The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (www.citizensleague.net)

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Saturday, August 31, 2002
 
Demographics. US Might Overtake European Population As Soon As 2040. An article in the August 22, 2002 issue of The Economist laid out some major demographic trends suggesting that the United States population may exceed Europe's as early as 2040. In 1950, Western Europe - all countries that were never part of the Communist block - was exactly twice as populous as the United States: 304million versus 152 million. The 2000 US census in 2000 found that population turned out to be rising faster than anyone had expected. A major growth gap is starting to emerge with Europe. The US fertility rate is rising while Europe's is falling. US immigration outstrips Europe's and its immigrant population is reproducing faster than native-born Americans. The US population will soon be getting younger and Europe's is aging. The Economist suggests possible implications of a relatively larger US including a tilt in the balance of global economic power. With 400-550 million affluent consumers, the US market would surely be even more important to foreign companies than it is today and US American business practices could become yet more dominant. The full story is at: http://economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=1291056. (130)

Friday, August 30, 2002
 
Public Services. Florida Outsources State Personnel Services. In August 2002, the state of Florida signed a seven year contract for $278 million dollars to offer personnel services. Claims of improved technology, improved services and reduced costs were made by the Governor's office. Outsourcing of some or all of personnel functions is becoming common in major private sector firms. Shedding "non core" functions is seen as a way of focusing on the "core business" of the organization and avoiding distractions. This and the San Diego County contract for all of its information technology function are likely to be watched closely over the coming years to see if performance matches claims made. A full news story on the Florida contract is at: http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/3898147.htm. (129)

Thursday, August 29, 2002
 
Energy and Environment. First Public Hydrogen Fueling Station To Open in Iceland. The world's first public-access, hydrogen fuel station will be opened in Reykjavík in April of 2003. Three hydrogen-fuel city buses will begin use in Summer 2003. Initially, to test the new fuel system and the station, the first hydrogen-powered bus will arrive from Daimler-Chrysler. This hydrogen-fuel supply station will be the first of its kind to allow for access to the general public. In the near future, it is expected that Icelanders will be able to purchase their own hydrogen-powered automobiles. Iceland is on a program to replace the 30% of their fuel mix that is not geothermal or hydroelectric with hydrogen. More on this may be found at: http://icelandreview.com/dailynews/DailyNews-2002.08.27.htm. (128)

 
Public Transportation. City proposing to tighten carpool rules for I-394 garages. Laurie Blake wrote in the Star Tribune on August 25, 2002 of "cheating" on carpool discounted parking in Minneapolis. Three Interstate Highway 394 garages were built with mostly federal funds on the northwest edge of downtown. Carpoolers pay $40-a-month parking -- as opposed to a market rate of $130. Yet there are about 2,200 carpools registered to use the three ramps. But most of the cars entering the ramps as carpools do not have two people in them. There are about 2,200 carpools registered to use the three ramps. A spot check by the city in December 2001 found that between 68 and 72 percent of cars registered as a pool arrived with one person in the car. While some may have dropped other occupants before heading to the ramp, a good guess is that there are many who are not. To put a scale on this, LRT in the Hiawatha corridor is expected to add 6,200 new transit riders per day for three quarters of a billion dollars of investment in infrastructure. (See Pulse entry 97). Enforcement of the carpool parking discount program alone might yield half as many rider increases for a capital cost of zero. The full article by Laurie Blake is at: http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/3186078.html. (127).





Wednesday, August 28, 2002
 
Demographics: Labor Shortage. First Automated Convenience Store Opens in U.S. The Shop 2000 automated convenience store is now open in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC. The store is similar to multipurpose vending machines already operating in Japan and some cities in the Netherlands, Belgium and other European countries where labor is expensive and real estate is scarce. These factors are beginning to impact American retailers as well. A study by the National Association of Convenience Stores suggests that a shortage of labor will be one of the industry's biggest problems in coming years. "With this machine, you eliminate most of your labor costs as well as problems with theft," said Hettie Herzog, president of the machine's manufacturer, Automated Distribution Technologies of Exton, Pa. The full story is on the web at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/28/national/28AUTO.html. (126)

Tuesday, August 27, 2002
 
Energy and the Environment. Second Wind for Wind Power? Keith Johnson wrote in the August 27, 2002 (p. A10) issue of the Wall Street Journal on discussions on wind power at the United Nations’ World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. South Africa with abundant coal has 2 cents per kilowatt power, among the cheapest in the world yet it plans to have 2 percent of electricity generated by wind by 2012. The article also compared total costs of generation. Wind power generation costs in an optimal site today are virtually identical to coal but if externalities of environment and health are added in, wind becomes cheaper than coal. (125)

Monday, August 26, 2002
 
Public Transportation. Honolulu Busway Nets 46,300 New Daily Riders. A 648 million dollar bus rapid transit project in Honolulu will yield 46,300 new riders daily. This is a capital cost of about $14,000 per net new rider compared with the $150,000 cost per rider of the Hiawatha and proposed University LRT projects in the Twin Cities. The project is 32.2 miles long and has 31 stations, dwarfing the combined reach of the two Twin Cities Projects. Prior related "Pulse" entries include: 97, 76, and 10. The description of the Honolulu Primary Corridor Transportation Project is online is at: http://www.fta.dot.gov/library/policy/ns/ns2001/ns2002s/honpct.html. (124)

Sunday, August 25, 2002
 
Healthcare. Technology: Palmtops Come to the Operating Room. A brief article in the New York Times describes use of hand held computers by physicians. In responding to why healthcare is so far behind in the adoption of leading edge point of service technology, one physician in the article remarked: "There's no simple answer. But there is something about the ability of computers to disrupt rather than improve the work flow of people who are very busy." There is a lot more to learn then on how to make handheld computers worth the trouble to busy professionals. The full article is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/22/technology/circuits/22MEDI.html. (123)

 
Public Services. e-Government: Singapore Ranks Number One in World. In a report "Global IT Report" by Harvard University and the World Economic Forum Singapore was ranked number one in e-government, the use of the web to deliver public services. The report by Harvard's Center for International Development and the World Economic Forum studied the infrastructure and network readiness of 75 countries. The report stated: "Singapore is one of the few countries in the world where e-government services have not only provided more efficient access to the government but have also contributed significantly to the way government operates." The report is available in book form with description at http://www.oup-usa.org/isbn/0195152581.html. Source: New Straits Times (Singapore), Computer Times, August 21, 2002. (122)