, sometimes for many years.Astrobiology:  Inconvenient truths:  Ever since the first exoplanets were found, astrobiologists have assumed that they could detect “biomarkers” (hints of life) by looking for disequlibria in their atmospheric spectra: that is, indications that life is tweaking the atmosphere into a non-natural state.  Wrong, says a new PNAS paper.  Three scientists present “Some inconvenient truths about biosignatures involving two chemical species on Earth-like exoplanets.”  The method can produce false positives:The search for life on planets outside our own solar system is among the most compelling quests that humanity has ever undertaken. An often suggested method of searching for signs of life on such planets involves looking for spectral signatures of strong chemical disequilibrium. This article introduces an important potential source of confusion associated with this method. Any exoplanet can host a moon that contaminates the planetary spectrum. In general, we will be unable to exclude the existence of a moon. By calculating the most optimistic spectral resolution in principle obtainable for Earth-like planets, we show that inferring a biosphere on an exoplanet might be beyond our reach in the foreseeable future.Such misleading biosignatures are “the cosmic equivalent of fool’s gold,” Science Magazine notes.”Biomedicine:  Rats! and the de-scent of man:  How long have lab rats been used in research?  A century or more?  What scientists didn’t know is that the smell of men stresses the little rodents out.  This could bias test results and lead to false conclusions.  It’s also a possible reason why some results are not reproducible, a press release from McGill University says.  In all this time, nobody thought to control for gender among lab technicians.In research published online April 28 in Nature Methods, the scientists report that the presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain.Female experimenters produced no such effects.An article on New Scientist says that “The finding could mean that thousands of behavioural experiments have overlooked an important factor affecting their results.”Sociology: from nudge to sludge:  The current American federal branch of the government has relied heavily on the psychological teachings of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, who developed the “nudge” theory for shaping the unconscious mind and influencing collective behavior by the use of subliminal cues (Sunstein was Obama’s regulatory czar during his first administration, then served on the NSA oversight panel).  Wrong-headed, says a new book by Magda Osman, reviewed on Medical Xpress.  The article calls into question the whole idea of the “unconscious,” suggesting instead that conscious thinking cannot be bypassed.“The UK, US and a growing list of other international governments, want to apply nudge to affect public policy on important issues such as wellbeing, health and financial decision-making. The problem is experimental rigor needs to improve before we can say that nudges are effective. Certainly there is no reliable evidence that nudges lead to significant behavioural change in the long term, just as there is no direct comparisons of the effectiveness of nudges against the introduction of taxation systems when it comes to increasing fitness, reducing smoking cessation, and reducing alcohol consumption.” commented Dr Osman.“People don’t want to hear this, but the most effective way to making better decisions is to first establish a willingness to change ones’ behaviour and values, develop coherent plans, think through the possible consequences of individual actions, and always keeping the far and near future in mind; in other words, hard thinking,” she added.Geology: fibbing mountains:  You would think that inanimate objects just sit there and reveal objective truth about themselves, but no: Live Science says that mountains can lie.  In “Mountainous fib: Andes lie about their age,”  Larry O’Hanlon of Discovery News describes the confusion geologists are experiencing over one part of the mountain chain that seems old and another part that seems young, depending on the method used.  Conflicting data “adds yet another twist to the puzzling processes that created the range.”Paleoanthropology: cuddly Neanderthals:  What would researchers from the late 19th century have thought if they knew that in 2014, Neanderthals would be described as good parents?  They might have felt they were living in an alternate universe, but it’s true; Live Science describes “Cuddly Neanderthals” with a drawing of an adult holding a child tenderly.  How did the early researchers get it so wrong?  Notice how their biases affected their data gathering:The York findings fly against the stereotype partly because most archaeologists ignored the bones of children found in Neanderthal graves. They pored over the bones of adults and stored the bones of children and infants in boxes in the basements of museums, never looking at them, Spikins said. But those bones and the graves in which they were found tell a story.According to the new thinking, “They cared for their children, teaching them what they needed to know. They also cared for the injured and sick, and when Neanderthals died — particularly children and infants — they were buried with care and respect.”  It should have made sense if the early researchers had thought about this.  A current researcher from Spain who defends the current thinking that Neanderthals were every bit as capable as modern humans asks, “If Neanderthal had not been ‘loving parents,’ how would their offspring and hence the population itself, have survived?”Phylogenetics: ‘Y’ the chromosome is alive and well:  It looks so shriveled up, the Y chromosome must be on the way out, an evolutionary relic—largely junk DNA.  That’s what many evolutionists have concluded from looking at it.  Not so, says a press release from MIT’s Whitehead Institute.  A re-analysis of genes on the Y take it “from liability to viability.”  Indeed, many of the chromosome’s genes are “essential for male survival,” being expressed in many tissues of the male body, not just the sex organs.  Comparisons of Y chromosomes between rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees and humans supports the new view that the Y is alive and well.  David Page of the Whitehead Institute is debunking a popular—but wrong—notion:Page believes this research will at last allow his lab to transition from proving the so-called rotting Y theorists wrong to a new era in Y chromosome biology. Over the past decade, Page, who is also a professor of biology at MIT and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and his group have been debunking the thinly supported but wildly popular argument that because the Y chromosome had lost hundreds of its genes over roughly 300 million years of evolution, its ultimate extinction is inevitable.The debunking can have dramatic effects on research.  “There is a clear need to move beyond a unisex model of biomedical research,” Page said, “which means we need to move beyond a unisex model of our understanding and treatment of disease.”Mountains don’t lie; people do.  Some may argue that these examples prove that science is a self-correcting process.  We’re just patching a few cracks in the wall to make it stronger, they may say.  The issue is more serious than that.  For one, some of the wrong notions have been taught as scientific fact for well over a century.  For another, these are just some of the false notions that have come to light; how many more are there?  For a third, how would we know if the debunkers have the last word?  Maybe someone will debunk the debunkers in the future, and then other debunkers will debunk them.  There is no guarantee science is converging on “the truth” in these areas.In his excellent course on Philosophy of Science sold by The Teaching Company, Dr. Jeffrey Kasser describes in one lecture how a researcher can never control for all the variables.  The story about lab rats above is a case in point; who would have thought that the odor of males would influence the stress level of rodents, and thus the findings?  What else might be a factor?  Could the researcher’s clothing, the color of the paint, or the elevation of the laboratory affect outcomes?  Replication is supposed to overcome some of these factors, but like Finagle’s Laws warn, “Lab results should be reproducible: they should all fail in the same way.”  Even measuring the melting point of ice could require an infinite number of experimental specifications.  We think we know what factors matter, but so did all the researchers above.  They misled themselves by their assumptions.Most troubling are the cases where researchers waltzed right past “inconvenient truths” or ignored what they thought were irrelevant data, like the bones of Neanderthal children, hiding them away in museum drawers and never looking at them.  The desire to confirm favored hypotheses can mislead the best of scientists.  When ideology is involved, like naturalism, the potential for self-deception is strong – especially when reinforced by social pressure from a powerful consensus.  The faulty conclusions of science can have far-reaching effects, “nudging” politics, education, and international relations.We need to get past the myth that science is an objectively neutral pathway to “the truth” about the natural world.  Science is mediated by fallible humans who are experts at self-deception.  Scientists can entertain “thinly supported but wildly popular” views for decades, even centuries.  They can envision themselves rich with fool’s gold.  The stronger the ideology, the more skeptics outside the consensus are needed to test for iron pyrite.last_img read more

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New Research Chairs at South African university

first_img23 July 2015Two new Research Chairs have been launched by Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)One Chair is in quantum, optical and atomic physics and the other is in artificial intelligence. The Chairs were launched in Stellenbosch on 20 July during an SU/CSIR research seminar that focused on particular areas where expertise existed at both institutions.The Faculty of Science will host the Chair in Quantum, Optical and Atomic Physics, while the Department of Information Science in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will be home to the Chair in Artificial Intelligence.Dr Hermann Uys, a physicist at the CSIR and SU, and Prof Arina Britz, the CSIR Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) representative at its SU node, will hold the respective Chairs.Prof Eugene Cloete, the vice-rector of research and innovation at the university, described the launch as a celebration of SU’s relationship with the CSIR, while Dr Rachel Chikwamba, the CSIR group executive of strategic alliances and communication, said “the launch of two Research Chairs is absolutely amazing”.She thanked the university for the partnership and said the council would not be able to solve everyday problems and develop new knowledge without the support of universities.Referring specifically to the Chair in Quantum, Optical and Atomic Physics, Prof Louise Warnich, dean of the Faculty of Science, said the launch “is quite a moment for the Faculty of Science, the Department of Physics and SU. In five years’ time we will look back and be quite amazed of what has come of this research chair.”It will allow researchers to focus on the use of single trapped atomic ions for studying quantum phenomena, and on developing laboratory technologies for the field of research that can be commercialised.Highlighting the benefits of the Chair in Artificial Intelligence for the institutions, Prof Bruce Watson, the chairperson of the Department of Information Science, said it would double the department’s research capacity and allow for the allocation of bursaries to undergraduate and postgraduate students.“It would make it possible to bring more artificial intelligence research into our courses and would also create a student pipeline for the CSIR in the sense that students may one day work with or for the CSIR.”Artificial intelligence, he said, was one of the very interesting research areas and could find application in defence, service delivery, and information and communications technology.Stellenbosch University is a partner institution of CAIR, a national collaborative research network that originated in 2011 as a joint initiative between the CSIR and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.It has an active memorandum of understanding in place with the CSIR. This agreement provides a framework for the establishment of strategic co-operative project-specific agreements, and for collaboration in selected areas of research, development and administrative initiatives. It lends itself to collaborative research activities, staff development and the relevant sharing of facilities and other resources.Source: Stellenbosch Universitylast_img read more

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Tweety Bird — Geocache of the Week

first_imgLocation: Washington, United StatesN 46° 12.090 W 119° 10.690 Geocachers Hope and a Prayer are a husband and wife team, whose love of creatively recycled yard art may only be surpassed by their love of cartoon characters.According to Mr. Hope and a Prayer, the allocation of the team name is ambiguous. “We have never figured out who is Hope and who is Prayer. Although, I need lots of prayer.”One of several art pieces in Hope and a Prayer’s yard.Back in the late 1970’s, Mr. Hope and a Prayer was an aviation electronic technician — or ‘AT’ — and a radioman navigator on the HU-16E Grumman Albatross. “We were called Tweets because we tweaked the black boxes on the plane to keep them in good running order.”Mrs. Hope and a Prayer collects old 1960’s cartoon characters figurines, and has a particular affinity for Tweety Bird. Plus, says Mr. Hope and a Prayer, “It is by coincidence or providence that my wife and I live on Tweedt St.”‘Tweety Bird’ cache is hidden on Tweedt StreetIt’s no surprise, therefore, that Tweety Bird became the theme for GC2VA7J, their highest-favorited geocache.The cache is a multi hidden at their house. At Stage 1, geocachers meet Tweety Bird.A young geocacher finds Stage 1At stage 2, one finds a small wooden barn decorated with copper leaves and flowers. Mr. Hope and a Prayer built the barn out of spare cedar fencing.Hope and a Prayer made this cache out of old, spare cedar fencing.The door of the barn opens, and something amazing rolls out on four wheels…recycled from a pair of in-line rollerblades.Like a train car, the cache rolls out of the barn.The cache was intended to surprise and delight young geocachers, but even the most seasoned geocaching veteran will agree — this cache is cute.“We wanted something really fun for children to find. Something really large with lots of toys. We collected over time old fast food restaurant toys by the box full at yards sales. We thought what fun it would be for children digging thought toys, picking out their favorite and putting a large smile on their face. It would be like Christmas thought out the year.”Rifling through the contents of GC2VA7J is a delightful way to go geocaching.The cache is hidden in a safe spot (good for trackables!) with the permission of their neighbors.Photo credit: Maggie PietilaContinue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form. Difficulty: 2Terrain: 1 Share with your Friends:Morecenter_img Multi-CacheGC2VA7Jby Hope and a Prayer SharePrint RelatedThis parking lot is weird. — Cadillac Ranch Cars (GC4K7Y3) — Geocache of the WeekSeptember 3, 2014In “Community”Do you think this is a game? — Flappy Cache (GC507NW) — Geocache of the WeekMarch 24, 2014In “Community”Beyond Here, Lay Dragons (GCH52C) – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 17, 2013January 16, 2013In “Community”last_img read more

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Does Wasting Home Heating Make You See (Infra)Red?

first_imgThermographic images also are recognizable for being colorful and distinct. By revealing invisible heat loss and allowing a new way of seeing one’s home, these images have the allure of a new technology. And although thermographic images have been around for some time, IRT cameras are becoming more common and inexpensive.Portable versions made to be a smart phone accessory retail for $250, compared with the $14,000 price that professionals had to pay only 10 years ago. Now a collection of 10 neighbors could purchase one to share for only $25 each. But to get the most out of it, they would need to learn how to use it well. Professional thermographers know sophisticated techniques and understand the limitations of the technology.One limitation of IRT for home assessment is that it requires at least a 30-degree difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures to work best. Without such a difference, the heat loss through the structure may not be apparent. This is why Vancouver’s pilot is being run over the winter.Programs like Vancouver’s are further limited by only capturing images of a home’s front and side, which won’t reveal heat loss from other areas. This approach is a result of using car-mounted cameras to scan entire neighborhoods, but it may produce false negatives. For example, a scanned home may appear to have no heat loss if heat was primarily leaking from the back of the building.The primary purpose of the pilot is to test a variety of approaches, including comparing homeowner response to letters with IRT images to those without to see if the images motivate more residents to take action. According to Chris Higgins, Green Building Planner with the City of Vancouver, they are testing a variety of approaches in the pilot and will have public results available in spring of 2018. Infrared thermographyVancouver’s program is based on infrared thermography (IRT) of each of the 15,000 homes. IRT is a way of taking pictures that show the heat emitted from objects. This creates an image of temperatures, warm and cold, instead of the colors and shadows that we see with our naked eyes or in standard photography. This is great way to find areas of heat loss in a home, essentially providing a guide to the parts of a home that cause discomfort and require the furnace, boiler, or air conditioning system to work harder and consume more energy to meet temperature demands. Thermography can also reveal materials with water damage, since those hold heat differently than dry materials. Mimicking the solar contagion effectThe neighborhood sweep approach for this program brings an additional component to efficiency marketing: social norms and peer pressure. By focusing on an entire neighborhood at a time and publicly sharing that approach (though not publicly sharing information about individual homes), the program has a greater chance of building on word of mouth and social norms for the neighborhood.Neighborhood thermography could support growth of efficiency efforts similar to that produced by the solar contagion effect. Also, as real estate listings continue to capture more information about homes and home energy, thermal imaging could provide a new aspect of information about neighborhoods and individual homes.To improve the social norm impact of thermal imaging programs, we would recommend adding an image of a high-performing home as a point of comparison. This would help define what’s possible and highlight the deficiencies in the current home. Ideally, this high-performing home image could be drawn from the same neighborhood. This would require getting the high-performing homeowner’s permission, of course, but would create an opportunity to highlight champions in the neighborhood and engage the early adopters who may not have much interest in the program otherwise.Home energy efficiency will never have a silver bullet that engages all residents. Rather, moving the market requires what energy mavens have long called “silver buckshot,” a variety of approaches that solve a variety of problems. Thermography-based programs may help reach more households, or different households, by providing a personalized, visually striking analysis of people’s homes. The economicsVancouver’s pilot program will cost approximately $6 per home. The question is, how much will it drive energy-upgrade actions among those homeowners? Essess, the company delivering the program for Vancouver, has performance results from similar programs in the past. According to a 2015 Navigant study, a similar program resulted in 3.8% of households responding to a mailer containing a thermographic image of their home. This response rate was two to four times greater than the usual response rates of other utility programs.If we assume that 2% of homeowners, or roughly half of those who respond, take action and are converted into project leads, then the Vancouver program works out to have a cost of roughly $300 per project lead. A cost of $300 per lead is common for the home improvement industry, or maybe even a little low. If those homeowners take actions that work out to an average of $1,000 in activity on each home, either by hiring contractors or by spending equivalent sums to do it themselves, then this campaign would generate roughly $300,000 in economic activity — a three-to-one multiplier for the program costs. Higgins says that if the pilot results in a $300 cost to get residents to take action, they’d consider that a success. An Introduction to Thermal ImagingTurning a Smartphone Into a Thermal Imaging DeviceFlir Updates Thermal ImagerQ&A: How to Get the Best Out of a Thermal Imaging VisitQ&A: Is Thermal Imaging Accurate? Have you ever wanted X-ray vision, or to see the hidden features of your home? The City of Vancouver has launched a new effort to make energy use more visible to its residents, complete with rainbow-colored images of their homes that show details invisible to the naked eye. Using thermal imaging to show heat loss in roughly 15,000 homes in five neighborhoods, Vancouver aims to help residents uncover wasted energy.The allure of invisibility has been with us for a long time. Stories ancient and modern have explored the idea, introducing us to Harry Potter’s cloak, James Bond’s invisible car, and of course Frodo’s ring. But some things are already invisible in ways that create real problems. Homeowners want energy-efficient homes, but they can’t easily tell the difference between an efficient and inefficient home. The invisibility of energy use creates transparency problems in the market, and these problems are starting to be addressed in a variety of ways. What this means for the industryResearch has shown that a direct mail campaign using a house list (an internal mailing list for existing customers) has an average response rate of 3.7%. Given that the city has an existing relationship with its residents, the 3.7% response rate for “existing customers” should be a fair comparison baseline for IRT-enhanced direct mail.The average response rate research comes from a 2015 report from the Data & Marketing Association, chosen since the Navigant study referenced above was also from 2015. Since regular direct mail for house lists had a nearly identical response rate to the IRT-enhanced outreach in 2015, it will be useful for the industry to see Vancouver’s pilot results with a direct control group.If the response rates remain the same, this may imply that the primary benefit of thermography programs is in the personalized approach they deliver for each home, more than the thermography itself. Whether the specific analysis or the colorful pictures drive more residents to take action remains to be seen. Essess has been working on improving how it delivers its services, and the Navigant study is several years old. Moreover, having cities lead efforts like Vancouver’s may produce very different results from having utilities lead such efforts, given that residents’ trust relationships can be very different with city governments and utilities.Measuring the success of the Vancouver program should provide important insights into what this approach can deliver.The other question is not just whether thermography programs can reach more homes, but whether they can reach different homes. Does the highly visual image, with its new-technology glamour, reach a different audience from traditional efficiency marketing? If so, then the number of homes reached could remain comparable to other programs but still represent a major breakthrough. RELATED ARTICLES Jacob Corvidae is a manager in the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Buildings Practice. © 2017 Rocky Mountain Institute. Published with permission. Originally posted on RMI Outlet.last_img read more

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FTC Cracks Down On Text Message Spam

first_imgTags:#FTC#Government#Spam What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The U.S Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is cracking down on text messaging spam. The FTC’s ire is targeted at affiliate marketers that use SMS to send spam messages intended to get consumers to visit deceptive websites promising “free” gift cards. The FTC charged 29 defendants with collectively sending 180 million unwanted text messages to consumers.The messages promised consumers free gift cards worth as much as $1,000 to retailers like Best Buy, Target and Walmart, according to an FTC release. Consumers that clicked on the messages were prompted to provide personal information, apply for credit or pay to subscribe to get access to the supposedly free gift cards.The FTC complaints targeted both the senders of the spam messages as well the owners of the deceptive websites. In addition, the FTC filed contempt charges against serial spammer Phil Flora, who was barred from sending spam text messages in 2011 and was found to be part of the recent complaints. Of the eight complaints the FTC issued, seven were against the text senders and one against a website operator. According to the FTC, the defendants that sent the text messages were paid by the operators of the free gift card websites based on how many people were eventually duped into entering their personal information. The FTC alleges that the sites violate the FTC Act by failing to tell consumers of all the conditions set forth to obtain the supposedly free gift cards. The complaints are levied against companies and individuals. The list of text spammers includes several marketing firms such as Superior Affiliate Management, Rentbro, Inc., Jason Q. Cruz (doing business as Appidemic, Inc.), AdvertMarketing, Rishab Verma (Verma Holdings) and Seaside Building Marketing. The one complaint against a website operator was made against SubscriberBase Holdings, Inc.The FTC filings at this point are just complaints. The FTC notes that it, “files a complaint when it has ‘reason to believe’ that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The cases will be decided by the court.”Image courtesy of Shutterstock. dan rowinski Related Posts center_img Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

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