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Search Tags: Jared Serbu
The Department of Agriculture is trying to shine a spotlight on what it calls "food deserts" -- low income neighborhoods with poor access to nutritious food. USDA's Economic Research Service developed a Food Desert Locator, a web-based mapping tool that shows food deserts across the U.S., and shows population characteristics in those census tracts. The Department says it wants to help policymakers and researchers expand access to fresh and healthy food in the 6500 deserts across the country.
A new mobile app lets smartphone users instantly check to see whether any product on a store shelf has been recalled, and why. The new recalls.gov app lets users scan a product's UPC code with their phone's camera, then searches government databases to see if it's been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Agriculture. It's one of 18 new mobile government apps the General Services Administration is making available as part of the redesign of the USA.gov website.
The Labor Department is out with its very first smartphone app. It's designed to let anyone track the hours they work and the wages due to them. The idea, according to Labor is to let employees keep their own records, so they don't have to rely on their employers' systems. The department says that information can prove invaluable when it comes to disputes filed with the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division. For now, the app is for iPhone only, but Labor says they're exploring other devices.
The FCC and FEMA have teamed up with the wireless industry to create a new emergency warning system for mobile devices. The Personal Localized Alerting Network is designed to blast emergency messages to every mobile device in a geographic area -- regardless of where that phone came from or what network it's on. The nation's four largest wireless carriers are part of the effort, which will come online by the end of the year in New York City, and in the rest of the country by next spring.
The Census Bureau is experimenting with ways to collect data using the Internet. The bureau didn't use online data collection for the 2010 Census, but officials say they are already getting responses via the Internet for their ongoing American Community Survey. By the end of the year, they expect one million people to have responded to the ACS online, and many people are using mobile devices to respond to the survey. The Bureau plans to use what they learn to plan online efforts for the full 2020 Census.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have decided to partner with the private sector to get basic health information to expectant mothers in developing countries. The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action will focus on delivering critical information to mothers in areas where mobile phones are plentiful, but health care access is scarce. The first round will focus on Bangladesh, South Africa and India. From there, they hope to build it into a global program.
The Army will turn to members of the public and industry to help it develop software more quickly. Their first Apps For Army challenge was open only to Army employees, but officials say the second round will tap into industry as part of the buildup to the forthcoming Army applications Marketplace. The Army says it wants to use the challenge to deliver new software capabilities in as little as 90 days, and generate applications that can be used on any platform -- whether mobile or desktop.
The US Department of Agriculture wanted to make food safety information available to people where and when they actually need it, like in the kitchen, at the barbecue grill or the grocery store. So they developed a web-based mobile application to answer some of the most common questions about preparing, handling and storing food. The app, which they're calling "Ask Karen," lets users search through a list of about 1,500 questions designed to help prevent foodborne illness. It's optimized for Android, iPhone and iPad devices, but will work with most mobile phones.
Leaders in the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments say a new system that will let them jointly evaluate the disabilities of wounded servicemembers is a vast improvement over old procedures, but it will take another year or two before they can meet their goal of evaluating disabilities within 300 days.
Without action from Congress, the U.S. Postal Service will default on its obligations to future retirees' health care accounts. Next up are payments to employees and vendors, the postmaster general told Congress Tuesday.