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The Transit Navigator uses a website and other web tools to improve the usability of Public Transportation ("make public transit navigation simple").
This capstone project developed and founded the innovative resource known as The Transit Navigator. The service takes two approaches to solving the problem of simplifying transit systems. First, the website provides detailed but simple information about public transit in a variety of cities. This makes it easy to understand the transit options available, how to navigate them, and where to learn more. The other aspect of TransitNav is the use of foursquare tips to facilitate on-the-go information. Users can simply follow transitnav on foursquare for access. When they check-in at a location, the system automatically populates one of The Transit Navigator's numerous tips and displays it on their screen. Foursquare's "Lists" feature allows users to browse these TransitNav suggestions by region and service. There are also a few TransitNav sightseeing guides that make it easy to quickly explore a region. Personal experience (over six years of gathering transit knowledge and working as an Amtrak intern!), mapping tools (such as Google Maps), photographs (from photo-sharing tools) and individual transportation sites acted as references. Plus, thanks to the "live" nature of the Transit Navigator Web Terminal, these resources will continually be updated as new information is required. Check it out online at http://transitnav.com!
Overall, the answer for which I was most accurate was internet usage (where my guess was overestimated by only one person). This is most likely due to my technological experience and understanding of the internet. The answers for which I was least accurate were with literacy and electricity. I underestimated the percentage of households with electricity and similarly did so with education. The best attribution for such a result is that I have seen many activist programs for increasing overall literacy and technology access across the world; this caused me to over-emphasize these issues. The answer for which I was most shocked was that 75% of the world currently subscribes to a cell phone. This was most interesting as many other values for technology access are much lower. Thus, cell phones have become so widespread that they are a great way of expanding communication and internet access across the world.
For this project, my partner and I selected to explain the Green Card application process. This in-depth process involves filling out numerous forms with personal information regarding one's ability to get a green card. This has the primary routes of through a family member, a business or employment opportunity, a refugee scenario, or a variety of other reasons (as specific as being an American Indian born in Canada). Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in applying for a green card is determining the easiest route to citizenship depending on the specific eligibility requirements. The paperwork for this application was not very long, but would certainly be complex to someone of foreign nationality. If I could change this process, I would make the application much simpler and provide a method for persons to submit supplemental documentation to help humanize the process and remind the government employees that their decisions are regarding humans, not checkboxes on a paper. Most likely, this system began with such an easy process, but as numerous paths to citizenship have been released, the complication of eligibility requirements has quickly multiplied. Lastly, with regard to filling out the Green Card forms for the purpose of the project, I would use fake information to ensure that the information could be distributed and made available for the public without any privacy concerns.
In this portion of the lobbying task, it was time to investigate the current legislative powers and the likelihood of Amtrak Funding legislation. So far, this appears to be a good year for such legislation. While some members of the House and Senate feel as though the American railroad lines should be sold to private corporations, the majority still feel as though funding Amtrak would be the best for supporting railroad transportation. This is also portrayed in the media, which is covering the issue fairly well. In addition, the key person for new Amtrak legislation is Senator Frank Lautenberg of NJ (of which I am a constituent). This has some benefits and downsides in influencing such passage. While certainly helpful to be able to discuss the issues directly with the congressperson introducing the bill, it is, in common terms, "preaching to the choir." In other words, he doesn't need to be influenced to support such legislation.
The key group lobbying in support of this legislation is the National Association of Railroad Passengers. It would certainly be possible to join efforts with their group to lobby for the common goal of funding railroad transportation. Time spent influencing key legislators necessary for such passage will predominately include discussing the issues with the members of the congressional committee focused on studying the feasibility of railroad privatization and the opposition to such funding in both the House and Senate. While this was one of the primary concerns of congress, the focus has shifted to balancing the federal budget, so this time would be best spent discussing the issues with the committee members and waiting for the federal budget situation to be solved. Since such focus has shifted, there are no current meetings or hearings on the agenda; the committee has already presented their findings in support of Amtrak, but have not determined an appropriate amount.
Overall, there is much support for the issue, especially amongst those who have researched the topic; however, due to more pressing issues, the legislation has been placed aside for issues of greater priority. Once such legislative discussions return to focus on rail issues, the full force of the lobbying can resume.
As a railfan, I wanted to focus on a bill that affected Amtrak or rail transportation. As such, I decided to research the failed Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007/2008. Since the information would revolve around the bill's movement, I decided to make a Prezi such that it would be easy to visualize how a bill goes through the process of becoming a law. The most challenging portion of this project was researching the factors that influenced the bills movement throughout congress. However, once it was completed, it was easy to present and design the Prezi.
If I were to re-create the project, I would probably want to incorporate multiple bills such that it would be easy to understand how bills can take different paths throughout congress. This would better allow me to present the information regarding the bill creation process. The process itself, while very intricate and with multiple steps, is rather simple in that one idea gets presented, researched, debated, drafted, budgeted, sent to the other portion of congress, at which point the system repeats itself. This long process makes it easy for congresspeople and the president to prevent a bill from becoming a law. However, the measures in place to override nay votes and vetoes allows for the government to go forth and pass legislation when a large majority of the persons agree.
Lautenberg, the chair of the Senate's Surface Transportation subcommittee, has always been in favor of railroad transportation throughout the United States. In fact, for his efforts to support railroads, the Secaucus Junction train station (a large transfer station serving three quarters of all NJ Transit trains) was renamed the "Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Junction Station." Lautenberg's focus on railroads comes partly from his background, since his immigrant family often traveled on trains, but also comes from his work as Executive Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. His efforts to support railroads are widely supported, since many North Jersey and Central Jersey residents use NJ Transit to commute to work in New York City. Overall, it will be easy to get Senator Lautenberg to support Amtrak Funding.
Senator Menendez, while not an outspoken rail advocate, does support railroads. He has voted in favor of Amtrak in every rail-based election since his inauguration. While this support often comes from pressure by Sen. Lautenberg, it will still be easy to get him to support rail funding.
Lastly, Rep. Rob Andrews has been a partial railroad advocate. While he personally wants to support railroads, many South Jersey residents don't. This is most likely the result of a lack railroad transportation in South Jersey (with only the PATCO, Atlantic City Line, and River Line). However, Rep. Andrews has been supporting the proposed Camden-Glassboro line. If the state bill passes, he can certainly support an Amtrak bill without any negative campaigning from his constituents.
Overall, my representatives will be easy to work with and will hopefully support my efforts to increase rail funding.
Facts of the Case: Cory Maples was arrested and convicted for first degree murder in Alabama. In Alabama, once someone is convicted, they are not given free council. Since he could not afford an attorney, he contacted two New York legislators who would act as his out-of-state council pro-bono. As with any out of state council in Alabama, there needed to be a local council to oversee the case on the local scale. After filing for post-conviction relief (where Maples petitioned the court to have his death penalty overturned), he request was denied. The copy of that denial was sent to the New York lawyers and the Alabama lawyer. However, both of his New York lawyers left their firm, and the ruling was returned to the county clerk. In addition, the Alabama lawyer did not convey the ruling to Maples, since he assumed the New York lawyers would have done so. After not hearing his ruling, he contacted the county clerk who sent a copy of the ruling directly to the prison (where it would be given to Maples). Unfortunately, upon receipt of said document, he noticed that the deadline for him to appeal the petition had already passed. Therefore, he wished to argue that continuing his death sentence would be unconstitutional since he was not given ample time to appeal (due to his lawyers' inability to represent Maples in this scenario).
Summary of the Arguments before the SCOTUS: In the supreme court hearing, the story was conveyed before the court by a representative of Maples to explain the ways in which his appeal deadline should have been extended in this instance (or his case be re-evaluated). Some members of the supreme court questioned whether the court should be punished by having to re-hear the case (taking up the court's valuable time). In addition, the Maples representative reiterated that Maples should not be punished for the abandonment by three responsible lawyers. However, the court did seem be particularly hesitant at the vast implications that a ruling for abandonment could bring.
Prediction: While the court did not want to have huge implications, it appears as though they will side on behalf of Maples. This will probably be done with a complex ruling explaining the numerous factors for abandonment by lawyers to be considered ineffective council (which is prohibited by the sixth amendment).
Reflection: I greatly enjoyed this project. I found the ability to deeply study one piece of history and change one aspect to create a new one quite intriguing. While fulfilling, it was challenging to find the tiny details that would change the outcome of history. The most interesting thing that I researched was the individual impacts of Senator Pell and the founder of the NARPA on the magnitude of future outcomes. Specifically, their efforts in advocating for the bill were the sole reasons that Amtrak and rail transportation exists today. They are only one example of individuals having such an impact on the historical record. Systemic changes also affect the historical record in many ways. For example, if Amtrak was never founded, the 9/11 Shanksville, PA crash. In addition, these all revolved around the one decision as to whether or not Amtrak should be created. In the future, I would like to see a possible adaptation wherein students could work in a pair with two separate changes and create an alternate history based upon two separate PODs. Also, if I were to repeat the process, I would create more primary sources for each event and expand my list of events even further.
2. The pitch of the instrument is changed by using an instrument with a different bowl shape/size that produces a frequency equivalent to the specific note.
3. The materials necessary to construct the instrument include numerous glass bowls, a spindle mechanism, and a small container of water. Playing the instrument involves changing my thumb from one bowl to the next. I plan to complete the instrument as soon as possible.
4. I currently have no additional questions.
During this project, we researched the happenings and government’s response to the Tennessee Coal Ash Spill. What went well in our group’s project was our ability to work together with one another despite some group members being absent, our ability to convey the understanding of the project in one simple sheet and in terms that were relatively easy to understand and were relatable.
While we wanted to have some more graphic-oriented information about the spill, we did not want to copy the New York Times’ infographic about the spill. As a result, the scientific explanations were explained in words rather than visually.
In the future, I would be sure that the project had more concrete data that could be visually represented on the chart. For example, a better way of explaining the amount of sludge could have been to list dots for a certain amount of sludge, followed by boxing some areas with the respective sizes of buildings.
Overall, I feel as though our group did well in the areas of being concise, transparent, accurate, attractive, gracious, and creative. The areas that could’ve been improved include being visual, different, and varied. These were the harder tips to incorporate due to the fact that very little numerical data (for the effects of the spill) were able to be found. In addition, since our team did not have access to many graphics-making software (such as OmniGraffle), we were not able to produce a graphic that was as visually appealing as we had originally planned.
Learn about the history of the Echelon Mall and Camden County Library! CLICK HERE TO VISIT!
Today, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, I spent about two hours interviewing 20 different voters about the 2010 election. The master list of questions was as follows:
- What motivated you to vote today?
- How regularly do you vote?
- What was the most memorable political advertisement?
- How did the negative campaign advertisements affect your vote?
- What would you like to see change after this election?
- Do you know why we vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November?
All of the interviews were compiled into one small video. The video can be found on the top of this post. It will soon be posted with a downloadable version that can be shared with a Creative Commons BY-ND license.