Austin

Technology
5:50 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Cable cars move commuters over a complex of shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, one of many cities taking part in the smart city boom around the world.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 3:52 pm

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

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Austin
2:33 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Study: Families Need At Least $67,000 to 'Get By' in Austin

The money needed for a family of four to live modestly in Austin is $4,000 more than the national median.
flickr.com/fiftypercentchanceofrain

A family of four needs to bring in around $67,000 a year to get by modestly in the Austin area.

That’s according to the recently-updated budget calculator put together by the Economic Policy Institute. The calculator takes into consideration things like housing, food, childcare and transportation.

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Austin
1:51 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Austin's Million-Dollar Plan to Restore Rundberg Underway

Austin Police are hosting a meeting tonight to discuss the Restore Rundberg project with the public.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Rundberg Lane is one of Austin’s  highest-crime areas.

From 2007 to 2011, the Rundberg area accounted for 11 percent of violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

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Austin
3:05 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Conservative Texas Think Tank Looks to Influence Local Policy

Voters cast their ballots at a Houston polling place. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, traditionally focused on state legislation, is now looking to influence local policy.
flickr.com/luna715

After influencing state policy at the Capitol, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) – a non-profit conservative think tank – is now turning its attention to local municipal governments.

TPPF officials say its new Center for Local Governance will work on the local level to tackle issues including spending, funding, local control and government transparency.

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Austin
7:50 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Watch: Austin Firefighter in Amy Poehler's Web Show, 'Smart Girls'

"Smart girls become firefighters," Xochitl Hernandez, AFD's firefighter said in the webshow.
YouTube, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls Operation Nice

Actor Amy Poehler of "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation" fame, has a mission: encouraging women to be themselves. And to stay true to that person whether it be at a party, being a rock star or competing in a triathlon. 

Austin Fire Department firefighter, Xochitl Hernandez has joined a list of females to be featured in Poehler's video series: Smart Girls Operation Nice.

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Austin
1:20 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Flyboarding: Austin's Newest & Most Ridiculously Awesome Summer Sport

An unnamed Flyboarder finishes a backflip. Flyboarders can soar up to 30 feet above water.
aquafly.com/gallery

With plenty of nearby water, Austin’s always been a great place for lake sports. This year there’s a unique new one to add to your summer to-do list: Flyboarding.  

The new sport uses the discharge from personal watercraft like Jet Skis to pump 1,000 gallons of water per minute through the bottom of a Flyboard strapped to users’ feet. The Flyboard – which looks like a wakeboard with two giant, 55-foot fire hoses attached to it – can turn almost anyone into a superhero capable of flying over 30 feet above the lake surface, according to Aquafly owner Bobby Vance. 

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Austin
3:53 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

APD: Officer Not in Violation of Policy in Pit Bull Shooting

The Austin Police Department said the officer who shot a dog at a North Austin Petco did not violate the department's lethality policy, but the case is still under investigation.
Andrew Weber, KUT News

An Austin police officer shot and killed a dog last night at a pet store.

At 7:30 p.m. last night, police say Officer Leslie Lyons shot a pit bull twice in an effort to save another a smaller dog being attacked at the Petco on Research Boulevard.

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Texas
3:41 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Activists Against U.S. Surveillance Programs Rally at Texas Capitol

Bo Dresner from San Antonio, left, and Mona Medy from Austin were among the people at the Texas Capitol for a rally against U.S. surveillance programs on July 4, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

More than 100 people rallied today on the south steps of the Texas Capitol, demonstrating against recently-publicized U.S. intelligence gathering methods such as PRISM, the digital surveillance program of the National Security Agency.

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Austin
12:56 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

A Bunny In a Tank and Other Images of Austin on the Fourth

Part of the Far West Fourth of July parade included a "21 'Bun Salute," with this bunny in a mini-tank.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Women dancing with lawn chairs, men dressed as Uncle Sam, and a rabbit in a mini army tank are just a few of the highlights from the scene of the Far West Fourth of July Parade.

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Austin
5:05 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Channel Austin Celebrates Four Decades of Public Access TV

From a group of longhairs to a local institution, Channel Austin has lasted 40 years and counting.
courtesy Channel Austin

It’s been 40 years now for Channel Austin, the city’s only nonprofit that runs an independent television channel. And like people turning the big 4-0, Channel Austin is reflecting on its past and looking to the future.

Over the years, Channel Austin has had its brushes with fame.

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Austin
5:36 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

That Low-Flying Plane Over Austin Was Just Doing Some Exercises

U.S. Navy

City officials have confirmed that a military training operation took place over Austin today.

A U.S. Navy E-6, similar to a commercial Boeing 707, flew over Austin during a touch-and-go drill, a common exercise in which a pilot lands and takes off again without stopping. The plane was from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. 

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Austin
1:04 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Looking for a Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon? Austin's Hipster Map Can Help

The Strange Attractors play a gig at Beerland in 2008. Beerland's Red River location ranks high on the hipster heat map.
flickr.com/chrontourage

Hipsters are hard to find.

Or are they?

When they're not shopping for vintage vinyl or eating Moroccan soul food, they're probably at some place you've never heard of. But, thanks to Yelp's Wordmap, the uninitiated can now track the movements of ever-elusive Austin hipster.

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Austin
10:15 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Why This Could Be a Great Summer Season for Fireworks in Austin

Less stringent fireworks regulations and favorable conditions could make this season a profitable one for Texas fireworks retailers.
flickr.com/bougher7

With a little help from mother nature and the Texas Legislature, fireworks retailers might see a sales boom in the Austin area this Fourth of July.

Last month, Gov. Perry signed HB 1813, which allows Texans to transport and possess fireworks in cities, eliminating previous fines that ranged from $50 to $2,000.

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Austin
2:13 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Austin: One of the Snobbiest Cities in the U.S.?

The Driskill Hotel and its "grand dame charm" was one reason Austin was ranked as one of the top 20 "snobbiest" cities in the United States.
flickr.com/jeffgunn

Sure, Austin's got idiosyncrasies, which is a nice way of saying Austinites are "weird."

But, according to a survey from Travel & Leisure, Austinites have also earned another, less flattering, label: Snobby. 

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Health
4:51 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

So Far, Texas Sees Fewer West Nile Cases Compared to Last Year

Texas has seen only half the amount of West Nile Virus cases compared to this time last year, but the Department of State Health Services says the virus is unpredictable and could increase as summer swelters on.
flickr.com/nagamori

After an unprecedented outbreak of West Nile virus in Texas last year, the state has seen half of the reported cases compared to this time last year.

But, despite the decrease, the Department of State Health Services says environmental factors and the disease's unpredictability don't necessarily guarantee a safe summer for Texans.

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Education
10:00 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Video: The Summer Camp That Prepares Texas Students for Disaster

This week, forty five Texas high school students participated in the Texas School Safety Center's third annual Youth Preparedness Camp. It's a week-long camp in Kerrville, Texas, aimed to teach students how to respond to emergencies and  increase disaster preparedness in Texas communities. 

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Agenda Texas
8:41 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Rules Fight Looms Over Texas Legislature's Latest Special Session

Se. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, addressing abortion-rights supporters after Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster. Lawmakers will head back to the Capitol on Monday to continue the debate of controversial abortion regulations that ended the first special session.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is fond of special sessions. Since 2000, he's called for 11 special sessions as governor. And, after the legislative fireworks in the final hours of the last special session, Gov. Perry called yet another special session, bringing lawmakers back to Austin to address transportation, criminal justice and abortion regulations not covered last session's call.

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Austin
1:25 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Map: HIV Testing Centers and Cases Across Texas

A map from a group called AIDSVu provides the number of HIV cases, as well as treatment and testing centers, in each county, based on CDC data.
Courtesy of AIDSVu

A new interactive map illustrates cases of HIV and possible treatment and testing centers. The map was compiled by the non-profit AIDSVu, using city, county and federal data.  

National HIV Testing Day was this week, providing a chance to increase awareness about testing and treatment efforts among at-risk populations and inspire who may be living with the disease to seek help in managing it. 

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Austin
6:00 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Austin Study Highlights LGBT Housing Discrimination

Michael McCrory says his former landlord wanted him to apply for disability benefits for being transgender.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The City of Austin and the Austin Tenant’s Council are hosting a community forum Saturday focused on housing discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

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Austin
1:58 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Watch: A Drone's-Eye View of Downtown Austin

The picture above is from footage captured by Colin Guinn of DJI Innovations, a company that manufactures UAVs right here in Austin. Though Guinn has seen an uptick in UAV sales, the FAA still has not created uniform federal regulations for them.

The prospect of drone-dotted skies across Texas isn’t such a far-off thought.

The technology exists, and Gov. Rick Perry even signed a law regulating their use last week.

While the legislation provides some oversight, it carves out some strange exceptions. And the burgeoning industry is waiting for the FAA to establish federal regulation.

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