BG Reads + Podcast | News You Need to Know (November 28, 2018)
Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Bob Digneo, Assistant Vice President - External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T, on the 5G wireless standard and its potential impact on cities and consumers.
What is 5G?
5G, which stands for "fifth generation," is an upcoming standard for mobile telecommunications service that promises to be significantly faster than today's 4G technology.
AT&T recently opened what it calls a 5G testing lab in North Austin. The lab, one of several AT&T has throughout the country, is a testing ground for 5G signal transmitters and how they handle certain conditions
Why you should care?
It will allow users to browse the internet, upload or download videos, and use data-intensive apps or features such as virtual reality much more quickly and smoothly than is possible now.
What it means for cities?
"Almost any function that a city performs has the potential of being enhanced and being smarter and better, and more efficient with a better more robust wireless network.” - Bob Digneo
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Electric Scooters And Bikes Will Be Coming To Some Austin Trails Starting Next Month (KUT)
Austin trail-goers may encounter more electric scooters starting next month.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is launching a pilot program that will allow the e-scooters and e-bikes to ride on certain trails to better determine how riders can share trails with runners and cyclists in the future.
Amanda Ross, a manager with the Parks and Recreation department who's overseeing the pilot, says the scooters have been cropping up on trails since the city allowed them to operate in Austin in May. Currently, city code classifies certain bikes and e-scooters from companies like Lime, Jump and Bird as motor vehicles, and they aren't allowed on trails.
"What we’re trying to do is really understand how we could allow them, or not allow them, based on results we get," Ross said of the project, which is still in the planning stages ahead of a mid-December launch.
She says the pilot will monitor all electric scooters and bikes– not just those owned by dockless mobility companies.
The pilot will run for roughly nine months through fall of next year. Parks and Recreation will survey trail-users, update signage, track crash reports and monitor electric bike and scooter speeds, which is currently limited to 10 mph. The program will also include a "trail etiquette education campaign" to teach users how to properly use the electric bikes and scooters…
Council members offer mixed reviews of displacement task force recommendations (Austin Monitor)
City Council took its first look Tuesday at a long list of recommendations from a task force focused on reducing displacement of Austin’s low- and middle-income populations.
The report that was unanimously approved by the Anti-Displacement Task Force includes 107 ideas for how to keep people and businesses from being priced out of the city. The report primarily focused on how the city can preserve and create affordable housing in the midst of rapidly rising property values.
The task force recommended the city build more income-restricted housing, both on existing city-owned land and by acquiring more land for the construction of new units. It also recommended that the large majority (85 percent) of affordable housing bond funds be used to house those at or below 50 percent of the median family income ($43,000 for a family of four) and that 42.5 percent be devoted to those at or below 30 percent MFI ($25,800)…
Austin’s first boil water notice in 100 years tests local infrastructure (Community Impact)
In late October the city of Austin experienced an unprecedented weeklong boil-water notice.
Some engineering and water-treatment system experts said there was no realistic way to plan for it.
“This is a very rare event,” said Randall Charbeneau, a water environment engineer expert and vice-chancellor of research for the University of Texas System. “[This is] not a thing you plan a water-distribution system around.”
Not everyone agrees.
Mark Boyd, former president of the Dallas branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers, co-authored ASCE’s 2017 Report Card for Texas’ Infrastructure, which graded the state’s flood control a D and drinking water a D-plus…
State Lawmaker Files Bill To Require Annual Football Game Between UT And Texas A&M (KUT)
A Texas House member wants to bring back an annual football game between the state's two flagship universities: the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Lyle Larson, a San Antonio Republican who earned a bachelor's degree from A&M, filed House Bill 412, which would require the two teams to "play a nonconference, regular-season football game against one another on the fourth Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of November each year."
UT-Austin and A&M have played each other more than 100 times. But the annual game ceased when A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference. The last game was in 2011.
"We owe it to Texans to do all we are able to bring back this storied rivalry," Larson said in a released statement. "It's time for the folks in Austin and College Station to get in a room and make a deal to restore the rivalry."…
With Democrats taking over U.S. House, GOP-heavy Texas delegation could see more retirements (Texas Tribune)
It's not a lot of fun to be a U.S. House Republican in Texas these days.
Since Donald Trump was sworn in as president two years ago, the Texas delegation in Congress has undergone extraordinary change. Seven members, mostly Republicans, opted not to run for re-election. Another abruptly resigned. Then this month, Republicans lost control of the House, and Texans will soon turn over seven gavels to the Democrats. Of the Texas Republicans who successfully ran for another term, all won by far slimmer margins over Democrats than they did in 2016.
As a result, some Texas political insiders are bracing for another rash of retirements – and another frenzied election cycle for the state in 2020…
Top TEA official offers to coach HISD board for dramatic governance overhaul (Houston Chronicle)
A top Texas Education Agency official offered Tuesday to intensively work with Houston ISD’s much-maligned school board to dramatically overhaul its approach to governance, shifting focus toward student outcomes and away from distracting personal agendas.
The pitch from TEA Deputy Commissioner of Governance AJ Crabill marks a unique olive branch to the state’s largest school district, which has struggled in recent months to reach consensus on vital issues. “We can scrap all of what you’re doing now and redesign from scratch a governance system that honors your values and focuses on student values,” TEA Deputy Commissioner of Governance AJ Crabill told trustees during a school board meeting…
US waived FBI checks on staff at growing teen migrant camp (Washington Post)
The Trump administration has put the safety of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp at risk by waiving FBI fingerprint checks for their caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, according to an Associated Press investigation and a new federal watchdog report.
None of the 2,100 staffers at a tent city holding more than 2,300 teens in the remote Texas desert are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a Health and Human Services inspector general memo published Tuesday. “Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo says. In addition, the federal government is allowing the nonprofit running the facility — BCFS Health and Human Services — to sidestep mental health care requirements. Under federal policy, migrant youth shelters generally must have one mental health clinician for every 12 kids, but the federal agency’s contract with BCFS allows it to staff Tornillo with just one clinician for every 100 children…