EPA calls on businesses to help cut energy by tapping computers’ ‘sleep mode’

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program on Thursday launched the "Low Carbon IT Campaign" campaign to cut energy use by encouraging businesses to utilize computer sleep modes, All Headline News reports. According to the press release, if the nation's businesses and organizations would enable the power management, or sleep mode, on their computers and monitors that move would avoid the use of 44 billion kWh of electricity. Officials note that the savings amounts to roughly $4 billion worth of electricity a year and also would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from generated electricity equivalent to the emissions of roughly 5 million cars per year. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, just 5 percent to 10 percent of U.S. organizations use power management settings on computers, een though enabling power management could also save them money (Young, AHN, 4/3/08).

Intel releases second generation affordable PC

Intel on Thursday announced its second generation Classmate PC at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai today, the Daily Tech reports. According to Intel, the second generation Classmate PC offers variable design choices to manufacturers to allow them to produce laptops designed for different educational needs. Specifically, it will be easier to use and have wireless capability, longer battery life, water resistant keyboards and more shock resistance when dropped. Its new components includ an Intel Celeron M CPU, 802.11b/g and mesh networking capabilities. In addition, the high-end second generation Classmate systems will feature integrated webcams, 9-inch screens, 6-cell batteries, 512MB of RAM and a 30GB HDD. It also supports Windows XP and Linux. The company adds that future variants of the Classmate will be built using its new Atom processors. Officials tout the new Classmate as an affordable, fully functional, rugged Internet-centric computer platform (McGlaun, Daily Tech, 4/3/08).

MySpace launches music service with three major record labels

MySpace officials on Thursday officially announced the creation of MySpace Music, a service that will be jointly managed by News Corp.'s MySpace and, at least initially, three out of the four top record labels, CNet News reports. Slated to roll out gradually across the next three to four months, the system will offer free streaming music, unprotected MP3 downloads, ringtones, and e-commerce offerings such as merchandise and ticket sales, according to MySpace’s CEO (Sandoval, CNet News, 4/3/08).

Kentucky taps IT system to boost Louisville emergency medical response

The Metro Government of Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky., recently purchased an electronic data system that will enable emergency medical responders to wirelessly record patient information at the scene of an emergency and transmit the data to hospitals, Business First of Louisville reports. Described as a “Blackberry for emergency medical care,” the $2.1 million system is expected to improve information flow by replacing paper-based charts, which are sometimes misplaced or illegible. In addition, the technology will analyze incoming patient data and send alerts when patterns of similar symptoms develop among patients, a trend that could indicate severe flu or other public health concerns. As the system rolls out, first responders will record information such as patients' vital signs, injuries and medications on handheld computers and then print the charts upon hospital arrival. Eventually, however, the system will allow responders to wirelessly transmit the data directly to hospital emergency departments. According to Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, the system likely will significantly increase insurance reimbursements for emergency medical services. Meanwhile, Business First reports that the Louisville system is one of the three largest in the world, with comparable electronic patient care recording systems deployed in San Francisco and Toronto (Business First of Louisville, 4/1/08).

NYC contracts with Accenture for health IT development

Accenture Ltd. recently earned a three-year, $79.6 million contract with New York City to help improve the delivery of health care services by providing new technology capabilities, Washington Technology reports. Under the contract, the company will make a number of technology and business process improvements to the city’s Health and Human Services Connect program, which to design and build modern, flexible technologies that will improve the delivery of health care and human services. According to Accenture, the work entails expanding existing systems, as well as developing new ones. Specifically, the company plans to develop a technology architecture, craft a case management capability that supports specific functions, and furnish new capabilities that will accept electronic applications and help determine eligibility and enrollment. In addition, the company will expand the capabilities of the existing pre-screening application (Welsh, Washington Technology, 4/3/08).


Canadian Web portal aims to help track chronic disease prevalence

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on Tuesday launched a Web portal designed to help physicians and patients better manage chronic conditions, the Toronto Star reports. Created by Practice Solutions Patients, the secure portal allows patients to input their health information and track their blood pressure, asthma and weight loss. According to the president and CEO of Practice Solutions, other tracking tools likely will be added to the portal, including tools targeting diabetes, smoking cessation and mental health. He added that the portal also might expand to include online appointment scheduling and prescription refills, as well as the ability to link a patient's personal health record to hospitals and regional health systems. CMA, meanwhile, called the health portal "the first physician-driven Canadian electronic patient health record platform" and said it could serve as a supplement, or sometimes substitute, for office visits. Experts, however, caution that Canada is still a long way away from having a complete electronic health record system (Ogilvie, Toronto Star, 4/2/08; Fayerman, Vancouver Sun, 4/1/08).

Yahoo releases latest mobile search engine

Yahoo Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a new version of its mobile search engine, oneSearch 2.0, the San Jose Business Journal reports. According to company officials, the new service is part of its strategy to provider broader mobile phone Internet use options. Specifically, the application enables users to personalize and search by cellphone user, and provides open access to communication technology for software developers. Using oneSearch, users also can type or use voice-recognition technology to ask questions in order to receive targeted answers, search results, or product recommendations. Moreover, Yahoo introduced the Blueprint cross-platform programming language for developers along with a monetization engine for online advertisers (San Jose Business Journal, 4/2/08).

Oregon creates advisory committee to guide statewide health data network implementation

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) last week issued an executive order to establish a Health Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee (HIIAC) charged with developing a plan for the implementation of a statewide electronic health data system, the Oregonian reports. Kulongoski says that such a system would enhance care delivery, reduce medical errors and cut health care costs by eliminating duplicative treatments. He adds that a health data network also would enable consumers to take a more active role in managing their health and wellness and could expand health care access for rural and underserved communities. Under the order, HIIAC will include 23 members representing consumers, providers, payers, public health agencies, information technology professionals, and research and academia. Collectively the group will review and identify barriers to system adoption; outline the state’s role in developing, financing, promoting and implementing infrastructure; and identify partnership models. The group also will recommend strategies for facilitating statewide adoption of common system standards and interoperability requirements, as well as plans for creating secure infrastructure that meets state and federal privacy standards. Finally, the group will develop evaluation metrics to gauge the system’s efficacy and impact. The committee must release its initial recommendations to the Oregon Health Fund Board by July 31 and provide annual written reports to the Governor beginning Dec. 31 (Oregonian, 4/2/08; Office of the Governor Executive Order, 3/28/08).

New York state to host “Green IT” conference

The New York Research and Development Authority on April 10 plans to host the state's first "Green IT" conference at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, The Business Review (Albany) reports. Co-hosted by the New York State Forum's IT Greening Committee, the event will address the state's aging infrastructure, as well as strategies for reducing energy consumption and boosting the energy efficiency of IT-related data centers. In addition, the conference will cover the state's "15 by 15" initiative—a policy that aims to cut energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015. New York state has the second-largest concentration of data centers nationwide, according to NYSERDA (The Business Review (Albany), 4/2/08).

Second Life hosts first virtual congressional hearing

A U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday, focused on the expanding potential of Second Life and other virtual worlds, attracted business leaders, academics and tech whizzes, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The hearing was held in-person, as well as within the Second Life world with a 3-D model of the committee room. As expected, TV monitors displayed the session, but for the first time, one screen displayed the Second Life world. Streaming the meeting in real time, the screen showed the virtual meeting, as well as avatars’ text-chat play by play with comments like, "there's another softball question." According to the Mercury News, the 3-D entertainment world has grown from a few hundred gamers in 2003 to roughly 6 million registered users today, with roughly 60,000 online at any given time and $850,000 in virtual currency exchanged each day. The Mercury News notes that “members of Congress tried to grasp the implications of Second Life, and many reverted to their fears about other online activity - that it can be addictive, or can help sexual predators and terrorists.” Meanwhile, scientists and researchers use the world to share information in virtual meetings, Cisco Systems and Intel use it to teleconference, and IBM is experimenting with Second Life for simulations and training sessions. Moreover, politicians use it to hold virtual town halls, while more than 400 universities are using the technology for teaching (Davies, San Jose Mercury News, 4/2/08).

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