Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Research & Reports’ Category

“Smart guns” with user ID coming; Washington state reactions mixed

by Peggie Duggan July 3rd, 2013

In January of this year a month after the murder of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by a disturbed shooter using his mother’s weapons, President Obama issued 23 executive actions to address gun violence – including commissioning a report that would assess the state and availability of new gun safety technologies to limit unauthorized use. On June 17 came the assessment from the National Institute of Justice. “A Review of Gun Safety Technologies” says two different types of what some term “smart guns” – keyed to authorized users only – are coming to market this year and advance orders are already being taken for one, the Kodiak Intelligun.

But reactions to the report were mixed among Washington state law enforcement officials, legislators and gun rights supporters. Some saw potential benefits in improved safe storage and could foresee continuing progress in performance and acceptance. Others worried about reliability or said the emphasis instead should be on illegal possession, a more robust system of background checks, and more educational outreach to at-risk teens about added penalties for using a gun in a crime.

Risky Biz: Seattle HIV Patients May Be Hurting Care

by Matt Rosenberg June 24th, 2013

HIV-infected patients getting primary treatment at University of Washington Harborview Medical Center in Seattle along with counterparts being treated in San Diego and Boston are at significant risk of undermining their care and treatment because of drug use, risky sex, non-adherence to medication regimes and other factors, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health by doctors from UW, Harvard, University of California-San Diego and the University of Alabama.

Inspector General: Misuse, Sloth at Key EPA Facility

by Peggie Duggan June 14th, 2013

In an “Early Warning Report” the Office of the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency recommended to the agency it take immediate action on its largest warehouse. Parts of the EPA headquarters storage site had been converted into a workers’ playtime complex for contractor employees while other sections were markedly unsanitary and unsafe. The contractor, Apex Logistics, LLC, had been previously described by EPA as “uniquely qualified” to do warehouse management work though there’d been no on-site reviews at the 77,000 square foot HQ warehouse in Landover, Maryland since it was leased by the agency in 2007. Following a briefing last month from the OIG about conditions there, EPA moved quickly to take corrective steps.

Seattle Science Fest “Open Science” panel coming soon

by Administrator May 30th, 2013

The Seattle Science Festival running June 6 to June 16 will include a special panel discussion June 12 with Q&A, on your right to know what publicly-funded scientists are discovering, and how “open science” can be advanced. The free event is Tuesday June 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the West Seattle Branch of the Seattle Public Library, 2306 42nd Ave. SW, just north of Metropolitan Market. More below from panel host Michael Bradbury.

So much science is freely available online if you know where to look. There’s a treasure trove of open science available for journalists, bloggers and the public. Learn about open access journals and other online sources that don’t require subscriptions. Hear about how public data helps tell important regional health and science stories. Join us on June 12 as we listen to some of the stories that local science writers and science social media experts have covered and written in this general discussion of open science.

Sally James brings her years as a science and health writer to bear on open science. She will discuss how she uses social media to access open science papers. She will also talk about how citizen science projects and open science projects have become a staple and how they fit into science writer’s toolbox. She recently started her own blog, SeattleScienceWriter and is former president of the Northwest Science Writers Association. Recently she appeared on KUOW-FM’s Weekday, talking about current science news.

Matt Rosenberg will add to the panel discussion his perspectives covering the Open Science beat for his site Public Data Ferret, a project of the 501c3 he founded and directs, Public Eye Northwest. Matt will share lessons learned mining open access journals online for news of general interest, including that which ties directly into local, regional and state public policy issues.

Michael Bradbury will host the discussion. He is a journalist and the founder of REALscience, a Seattle-based online science news site. He is a longtime proponent of open science who believes that the public should have full access to all research that tax dollars make possible. He would also like to see a proliferation of citizen science projects that engage and encourage the public to help scientists gather and analyze data, further breaking down the barriers between the public and the scientific community.

Please RSVP to as space is limited. The session is suitable for teens and adults.

MORE: Directions.

UW doc: here’s how a small clinic can divorce Big Pharma

by Matt Rosenberg May 28th, 2013

In a new report published in the May-June 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, University of Washington-Seattle doctor David Evans and several co-authors from Oregon describe how an independent community medical practice can consciously adopt new policies to diminish the influence of big pharmaceutical firms on their drug prescribing policies and thus give patients and insurers opportunities to cut related costs. They say theirs appears to be the first report on how small private practices, in particular, can develop a clear process on how to do this.

Calories drop, under King County fast-food menu labeling

by Matt Rosenberg May 25th, 2013

A new study by researchers at Public Health – Seattle and King County, just published in the June online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, finds that King County-mandated menu labeling at major fast food chains may finally be starting to have the desired effect. On average, customers are consuming 870 calories per lunch 16-18 months after labeling began – 38 calories less or the rough equivalent of one slice of bacon. It’s a reversal from initial results 4-6 months afterward showing a caloric increase. Along with other studies the findings “suggest that menu labeling” at fast food outlets “has the potential to contribute to obesity prevention,” the authors write. Last year some of the researchers involved in the new study reported in another paper they were seeing longer-term improvements, but they did not release any actual data at the time.

U.S.: Washington stays near top in carbon-free capitalism

by Matt Rosenberg May 14th, 2013

A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy shows Washington state has continued through 2010 to remain near the top among all 50 states in fueling its economy with minimal consumption of carbon dioxide emissions. According to the report from the department’s Energy Information Administration, Washington in 2010 ranked sixth lowest nationally for the tenth year in a row in metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions per million dollars of gross domestic product (GDP). The only states ranking lower in 2010 in proportion of energy-related carbon dioxide emitted to fuel their economies were, in order, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Oregon.

The report emphasizes that what is being measured is based on where the energy is used, not where it is produced. But in the states whose economies are most tied to carbon emissions in the report, a lot of the consumption of that greenhouse gas actually occurs in order to produce fossil fuels.

The states using the most energy-related carbon dioxide per million dollars GDP were Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia and Louisiana. The report notes, “All these are fossil-energy-producing states. The activity of producing energy is itself energy intensive.”

Another important metric in the report is per-capita, or per person, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions per state. There, Washington ranked eighth lowest among all 50 states in 2010, and between sixth and tenth lowest straight through from 2000 to 2009.

Looking at the percentage decrease in per capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 through 2010, only nine states outpaced Washington, which decreased by nearly one-fifth, in percentage terms.

The EIA also analyzed each state for 2010 energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by major sector of usage. In Washington, the commercial sector was responsible for 3.8 percent, electric power production for 13.1 percent of the usage, the residential sector for 5.1 percent, industrial 12.0 and transportation a relatively whopping 42.1 percent.


Study overview page with tables in .pdf and Excel.

Public Data Ferret’s Energy+Environment archive.

Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

WA Auditor: New finance IT system could cut waste

by Matt Rosenberg May 9th, 2013

By rustling up $172 million for a badly needed, contemporary enterprise-wide financial management system Washington state government could reap benefits approaching or perhaps exceeding $228 million in saved effort and improved processes, as awkward computer software workarounds, laborious redundancies and other workaday inefficiencies tied to musty legacy software finally get a proper burial. That’s the conclusion of a new 200-plus page performance audit released Wednesday by Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.