North Texas Woman Hopes App Will Help Human Trafficking Victims Be Seen

Fri, May 6, 2016 - 8:00am

Human trafficking happens everywhere, but it's a crime that is hidden in plain sight.

"I think it would be hard not to find a location in our area that didn't have some form of human trafficking," said Lisa Mercer, a design teacher at the University of North Texas.

For her graduate thesis, Mercer developed an app to help report suspected cases of human trafficking. It's called Operation Compass.

"To me, it's like a way home. You can use a compass to get home," Mercer explained. "I...

The drug sniffing car: Texas researchers say vehicle can pinpoint homes of drug users from a quarter of a MILE away

Tue, May 3, 2016 - 6:31pm

by Cheyenne MacDonald

A 'drug-sniffing' car developed by researchers at the University of North Texas can track down drug users from a quarter of a mile away.

The device, demonstrated in an electric Ford sedan, allows a police cruiser to detect nearby drugs based on their chemical signatures, according to CBS DFW

Researchers say the portable...

Ozone action days start up

Tue, Apr 26, 2016 - 8:00am

While summer’s heat is a ways off (we hope), today is the first ozone action day of the season.

Ground-level ozone forms when sunlight meets combustion sources (in North Texas, that comes from vehicle engines, natural gas compressors and coal and cement plants) mixed with volatile organic compounds (gasses that come from trees and plants, as well as oil and gas facilities).

Ozone’s three oxygen atoms make it a superoxidant. Ozone burns the lining of our lungs similar to the way sunlight burns skin, except we cannot see our airways get raw and swell from the burn.

Healthy people might not feel the burn until...

The Austin Fire Department Could Soon Be Using Search-and-Rescue Drones

Fri, Apr 22, 2016 - 8:00am

The drone idles on a small runway at the Austin Radio Control Association, just east of the city. It’s got a grey body and a white nose, across which someone has painted a sinister smile. The controls are tested, and then the small aircraft takes off.

“They’re going through with their first search,” says University of Texas senior Sterling Maynard. “So what they’re going to do is they’re going to basically do a lawnmower pattern and go around and cover this entire area with the camera.”

That camera sends live video back to computers hooked up inside a small trailer aside the runway. There, four students crowd four...

City Council approves water utility loans, drone research and accepts Smart City grant

Fri, Apr 22, 2016 - 8:00am

The city of Austin is set to ask a state agency for a loan to begin a “smart meter” program at Austin Water after an April 21 City Council vote.

Austin Water is proposing an upgrade to city water meters that would allow meter readings to be collected digitally instead of manually with the goal of improving reading accuracy, according to city documents. City Council approved an application for an $80 million low-interest loan from the Texas Water Development Board to fund the program at its April 21 City Council meeting.

If the application is accepted and City Council approves the loan, it will...