Technology

tostphoto / iStock.com

The federal government is working to come up with rules to regulate drones, but as the emerging technology gets more popular, Vermont towns are contemplating whether they need their own policies on drone use to protect their citizens' privacy and safety.

Screen shot / Vermont Health Connect

The state has spent $229,000 to find out what insurance customers think of Vermont Health Connect. The results, not surprisingly, aren’t exactly stellar. But officials say the survey will help them improve consumer satisfaction in the future.

Steve Zind / VPR/file

Under an agreement announced this week, FairPoint Communications moves a step closer to winning changes to regulations that got the company in trouble for long repair delays in Vermont.

There have been a lot of sewage spills lately and the state reports them on a website when it becomes aware of an overflow from a municipal sewage system. But it can be really hard to find out where they are, and the state has no real time alert to let people know when a spill has happened and water might be contaminated.

VPR has been reporting on this problem all summer, so our own web developer Sara Simon got on the case and she's created a twitter bot. It is on Twitter and known as Dirty Water VT.

Officials said Friday the state will pay Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont $1.6 million to cover Vermont Health Connect premiums the insurer did not receive and claims it paid out incorrectly because of technology problems during 2014.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

Gov. Peter Shumlin says a major software fix at Vermont Health Connect will finally solve shortcomings that have plagued the program since its launch in 2013. But state emails show that the technology is still very much a work in progress. And the documents show taxpayers might end up footing the bill for mistakes related to the transition.

The Vermont Telephone Company V-Tel is looking at some fast-approaching deadlines to complete a statewide wireless broadband network.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Vermont’s largest police force is looking to outfit its troopers with body cameras. The move comes after criminal-justice reform advocates nationwide have issued calls for the use of the recording devices. But body cams for Vermont State Police could add significant new expenses to a cash-strapped agency.

James Boase / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Every fisherman has a story about the "one that got away." But Chet MacKenzie is dedicated to making sure that this particular species of fish in Lake Champlain doesn't get away – or disappear. 

Pat Wellenbach / AP

FairPoint Communications issued a rosier than usual second-quarter earnings report.

While there were some bright spots in revenue, the company said much of the more favorable financial picture is due to lower labor expenses since it settled with unionized worker earlier this year.

Screen shot / Vermont Health Connect

More than a third of Vermont’s population is enrolled in Medicaid. Their health care claims every year number in the millions, and those claims add up to well over $1 billion — on par with the size of Vermont’s General Fund, or even bigger. 

But, like a lot of the state government’s technology, the IT system the Medicaid program runs on is really old: 30 years old. 

A Vermont corporation is playing a role in bringing a much-talked about Tesla product to market. The Dynapower Company, based in South Burlington, is making energy storage inverters for Tesla's Powerpack battery system.

Firstsignal / iStock.com

The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is looking for brains. The center, in White River Junction, is run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and it's opening the world's first national brain bank for PTSD . It's a physical library of veterans' brain tissue to help researchers learn more about PTSD.

NASA

Shrugging off its ignominious downgrading from planet to dwarf planet status a few years back, Pluto burst back into the public spotlight when a space probe passed closer to it than any spacecraft ever had before, returning some stunning images of Pluto and its moons. 

stalkerstudent / iStock

It appears a troubled broadband service provider is still operating in Vermont, but officials say there’s a great deal of confusion over who’s operating it.

Bruce Duncan

The Terasem Movement Foundation is located in an unassuming yellow house on a dirt road in the woods of Lincoln Vermont. Inside, however, things are happening that seem more like science fiction than real life.

A robotic human head sits on a desk next to a computer, ready to discuss philosophy with visitors. In the basement, DNA samples are cryogenically frozen for the purpose of far-future cloning. And computers store the personality traits of volunteers, to be transformed into digital avatars or beamed into deep space.

Michael Dwyer / AP

A key strategy of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is a plan to use social media to get his message out to millions of people.

Steve Zind / VPR

A lot has changed since 2010 when Springfield-based VTel was awarded $116 million in Rural Utilities Service grant and loan money, in part to help build a statewide wireless high speed broadband network called Wireless Open World.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

More and more members of the military are coming back from deployments needing medical attention, and Vietnam-era veterans are aging. 

mgpenguin86 / via Flickr

The Rutland City Police Department is participating in a nationwide initiative to make more data about police activity available to the public.

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