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Technology

By Aramis Khosronejad

The Long Island Explorium hosted its 7th annual Maker Faire on Saturday, June 8, also held at the Village Center and Harborfront Park. The event featured a wide range of activities, from hands-on origami lessons to robotics presentations, drawing a large and diverse crowd.

The Maker Faire has been a popular event well received by various communities. It aims to foster curiosity and provide a platform for people of all backgrounds and interests to share their passions. 

The Maker Faire concept originated in San Mateo, California, in 2006, created by the editors of Make magazine. Since then, it has grown into an international event, with Maker Faires held in cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Barcelona as well as Port Jefferson.

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Long Island Explorium, emphasized that the Maker Faire is “a festival of invention and innovation for everybody. Not just for little kids but for adults as well.” She highlighted the event’s diversity, which makes it especially unique. The faire featured an impressive assortment of participants and interests, from radio clubs to robotics and sculptures made from ocean debris.

This year’s Maker Faire on Long Island featured more than 75 exhibitors and 120 presenters.

The Maker Faire is designed to feed curiosity and nurture knowledge. Judex stated that the purpose of the event is “to enhance education, enrich life and to empower minds,” teaching that “learning is lifelong.” She noted the importance of such events in today’s society, especially with the advent of artificial intelligence. By cultivating curiosity and providing a space for the exchange of information, the faire aims to inspire innovation. “The challenges of the future can be changed by innovations from today,” Judex said. “Science is really at the intersection of endless possibilities — we’re talking about infinite possibilities for the future.”

Judex encouraged attendees to “explore, discover, invent and inspire,” sharing the joy and wonder that sustains lifelong learning and curiosity. “There’s no finite end, the exploring always continues,” she said, emphasizing the importance of having fun while learning.

METRO photo

By Aidan Johnson

The world has drastically changed in the recent decades, with one of the leading transformations being the rapid evolution of technology. In a short span of time, smartphones and social media have become seemingly permanent fixtures in society. However, this new technology brings about new challenges, such as anxiety heightened by prolonged interactions on social media and cellphone use.

Theresa McKenna, clinical health psychologist and director of Psychology Services at St. Charles Hospital. Photo courtesy of St. Charles Hospital

Theresa McKenna, clinical health psychologist and director of Psychology Services at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, discussed how social media and the overuse of cellphones can lead to increased anxiety, especially in adolescents and teens — and how to combat these feelings, stressing that a more nuanced approach is often necessary.

Curing emotions brought about by use of technology is not as simple as painting social media as purely evil, as it can allow people to easily connect with others, and even build groups and communities around shared hobbies.

However, McKenna explained, there are still plenty of issues that social media can create.

“If you’re looking at what your friends are doing, especially with younger people … you might have gotten wind that [there was] a party,” she said, describing how if an adolescent didn’t previously know about that, seeing pictures of it online, along with being able to know who was there can create a feeling of being left out, which can increase the risk of depression, isolationism and anxiety.

This also contributes to a problem of a lack of boundary setting for oneself with the amount of social media usage, along with the amount of information shared.

“They know where their friends are, they could track them down easily. It’s like there’s no unspoken time,” McKenna said.

“You wouldn’t want all of your time taken up with one person in person either, because that wouldn’t be healthy. You don’t want that time taken up with social media so frequently,” she added.

However, screen time usage has also been made more complicated by the global pandemic. While a sense of normalcy has returned, with many COVID-19 era policies and mandates ending, there has still been a lingering shift to remote work. 

In a March 2023 Pew Research Center survey, around 35% of workers who had jobs that had the ability to be done remotely were done so full time, as opposed to just 7% before the pandemic.

“For younger people, especially people coming into working age, they’re losing some of that ability to have mentorship [or] even just to meet people different than themselves in a lot of ways, because they’re not in a work environment,” McKenna indicated.

She said that people struggling with overuse of cellphones try to engage in a “digital detox,” in which they start to use cellphones and other smart technology less. One of the biggest steps that she suggested was to keep smartphones away from the bedroom.

In talking to one patient, McKenna said it was admitted that even though the person goes to bed at 10 p.m., the phone is used for another two hours.

“The stimulation that comes from playing a video game before you go to bed causes an irritable type of sleep, so even if you fall asleep easily, it’s not a good type of sleep,” McKenna added.

Instead of being on a smart device before going to bed, she stated that reading or doing activities such as crossword puzzles would be a better alternative. In lieu of using a phone as an alarm clock, buying a cheap alarm clock would do the trick

Additionally, McKenna suggested downloading meditation apps on the smartphone such as Calm. There are also special wellness apps for those in specific communities, such as Chill Drills, a free mindfulness app released by the Department of Defense for the military community.

Smartphone overuse does not just affect adolescents and teens, which is why McKenna stressed the importance of parents and adults to model good phone usage.

While tech advances have certainly made some aspects of life easier, such as the abundance of information and the ability to connect with those far away, it is important to be mindful of how much a cellphone is being used on a daily basis. While it isn’t necessary to completely cut it out of everyday life, it is imperative to set boundaries and have a good balance between screen time and other activities.

Pixabay photo
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.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Maker Faire Long Island returned to Port Jefferson village on Saturday, June 11, at the Village Center.

Maker Faire LI is an annual festival held by the Long Island Explorium, a science and engineering museum based in Port Jeff. Its purpose is to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education by way of innovations and crafts of people throughout the region and country. 

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Explorium, discussed the surprising success of the event after its two-year pause. “We’re really happy with this event,” she said. “It has turned out really well — much better than we actually expected.”

Proceeds from the event will support the Explorium’s various educational programs. The goal of these programs is to enliven STEM through activities that are engaging and fun. Judex said the Explorium hopes to inspire young people and nourish a lifelong pursuit of STEM. 

“It’s really important for children to be inspired and excited about STEM at an early age,” Judex said, adding, “We focus on enriching and inspiring children from K-6 so that they get excited about STEM because this is the future.” She added, “We want to support the next generation of leaders and scientists who are going to be inspired to solve some of the challenges in the environments we live in.”

Hundreds of makers gathered at Harborfront Park to showcase their own unique contributions to the field. Sejal Mehra, one of the presenters at the festival, displayed what she has coined “engineering art.” Her works integrate aspects of collage, engineering and sustainability studies under a common discipline.

“I create ‘engineering art,’ which is made from recycling old computer and electronic parts or plastic that would have otherwise ended up in the trash to show the beauty of STEM,” she said. “I’m on a mission to change the face of STEM through art.”

Makers such as Mehra offer the necessary guidance for young people to pursue STEM. Through their example of creativity and ingenuity, young people are challenged to change the world themselves.  

“I think it’s really important to have programs like this one to help inspire young minds into a lifelong pursuit of STEM because you never know when or how something is going to spark their love for STEM,” Mehra said. “It is also great for young minds to be inspired by young adults like myself because we were just in their shoes and can help motivate them to pursue STEM. Without programs like this, the amount of exposure to the field and its vast possibilities and intersections would not be possible.”

Mehra’s artwork is currently for sale and can be purchased through her website or by contacting her via email or Instagram.

Joining Judex was a group of public officials who offered their support for the museum in its mission to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers. New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), a geologist by profession, spoke of the importance of Maker Faire in encouraging young minds to tackle the impending challenges of environmental degradation.

“The purpose of bringing us all together is to enhance this community, to imagine possibilities for all of the people who live here and visit here, and to use our imagination just a little bit,” he said. “One of the things that’s very important is the narrative and theme that are interwoven around protecting the environment. We’re situated here in beautiful Port Jefferson on the edge of the harbor, and it is a beautiful place to remember the importance of sustainability.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) was also present for the event. She thanked the Explorium for providing these services and enriching the community.

“I am pleased to be here to support Maker Faire Long Island once again, to support the Explorium, and encourage children and our residents to explore, to innovate, to use their imagination and encourage ingenuity,” she said. “Thank you for all you do to encourage that in children right here in our own backyard.”

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) recognized Judex for the work she put into making this annual tradition successful once again and for championing STEM and motivating young people.

“I want to thank you not only for the work you did to bring this event together, but for the work you do all year long to create a fun place for kids to do science, to teach kids, to make it accessible to everybody, to bring science to places where maybe it isn’t, and to find new places to suddenly discover science,” the councilmember said.

Kathianne Snaden, Village of Port Jefferson deputy mayor, thanked the many entities that helped make this event possible once again.

“To all of the volunteers, to all of the makers, to the attendees, to our code department, our parks department and our highway department, without all of you coming together to make an event like this happen, we just couldn’t do it,” she said. “To the Explorium for providing cutting-edge technology, programming and hands-on learning for our children, it is just unmatched in this area.”

Village trustee Rebecca Kassay and her husband volunteered as traffic guards during the event. She called it “a pleasure directing parking.”

“As my husband and I stand and direct parking, we look at the children leaving this event and I asked them, ‘What have you made today?’” the trustee said. “Their faces light up and they show me something they’ve made, whether it’s a magnet, whether it’s a whirligig, whether it’s lip balm.” She continued, “It is so important to empower these young people with the gift of demystifying what is in the world around them.”

Englebright concluded the remarks with an anecdote. When the assemblyman was just 14 years old, his science teacher at the time recommended he attend a junior curator program at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. His decision to heed that advice would reshape the course of his life.

“I became a junior curator and it changed my life,” he said. “The Explorium, this children’s museum, I believe is going to change an awful lot of young people’s lives. Now here I am — with white hair — some years later, and I can tell you of the importance of your programs and the worthiness of everything that you do.”

At the March 3 Town Board meeting, Councilwoman Jane Bonner recognized a group of Rocky Point High School Technology students who created a prosthetic hand for Anun Suastika, a six-year-old Indonesian boy who was born with no fingers on his right hand. Anan’s father made a plea on a website called E-name for someone to help make a prosthetic hand for his boy. 

Mr. Schumacher, passionate about teaching students the technology skills that they can use in many career fields, happened upon e-NABLE, an organization with volunteer members who use open-source technology and 3-D printers to provide free prosthetic hands for children and adults. He thought it would be a great way to blend technology and humanity into a project for his students and guided them as they built the prosthetic hand using the school’s 3-D printer. 

The students worked during free periods and after school to design and assemble the 3-D parts into a Phoenix V-3 prosthetic hand. As traditional prosthetics normally cost thousands of dollars and need to be replaced as children grow, the production of a printed Phoenix V-3 prosthetic hand is much more inexpensive because of its design: It simply relies on a person’s functional wrist and uses the palm to push against the device so the fingers close when the wrist is bent.

“It is not every day that high school students can make such a big impact on a person’s life, but these students did just that. I thank Mr. Schumacher and his Technology class for taking on the challenge to improve Anun’s quality of life,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner. 

“We are grateful to Mr. Schumacher and these students for this project that will have a profound effect on a boy’s life,” Rocky Point School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Scott O’Brien said. “The enthusiasm and passion shown by this committed group is inspiring to others in our school district, learning that in our classrooms they too can make a difference in the global community.

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Photo by Julianne Mosher

The long-awaited Barnum Avenue parking lot has officially opened, and it is something the village has never seen before. 

“This is a unique lot,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “This is the first lot in 50 years that we’ve added to the village.”

The new 32,000-square-foot lot includes 46 new spaces oriented diagonally, including two handicap spots and two EV charging stations. It’s a free municipal lot with a one-way entrance, to help alleviate traffic congestion. 

Located east of the Joe Erland baseball field, an old, vacant building was once located on the property. Deemed an eyesore, it was a several-year-long process to remove the building, clean it up and turn it into a free municipal lot that is futuristic in its amenities. 

“People think it’s just pavement and drawing lines,” Garant said. “But this is 70% technology — everything is cloud-based with new technology.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

And that’s part of a pilot program the village board approved, with the goal to improve the ability to find parking. In April, the Parking Logix counting system will be installed at the Barnum lot to assist residents and visitors in giving them a real-time counting and management system. 

Kevin Wood, the village’s parking and mobility administrator, said the counter will be able to show drivers how many spots are available in the lot before they even pull in. 

“I had always taken notice of parking anxiety,” he said. “It’s a real thing … people get worried thinking, ‘Am I going to find a spot?’ People fighting for spots, this takes a little of the edge off.”

And that’s just part of it. The parking lots within the village will continue using QR reader technology through Honk Mobile to help people pay from their vehicles, not need to search for quarters and reduce touch points on meters in a pandemic world. 

“We’re way ahead of the curve on that,” Wood said. “We had instituted it before COVID. You don’t have to visit a meter; you can be in your car and shoot the QR from your window and pay in your car.”

Wood said that the last month visitors were required to pay for parking was in November, and 55% of the transactions were paid for through this new technology. 

He added that the QR reader in the Barnum lot will be used to track how long people park in their spots when they check in, and hopes that business owners will encourage staff to utilize the space. 

There will be no overnight parking (from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m.) in the Barnum lot, Garant said. “Code is going to enforce that.”

The only things remaining, along with the counter, is the additions of bioswales bordering the foot entrance on Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. Once constructed, the bioswales will look like two dips in the ground with plantings overlaying them, and a brand-new sign will be installed at the Joe Erland field. 

A ribbon cutting is planned in the upcoming weeks.

Screenshot from HACK@CEWIT

By Harry To

The Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology at Stony Brook University hosted its 5th annual Hack@CEWIT “hackathon” featuring student-made inventions, Feb. 26-28.

Usually this showcase takes place in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s event was hosted online. In place of the usual format, the over-200 competitors communicated through Zoom or Discord.

Satya Sharma, executive director of CEWIT, emphasized the abnormal circumstances weren’t a problem.

“This year’s 5th annual Hack@CEWIT had over 200 registered undergrad and graduate hackers from across the U.S.,” he said. “And though it was held virtually due to the pandemic, it did not diminish the quality of projects submitted by these bright and motivated students. It’s opportunities like this hackathon that builds confidence in their creativity and grows their entrepreneurial spirit.”

According to Sharma, this year’s theme, Innovating Through the Pandemic, reminds people that though there are sudden and unknown challenges, they can seize the opportunities those challenges create and harvest ideas never before imagined.

Students Mohammad Elbadry, 23 (left) and Aaron Gregory, 23 (right). Photo from event

A standout project was R-AGI: Radiology Artificial General Intelligence, created by Stony Brook University graduate students Mohammed Elbadry, Joshua Leeman and Aaron Gregory.

“According to a survey, radiologists only have about 3-4 seconds to look over an X-ray and determine if there are any anomalies,” said Elbadry, a Ph.D. student with over 20-plus hackathons under his belt. “They don’t have much time, so if they had an AI that could help them that would be very useful.”

The limited time for scanning X-rays may result in a higher frequency of errors or discrepancies, with some studies citing an average 3% to 5% error rate, he said. That’s about 40 million radiologist errors every year, mistakes that could potentially cost hundreds of lives.

With the problem in mind, the team of three went to work to create AI that would offer a solution — a program that automatically scans X-rays and detects anomalies. This is something that could save not only time, but human lives.

By using an existing dataset of labelled X-rays, the team trained its AI to detect the presence of pneumonia as well as its specific manifestation. The AI then labels and informs the user of any further anomalies.

The SBU team ended up with an impressive showing, including Top-Tier Graduate Best in Show and Best Healthcare Innovation.

Another award winning project was DarkWebSherlock, created by Andrew Zeoli, Colin Hamill, Donald Finlayson and Ian Costa from Johnson & Wales University,  Providence, R.I.

The sale of personal information on the dark web, a hidden part of the internet accessible through the TOR Browser, is a problem that has persisted for years, and DarkWebSherlock aims to create a solution.

The program allows users to scan through online marketplaces on the dark web to see if their data is up for sale anywhere.

This enables victims to be proactive by updating their passwords or changing their credit card numbers to better secure their information.

Costa said the program will be an invaluable asset. “Searching for usernames on the dark web is something our team does on a daily basis,” he said. “Our project will save valuable time for investigators and with some extra work will become a staple tool for dark web investigations.”

DarkWebSherlock won Top-Tier: Undergrad Best in Show.

Another award-winning project, Vaccine-Finder, aims to help speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution for 65-year-old-plus vaccine seekers.

The interface allows the elderly, also people with disabilities, to plug in their zip codes and view the appointment availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Joshua Muckey started this project only recently, and it won Best Pandemic Innovation.

In all, the event hosted 15 projects, many of which showcased student ingenuity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year is a reminder of why innovation is key to our success and our survival as a region, as a state and as a society,” said Marc Alessi, a judge for the event, CEO of SynchroPET and executive director of Tesla Science Center. “This weekend’s hackathon at Stony Brook University’s CEWIT center is an example of bringing together emerging innovators from very diverse backgrounds for the purpose of celebrating and practicing innovation in its most raw form. This is essential to foster an environment of innovation.”

All of the participants’ projects can be found online here.

Rohan Kapoor leads a technology class at the Frank Brush Barn. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

A barn that has stood for more than a hundred years may not seem like the location for modern learning, but at the Smithtown Historical Society, the Frank Brush Barn is just that.

Every other Friday the historical society is offering free workshops called Technology Savvy Seniors. Executive Director Priya Kapoor said the classes are a way to help elder residents, especially during the pandemic as many are turning to Zoom to talk to loved ones or even take a gym class. Others are finding entertainment options through streaming services such as Netflix.

“This is a way to be able to give back to the community and tell them we appreciate their support, and if we can have this for you and help you in any way that would be great,” she said.

Kapoor said with the seniors attending the classes together they don’t need to be hesitant if they feel they have a lot to learn. The executive director said the barn provides plenty of space to practice socially distanced learning.

The instructor is her son, Rohan Kapoor, who works as a tech consultant. He said when he was a teenager he worked in Staples and was responsible for the mobile department selling phones. When customers didn’t know how to use smartphones, he offered to show them. He said he noticed once people became more familiar with those types of phones, they were more apt to buy them..

The 25-year-old said at the end of every class he asks participants what they want to learn during the next session. While the first class focused on the basics of operating smartphones, the next class July 24 will be about how to use Amazon Prime and Netflix.

“I can go in and teach cryptocurrency but they may not be into it,” he said.

During another workshop, the attendees learned how to use Zoom and spread out into different areas of the historical society and took turns starting meetings, joining one and using other functions of the virtual meeting platform.

Kapoor said he also covers cybersecurity with members from password management to online banking and identity theft. He advises people not to use Social Security numbers or family members’ birthdays as passwords. He said while participants are open to the advice, some say they aren’t comfortable using some of the applications.

“What your comfort level is, I’m not going to tell you; but I’ll tell you about what the technology is,” he said. “I’ll tell you what Apple Pay does, but it’s up to you if you want to use it.”

St. James resident Joan Harris has been a regular at the classes. She said she appreciated the first workshop for smartphones because when she would go to turn on her iPhone, she would enter the six-digit unlock code but wasn’t sure how to use the fingerprint option until taking the class.

“That was a big thing for me,” Harris said. “I was just entering the six digits.”

While she said she already uses Zoom, she is looking forward to getting advice about Netflix after her grandson gave her and her husband, Brad, a BluRay.

“I have no clue how to set it up,” Harris said.

She said it’s nice being in a class with those on the same level, and the small size allows for more personal attention not only from Kapoor but Victoria Del Vento, who helps him out. She said any bit of information she picks up is helpful.

“We didn’t grow up with this,” she said. “Kids now — they know everything.”

For more information on Tech Savvy Seniors, visit www.smithtownhistorical.org.

File photo

Suffolk County police are trying to use digital conferencing technology to better communicate with those who are hard of hearing and speech impaired. 

“This announcement is about making our department more accessible and inclusive to the communities we serve,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said at a press conference July 31. “It is a top priority.” 

The department will be using the service, Language Line Insight Video Interpreting, which will allow officers to instantly connect with an interpreter who can assist in communicating with hard of hearing or speech impaired individuals in American Sign Language during a traffic stop, home visit or other emergency. 

“The days of having to wait for an interpreter to arrive on the scene and communicating through pen and paper — those days are over in Suffolk County,” Bellone said. Stu Cameron, chief of department, said this new addition will help close the loop in communications when officers are on the scene.  

Typically, if a deaf or hard of hearing person needs assistance, officers rely on pen and paper or they call a sign language interpreter to the scene or the local precinct. This can be a lengthy process and Cameron said he feels by adding this app to the officers’ tablets, they will be more effective in assisting those individuals.  

“Not only will our patrol cars have this capability, but our investigative units and detectives will have this as well,” he said. “ … We can get information very rapidly without having to go back and forth.”

Geraldine Hart, Suffolk police commissioner, said more than a year ago the department began outfitting vehicles with portal tablets to give officers immediate access to language access services. 

“There are millions of people who communicate in sign language, making it the fourth-most used language in the U.S.,” the police commissioner said. “While we teach our recruits basic sign language and ways to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing people — we want to do more.”

Similarly, last year the department launched a text 911 program in an effort to help those with hearing and/or speech impairments.

The implementation of the new tablets is part of a three-year capital project, officials said. Currently, the department is in the second year of the project and has 155 tablets installed in patrol cars. Cameron said he expects by the end of next year to have all patrol cars equipped with the devices and have more than 450 tablets in use.   

Shoreham-Wading River’s superintendent, Gerard Poole, speaks during an April 18 board of education meeting. Photo by Kevin Redding

The Shoreham-Wading River school district is looking to get smart, with the help of New York State funds.

The district is finalizing plans to use the state’s Smart School Bond Act, which makes up to $2 million available for every school district in the state to improve its technology and security infrastructure. The district has been allocated $1,003,429 to make improvements to district computer server infrastructure; purchase new computers, projectors, security cameras; and to install a new security booth at the entrance of the high school parking lot.

The district laid out its plans at an Oct. 23 board meeting, where Peter Esposito, the director of technical services, said the district plans to replace several pieces of data storage equipment to maximize storage capability in switch closets for $430,000. The district also plans to replace all district computers, 450 in all, last upgraded in 2013, with more modern machines for $425,000. The district will replace its 120, 10-year-old classroom projectors with new LCD projectors for $65,000 and add additional security cameras for $18,000.

“It’s been on my desk for the last three years, so it would be good to move forward with this,” Esposito said.

A prefabricated visitors booth for the high school parking lot will be installed for $65,000. While Superintendent Gerard Poole said the district is still working out the final plans for the booth, it could possibly be located along the high school driveway where the road forks to the administration entrance and to the main parking lot. The booth could include a guard-operated gate so school officials can monitor who is entering the high school grounds, even if they are going to use the trails to the south of the school or the North Shore Public Library.

“The way we envision it is it will help somebody get to the high school, get to the library or make the left to come up to administrative offices,” Poole said.

The final version of the plan will be submitted to New York State by the end of November, but Poole said the committee that reviews the plan has been taking about one year on average to approve those documents. He said he expects the visitors booth to be installed sometime after the district revitalizes the high school parking lot over the summer as part of a 2015 capital bond referendum, but that those plans will be changed to allow for the new booth.

At prior board meetings residents have expressed frustration about new speed bumps installed on the driveway to the high school, saying they’re so hard and short that it forces most cars to slowly roll over them. Residents have said the slowdown has increased traffic going into the school, especially in early mornings, but the superintendent said the speed bumps are working as intended to slow down traffic to 15 mph or less. He added the school has had no problem getting all students in class by first period, though officials will be reviewing the safety protocols for the guard booth as the district develops plans for the new parking lot, with that stage of the bond project going out to bid in January.

At the October meeting, board President Michael Lewis asked if the computers the school would be buying would have to be replaced in another eight years. Alan Meinster, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said there was no way to tell where technology would go in that amount of time.

“I can promise you if you do this in another eight years you will have the same budget,” Meinster said. “I don’t know where we’re going to be in the next eight years technology wise — what we’re going to be using later on.”

Glen Arcuri, the assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said the school could pay for future technology through capital reserve funds.

The investment plan is available to view on the district’s website, and district officials are currently asking for feedback on the proposal. The board will vote on the finalized version of the plan at its Nov. 27 board meeting.