Food banks in the United States are going high-tech in an attempt to automate and effectively distribute food to the people who need it the most. By using bar coding, GPS tracking, and automated warehouses, administrators hope to use technology to their advantage to feed more hungry people.

“What we tell people a lot is that we are a food distribution business wrapped in an altruistic skin,” says Jan Pruitt, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas.

Pruitt’s food bank along with the Food Bank of Central New York in East Syracuse are testing a $60 million effort to create state-of-the-art national computer network that will help automate services. This system called the Athena Project will let food banks standardize accounting, inventory, and donor software, use the Internet and manage pickups and deliveries using GPS tracking. Feeding America is installing the systems at no charge.

“We are going to gain so much efficiency,” says Linda Nageotte, Food Lifeline’s president and CEO. “We’re going to be able to provide so much better accountability, and this also really increases our credibility.”

Athena, she and others say, opens a world of possibilities:

-GPS tracking and instant communication to send trucks on the most efficient routes. Lutz says this alone can cut transportation costs by40 percent. Food Lifeline is equipping drivers with smart phones that eventually could scan in donations as they are picked up.

-Inventory management systems to track every food item, from truckloads of potatoes to individually donated cans. This not only saves time and reduces waste, but is a safeguard for product recalls.

-Generating lists of food, money and volunteer hours for donors, handy at tax time.

-Common software and backup computer servers, allowing agencies to trade or divert food, share donor information or step in if a food bank is overwhelmed by a disaster.

Such innovations aid a strategy that”needs to be twofold,” she says. “It needs to be about feeding the people who are standing in line better and it needs to be about making the line shorter.”

(Via AP)

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himalayanbear02The Himalayan black bears are an endangered species that are slowly dying out. Currently, they are only 300 of the bears remaining in India. To protect them and help keep them from going extinct, they are being tracked using GPS collars throughout Kashmir by wildlife authorities. These collars will help in studying their behaviors and also preventing bear attacks.

“We can always monitor their movements and sound an alert once they start moving towards the human habitations” said wildlife warden Rashid Naqash.
Attacks by wild bears are pretty common in India, having ended up with over two dozen people killed and over 150 injured within the last 4 years. To keep both the bears, and humans safe from each other, the GPS collars will be monitored by wildlife experts in order to also make sure that the bears stay away from areas where people are living. But this isn’t the first time GPS tracking has been used to monitor bears, we previously wrote about bears being tracked in Truckee, California as well as throughout the state of Florida.
(Via Dawn)
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early_show_logo_jun08Today, with all the new advances in technology, anyone can be a spy, or can be spied on, all without anyone even noticing. There are tiny cameras and microphones that can be worn on your body, that even if someone knew that you were recording them, they wouldn’t have a clue of what you’re using to do it. CBS News Correspondent Daniel Sieberg of “The Early Show” tested this body worn spy technology, covertly hiding a camcorder watch, tie, and DVR pen on himself and daring the anchor to locate the devices.

Sieberg also described how people can protect themselves when they’re not at home. Some of these options include covert hidden cameras that can double as home surveillance systems. Among those are the Tissue Box Wireless Camera and Clock Camera Hidden Camera. These two devices look like standard fixtures on a night table or bedroom but are actually wireless. And you don’t have to go back to the original camera to gather the footage. There are options available that let you view all footage online from any computer with Internet for added peace of mind no matter where you are in the world.

Aside from the cameras that can do the spying, are the camera finders to help you locate the hidden cameras that could be watching you. For example, the Hidden Camera Detector automatically finds any cameras that are around you, and even catches the signal that the camera might be sending out. Lastly, Sieberg mentioned GPS tracking to unleash you inner security agent. As an ongoing series to monitor the spies that could be spying on your, CBS offers Early Show viewers the ultimate in both surveillance counter surveillance options.

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dog-gps A rare breed of birds called the Black Grouse, which is amongst the most rapidly declining breeds in the U.K. is now being tracked by dogs wearing GPS collars. The way Wildlife Rangers like Ally Macaskill use the dogs, is that they attach a GPS collar to the dogs which then track the birds. The canines location is then transmitted the the handset of the rangers (and can also be saved to view on the computer later to see which land has already been covered). When the dogs finally sniff out one of the birds, and see where they are, they stop on the spot and don’t move. They do this to show that they are “on spot”, which tells the ranger to come catch up and to identify the species of the bird.

“I’ve been very impressed with these GPS collars, which I saw used during trips to Scandinavia… They indicate whether the dogs are on the move or on point. When they get on point the collars mean I can get there quickly, with more chance of seeing what the dogs have found.” Said Mr. Macaskill

Right now, Mr. Macaskill estimates there are about 25 male grouse on the Perthshire’s Schiehallion estate that they are monitoring and trying to help them from going extinct.

(Via BBC)

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carwindow.jpgAccording to the Denver Post, because of GPS tracking devices and other anti-theft deterrent technologies, there has been a major decrease in the number of stolen vehicles reported nationally. People are becoming smarter when it comes to protecting their cars and police are using the new technologies available to them to help catch criminals in the act. From car owners using glass-etching paste to burn their VIN permanently onto every window, to cops driving cars with computerized license-plate readers that can sweep an entire grocery-store parking lot for stolen vehicles in a matter of seconds, new technology is helping bring auto theft rates drastically down.

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This week, the Today Show showcased “over the top” gadgets for Halloween and ways to keep your kids safe while they’re out trick-or-treating. Showcasing the BrickHouse Child Locator, they explained how the devices helps you locate your child even when in costume or a group of kids.

 

They also showed a GPS tracking device for your older kids that are out on their own. This second tracker is the Spark Nano Real-Time GPS Tracking Device. The great thing about this one is that the battery lasts on it for 5 days on a single charge and it can be tracked from anywhere through the Internet. This is different from the BrickHouse Child Locator since it uses GPS to locate your kids instead of RFID, which is more used for directional guidance.  Whatever age your kids are, make sure that they are safe this Halloween.

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golden-eagle-gps A golden eagle that was trapped in a coyote trap will soon return to the wild. After being saved  and nursed back to health at the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, the golden eagle is finally healthy and ready to be released. The researchers also attached a small GPS tracking device to the back of the eagle to track where he flies and better understand where the golden eagles migrate.

(Via minnesota.publicradio.org)

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gavelSince the advent of GPS tracking, many debates over its legality have come into play. Is GPS tracking a violation of the Fourth Amendment, that protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures? Does GPS tracking exceed a citizen’s reasonable expectation of privacy? As more court cases rely on GPS tracking evidence as part of the investigation, these questions of legality become more and more relevant. Courts continually set precedents that determine GPS tracking legality to build a comprehensive ruling on the subject. In short, is GPS legal? Lawmakers say, yes, as long as certain protocol is followed.

Note: GPS tracking is subject to State law. Please consult your local State laws before using a GPS tracker.

When is OK to track a vehicle using a covert GPS tracker?

  • As long as the car you’re tracking is visible to the public
  • As long as you could obtain the same location information by physically trailing the car
  • As long as you put the GPS in the car while outside of the curtilage of a person’s property

When is it NOT OK to track a vehicle using a covert GPS tracker?

  • When you have to physically hardwire the GPS into the vehicle
  • When you have to break into the car, or open the car to install the tracker
  • Where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. i.e., inside of a garage or home

The Case Study: Using GPS Tracking Information as Evidence
Let’s start off this explanation of GPS’ legality with a case study. Michael A. Sveum of Wisconsin was convicted of stalking Jamie Johnson in 1996 and was promptly sent to jail. He stalked Ms. Johnson the entire time he was in jail with the help of his sister, and he continued to stalk her when he was released from jail. When Ms. Johnson reported this to the police, police went to his home, walked up his driveway, and placed a GPS tracker on the outside of his car. After following him for some time, the police retrieved the GPS tracker, and found out that Sveum was indeed stalking Ms. Johnson. Armed with the tracking information, police were able to obtain a search warrant and they eventually gathered enough evidence to re-convict Sveum. Sveum immediately appealed the ruling, stating that the police didn’t have the right to place a GPS tracking on his car to begin with because it directly violated the Fourt Amendment.

What the Court of Appeals concluded was that with this case, there was no direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The police were completely within their own jurisdiction when they trailed the GPS tracker on the car because the car was visible to the general public. This decision was based on two previous cases: U.S. v. Knotts and U.S. v. Karo. What Knotts concluded was that GPS tracking does not violate the Fourth Amendment if the GPS is put on a car in public view. What Karo concluded was that it is legal to track a car and obtain information that could be obtained by manually trailing the car. It makes no difference whether it’s a GPS device tracking the car in these types of places or the police themselves.

Remember, it’s very important to check local and State laws before using a covert GPS tracker to gather location information since these laws vary by state.

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The John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has come up with an incredible new technology that lets  cameras identify and track gunshots. The way the gunshot digital imaging system works is that it picks up the unique sound of a gunshot, and immediately aims all the cameras in the area at the spot of the incident, and at strategic locations such as intersections, local hangout spots. The sound activated camera systems also takes pictures of all the people in the surrounding areas to help looks for suspects, witnesses, and getaway cars. The system will then alert the police and forward them the photos.

This technology will surpass the limits of video surveillance by automatically moving to the spot of the incident and recording the moments before and after a violent act.  The system can also seek out explosions and detonations and help the police find the perpetrators much more efficiently and in an automated way.

“This is a great example of a technology that can be added to a law enforcer’s toolbox to deter crime and protect valuable assets,” says Teresa Colella, technology manager in the APL Office of Technology Transfer. “This agreement ensures that communities will benefit from this technology.”

(Via John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

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attfamilymap1When we think of airports in the U.S., we think of intense security checks and measures that no regular person would be able to bypass. Well this blind trust was proven wrong earlier this week when Dakota Davis, a young 14-year-old with Asperger Syndrome, was able to use his mother’s credit card to purchase an airline ticket, board the plane, and fly there, without proper identification.

But thankfully, police were able to locate Dakota before any real damage was done thanks to the GPS tracking capabilities of his cell phone. With help from AT&T, police were able to triangulate Dakota’s position in Chicago using the signal from his cell phone. AT&T used the GPS service called the “AT&T Family Map” to track Dakota all the way to the Chicago O’Hare Airport. The company also found text messages between the 14-year-old and a female girlfriend in the area. Dakota was never able to see his friend as he was caught at the baggage claim in the airport and sent on the next flight home free of charge.

(Via KOIN Local 6)

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