Ferry cancellations due to staffing – an apology and an explanation

Washington State Ferries recognizes that we place our customers in a difficult situation when we cancel ferry runs like we did today. We are very sorry for the inconvenience. Any service disruption or cancellation is a hardship for our customers. We want to tell you – our customers – what we are doing to ensure that this doesn’t happen often. We also want to share with you some of the challenges we face as one of the largest ferry systems in the world.

To avoid ferry cancellations due to staffing, we are:

  • working with our crews and unions to establish better standby staffing agreements
  • accelerating our hiring process, interviewing 160 candidates in February alone
  • working with the U.S. Coast Guard on a proposal to allow entry-level positions (ordinary seaman) to sail at a step up as able-bodied seaman when needed due to crew shortages
One of our biggest hurdles is that the Coast Guard’s 2012 and 2013 requirements meant hiring 81 new staff members. Hiring them had to be done within an already reduced labor budget set by the Legislature prior to our knowledge of the Coast Guard’s new staffing requirements. Frankly, we have struggled to meet those requirements while maintaining enough cushion to absorb absences and accommodate training and other scenarios that impact already slim staffing levels. As we look for long-term solutions to this issue, we will continue to uphold our reputation as the safest and most reliable ferry system in the world.

In 2013, we had 162,897 scheduled sailings. During that time, we had 1,400 cancellations due to a variety of factors (mechanical, tidal conditions, weather, emergency transport, staffing, etc.). Staffing issues caused only 95 of these cancellations. Our goal is ZERO canceled sailings due to lack of qualified crew. That is our commitment to our customers, and we appreciate everyone’s support and understanding as we work toward that goal.

Procera: "16 Tier1 Trials; 15% growth in 2014"

Several quotes from Procera's Q4 earning call, by James Brear [pictured], President and CEO, and Charles Constanti, CFO:

We expect revenue growth of 15% in 2014 (see "DPI Market Grew by 10% in 2013 ($278M Revenues for Allot, Procera and Sandvine" - here) 

There are a number of dynamics we saw in the quarter that impacted our Q4 results. The shortfall relates to lower-than-expected orders

DPI Market Grew by 10% in 2013 ($278M Revenues for Allot, Procera and Sandvine)

With the release of Procera Networks' results, all 3 public DPI companies published their full year 2013 reports, totaling to $277.8M compared to $252.5M in 2012 (+10%), with Sandvine replacing Allot as the market leader.

A short comparison of the main indicators:

Allot Communications



 (Nov 30)





Wandering in the footsteps of the polar bear with Google Maps

This guest post is from Krista Wright, the executive director of Polar Bears International. We’ve partnered with PBI to share a fascinating look at polar bears in the wild using Google Maps. -Ed.

In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as Pihoqahiak, the ever-wandering one. Some of the most majestic and elusive creatures in the world, polar bears travel hundreds of miles every year, wandering the tundra and Arctic sea ice in search of food and mates. Today, with the help of Street View, we’re celebrating International Polar Bear Day by sharing an intimate look at polar bears in their natural habitat.

The Street View Trekker, mounted on a Tundra Buggy, captures images of Churchill’s polar bears

We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra: Churchill, Manitoba, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters Frontiers North, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “Tundra Buggy,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.

One of Churchill, Manitoba’s Polar Bears on Street View

Modern cartography and polar bear conservation
There’s more to this effort than images of cuddly bears, though. PBI has been working in this region for more than 20 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of warmer temperatures and melting sea ice on the polar bear’s environment. Understanding global warming, and its impact on polar bear populations, requires both global and regional benchmarks. Bringing Street View to Canada's tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data—information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.
Polar Bear International’s Bear Tracker

We also use the Google Maps API to support our Bear Tracker, which illustrates the frozen odyssey these bears embark on every year. As winter approaches and the sea ice freezes over, polar bears head out onto Hudson Bay to hunt for seals. Bear Tracker uses of satellite monitors and an interactive Google Map to display their migration for a global audience.

Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic
Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community MapUp, which let participants use Map Maker to edit and add to the Google Map. From the Town Centre Complex, which includes the local school, rink and movie theatre, to the bear holding facility used to keep polar bears who have wandered into town until their release can be planned, the citizens of the Churchill made sure Google Maps reflects the community that they know.

But building an accurate and comprehensive map of Canada’s north also means heading out of town to explore this country’s expansive tundra. And thanks to this collaboration with Google Maps, people around the world now have the opportunity to virtually experience Canada’s spectacular landscape—and maybe take a few moments to wander in the footsteps of the polar bear.

TM Deployments [292]: MTN [Congo] Deployed Comviva PCEF/PCRF

Mahindra Comviva announced that its "Mobile Data Platform (MDP) [a package of PCEF, PCRF and Mobile Internet Gateway - see chart below] has gone live with MTN in Congo B. MTN will now be able to offer an unrivalled number of personalized data plans to its subscribers in Congo B. A holistic broadband management platform, MDP will also help MTN to manage, optimize and monetize its data

PCC Deployments [291]: Tishknet [Iraq/Kurdistan] Selected Alepo

Alepo Technologies announced that "Tishknet, a leading 4G service provider in the Middle-East, is upgrading its WiMAX network to LTE [here] in order to provide faster and more modern services to a rapidly expanding customer base. As part of its migration, Tishknet will be deploying Alepo’s Service Enabler 9 Suite including its CRM, OCS and PCRF for End-to-end Convergent Service Management.

DSC Deployments [290]: Oi [Brazil] Selects F5/Traffix

F5 Networks announced that "Oi selected the F5®Traffix™ Signaling Delivery Controller™ (SDC™) to meet the Diameter signaling management demands of their LTE network.
Tom Carter, VP Worldwide Sales, Carriers and Service Providers, F5 said: “F5’s signaling solutions have been deployed by more than 30 operators around the world We view this as a result of F5 offering the most mature routing, load

Ground settlement near the viaduct is safe, expected

Keeping the Alaskan Way Viaduct safely open to traffic during SR 99 tunnel construction is a top priority. It’s one of the main reasons we’re boring a tunnel – to minimize disruption at the surface as we replace the viaduct.

Recent media reports have stated that ground settlement due to tunnel construction could cause us to close the viaduct. These reports are inaccurate.

The viaduct is still vulnerable to earthquakes, but it remains safe for everyday use. The viaduct settled as a result of the Nisqually earthquake and we strengthened the viaduct in those areas so it remains safe for drivers.

We have no plans to close the viaduct until after the tunnel opens to traffic. Crews inspect the structure four times per year – the next inspection is scheduled for this weekend – and have taken a number of steps to protect it during construction.

We anticipated some ground settlement would occur during construction of the tunnel, which is taking place near the viaduct. That is why the viaduct has been strengthened in this area and more than 100 monitors have been installed on the viaduct to measure how much the ground beneath the structure moves.

Those monitors told us that the viaduct settled up to four-tenths of an inch at one location along the viaduct near where tunnel construction is underway. This settlement is well within the limits established by WSDOT’s structural engineers.

We will continue to carefully monitor the viaduct during construction and will take additional steps to reinforce the viaduct if needed.

We’ll be posting additional details soon about the work we’ve done to protect the viaduct. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns.

Learn more about the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign…

 By Guest Blogger Summer Derrey

WSDOT Sign Shop staff pictured left to right: Jacob Macias,
Brent Kinney, Rita Swart, John Crawford and Billy Gardner.
Not pictured – Mike Criswell and Chris Warren.
Did you know we have a highway sign recycling program? In over a decade, the state has saved $1,222,304 by reusing 529,300 square feet of aluminum signs. In Washington state, there are approximately 152,000 highway signs that include 52,000 guide and directional signs (big green highway signs), 50,000 regulatory signs (stop, one way, no U-turn), 38,000 warning signs (caution, school crossing, deer crossing) and 12,000 informational signs (services ahead). Signs help guide drivers for directional and safety advice. Highway signs can last up to 20 years, but weather and time can wear them out. While many signs are replaced as part of our highway contracts, about 11 thousand signs are updated every year by a staff of 7 in our 1 shop located in Union Gap.

Have Trouble Installing Your Child's Safety Seat? You're Not Alone...

If you have young kids, you know how important it is to keep them safe on the roads, whether as pedestrians, cyclists, or passengers. All too often, however, parents and caregivers may not know how to protect their littlest traveling companions in the most effective way. Between 1994 and 2010, roughly one-third to one-half of all children ages eight and under who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were completely unrestrained, and one-fifth to one-quarter were incorrectly restrained by only a standard seatbelt. 

To promote correct and consistent use of approved child safety seats, the Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) system has been required equipment on all new vehicles since 2002. However, in the 10+ years since its inception, concerns have persisted about its ease of use, and the variations in its implementation across vehicle types and brands. In fact, our latest report, a survey of certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians, finds that 80.5% of these experts believe errors using LATCH are not obvious to parents and caregivers, and less than half think users are more likely to correctly install a seat with LATCH than with a standard seatbelt.

We've been studying LATCH for a year now, with the goal of informing Federal updates to the rules that govern the system. In addition to the survey, our project included human factors analyses and an expert panel workshop, all designed to offer practical recommendations for improving LATCH. Among other things, these include making LATCH available in rear center seats, increasing and standardizing weight limits, and improving labeling and other information in vehicles, on seats, and in owner's manuals. 

With a high number of CPS technicians reporting that they frequently encounter potentially-serious LATCH-use errors (83.9%, for example, say they often or occasionally see caregivers using LATCH with a seatbelt), it's clear there is more work to be done in this area. And with 640 children ages eight and under killed each year in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, getting this work done could hardly be more urgent.

For details about this project and our other research, please visit traffic-payout.org

Product Announcements: Sandvine, Tilera/Procera, Openwave Mobility, Citrix/Bytemobile, Aricent, Ulticom, Elitecore

MWC announcements, 2nd round:

Sandvine Usage Management Brings New Mobile Billing Innovations (here): "Sandvine announced the launch of Usage Management release 5.0, which offers new capabilities to help both fixed and mobile communications service providers (CSPs) create, manage and implement new service plan offerings .. SmartRoam .. Pay-Per-Click Billing .. ServiceDesigner"


Netflix: First we take Comcast, then we take AT&T and Verizon; How Much it Costs?

After making peace with Comcast (see "Comcast and Netflix - BFF ("no preferential network treatment")" - here) Netflix is now said to be in discussions with AT&T and Verizon. 

Who cares about Net Neutrality now?

Jeff Baumgartner reports to MultiChannel that "Add AT&T to the list of major U.S. broadband service providers that’s in interconnection talks with Netflix.We’re in discussions with

Procera Expands Optimization Offering; Partners with Qwilt

Loyal to its partnership model (see "Procera Partners with Avvasi; Prefers Partnerships over Allot's Acquisitions Strategy" - here), Procera Networks partners with Qwilt for additional optimization capabilities.

The two vendors announced a " partnership to offer network operators a best-of-breed transparent caching and Internet Intelligence solution that addresses network challenges

Tata Adds Tango Telecom's PCC to its Hosted Solution

Tata communications expands (or changes?) its hosted PCC/DPI offering (see "Tata Communications Builds Hosted Policy Management and Enforcement w/Allot and Openet" - here) with Tango's Telecom Policy Control Solution (as well as Procera's DPI - see Procera's CEO comments here).

Tango announced that "Tango Telecom and Tata Communications announced a collaboration to deliver hosted policy

Product Announcements: Ixia, Ulticom, RADCOM, NSN, SAP, DigitalRoute, Avvasi, Centri. Smith Micro

With MWC starting today, the number of product announcements made in the last few days does not allow a separate post for each .. so here is a short digest:

Ixia Provides Three Times More Network Visibility In Half The Rack Space (here) : Ixia ".. introduced, as part of its Visibility Architecture, its most advanced, highest capacity platform that is designed to provide three times the

Comcast and Netflix - BFF ("no preferential network treatment")

While the relations between Netflix and Verizon are not clear (see "The Post-Net Neutrality Era - Does Verizon Shape Netflix and Amazon?" here and "Netflix Reports Slower Speeds for Verizon" here), the future for Comcast customers looks much better, with no Net Neutrality issues (?). It seems that the bad days ("Netflix CEO: 'Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles'" - here) are

[Light Reading]: Telefonica NFV Plans Start w/DPI and PCRF

Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, Light Reading reports about " a closed-door presentation delivered to just a handful of telecoms industry editors at the Spanish operators headquarters in Madrid, Telefónica's global CTO Enrique Blanco outlined a timetable for the virtualization of much of the carrier's new network functionality and explained his reasons for being at the vanguard of a

Napatech and ipoque Partner to Assist Network Equipment Vendors

Napatech and ipoque announced a ".. joint mission to improve quality of experience (QoE) in mobile networks using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. 

Napatech and ipoque are working together to provide high-speed, real-time application insight into LTE networks supporting voice and video services .. Napatech and ipoque are currently engaged with key customers in deploying these

Hitachi: Big Data Analytics Enables QoE, QoS and Monetization

Hitachi Data Systems announced it that  ".. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and several telecommunications partners [Brocade, JDSU, SeaChange] will demonstrate the ability of big data applications in telecom to lower network and operations costs, reduce customer churn protecting existing business revenues, and create new revenue streams. World-class quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience

Astellia Expands Offering with the Acquisition of Ingenia Telecom

Astellia announced the "acquisition of Ingenia Telecom, provider of network analysis and radio optimization solutions for mobile operators. Astellia reinforces its E2E offering with a probeless solution adding new capabilities of RAN and SON analysis ..  revenues of Ingenia Telecom represent less than 10% of Astellia’s revenues [according to Bretagne Economique (here), Ingemia sales are €5M, and

Optimization Deployments [289]: WIND Mobile [Canada] Uses Avvasi to Improve Video QoE

Avvasi announced that " WIND Mobile  has selected and deployed Avvasi’s Q-SRV on the Xperium 40 platform. Avvasi Q-SRV was selected by WIND Mobile in 2013 to consistently improve video Quality of Experience (QoE) while saving capacity necessary to improve the customer experience during peak traffic periods. Avvasi Q-SRV on the Xperium 40 platform provides a scalable, high-performance solution to

PCC Deployments [288]: Orange [Slovakia] Deploys Openet for Segmented Data Offers

Openet announced that ".. Orange Slovakia deployed Openet’s Policy and Charging Control (PCC) infrastructure to enable a major rollout of advanced shared data bundles. The deployment makes it possible for Orange Slovakia to quickly define segmented data offers, with associated balances, notifications and policy rules.

The Openet solution supports Orange Slovakia’s innovative new data plans

Saguna's Optimization and Monetization Technology to be Deployed in 2014

Saguna Networks announced that the ".. Saguna CODS cloud-RAN platform will be deployed in multiple Mobile Networks across 4 continents during the first half of 2014 following a series of successful trials during 2013. The deployments will be carried out by Saguna’s partners, which are among the world’s leading network equipment vendors"

Early last year Saguna announced several partnerships:

Acision Launches Diameter Router

Acision enters the fast growing (54% CAGR - here) crowded (here) Diameter routing market. The vendor launched ".. Acision Diameter Intelligent Signalling Controller (DiSC), enabling operators rolling out LTE and Evolved Packet Switched core networks, to dynamically control and manage increasing data traffic to drive efficiencies and protect their revenue streams. Acision DiSC controls 4G

It’s a traffic tweener: The southbound I-5 collector distributor and you

By Bart Treece

So this weekend, we’re closing lanes on a section of southbound I-5 that’s not quite part of the highway, and not quite a ramp.

The formal name of this thing is the southbound Interstate 5 collector-distributor, and it’s tough to come up with a name that resonates well with folks who aren’t traffic geeks. So what is a collector distributor and how will this affect you this weekend? Good question.  Let’s define collector distributor first. It’s kind of a traffic tweener, meaning it serves many purposes.  This stretch of roadway runs parallel to I-5, and most drivers will recognize it as the southbound I-5 exit to I-90 and the International District. It also connects Spring and James Street on-ramps to southbound I-5, and gives drivers an option to head east to I-90.

Here’s how it works. This animation shows three cars heading south, with the green car peeling off to Airport Way the red car to I-90. The blue car continues south and winds up back on I-5.

Our resident traffic geeks love the collector-distributor as a way to bypass mainline congestion and maximize available roadway. Some folks might be timid to try this (and due to construction this weekend it wouldn’t be a good idea to try it until Monday), because they see the sign and think they’ll end up on Mercer Island instead of points south of downtown. Taking the collector-distributor is totally legal, except for places where it isn’t, like I-405 at NE 85th Street in Kirkland, or anywhere else that is signed exit only. Even the sign on I-405 says it’s verboten, and you could get a ticket.

Back to this weekend, here’s how traffic will move through the construction zone. If this red car is you, don’t let the orange construction stuff scare you, you will still be able to get to I-90 from I-5.

Here’s the details

All but a single lane on the southbound I-5 collector-distributor will close at 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 until 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24. At the same time, the on-ramps from Spring and James streets to southbound I-5 will also close. Need to take a downtown ramp to I-90? Try 4th Avenue South and hop on near the Stadiums. There will be marked detours on surface streets in Seattle.

More weekend closure information can be found on our What’s Happening Now page.

Opera Expands Optimization Beta Test

Opera Software announced in its blog that Opera Max for Android will be available to more beta testers: " In December last year, we opened up Opera Max to a limited number of Android beta testers in the USA to see how you enjoy our new data-savings app.

Well, it seems like many of you like it, and now we want more testers. Starting today, we’re rolling out pre-registration of a public beta

[ABI] DPI and Optimization Market to Reach $5B by '19

A new report by Sabir Rafiq [pictured], Research Analyst, ABI Research finds that "Web and Video Optimization and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) investment will increase to over US$5Billion by 2019. .. The optimization solutions market continues to challenge those vendors, and continued consolidation is likely to achieve a healthy and sustainable ecosystem. Operators should be concerned with the

FCC: The Next Gen Net Neutrality

The FCC's had to do something after losing the Net Neutrality case to Verizon and the immediate effects it had (see related posts below).

Chairman Tom Wheeler [pictured], presented a new set of Net Neutrality rules:

"In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuitinvited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet. I

Thank you, and welcome to the new Google Maps

Over the coming weeks the new Google Maps will make its way onto desktops around the world. Many of you have been previewing it since its debut last May, and thanks to your helpful feedback we’re ready to make the new Maps even more widely available.

It’s now even easier to plan your next trip, check live traffic conditions, discover what’s happening around town, and learn about a new area—with Pegman’s help if needed. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect in the new Google Maps:

  • Make smarter decisions. Simply search for “coffee” in your neighborhood, and you’ll be able to see results and snippets right on the map. When you click on a cafe, the map will suggest related results that you may not have known about.
  • Get where you're going, faster. Car? Bike? Train? Find the most efficient route for you, with your best options laid out on the map, including the time and distance for each route. And with the new real-time traffic reports and Street View previews, you’ll become a commuting ninja.
  • See the world from every angle. Rich imagery takes you to notable landmarks, sends you flying above mountains in 3D, and gives you a sneak peek of businesses you plan to visit. The new “carousel” at the bottom of the map makes all this imagery easy to access, so you can explore the world with a click.
With any product redesign, there may be bumps along the road. We're hoping that you're as excited as we are to navigate uncharted territory in pursuit of the perfect map. As always, we want to hear what you think as we work to improve the new Maps over time.

Here’s to many more years of mapping together!

Exploring new cities for Google Fiber

Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with dozens of communities (PDF) working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S. have stated (PDF) that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education. Portland, Nashville (PDF) and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.

We've long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum. And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we’ve invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.

We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.

We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.

While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.

Netflix Reports Slower Speeds for Verizon

Whether Verizon throttles Netflix' service or not (see "The Post-Net Neutrality Era - Does Verizon Shape Netflix and Amazon?" - here), recent ISP speed ranking by Netflix (see "Netflix - New Site Shows ISP Performance for US, UK, Scandinavia and more" - here) shows a clear degradation for Verizon's FIOS and DSL services since September-October 2013 to January 2014:

See also "Brazil, Chile

Google Capital: investing in growth-stage companies

Ever since our founders began working out of a garage in Menlo Park, we’ve thought about what it takes for entrepreneurs to build the companies they dream of. Sometimes this means bringing great startups to Google—but other times, it means we go to them. Today, we’re launching Google Capital, a new growth equity fund backed by Google and led by partners David Lawee, Scott Tierney and Gene Frantz.

Like our colleagues at Google Ventures, our goal is to invest in the most promising companies of tomorrow, with one important difference. While Google Ventures focuses mainly on early-stage investments, we’ll be looking to invest in companies solely as they hit their growth phase. That means finding companies that have already built a solid foundation and are really ready to expand their business in big ways. We’ll look across a range of industries for companies with new technologies and proven track records in their fields. Our investments to date include SurveyMonkey, Lending Club and Renaissance Learning—with many more to come.

But it’s not just a monetary investment for us. The most important—and distinctive—feature of Google Capital is how we work with our portfolio companies. Over the past 15 years, Google has built a strong business, and that’s mostly thanks to the great people who work here. Our portfolio companies have abundant access to the talent, passion and strategic expertise of some of Google’s technology and product leaders. While many investors may contribute money and advice to the companies they support, Google Capital is going beyond that and tapping into our greatest assets: our people. They help us succeed, and we believe they can help our portfolio companies do the same.

It’s still very early, and investing is a long road. We’re excited about what we’re doing today—but even more excited to see what happens in the years to come.

Infonetics, Openet, CSG and Oracle Present PCC Revenue Opportunities

Infonetics Research shared some slides from the "Adding Value to the Network with Integrated Policy and Charging" webinar it held yesterday with CSG International, Openet and Oracle Communications.

The whole show is available here.

Top applications operators are able to offer using policy management. Join in now or on-demand:  

One example of many of how operators are using policy

Qosmos Announces DPI for Virtual Switches (Intel first)

Qosmos continues with its NFV/SDN strategy (see "Qosmos Updates DPI Engine with SDN/NFV Readiness, Performance and New Protocols" - here) and announced the ".. new Qosmos Service Aware Module (SAM), which adds intelligence and service awareness to virtual switches. Virtual switch developers benefit from rapid time-to-market for solutions requiring built-in application intelligence, while telcos

Wi-Fi Management [287]: Virgin Media [UK] to Use Devicescape in 1.1M Locations

Devicescape announced that "Virgin Media has signed a contract for the supply of their Wi-Fi service platform, underpinned by the company’s Curated Virtual Network (CVN). Users will benefit from greater connectivity to Wi-Fi hotspots when they’re on the go. Devicescape forecasts its CVN network will reach 1.1 million locations in the UK by 2017.

Devicescape are contracted to supply Virgin Media

Procera Launches KPI based Analytics Reporting

Procera Networks announced the ".. launch of new Internet Intelligence Insights solutions designed for visualizing Internet Intelligence for different audiences inside network operators. Insights is the first product line in the Internet Intelligence Center product family. Insights is a web-based visualization platform that leverages the rich analytics and intelligence data provided by

[Calcalist]: Questions about Viber's Acquisition

Asaf Gilad [pictured] raises some doubts in Calcalist regarding the acquisition terms of Viber Media by Rakuten (see "[No longer a denied rumor] - Viber Sold for $900M" - here).

According to Asaf (who was the first to report about the acquisition process - here), Viber's shareholders will get a small portion of the $900M now, and the rest in two milestones based installments - $600M related to

PCC Deployments [286]: Robi Axiata [Bangladesh] Expands Tango Telecom System

Tango Telecom announces a ".. major upgrade and expansion win with Robi Axiata Limited to increase capacity and to provide new and innovative Policy Control use cases such as Dynamic Pricing for Data Services to the operator’s rapidly growing subscriber base .. Tango Telecom’s Policy Control solution enables Robi Axiata’s subscribers to benefit from highly innovative plans and promotions such

Sandvine Enables CSPs to Offer Managed Analytics, Traffic management and Security Services

Sandvine announced a "..virtual offering that provides Communications Service Providers (CSPs) the ability to offer Sandvine’s entire suite of network policy control solutions as managed services to their business customers. 

The new offering is made possible by Sandvine’s fully virtualized policy control platform – the first of its kind [see "Sandvine: 'leading edge CSPs around the world are

Procera: Netflix' House of Cards Stats; Need 27GB to See it All

House of cards fan and Procera's VP of Global Marketing, Cam Cullen, was quick to provide us with statistics on season 2' 13 episodes released yesterday by Netflix to the net:

"I just finished binge watching the entire second season of House of Cards, and although I am not a TV or film critic, I feel quite satisfied for someone that spent somewhere close to 12 hours watching TV today .. The

Optimization Deployments [285]: Virgin Mobile [France] Deploys Avvasi to Improve Video QoE

Virgin Mobile France announced that they have "..selected and deployed the Avvasi Q-SRV Video Service Gateway .. Virgin Mobile France is the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) to leverage multiple networks to serve their clients. They have evaluated a variety of traffic management vendors with the goal of improving video QoE and overall customer experience cost effectively. The

[No longer a denied rumor] - Viber Sold for $900M

What started as a rumor [see - "[Calcalist]: Viber to be Acquired for $400M" - here] and was denied by Viber's CEO 3 days ago (here) is now confirmed.


Reuters reports that "Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc said on Friday it will buy instant messaging app provider Viber Media Ltd for $900 million, hoping to tap the Cyprus-based company's rapidly expanding business in emerging

Vasona Adds Cell-Level Analytics

Vasona Networks [see "[Vendor Review]: Vasona's Cell Traffic Management" - here and "Vasona Raised $12M; Vodafone Participated" - here] announced the "..SmartVISION™ analysis suite. Mobile operators deploy SmartVISION for visibility about application activities within each cell of a network, including every session's impact on capacity utilization and congestion conditions. The new offering

SDC Deployments [284]: CITIC [Asia] Deploys F5 for IPX Service

F5 Networks announced that "CITIC Telecom International .. has deployed the F5® Traffix® Signaling Delivery Controller Diameter solution to optimize its IPX (Internet Protocol eXchange) service .. The IPX solution provides a one-stop-shop turnkey solution for IDD voice, mobile roaming signaling, SMS messaging, and roaming data services for both mobile and fixed network operators, as well as

Vantrix Adds Probe-less Congestion Management

Vantrix announced the ".. availability of version 3.3 of its flagship product, Bandwidth Optimizer. This release provides new server-based congestion management capabilities that can automatically optimize video traffic based on current network congestion conditions without requiring any type of external probes or data from third-party sources. 

Bandwidth Optimizer 3.3 also introduces new

Kicking off the 2014 Google Science Fair: It’s your turn to change the world

What if you could turn one of your passions into something that could change the world? That's just what thousands of teens have done since the first Google Science Fair in 2011. These students have tackled some of today’s greatest challenges, like an anti-flu medicine, more effective ways to beat cancer, an exoskeletal glove, a battery-free flashlight, banana bioplastics and more efficient ways of farming.

Now it’s time to do it again: we're calling for students ages 13-18 to submit their brilliant ideas for the fourth annual Google Science Fair, in partnership with Virgin Galactic, Scientific American, LEGO Education and National Geographic. All you need to participate is curiosity and an Internet connection. Project submissions are due May 12, and the winners will be announced at the finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., on September 22.

In addition to satisfying your curious mind, your project can also win you some pretty cool prizes. This year’s grand prize winner will have the chance to join the Virgin Galactic team at Spaceport America in New Mexico as they prepare for space flight and will be among the first to welcome the astronauts back to Earth, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour and a full year’s digital access to Scientific American magazine for their school. Age category winners will have a choice between going behind the scenes at the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark or an amazing experience at either a Google office or National Geographic.

For the 2014 competition, we’ll also give two new awards to celebrate even more talented young scientists:

  • The Computer Science Award will be given to a project that champions innovation and excellence in the field of computer science.
  • Local Award Winners—students whose projects have attempted to address an issue relevant to their community—will be honored in select locations globally.
And the Scientific American Science In Action award will once again honor a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge. The winner will receive a year’s mentoring from Scientific American and a $50,000 grant toward their project.

Stay updated throughout the competition on our Google+ page, get inspired by participating in virtual field trips and ask esteemed scientists questions in our Hangout on Air series. If you need help jump-starting your project, try out the Idea Springboard for inspiration.

What do you love? What are you good at? What problem have you always dreamed of solving? Get started with your project today—it’s your turn to change the world.

PCC Deployments[283]: WIND [Greece] Deploys Ericsson's SAPC

Ericsson announced that "WIND Hellas has announced the completion of a one-year transformation and network evolution project aimed at reorganizing and modernizing its Mobile Packet Core. The installation of a modern multi-access Evolved Packet Core network - including Ericsson's Evolved Packet Gateway based on the latest SSR 8000 family [see "Ericsson Q4 '13: 18 New SSR 8000 Contracts, 6 in

Advice from the afternoon @wsdot_traffic gal could save you heartache over the long weekend

By guest blogger Harmony Haveman Weinberg, aka @wsdot_traffic afternoon gal

As the official eyes of the afternoon Seattle commute, I see gnarly, nasty, unexpected and unpredictable traffic backups. Just how bad is the frustration among those stuck in a backup? Well, imagine being around your sweetie who did not receive flowers on Valentine’s Day. Yes. Drivers can feel that frustrated.

(Pssst: The holiday is Friday, Feb. 14! You’ve been warned.)

While some traffic events are unavoidable, dealing with major backups on southbound Interstate 5 in Seattle this weekend can be prevented. How? Well, it’s really all up to you, the individual driver.

You have the power, but I want to help.

I have some tips to guide you. Consider this my Valentine’s gift to you. But unlike the mystery of an unmarked box of chocolates, these tips will help you know what you are going to get.What’s that? You want to give me a gift, too? Here’s what I’d really like (besides roses and chocolate, of course): Help us spread the love this Valentine’s Day weekend by making sure all your loved ones get the message and plan ahead too.

When can I expect major backups this weekend?
  • Any time from 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 through 5 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18

Where’s the construction?
  • Two of three lanes on southbound I-5 between Pine Street (just north of the Washington State Convention Center)  and I-90 in downtown Seattle. During the closure we will replace four highway-wide expansion joints.
Crews chipped away concrete and debris last month in preparation
to replace a 50-year-old expansion joint.

But I have to drive into Seattle this weekend!
  • Avoid southbound I-5 into the city if possible. SR 99 is the best alternative.
  • All on- and off-ramps in downtown Seattle will remain open.
  • We’re keeping the I-5 express lanes open southbound until 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. This helps provide more access to the downtown Seattle on- and off-ramps, especially useful for carpoolers (hint, hint). However, and I stress however, they will not help you avoid the big closure because where they end, the construction begins. The I-5 express lanes will operate southbound on Monday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Can you carpool? Take public transit? Take rail? Maybe work from home if you don’t get Presidents Day off?
  • Local streets are also good alternates.
  • If you plan to travel south of downtown, consider using southbound I-405.
Will I be able to access I-90?
  • You betcha! The collector distributor, which runs parallel to southbound I-5, will be open allowing you to access I-90.  See map below.

History speaks for itself:
  • We’ve had closures like this before. A few weeks ago it took folks traveling northbound about 50 minutes to get through the work zone. The alternate routes were underutilized. This weekend can be different, but the keys to change this are in the hands of drivers. Have your plan ready to go and avoid backups.
Why is the closure happening on the long President’s Day holiday weekend?
  • There’s really no good time to reduce southbound I-5 to one lane in Seattle. With that said, this is crucial work that needs to be completed as soon as possible. While we make sure road work isn’t taking up lanes on busy travel holidays like Memorial or Labor Day weekends, President’s Day is different. It’s not a holiday for everyone but historically there are fewer vehicles on the road. Also, by working until the wee hours of Tuesday morning we can pack two weekends worth of expansion joint repair work into a single one.
@wsdot_twitter will not leave you!
  • Follow us on Twitter! We will be working throughout the weekend! Our team will stay on top of the traffic conditions.
  • Get the app! Let’s just say, it could be your best friend this weekend (besides, of course, your Valentine)
Remember, you have the power to keep traffic backups to a minimum! Together… We can do this!

[Calcalist]: Viber to be Acquired for $400M

Asaf Gilad reports to Calcalist [here, Hebrew] that Viber, the VoiP/chat application is about to be acquired by an "Asian competitor in the chat space" for $300-400M.

According to the article, Viber has 200M registered users, of which third are in Asia. The company has 120 employees - in Israel (40), Belarus and the headquarters in Cyprus.

Viber has some "sponsored data" agreements with MNOs

Solve for X 2014: Celebrating and accelerating moonshot pioneers

Last week, Solve for X gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18 moonshot proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.

Solve for X attendee Sara Menker shares ideas and critique from her group’s brainstorming session.

Ira Glass opened the summit with a talk on climate change entitled “Ira Glass tries to boss you into a moonshot.” Ira mixed data, devastating personal experiences, potential technical solutions and insightful ways to think about the issue and made an excellent case that generalists should consider shifting focus to climate change.

Following Ira’s talk, we heard proposals on a wide variety of topics, including: Leslie Dewan’s proposal for generating power from nuclear waste building on technology ideas abandoned in the 1950s; Lonnie Johnson’s JTEC invention, which would allow us to convert heat directly into electricity; Howard Shapiro’s global collaboration that uses some of the newest and oldest technologies in agriculture to end stunting for rural poor; Julia Greer’s exploration of the relationship between a material's strength and its weight through 3D architected nanomaterials; Yael Hanein’s artificial solar retina, which has the potential to cure blindness; Erez Livneh’s virus decoys, which could slow and eliminate disease; and Asel Sartbeava’s proposal for thermally stable vaccines that remove the need for refrigeration cold chain during transport.
Ido Bachelet explains how certain surgical interventions could be accomplished through nanorobots.

During a “show and tell” session, participants from previous Solve for X events shared updates on their moonshots. Omri Amirav-Drory showed us plants that glow when activated; Dr. Keith Black brought delicious Dr. Black’s Brain Bars; Karen Gleason brought solar cells printed on paper; Andras Forgacs brought the first “steak chips” that Modern Meadow is beta-“tasting.”
Suchitra Sebastian’s demonstration during her proposal on a new generation of superconductors.

In an effort to include more people in the Solve for X experience, this year we ran 10 experiments to bring our exploration session format into other organizations’ events, including TEDx Beacon Street, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival; we even held an event on Capitol Hill. FabLab, ReWork and AAAS recently became collaborators, joining Singularity University, XPrize, TED and others. We hope we’ll run into you at an event in your area.

To learn more, watch our video “On Taking Moonshots” in which several moonshot pioneers talk about the mindset needed to do this kind of breakthrough work. You can find all 18 of the proposals from the 2014 Summit, as well as 200+ moonshots posted by other pioneers, at SolveforX.com. You can also submit moonshots—your own or others that fit the tech moonshot proposal format. Join our #TechMoonshots conversations on Google+ and Twitter.

Leading by Example in 2014

Anybody familiar with the Foundation’s work has certainly seen or heard us use the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” in describing the nation’s traffic safety culture.

This characterization reflects the fact that high numbers of respondents on our annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey routinely admit to engaging in the same risky driving behaviors that they say pose a threat to safety, and are unacceptable when performed by others. It’s an attitude that we’d like to see shift toward “Leading by example,” whereby motorists would hold themselves to the same standards they know are necessary for safety on our roadways.

Perhaps not surprisingly, little changed in this regard in our sixth annual survey, just published late last month. So maybe it’s time, then, to take a step back and reflect on why we are so persistent in pressing this issue.

Our latest findings show that one third of Americans have had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash. That’s over 100 million of us – including some of us right here at the Foundation – who have been touched by loss or affected by the struggles of recovery of a loved one. And each year, more than 33,000 of us lose our lives entirely. For what? Because somebody couldn’t wait for a green light? Couldn’t resist sending a text? Didn’t bother to arrange a sober ride home? Didn’t get enough sleep?

Traffic crashes and the hurt they cause are preventable and outrageous, and our mission of “saving lives through research and education” is centered on identifying risks and solutions to effect real-world improvements. One area in which we began to get new insight with our 2013 survey was marijuana use and driving. With several places now considering or already legalizing marijuana, this is truly an emerging topic that requires study. In 2013, our survey found that more than one third (36.3%) of drivers who reported using marijuana in the past year admitted to driving within one hour of doing so.

Late last month our Research and Development Advisory Committee helped us establish our research priorities for the coming year. As plans are finalized, we will post details here and on our Current Projects web page. As always, we hope you’ll learn about these studies and help us “lead by example” in 2014 and beyond, as we continue to work Toward Zero Deaths in the U.S. and around the world.

Amdocs Positions Actix/Celcite as its SON Solution

Amdocs announced the "..Amdocs Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) solution, which automates the optimization of radio access networks (RANs) .. Amdocs SON gives mobile service providers a market-proven [See "Amdocs: Telus [Canada]; TIM, Nextel [Brazil]; Vodafone, Telefonica [Germany] Selected Actix/Celcite" - here] solution that efficiently manages increasingly complex heterogeneous networks (

[Informa]: OSS/BSS Market CAGR - 4.7% for 2013-17

Alex Leslie reports to BillingViews that a recent market forecast by Informa Telecoms and Media (here, subscription required) finds that  "The BSS market will grow faster than the OSS market between now and 2017 .. By 2017, the BSS market will be worth $42.8 billion (from $30.6 billion in 2013), with OSS at $31.8 billion (from $28.4 billion in 2013) .. Informa do not see huge growth in cloud

Swisscom: "Demand for Speed Will Grow Further"

Highlights from Swisscom 2013 earning presentation (here):

At home: The Future of Wireline Ultra Broadband Switzerland is already one of the leading broadband nations in Europe. Further growth in demand will accelerate adoption of ultra broadband

On the move: The Future Of Ultra Wireless Broadband Swisscom aims to delight customers by exceeding customer quality and speed expectation, while

[Sandvine]: "The ceremonies themselves accounted for an average 2.8% of downstream traffic"

Yet another global sports event, showing increased use of online streaming as an alternative to traditional broadcast. This time we get the stats from Dan Deeth, Sandvine on the company's blog:

"Yesterday the 2014 Winter Olympics began, and today the opening ceremonies were held. In Canada where Sandvine is headquartered, we are fortunate, because our public broadcaster, the CBC is streaming

Vodafone: LTE (2M Subscribers) and Unlimited Plans Improve ARPU

Vodafone's Dec 2013 results (here and here) provide some information on data services, including the roll-out of LTE ("4G") and RED, Vodafone's unlimited plans.

"We have continued to make progress with our Vodafone 2015 strategy. 9.8 million customers are now on Vodafone Red plans, and we remain on track to meet our upgraded target of 11-12 million customers by March 2014 .. Our 4G services are

Chromebox, now for simpler and better meetings

The best meetings are face-to-face—we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions. But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work—they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security.

Chromebox for meetings brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps in an easy-to-manage Chromebox, making it simpler for any company to have high-definition video meetings. Here are a few highlights:

  • Instant meeting room. Chromebox for meetings comes with a blazing-fast Intel Core i7-based Chromebox, a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. Set up your entire room in minutes and easily manage all meeting rooms from a web-based management console. All you need is the display in your room, and you’re good to go.
  • Simpler and faster meetings. Walk into the room, click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar.
  • Meetings with anyone, anywhere. Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones. Need to meet with a customer who doesn’t use Chromebox for meetings? That’s easy too—all they need is a Gmail account. You can also connect to rooms that have traditional video conferencing systems using a new tool from Vidyo, and participants who prefer phones can join your meeting with a conference call number from UberConference.
Chromebox for meetings is available in the U.S. today starting at $999, which includes the ASUS Chromebox and everything you need to get going. That means for the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room, they'll be able to outfit 10 rooms—or more. CDW and SYNNEX will help bring Chromebox for meetings to customers and resellers, and Chromeboxes from HP and Dell will be available for meetings in the coming months. Later this year, we plan to launch in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.

Companies like Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk and Woolworths have been testing Chromebox for meetings, and have told us that they love the simple setup, the ease of use, and being able to see their colleagues in other offices. More importantly, the low price will enable them to extend these benefits to even more employees, rooms and offices. Find out how Chromebox for meetings can help you and your coworkers see eye-to-eye. Happy meetings, everyone!

Ericsson Acquires ABR Specialist Azuki

Ericsson announced it has "..entered into an agreement to acquire Massachusetts-based Azuki Systems [see "Azuki Helps Service Providers Manage OTT Media" - here] a provider of TV Anywhere delivery platforms for service providers, content owners and broadcasters ..  Through the acquisition, Ericsson will accelerate the availability of new and compelling viewing experiences across a variety of

The Post-Net Neutrality Era - Does Verizon Shape Netflix and Amazon?

David Raphael reports in his blog about a chat he had with Verizon's support, in which the agent admittes that Verizon "is limiting bandwidth to cloud providers" which "exactly" explains why "netflix quality is bad now". 

"Frankly, I was surprised he admitted to this. I’ve since tested this almost every day for the last couple of weeks. During the day – the bandwidth is normal to AWS.

Art, made with code: calling all future interactive artists

In between creating masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and “Madonna and Child,” Michelangelo dissected cadavers in the hopes of understanding how the human body worked so he could paint it accurately. He’s not the only one: there has long been a connection between science and art. And it’s true today more than ever, as modern artists use technology for inspiration, inventing ways to give life to code, letting it spill from the screen and onto the canvas. We call this “DevArt,” and this summer, we’re teaming up with the Barbican in London and their Digital Revolution exhibition to celebrate DevArt in an interactive gallery. And we want you to be a part of it.

As part of this exhibition, we’re looking for the next up-and-coming developer artist. This is your opportunity to express your creativity, and to have your work featured in the Barbican and seen by millions of people around the world. To throw your hat in the ring, build a project on the DevArt site and show us what you would create. From there, we’ll pick one creator whose work will sit alongside three of the world’s finest interactive artists who are also creating installations for DevArt: Karsten Schmidt, Zach Lieberman, and the duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet.

The exhibition will open at the Barbican this summer. Until then, visit g.co/devart, where you can submit your own project. If you’re not the creative coding type, visit the site to see some incredible art and follow the artists’ creative process—from concept and early sketches to the finished piece—on their respective Project Pages. You'll get a rare look into artists’ ways of working with modern technologies (including some Google products), and maybe even get inspired to create something yourself.

If you had the chance to make your mark in today’s art world with technology as your canvas, what would you create? We’d like you to show us.

Procera: "Super Bowl streaming traffic hit highs of ~10% of overall traffic"

Cam Cullen reported to Procera's blog on the Super Bowl traffic stats:

"Some highlights of our survey of ~9 different US broadband markets (a market being defined as a single “NFL City” or a regional ISP):

Anywhere from .5% to 1.2% of active subscribers during the Super Bowl broadcast actually tuned into the live stream 
Interestingly enough, those users did not use appreciably more bandwidth

Sandvine Adds a 200Gbps/2RU Appliance w/100GE Interfaces

Sandvine announced the "..  launch of the Policy Traffic Switch (PTS) 32000. This next generation of Policy Traffic Switch is the world’s first 100GE network policy control element in a two rack unit (2RU) form factor". 

See "Sandvine Unveils World’s First 2RU 100GE Network Policy Control Element" - here.

It’s time to Doodle 4 Google! How would you make the world a better place?

Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of flying machines, and before there was a submarine, there were doodles of underwater sea explorers. Ideas big and small, practical and playful, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more!

Doodle 4 Google is the chance for young artists to think and dream big. Our theme this year, "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…” is all about curiosity, possibility and imagination.

Creating the best doodle comes with major perks: this year—for the first time ever—the winner of the competition will become an honorary Google Doodler for a day and animate his or her Doodle for the homepage with the Doodle team. The winning Doodle will then be featured on the Google homepage for a day for millions to see. If that’s not cool enough, the winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school.

If you feel like your young artist may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we’re partnering with Discovery Education to offer videos and activities for teachers and parents as well as a virtual field trip to Google’s headquarters. We’re also offering interactive “Meet the Doodler” Connected Classrooms sessions where kids can meet Google Doodlers, learn about their process from idea to a Doodle, and ask questions along the way.

Mark your calendar to send in your kids’ submissions by March 20. Judging starts with Googlers and a panel of guest judges, including astronaut Ron Garan, author of the Percy Jackson Series Rick Riordan, Google[x] Captain of Moonshoot Astro Teller, directors of The LEGO Movie Chris and Phil, President of RISD school Rosanne Somerson, robotics designer Lee Magpili, and authors Lemony Snicket and Mary Pope Osborne.

On April 29, we’ll announce the 50 state finalists and open up a public vote to select the national winner. These 50 kids will all get to visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on May 21 for a day full of creative workshops and other fun activities—and the winning (animated!) doodle will be revealed on google.com in June.

Participating is easier than ever. Teachers and parents can download entry forms on our Doodle 4 Google site. Doodles can be uploaded digitally to our site or mailed in. We encourage full classrooms to participate too! There’s no limit to the number of doodles from any one school or family... Just remember, only one doodle per student.

That’s all I’ve got. Now get to doodling!

Amdocs: Telus [Canada]; TIM, Nextel [Brazil]; Vodafone, Telefonica [Germany] Selected Actix/Celcite

Amdocs announced "a number of customer wins [and expansions] for mobile network optimization capabilities resulting from its recent acquisitions of Actix [see "Amdocs Acquires Actix ($120M) to Provide Geo-located Network Information" - here] and Celcite [see "Amdocs Acquires Celcite for $129M" - here]:

[see also "Amdocs Explains Celcite/Actix Business" - here]

TIM Brasil [here] to

A Groundhog Day Wish: Safe Winter Driving for Six More Weeks

According to the famed shadow-spotting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, we are in for another six weeks of winter. This makes last week's American Highway Users Alliance press conference on the importance of safe winter driving and road maintenance all the more timely and important.
Highlighting the major snow storms which battered much of the U.S. last week - leading to a deadly multi-vehicle pileup on Indiana’s Interstate 94 and leaving scores of motorists stranded in the South - the press event provided data from a new study showing the benefits of timely ice and snow removal from the nation's roadways. 

Conducted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, the study found that the use of road salt reduces collisions by up to 85 percent, and that before-and-after analysis on four-lane roads showed a 93 percent reduction in crashes after deicing. For jurisdictions concerned about the costs of having a robust winter maintenance plan, the study also found that deicing pays for itself a mere 25 minutes after salt is applied.

The dangers of wintry roadways are well known: more than 1,300 people are killed and another nearly 117,000 are injured each year in crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement. There is also a serious economic consideration when roads become impassable due to ice and snow: an earlier study presented by the Highway Users found that a one-day snowstorm can cost a state as much as $300-$700 million in both direct and indirect costs.

These concerns are at the tops of many motorists' minds this time of year, as they are for those of us at the AAA Foundation. That's why we were very pleased that AAA's John Townsend, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, was a featured speaker at the press conference, offering valuable safe driving tips. To maximize winter road safety, AAA and the Foundation encourage motorists to: 

  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated - after all, they're the only part of your car that contacts the roadway!
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. As we saw again in the debacle in Atlanta last week, roads can become impassable without warning, and having enough gas to stay warm and outlast an unexpected delay is essential.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly - it takes longer to slow down on snowy, icy roads.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your trunk at all times, such as water, a shovel, kitty litter, blankets, gloves and hats, etc.
For more tips on safe winter driving, check out AAA's brochure, "How to Go on Ice and Snow." For details on the Highway Users press conference and the new study presented, see the full press release here.

Supporting computer science education with the 2014 RISE Awards

"We need more kids falling in love with science and math.” That's what Larry Page said at last year's I/O, and it's a feeling shared by all of us. We want to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. Unfortunately, many kids don’t have access to either the education or encouragement they need to pursue computer science. So five years ago we created the Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards, which provide funding to organizations around the world that engage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular computer science programs.

This year, the RISE Awards are providing $1.5 million to 42 organizations in 19 countries that provide students with the resources they need to succeed in the field. For example, Generating Genius in the U.K. provides after-school computer science programs and mentoring to prepare high-achieving students from disadvantaged communities for admission into top universities. Another awardee, North Carolina-based STARS Computer Corps, helps schools in low-income communities gain access to computing resources for their students to use. Visit our site for a full list of our RISE Award recipients.

Created in 2007, the Children’s University Foundation has been carrying out educational programs for more than 20,000 children aged 6-13. Click on the photo to learn more about this and other RISE Awardees.

This year we’re also expanding the program with the RISE Partnership Awards. These awards aim to encourage collaboration across organizations in pursuit of a shared goal of increasing global participation in computer science. For example, more than 5,000 girls in sub-Saharan Africa will learn computer science as a result of a partnership between the Harlem based program ELITE and the WAAW Foundation in Nigeria.

We’re proud to help these organizations inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

Shedding light on Snoqualmie Pass

By Meagan McFadden

This is how the LEDs will look
once they’re installed in the highway.
It’s cold, dark and raining. You prepared for this trip over Snoqualmie Pass all week, but there is one thing you cannot prepare for. Where are the lane stripes? The only thing separating your car from the car next to you is your attention.

On an average winter - this year being an exception! - more than 400 inches of snow falls on Snoqualmie Pass. Lane stripes fade from deicer, snow removal, studded tires and chains. Keeping lane stripes visible is a big challenge! This year we will have a striping truck at the Hyak maintenance shed so we can try and get out whenever the weather is dry to restripe areas that are fading.

Safety is our number one priority. With the help of a federal grant aimed at improving highway safety, we are testing a new kind of lane marker to help define where the lanes are. Basically, we are going to insert a solar-powered light into the highway, the fancy name is a solar-powered light-emitting diode. We are hoping these LEDs will help drivers see where the lanes are during the long dark Cascade winters. We will be installing the LEDs this summer over the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.

Before we start the project, we want to hear about your experience driving over Snoqualmie, particularly during dark, rainy conditions. Whether you travel over the pass once a month, once a year or once in your life, please take a few minutes to shed some light on the visibility of lane markings over the pass by taking our online survey. This survey will be online until later this summer. Responses from the survey will establish the baseline of public opinion before the new lane markers are in place.

This project is the first of its kind in the state and we are hopeful the new kind of lane markings will improve visibility despite dark, seasonal conditions. If successful, solar-powered LED lane markings may be considered for other locations along the I-90 corridor.

We will conduct a follow up online survey in the fall of 2014 to determine if drivers think the new LED markers improve visibility of the lanes.

We hope next winter, you won’t be squinting and asking yourself, “What lane am I in?”

Shedding some light on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests

We believe the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google. That’s why for the past four years we’ve shared and continuously expanded and updated information about government requests for user information in our Transparency Report.

Until now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) opposed our efforts to publish statistics specifically about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications. Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret. Last summer’s revelations about government surveillance remind us of the challenges that secrecy can present to a democracy that relies on public debate.

Last year we filed a lawsuit asking the FISA Court to let us disclose the number of FISA requests we may receive and how many users/accounts they include. We’d previously secured permission to publish information about National Security Letters, and FISA requests were the only remaining type of demands excluded from our report.

Today, for the first time, our report on government requests for user information encompasses all of the requests we receive, subject only to delays imposed by the DoJ regarding how quickly we can include certain requests in our statistics.

Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction, and speaks to the principles for reform that we announced with other companies last December. But we still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest. Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why we need Congress to go another step further and pass legislation (PDF) that will enable us to say more.

You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online. We’ll keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world.