SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A growing number of drivers are turning to a high-tech solution for a low-tech problem — finding a parking spot in the nation's congested cities.
From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles — and dozens of cities in between — mobile applications are becoming available to ease drivers' search for a place to park.
The problem doesn't always stem from too few spots, but from not enough information about where to find available parking, said Kelly Schwager, the chief marketing officer for Streetline, a smart parking provider.
Parker, Streetline's integrated smartphone parking application, feeds users with real-time data of parking availability, pay-by-phone options and alerts for remaining meter times in more than 20 cities, including Reno, Nev., and Hollywood, Calif. Developed in 2010, the application combines pay-by-phone functionality with parking availability data for a "bird's eye view of the city," Schwager said.
Parker, which uses low-powered, wireless sensors embedded in parking spaces to detect when and where a spot opens, is so far the only application to provide real-time, street-parking availability on a national scale. But there are several other city-specific systems in place, some also working in partnership with Streetline.
San Francisco's SFpark program, operated by sensors from a company called StreetSmart, is an automated parking solutions provider, that so far covers about 7,000 of the city's 28,000 metered spots in addition to 12,250 spaces in 14 of the 20 San Francisco Municipal Transportation owned parking garages, according to SFpark's program manager, Jay Primus.
- Using data from the city's public and private garages, Pittsburgh's ParkPGH program combines real-time data and predictive algorithms, developed by Carnegie Mellon University and based on parking trends, to provide current and future parking availability in the city's downtown, cultural district, said Stan Caldwell, the deputy director of the Technology for Safe and Efficient Transportation at Carnegie Mellon.
- Indianapolis' ParkIndy program, powered by Streetline, tracks availability in all metered spaces of the 3,600 spots in the Indianapolis downtown and surrounding areas, said Chris Gilligan, a corporate communications manager for Xerox, a part of the operating team that partnered with the city and integrated with parking providers, including Streetline and ParkMobile, to develop ParkIndy.
- The federally funded program, L.A Express Park, introduced last May and developed by Xerox, offers two mobile apps that track downtown parking availability via Streetline sensors in 6,000 metered spots and 7,500 city-owned spaces. Twenty-eight percent of Los Angeles drivers spend 11 to 20 minutes circling for a parking space, according to 2011 Commuter Pain IBM study found. A 2005 study by Donald Shoup, a UCLA professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, found that Los Angeles motorists drove more than 950,000 miles in search of a spot, producing roughly 730 tons of carbon dioxide and using 47,000 gallons of gas.
"Parking in L.A. will always be a problem, but L.A. Express Park has definitely improved the way that we manage parking," said Jonathan Hui, a transportation engineering associate for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. "People can pay easier and find parking easier; it was an attempt to create a better service for citizens."
Indianapolis driver Scott Wise says he loves the idea of mobile parking applications, particularly when running late for a meeting. But the 38-year-old driver questions whether it might be easier to just circle the block given that in the time spent to track a space, another car could "beat you to the spot."
Sensors for Indianapolis's ParkIndy's program take on average 30 to 45 seconds to communicate via the server to the mobile application, said Matthew Darst, the vice president of operations for Xerox's parking and justice solutions department.
Sensor technology to detect parking availability builds upon more widespread mobile payment parking options. ParkMobile, launched in Michigan in 2009, allows users to pay for parking by phone in more than 400 locations and 32 cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Houston — three of the nation's 498 most congested cities, according to 2011 statistics in a Texas A&M Transportation Institute Urban Mobility report.
In Washington, the nation's most congested city, half a million users have registered for ParkMobile. The service helps the district's parking managers judge when and how often spaces are turned over, allowing for more efficient curbside management that can alleviate the "oversupply or over demand of parking," said Angelo Rao, the D.C. Department of Transportation's (DDOT) parking and streetlight support manager.
"Over the next several years, you'll see parking managers through North America taking this innovative technology and figuring out ways to be better stewards of the people's public curbside," said Damon Harvey, the DDOT's deputy citywide program manager.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Search for infamous monarch’s remains is the latest in the rush to dig up the dead and famous
For centuries, William Shakespeare seemed to have the last word. His Richard III glowered and leered from the stage, a monster in human form and a character so repugnant "that dogs bark at me as I halt by them." In Shakespeare's famous play, the hunchbacked king claws his way to the throne and methodically murders most of his immediate family—his wife, older brother, and two young nephews—until he suffers defeat and death on the battlefield at the hands of a young Tudor hero, Henry VII.
To shed new light on the long vilified king, a British scientific team has tracked down and excavated his reputed burial spot and exhumed skeletal remains that may well belong to the long-lost monarch. The team is conducting a CSI-style investigation of the body in hopes of conclusively identifying Richard III, a medieval king who ruled England for two brief years before perishing at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Results on the investigation are expected in January.
But the much maligned monarch is not the only historical heavyweight to be exhumed. Since the 1980s, forensic experts have dug up the remains of many famous people—from Christopher Columbus (video) and Simón Bolívar to Jesse James, Marie Curie, Lee Harvey Oswald, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Bobby Fischer. Just last month, researchers in Ramallah (map) disinterred the body of Yasser Arafat, hoping to new glean clues to his death in 2004. Rumors long suggested that Israeli agents poisoned the Palestinian leader with a fatal dose of radioactive polonium-210.
Indeed, forensic experts have disinterred the legendary dead for a wide range of reasons—including to move their remains to grander tombs befitting their growing fame, collect DNA samples for legal cases, and obtain data on the medical conditions that afflicted them. Such exhumations, says anatomist Frank Rühli at the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, always raise delicate ethical issues. But in the case of early historical figures, scientists can learn much that is of value to society. "Research on ancient samples provides enormous potential for understanding [questions concerning our] cultural heritage and the evolution of disease," Rühli notes in an emailed response.
Franciscan Resting Place?
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester began actively searching for the burial place of Richard III this past August. According to historical accounts, Tudor troops carried Richard's battered corpse from the Bosworth battlefield and displayed it in the nearby town of Leicester before local Franciscan fathers buried the body in their friary choir. With clues from historic maps, the archaeological team located foundations of the now vanished friary beneath a modern parking lot, and during excavation, the team discovered the skeleton of an adult male interred under the choir floor—exactly where Richard III was reportedly buried.
The newly discovered skeleton has scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that may have resulted in a slightly lopsided appearance, and this may have inspired Shakespeare's exaggerated depiction of Richard as a Quasimodo-like figure. Moreover, the body bears clear signs of battle trauma, including a fractured skull and a barbed metal arrowhead embedded in the vertebrae. And even the burial place points strongly to Richard. English armies at the time simply left their dead on the field of battle, but someone carted this body off and interred it in a place of honor.
Taken together, these early clues, says Jo Appleby, the University of Leicester bioarchaeologist studying the remains, strongly suggest that the team has found the legendary king. Otherwise, she observes, "I think we'd have a hard time explaining how a skeleton with those characteristics got buried there."
But much work remains to clinch the case. Geneticists are now comparing DNA sequences from the skeleton to those obtained from a modern-day Londoner, Michael Ibsen, who is believed to be a descendant of Richard III's sister. In addition, forensic pathologists and medieval-weapons scholars are poring over signs of trauma on the skeleton to determine cause of death, while a radiocarbon-dating lab is helping to pin down the date. And at the University of Dundee in Scotland, craniofacial identification expert Caroline Wilkinson is now working on a reconstruction of the dead man's face for a possible match with historic portraits of Richard III. All this, says Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the project, "will help us put flesh on the bones, so to speak."
Digging Up History
Elsewhere, teams digging up the historic dead have contented themselves with more modest goals. In Texas, for example, forensic experts opened the grave of Lee Harvey Oswald in October 1981 to identify beyond doubt the man who shot President John F. Kennedy. A British lawyer and author had claimed that a Soviet agent impersonated Oswald and assassinated the American president. To clarify the situation, the forensic experts compared dental x-rays taken during Oswald's stint in the United States Marine Corps to a record they made of the body's teeth. The two matched well, prompting the team to announce publicly that "the remains in the grave marked as Lee Harvey Oswald are indeed Lee Harvey Oswald."
More recently, in 2010, Iceland's supreme court ordered forensic experts to exhume the body of the late world chess champion Bobby Fischer from his grave in Iceland in order to obtain DNA samples to determine whether Fischer was the father of one of the claimants to his estate. (The tests ruled this out.) And that same year, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez ordered forensic experts to open the casket of Simón Bolívar, the renowned 19th century Venezuelan military leader who fought for the independence of Spanish America from colonial rule. Chavez believes that Bolívar died not from tuberculosis, as historians have long maintained, but of arsenic poisoning, and has launched an investigation into the cause of his death.
For some researchers, this recent spate of exhumations has raised a key question: Who should have a say in the decision to disinter or not? In the view of Guido Lombardi, a paleopathologist at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, investigators should make every effort to consult descendants or family members before proceeding. "Although each case should be addressed individually," notes Lombardi by email. "I think the surviving relatives of a historical figure should approve any studies first."
But tracking down the descendants of someone who died many centuries ago is no easy matter. Back in Leicester, research on the remains found beneath the friary floor is proceeding. If all goes according to plan, the team hopes to announce the results sometime in January. And if the ancient remains prove to be those of Richard III, the city of Leicester could be in for a major royal event in 2013: The British government has signalled its intention to inter the long-maligned king in Leicester Cathedral.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: National Geographic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Agri-Cube is a compact hydroponic unit from Japan-based Daiwa House that can grow 10,000 vegetables per year. The parking space sized unit can grow leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, as well as a radishes and small turnips.
The hydroponic unit is being marketed to restaurants, hospitals, hotels, convenience stores, and research labs. The unit is already being sold by Daiwa House in two designs which cost about $70,000 and $108,000. It also costs about $4,500 per year to run due to electricity requirements. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Science Space Robots