Police Cameras: Unintended Consequences of New Technology

As more and more police departments begin using body cameras, no one would dispute that the tiny video devices are making a positive difference in the behavior of police officers and suspects alike. What very few advocates considered was the management of mountains of video footage.

Lindsey Miller, senior research associate at the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Wall Street Journal recently, “The cameras themselves aren’t overly expensive, but the years and years of data storage you’re going to deal with—that can definitely be cost-prohibitive.” While some police departments store video for one or two months, others retain it for two or more years. Every video recording from every camera must be reviewed, organized, and stored securely, and police departments are spending unexpectedly large sums for digital storage and the personnel to manage it.

The numbers add up quickly: The Oakland Police Department records five to six terabytes of data each month, the equivalent of nearly 1,500 movie downloads. In Los Angeles, the cost of police video data maintenance and storage is estimated at $7 million annually. Other police departments around the country are scrambling to get up to speed in data storage technology, but their mandate “to serve and protect” didn’t include training in video data management. Guiding the management and storage of this highly sensitive data is really best left to the experienced storage professionals.


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The Etiquette of the New Economy: Coworking Protocol

For many, the new economy means freelancing, consulting, entrepreneurship, or a combination of all three. Despite the short commute from bedroom to home office, working from home can be isolating, and burgeoning coworking spaces offer an alternative to lonely pajama-clad soloists. These open plan coworking spaces aren’t like your neighborhood Starbucks; they’re equipped with wifi, conference rooms, kitchens, desks, workbenches, and plenty of power outlets. Most important, they’re filled with other people, and networking is not just possible, it’s encouraged.

As with traditional offices, there are certain rules of etiquette that must be observed. Sarah Gabot, writing in The Sqwiggle Blog, enumerates the good manners of coworking. Some of the more obvious rules include cleaning up common areas and not disturbing people wearing headphones. Others are unique to coworking: Say hello to your neighbors, and make a point of being interested in other people’s work.

Many coworking spaces use mobile desk and bench systems such as these Swiftspace workspaces. In the coworking world, mobile office furniture has its own unwritten Emily Post rule: Feel free to move it wherever you like, but put it back when you’re through.

Coworking can offer rich opportunities for creative collaboration, professional networking, and business growth. Just remember to be polite, don’t hog the conference room, and if you finish the coffee, be a sweetheart and start another pot.


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Are Libraries Really Necessary?

E-books, e-readers, online access – perhaps the printed book is going the way of the dodo. Does this mean the death of the public library? Linton Weeks, in this story for NPR, responds to the question with an emphatic “No.” Public libraries function as far more than mere repositories for books. They are community meeting places; they offer language and technology training (free!); they provide computers for research and, yes, for reading e-books that aren’t physically available in the library.

Weeks quotes Tony Marks of the New York Public Library: “Public libraries are arguably more important today than ever before. Their mission is still the same — to provide free access to information to all people. The way people access information has changed, but they still need the information to succeed, and libraries are providing that.”

Given their vital community-services mission, how can libraries be designed to store and present their book collections while simultaneously making space for information-seekers and modern technology? An excellent example is this library in West Tisbury on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where creative storage and shelving have accommodated old tech, new tech, and community events. See the amazing video here.


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The Green Office: How A Small Change Can Yield Big R.O.I.

When Americans are making buying decisions, 80% say they consider a company’s sustainability track record, according to a Harris Interactive survey. Many businesses look to high-profile programs – green-fuel fleets or waste recycling – to improve their green rating. A less obvious way to boost your sustainability quotient: green workstations and desks from MAS-certified manufacturers.

One such manufacturer, Swiftspace, has been working steadily to reduce VOC emissions from its furniture products. (VOCs – volatile organic compounds – are commonly found in paint and wood products, and the gases can cause health problems in enclosed spaces.) In April 2015 Swiftspace received its MAS certification for healthier indoor environments. CEO Rob Way also pointed out Swiftspace’s green-conscious policies of low-waste design and shipping materials, as well as the furniture’s simple, no-tools setup which eliminates the fuel footprint of on-site installation travel.

And the benefit of sourcing green furnishings for your office? In addition to LEED tax incentives and rebate programs in some locales, the positive publicity can attract the attention – and the dollars – of the 80% of the buying public that prefer to do business with an environmentally conscious company.



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The Adaptive Common Area: A How-To Case Study

[image] - foresight-benching-swift-space-folded-and-installed

Lifestyle pundits have lately noted the trend toward multiple screen usage; we simultaneously watch television, work on our laptops, and text from our smart phones. Space utilization is following the same trend – one space must serve multiple functions. Facility planning consultant Keith Fentress, in his excellent blog series, cites the value of flexible office furnishings that can be reconfigured into individual “touchdown spaces,” collaborative “huddle rooms,” or sociable “hubs.” Can the flexibility that works well in an office space also find application in an institutional setting?

One research university recently gave a test run to some reconfigurable furnishings in a large common area. The space served variously as a reception area, a study area, and a student social area, sometimes changing its function two or three times in a single day. This video reveals the truth behind the test.

Rival Universities Find Texas-Size Savings in Shared Storage

College football fans would be surprised to find The University of Texas and Texas A&M University trading anything other than insults regarding each others’ poor athletic skills, scanty intelligence, and questionable family history. Nevertheless, the two institutions have set aside their rivalry in order to cooperate on something far more important: Saving money.

In 2013, the libraries of UT and A&M inaugurated the Joint Library Facility, an 18,000 square foot facility built to store print books and journals for the use of both schools. The storage facility freed up space in their libraries for high-circulation books, as well as allowing them to eliminate multiple copies of print materials and duplicate journal subscriptions.

In true Texas style, the building site has enough land for two additional buildings. And the cost savings realized through the newly efficient shared storage? Per-volume costs went from $4.26 per year to 86¢ per year. After nearly two years of operation, that kind of money adds up to the sort of oversized savings are always welcome deep in the heart of Texas, or anywhere else.

Storage Detective Seeks Spare Parts for Old Space Shuttles

The space shuttle program came to an end in 2011, but science historians around the country are creating displays of retired shuttles with the help of storage detectives like Dennis Jenkins. A 30-year-plus NASA employee who spent his entire career sending shuttles into space, Jenkins was recruited by the California Science Center to oversee the preparation of the museum’s shuttle exhibit. The mothballed shuttle was missing quite a few pieces when it arrived in Los Angeles, and Jenkins began tracking down parts to complete the exhibit.

He was faced with a daunting task. Budget cuts had forced NASA to reduce its storage, and shuttle parts – 1 million parts, ranging from nuts and bolts to complete engines – had been stashed in government facilities and scrap yards across the U.S. Jenkins had to rely on the memories of a network of former NASA workers to help locate missing pieces scattered from Utah to Washington D.C. Writing in the L.A.Times, Kate Mathers reveals the outcome of Jenkins’ search.

We can only imagine how much easier his job would have been if well-organized high density storage systems had been part of the shuttle program.


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RFID is Tagging and Tracking Those Little Blue Pills

Illegal drugs aren’t the only drug problem in the world. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals have plagued healthcare for decades or more. It’s relatively easy to manufacture “look-alike” tablets and capsules, as well as packaging and bar codes, and it’s a lucrative enterprise for organized crime and corrupt officials. Although it is a crime in most developed countries, counterfeiting isn’t illegal everywhere, and fake medicines enter the supply chain easily. Patients’ health is damaged, and legitimate drug manufacturers suffer a loss of brand trust as well as revenue.

Writing in RFIDarena.com, Hanna Ostman reports that the FDA now recommends that drug manufacturers include RFID tagging throughout the manufacturing process, from raw ingredients to finished product. This “e-pedigree” gives a drug’s complete history, its composition, dosage, and expiration date. Pharmacists can scan the e-pedigree to make sure they’re dispensing a genuine medicament.

Major pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Purdu, and Johnson & Johnson, are running pilot RFID projects. Pfizer now includes RFID tags in all its Viagra packages sold in the U.S. Although drug manufacturers have yet to agree on a common standard for RFID tagging, it’s starting to have a positive impact on product confidence and trust for the companies that adopt the technology.


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Space Race: Tech Start-Ups Feel the Office Space Squeeze

Technology sector growth isn’t slowing down one bit. As venture capital drives up Silicon Valley rental rates, tech companies scramble for office space that not only accommodates their growing staff but reflects their company culture and attracts employees.

Even well-funded start-ups often find themselves working in less-than-optimal spaces. One new company had to settle for a room over a carwash, while others have turned live-work lofts into work-work lofts. Bay Area office space expert Jenny Haeg notes that tech start-ups are always on the move. If they’re successful, they outgrow their space and move to new offices; if they fail, another start-up will take over the vacancy.

Regardless of their prospects, tech start-ups have embraced flexible space utilization, installing mobile reconfigurable furnishings that adapt to a variety of work functions. And more than any other industry, the tech sector tries to inject a sense of fun into the workplace, even if it’s adjacent to a carwash. Writing in the New York Times, Vindu Goel reports in depth on the challenges of the Silicon Valley space race: http://nyti.ms/1Gm3e6x


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6 Questions to Ask Before Moving Your Medical Office

[image] Empty nurses station in a hospital.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Failure to plan means planning to fail.” This is doubly true in medical office management, where exam and diagnostic equipment, accessibility, patient records filing systems, and IT systems add extra complexity to the spatial requirements. Careful planning is the key to a successful move or expansion, as cited by Eric Kahn in Medical Economics.

Kahn lists questions that practice managers should address:

  • What’s more important to your practice – price or image?
  • What are your patients’ accessibility needs?
  • How important is parking?
  • How important is public transportation?
  • Does location outweigh other considerations?

An important sixth question to ask: Will your current office furnishings and filing system adapt to a new space?

If your current practice space was built out with modular cabinetry, there’s a good chance the cabinetry and workbenches can make the move. High density filing systems, too, can often be re-installed in a new space. But just as patients should consult with healthcare experts, medical practice managers should consult with real estate, space planning, and furnishings professionals. Good planning will ensure success and save money.

Read Kahn’s full article at: http://bit.ly/1912VkF


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