February 18th Newsletter: New and Improved Activity Feed, Needle Exchange Location Workshop, Updates on Net Neutrality and More!
INTRODUCING THE NEW AND IMPROVED ACTIVITY FEED
Today Civinomics is proud to announce the release of a feature that has been in the works for quite some time, the new and improved activity feed. Previously, all of the content on the site was organized by geographic area (city, county, state, etc.) and category (transportation, water, economy, etc.). However, this made it fairly difficult to navigate through all of the various ideas, workshops, and initiatives that community members created, and even more difficult to see when someone responded. Now we have kept all of those pages so that you can still sort by area and category, but the new homepage will now aggregate all of the ideas, resources, discussions, and comments of the workshops and initiatives that you have bookmarked, as well as all of the activity of the people you are following, into one easy to navigate, constantly updating display. It’s now easier than ever to see what your fellow community members are thinking and share your ideas. Check out the new feed today.
#2 NEW WORKSHOP: WHERE SHOULD THE NEEDLE EXCHANGE BE LOCATED?
The County Syringe Services Program (SSP), otherwise known as the needle exchange, has been a focal point in the local public safety debate over the past year. And while abandoned needles themselves pose relatively little threat to public health, they are unsightly, and increasingly symbolic of the concerns shared by many residents that crime has gotten out of control. Yes, needle exchanges help to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, and even while studies continue to show that the easier the access to exchangeable needles the fewer will be abandoned, it still leaves a sour taste in our mouths to find them all over our beaches, levee, and parks. At a certain point it comes down to respect, respect for public spaces, respect for public well being, respect for basic cleanliness and common decency. Which may be why the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 last week to consider moving the location of this program, without wholly committing to do so. Many people don’t want the program in a residential neighborhood, which is understandable, but few areas in Santa Cruz aren’t residential, and the program needs to be accessible to be effective. So is there a better place for the SSP? If so, where? Tell the County Board of Supervisors where the needle exchange should go.
#3 TIPPING POINT: PART TWO OF THE ASSAULT: THE COMCAST/TIME WARNER DEAL
Last week Civinomics Russell Sterten wrote a blog about Net Neutrality and the recent federal appeals court ruling that empowered big telecom companies like Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast to limit bandwidth access to certain websites, and even charge a premium. Russell argued, as many have, that this limits a free and open internet because these same companies are basically allowed to control what content loads at certain speeds, if at all, which fundamentally amounts to censorship. Well, since his blog was published last week, the announcement was made that Comcast is attempting to buy Time Warner, further consolidating control over the national internet infrastructure. As Russell states “ This would increase Comcast’s market share of cable providers to roughly 30 million customers – about 30% of the U.S. market.” What’s even more interesting, is that if this deal goes through it would give Comcast near double the number of internet customers of the second nearest competitor (AT&T at 16 million). The deal has already been greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism by many who believe this would give Comcast undue monopolistic power over the cable and broadband markets, but it is definitely something to your eye on if you care about the internet as we know it.
#4 WEEKLY CIVIC HACK NIGHT
Last week was our first breakout Weekly Civic Hack Night. Together, Civinomics staff, our members, and even a couple of drop-ins sat down and shared with each other a wide range of insight and experience. Sitting down over a couple of exceptionally delicious Woodstock’s pizzas, we discussed startups, civic tech, emerging internet trends, and of course, local issues. From new feature suggestions for the website to ideas about how we can save water, the conversations were both fruitful and informative (and that was just the first meeting!). Whether you have a civic project to share, an idea about how to improve our community, or even if you just want some good pizza and company, all are welcome and encouraged to take part. So join us this Wednesday evening for round 2, and build your community in person!
#5 KEY INITIATIVES AND WORKSHOPS REVISITED
Civinomics has been online since April of last year. In that time we have covered a wide variety of topics, and received a steady flow of member ideas as well. However, not all of our members have been here since the beginning, and it’s easy to miss out on some of the good ideas floating throughout the site in various workshops and initiatives. So starting this week, we will be revisiting certain topics each newsletter as both a friendly reminder of what’s there, and to reflect on previous work in light of new circumstances.
This week, we would like to draw your attention to three previous workshops and initiative topics, Water in Santa Cruz County, Reducing Property Crime, and Reducing Overcrowding on BART. As many of you may be aware, within the context of our statewide drought, last week the Santa Cruz city council appointed the Drought Solutions Advisory Committee to reevaluate our regional water crisis and make recommendations to the council about how the city should respond — making this a perfect time to revisit all of the water initiatives online. The Board of Supervisors is also still considering how to respond to the city’s Public Safety Task Force Recommendations, perhaps some of the programs suggested in our property crime workshop could help? And as always, BART is still filled to the brim during heavy commute hours, is there anything we can do to alleviate this problem, especially since it is only getting worse?
#6 NEW FEATURES AND BUG FIXES
It took a little longer than the development team thought, but the first phase of the new activity feeds are installed. Now, when you login and go to your home page, a chronological list of all the recent activity on the system is displayed. You can vote on items and make comments, all without having to leave the snug comfort of your home page.
Next steps for the home page is to allow you to view multiple feeds:
- all the activity in workshops you have bookmarked and by all the people you are following
- all the activity within your home County
- all the activity world wide
The ever growing Civinomics database is being moved to a new, faster and more powerful server in the next week and the development team is working feverishly to improve system performance.
As always, if you have questions or comments about Civinomics please add them to the How Can We Improve Civinomics workshop.