Tags Posts tagged with "Innovation"


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Technology revolutionizes emergency preparedness

By Emma Gutmann

On Dec. 29, Steve Bellone (D) capped off his 12-year run as Suffolk County executive with an announcement about the advent of a technology that promises to revolutionize emergency preparedness and response across the county. 

Through Tableau — a data visualization and business intelligence tool — several dashboards with unique specialties were launched simultaneously. The Fleet Management Dashboard, Emergency Operations Dashboard and Snow Fleet Readiness Dashboard will work together to provide immediate and comprehensive data to the county’s Department of Public Works and the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. 

Rather than muddling through manual data entry and slow-moving communication, DPW and FRES staff will now have a constant stream of accurate statistics at their fingertips. This operational efficiency will not only save valuable time during emergencies but also boost cost savings and informed decision-making. 

The Fleet Management Dashboard will be an asset to several departments from Public Works to Highway & Grounds Maintenance for its insights into vehicle readiness, maintenance schedules and the operational status of the county fleet. With a countywide view of fleet activity, management can monitor trends over time and optimize operations.

Increased access to fleet availability through the Emergency Operations Dashboard will allow the Emergency Operation Center staff at FRES to view fleet readiness during urgent situations. The dashboard aims to enhance resource allocation and, thus, response efficiency for daily operations as well as Office of Emergency Management activation.

According to an infographic from New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the OEM activates the State Emergency Operations Center “based upon the scope and magnitude of an incident, and the level of capability needed to effectively respond to the event.” There are four levels of activation that can be called if state-level monitoring or response is required: Enhanced Monitoring, Partial Activation, Full Activation and Full State/Federal Response. The Emergency Operations Dashboard is designed to bring about the quickest and most efficient response in these statewide matters and local matters alike.

Amid winter months, county personnel will benefit from the Snow Fleet Readiness Dashboard as well. This trailblazing technology is slated to save fleet staff approximately four hours per week by streamlining winter readiness reporting.

“In snow or other major weather events, we are able to see the in-service fleet status — fuel and salt levels — in real time,” FRES Commissioner Patrick Beckley said. “We can direct plows to areas in need and we can verify that roads have been plowed when in question.” 

Since their launch less than a month ago, the dashboards have already proven valuable to the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services and Department of Public Works. 

“During the recent trench rescue in St. James, we were able to quickly identify the closest vacuum truck in the sanitation fleet and contact that division supervisor quickly,” FRES Commissioner Beckley said. “We are looking forward to the development and buildout of other fleet related dashboards.”

“Before the launch of the dashboards, our reporting process was manual, time-consuming, and reliant on multiple channels of communication such as emails, texts and calls, as well as various excel spreadsheets,” DPW Deputy Commissioner Leslie Mitchel said. “While we had the capability to generate reports, the process involved coordination between various DPW divisions and extensive manual data entry, consuming valuable time and carrying the risk of data inconsistencies due to basic human error and less user-friendly reporting tools previously utilized.”

Department heads are pleased with the new additions’ efficiency and are optimistic about the future of fleet and emergency management. The dashboard’s comprehensive view of previously scattered data, which is refreshed nightly, allows the workforce to focus more on strategic planning than tedious data entry.

With this innovative update to emergency procedure, Suffolk County is moving toward more data-driven decision-making for the convenience and safety of the public and personnel. It is the hope of the government that more dashboards will be added to this series to save time and provide guidance in other specialized areas.

Board hires first executive director to help facility grow

The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is located at 5 Randall Road in Shoreham. File photo by Wenhao Ma

By Desirée Keegan

Marc Alessi lives just houses down from where inventor Nikola Tesla stayed when he was in Shoreham.

When Alessi held public office as a New York State assemblyman, he worked to secure state funding to purchase the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, to ensure it would be preserved and remain in the right hands.

Years later, he’s getting even more involved.

“I would drive past the site and look at the statue and think, I could be doing more,” Alessi said.

Now, he’s the executive director for the center’s board and is responsible for planning, administration and management, while also helping the science center develop and grow during its critical period of renovation, historic restoration and construction on the grounds of the former laboratory of Nikola Tesla.

Marc Alessi will help the Tesla Science Center become an incubator for innovation. Photo from Marc Alessi
Marc Alessi will help the Tesla Science Center become an incubator for innovation. Photo from Marc Alessi

“Marc has a lot of energy, enthusiasm and he’s got a lot of spirit, and I think those are qualities that will help to bring attention and help us to move forward in our efforts to make the science center more well known,” board of directors President Jane Alcorn said. “He’s been part of our past and has always shown an interest, so he’s knowledgeable about what we’re doing.”

Alessi, an entrepreneur, brings a lot of knowledge in areas that no other board member has, Alcorn said.

The Shoreham resident is an attorney with Campolo, Middleton, and McCormick LLP, is a former executive director for the Long Island Angel Network, helped establish Accelerate Long Island and currently serves as chairman and founding CEO of one of their portfolio companies, SynchoPET. He also serves on the board of directors of the Peconic Bay Medical Center and the Advisory Council for East End Arts.

“I believe I work for Nikola Tesla as much as I work for the board,” he said. “It’s my mission in life, whether I work as their executive director or not, to make sure he has his place in history. People were just floored by just what he was trying to accomplish, but if you just look at what he did accomplish, like remote control and x-ray and neon, and the alternating current electricity, [you could see] all that he did for humanity.”

One thing he would like to emphasize, that many may not know about Tesla, was how he tore up his royalty contract in an effort to ensure all people, not just the wealthy, would have electricity.

“Invention, technology and innovation doesn’t always have to be about personal enrichment,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just about improving the world around us.”

First for the center is turning the laboratory into a museum and preserving the site as a national historic landmark, which would be a tremendous tourism draw. Aside from the museum, a cinder-block building will add community space where civics and other local groups and robotics clubs can meet and utilize the space, which will also house educational opportunities.

“I would drive past the site and look at the statue and think, I could be doing more.” — Marc Alessi

Alessi was recently named executive director of the Business Incubator Association of New York State Inc., a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the growth and development of startup and incubator-based enterprises throughout the state.

Which is exactly what the Tesla Science Center is working toward.

“I can’t walk around my community without feeling a bit of his presence and a bit of a responsibility to make sure this site is preserved in perpetuity, and educates people about him, what he’s about and what is possible,” he said. “The whole board and the community is interested in seeing the Tesla’s of tomorrow have a place to come and be able to create. To try to invent.”

Alcorn believes that with Alessi’s help all of their ideas can come to fruition.

“He has a wealth of knowledge and connections with many people and many areas of business and government and incubators that will be of great help in sharing our goals and encouraging others in making this happen,” she said. “He does definitely share many of our ideas, but he also has plenty of ideas of his own.”

Alessi said he specializes in taking an idea and making it a reality, but with this site it means more than that to him.

“By celebrating Tesla you’re celebrating innovation, that’s at my core and DNA,” he said. “We’d love to see a maker space or an incubator where other folks in the community, not just students, can come in and have access to the tools that are necessary to make high-tech inventions. That will be great for our community. It’s about the Tesla’s of tomorrow. We want to empower that.”

North Shore ‘Makers’ to put creativity on display

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

By Alex Petroski

Creativity, innovation, exploration and a lot of fun are all on the docket for Port Jefferson’s Maritime Explorium this weekend. The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire is slated to take place on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, at the Explorium, the neighboring Harborfront Park and all three floors of the Village Center.

Douglas Baldwin, fractal artist and experimental musician will be at this year’s event. Photo by thecoyote.org
Douglas Baldwin, fractal artist and experimental musician will be at this year’s event. Photo by thecoyote.org

Last year the Explorium hosted a Maker Festival that drew over 2,000 visitors after board members attended the New York City Maker Faire and gave it rave reviews. The Maker Movement has taken off worldwide, thanks to the efforts of Maker Media, the group behind the faires. This year the Maritime Explorium is being supported and sponsored as an official Maker Faire, albeit a miniaturized version of the ones typically found in big cities like Barcelona, Berlin and the Bay Area across the globe.

“[The Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire] totally fits in that [the Maritime Explorium has] a space there that encourages more participation from makers on Long Island, and it gives them somewhere to go; and then for people who are unfamiliar, it gives them a nice taste of it without having to go into the city,” said Stephanie Buffa, a volunteer board member at the Maritime Explorium in a phone interview this week.

Buffa said the spirit of the event is to remind attendees of all ages that they are capable of making incredible things with their hands. Makers bring their inventions, innovations, prototypes and experiments to not only show off to attendees but also to provide a hands-on experience to do it yourself and make your own.

“I think it’s imperative,” Buffa said about the importance of making. “Everything is at our fingertips. [These days] if you’re sitting at the dinner table and somebody asks a question you [just] Google it. It’s so easy to get answers that way and it’s also so easy when we buy our children something to buy that cool science kit. ‘Here it is, your seeds, your pot, your dirt, your shovel all in one. Let’s buy this and teach them how to garden.’ It’s so easy to get caught up in all of these pre-packaged things that we forget to sort of, do it yourself. You can be creative in so many ways. You don’t have to be a good artist and be able to draw beautiful pictures to be creative and to make things.”

The event will feature dozens of makers, performers, artists and exhibitors as well as a Future Makers Expo and Robotics Showcase presented by students.

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium
A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

Some of the makers attendees should expect to see include Charles Rufino of The Long Island Violin Shop who will be demonstrating how to make a violin while finished ones are put to use and representatives from Stony Brook University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences who will be demonstrating build-your-own catapults. “Yarn bombers” who crochet colorful covers for trees and columns of buildings like the Maritime Explorium will be present to teach the art of crocheting as well as interactive sculptures, a Technology Showcase, a guided Marine Biology Exploration and Meet-a-Scientist.

Other organizations involved with the day’s presentation include SBU’s College of Arts & Sciences, Stony Brook School of Medicine, InnovateLI, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Touro College School of Health Sciences,  RINX Roller Skating on the Harbor and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

“It’s a little bit different from a high school or junior high school science fair because there’s more hands-on opportunities for people to actually participate and see how they can be a maker in whatever way themselves,” Buffa added. “It’s about participating and learning for all of the faire attendees, and getting a hands-on experience while they’re there.”

The Maritime Explorium is located at 101 E. Broadway in Port Jefferson. Tickets to attend the event are $17.50, though there are reduced family rates. For more information or to buy tickets visit www.easternlongislandmakerfaire.com.

A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium
A scene from last year’s Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire. Photo from Maritime Explorium

The LaunchPad Huntington STEAM Innovation Conference will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo by Rohma Abbas

LaunchPad Huntington is sponsoring a conversation between technology companies, educators and students in the hopes that it will spark creative collaborations and future Long Island-based jobs.

The conference will be both a showcase of emerging technologies and services and an in-depth panel discussion with education and industry leaders working to prepare students and adults for new employment opportunities.

The event, dubbed a STEAM Innovation Conference will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at LaunchPad’s Huntington office from 3:30 to 8 p.m.

Phil Rugile, director of LaunchPad Huntington, said the conference is meant to combine science and the arts, to “merge two different parts of the brain.”

“My hope is to get a conversation started in media, education and business communities,” he said. “We need people to start thinking outside the box.”

The event starts with a 90-minute opening for public school students to browse exhibits set up by technology companies. A solar energy company and a virtual reality company are some of the businesses that will showcase exhibits at the conference.

“The really important question on Long Island is how do we get the students and the employers together,” Rugile said. He said that the skillsets of someone with a great sense of creativity and technology are really needed at a local level.

Originally this conference was designed to target professors and their curricula to produce more innovative thinkers.

Following the exhibits, there will be a networking hour, complete with dinner and music, where businesses and educators are encouraged to bounce ideas off each other.

The final part of the conference is a discussion by a panel of experts. Kenneth White, manager of Office of Educational Programs at Brookhaven National Laboratory, will moderate the talk. Panelists will include Victoria Hong, associate chairperson and assistant professor for the St. Joseph’s College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Andrew Grefig, director of curriculum and content at Teq and Nancy Richner, museum education director at the Hofstra University Museum.

“We’re constantly losing kids to Brooklyn and New York City,” Rugile said. “Let’s change the conversation. We need to provide opportunities.”