The best tech gifts for men

Yes, the holidays are almost here again, and so if you haven’t finished shopping yet, it’s time to start thinking about what to get those special people in your lives. Or the people you want to suck up to – could go either way. So this year, we have a roundup of some of the best gifts you can give that will apply to most guys… though many of them will honestly make sense for anyone regardless of age or gender. Or you can go regift that fondue set from last year. We won’t judge. Should you decide not to go that route, here are some things you can think about.

Looking for even more options? Check out the following guides:

  • 10 cheap tech gifts that only look expensive
  • Best tech gifts under $25
  • Best tech gifts under $50
  • 11 cheap secret Santa gifts
  • These gifts look like they come straight out of Star Trek
  • 6 geeky gift ideas that aren’t just for nerds anymore

Exercise tracker

Exercise trackers are a thing these days. They allow you to track your steps, heart rate, and a number of other vital statistics to keep you healthy and happy. The Fitbit Blaze is Fitbit’s first foray into smartwatch territory. The Fitbit Blaze uses Fitbit’s custom software to track your body’s stats, and deliver some smartwatch notifications as well. The design is a little on the chunky side, but it can average around four days of battery life.

See more

If Fitbit isn’t his style, maybe give the Garmin Vivosmart a look.

Get Fitbit Blaze at Amazon
Get Garmin Vivosmart at Amazon
 

Home Assistant

Home assistants are one of those items that, once you have them, you can’t live without them. From checking on weather, appointments, or traffic to controlling your smarthome, a home assistant is one of the more futuristic technologies available today. But they can be a little pricey and it seems like something one wouldn’t buy for oneself, which is what makes it a perfect gift!

Google Home is a great product, and it even allows you to make phone calls and play movies and YouTube videos on your Chromecast-connected TVs. Google Home is a jack-of-all-trades kind of product, while other home assistants are a little more focused in one area or another. So, The home is definitely our recommendation in this gift guide. Check it out in the links below.

If your recipient is more Amazon-focused, then the second-generation Echo is also a great buy. Don’t forget both Google Home and the Amazon Echo have “mini” counterparts – you know, if you don’t love them THAT much.

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Get Google Home at Google
Get Amazon Echo at Amazon

VR Headset

In the world of VR, Oculus is by far the best known brand out there. While devices like the HTC Vive offer an outstanding experience the Oculus Rift headset is one of the go-to models in the world of VR. It offers a great array of games, plus support from a multi-billion dollar company which is always helpful. The Oculus Rift requires a pretty hefty computer to hook up to, much like the Vive, but the price is a bit lower – around $100 dollars lower.

Truth be told, the HTC Vive is a great experience too – you won’t really go wrong with either one. But Oculus has the name recognition and has a much stronger source of cash, tipping the scales in its favor.

Of course, if your recipient has a Playstation, the Sony Playstation VR is a great headset as well.

Get Oculus Rift at Amazon
Get HTC Vive at Amazon
Get PlayStation VR at Amazon

Headphones

In case you haven’t noticed, wired headphones are a dying breed. At least, those with a 3.5mm jack are. It remains to be seen what will happen with USB Type-C connectors or lightning connectors (hashtag #courage). For now, it’s best to adapt or die, so let’s talk about some bluetooth headphones.

The Jaybird X3 bluetooth in-ear headphones are sleek and stylish with great connectivity. These headphones come with a nice carrying case as well, making them a nice little package. That being said, these are in-ear monitors, which isn’t for everyone. The sound coming from them tends to be good, but not great, so if sound quality is of the utmost importance, or you’re not a fan of in-ear headphones, you may want to look at the Grado SR60e instead.

Get Jaybird X3 at Amazon
Get Grado SR60E at Amazon

Media Streaming

More and more of our content is coming from the internet these days. With the somewhat recent introductions of cable replacement services, like YouTube TV, Sling TV, and others, cord-cutting is becoming a real possibility for many folks out there. Of the wide variety of set top boxes that are out there, Roku stands above the rest. First and foremost, Roku has been doing this for a long time – long before the cord cutting phenomenon began. The Roku Express is an inexpensive, but not underpowered little box that can load up all of your cord-cutting apps without breaking a sweat, and without breaking the bank.

Roku’s UI is also very nice and very streamlined. Oddly enough, Amazon’s Instant video app works much better on the Roku than it does on the Fire Stick. Go figure. Speaking of the Fire Stick, that’s not a bad alternative to a Roku, if you happen to like Amazon’s interface and ecosystem.

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Get Roku Express at Amazon
Get Amazon Fire TV Stick at Amazon

Tablet

The future of tablets doesn’t really look all that bright if we’re going to be totally honest. But, there are still some solid use-cases for tablets today. The aforementioned cord-cutting/media streaming is a big one. Gaming is a solid number two. Whatever the case, tablets are still here, and they’re still fun to play with. And in the tablet space, the industry leader is far and away the iPad. From its inception the iPad has handled the transition from small phone screen to large tablet screen the best. Apps are designed exclusively for the iPad, and not just scaled up.

Sure, the iOS interface is about as exciting as watching paint dry in a cornfield in Iowa after 8 hours of fishing having caught no fish. I may be overstating, but the point is, even though the interface is not exciting, the apps make the ecosystem, and iPad app development is not going anywhere any time soon. However, if you’re a fan of thumbing your nose at industry trends, the runner up in the tablet market – the Amazon Fire also sports a solid lineup of devices to choose from with its own app ecosystem – assuming you can live without Google services.

Editor’s Pick
Get iPad Pro at Amazon
Get Fire tablets at Amazon

Phones

Of course if you really want to blow away a man during the holidays, who doesn’t love a new phone to play with. And recently, the Google Pixel 2 XL is one of the most solid phones you can buy today. It’s true, there may or may not be some screen issues, and until those can be addressed it’s hard to throw a lot of weight behind this recommendation. But, by the time you procrastinators out there are looking to shop for the holidays, perhaps we might have more clarity.

That being said, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is also a great phone to pick up for the holidays. Samsung has been absolutely killing it in the hardware department, and the Note 8 takes real advantage of that stylus. For a powerful phone that will last and last, the Note 8 might just be your phone of choice this holiday season – especially when it comes to snapping photos and sending them to friends and family.

See more
Get Google Pixel 2 XL at Verizon
Get Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at Amazon

Laptop

But since we’re talking about computing power, why settling for a phone or tablet when a full-blown laptop might be just what the doctor ordered. And in that area, the Dell XPS 13 is a beautiful line of laptops that absolutely kills it in the hardware department. The Dell XP 13 laptop can be just as powerful as you need it to be – it’s a very versatile line of laptops and comes in a number of configurations. But all of them come in the same gorgeous package.

If you’re not a Windows fan, give a long hard look at the ASUS Chromebook Flip. With a full touchscreen, tablet mode, USB-C ports and more, this is a solid contender in the Chromebook space.

Get Dell XPS 13 at Amazon
Get Asus Chromebook Flip at Amazon

Robot vacuum

When you think of robot vacuums, you think of Roomba. Sometimes you think of a puppy on a Roomba, but that’s a different conversation. Having a robot vacuum wandering around the house, doing what you hate to do is one of those wonderful things that you don’t think you need, until you have it. Giving this as a gift to someone is another one of those “you won’t buy it for yourself, so here” gift ideas. The Roomba 690 is one of the midrange options which gets you a lot of bang for your buck. It has WiFi connectivity and can be controlled using an app, plus there’s a host of other bonuses and add-ons that are pretty huge.

If the Roomba doesn’t float your boat, you can also take a look at the iLife A4. We also have a breakdown of a number of different robot vacuums over on DGiT.

Get Roomba at Amazon
Get iLife A4 at Amazon

Smart Coffee Pot

Coffee is arguably one of the most important parts of waking up in the morning. Millions of customers standing in line at Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more every day can’t be wrong. But this is the future, and the future of coffee is in the smart Coffee Pot. Not to mention, we all like to drink coffee while we watch radar; everyone knows that. Enter the Mr. Coffee Smart WeMo Coffee Maker. This app-controlled coffee pot lets you automate much of the coffee making process – check the status of the coffee pot, set daily schedules for brewing, etc.

Alternatively, you could also take a look at the Behmor Connected Coffee Pot. We also wrote up a comprehensive look at smart coffee pots over a DGiT. Take a look!

Get WeMo Coffee Maker at Mr. Coffee
Get Belmor Coffee Maker at Amazon

TV

Vizio.com

Nothing says love during the holidays like a new TV, but getting the best new TV, without busting your budget can be a pretty big ask. The Vizio M Series 55-inch TV offers a lot of bang for your buck, and comes with an Android tablet to boot. The downside is, you use this android tablet as a remote which can be less than ideal. But to wrap up a TV and a tablet for the holidays, is a pretty big win in our opinion, so this would be a good way to go.

If you’re looking for a TV for gamers, the TCL P607 is a solid buy as well. Both TV’s are full array backlit instead of edge lit resulting in better black levels.

Get Visio TV at Amazon
Get TCL TV at Amazon

Drone

What man doesn’t want a drone? For the money, the DJI Spark is one of the best out there. Remarkably slim and stable, you can even fly the DJI spark using gestures, rather than a remote. Sure, it’s mostly a parlor trick at the moment, but it’s still pretty awesome tech and fun to brag about at parties. The DJI Spark is a great, “Grab and go” type of drone which will get you some great shots, and has a fair bit of range as well.

But it you want to really blow their doors off, take a look at the Phantom 4, also by DJI. The Phantom 4 is the Cadillac of drone flying with a range of two miles and more. Learn even more about your drone options over at DroneRush.

Get DJI Spark at Amazon
Get DJI Phantom 4 at Amazon

Home Game Console

At the beginning of the year, Nintendo came out with its new gaming console, the Nintendo Switch. At first, the console was tough to get hands on. Now the system can be had at most retail outlets without much hassle. The Nintendo Switch is one of the most versatile gaming systems out there. The tablet-like console has controllers on either side that slide off, the tablet itself has a kickstand, plus there’s an included dock to hook the console up to a TV. It is very close to an optimal gaming solution.

It’s not without its drawbacks – it’s a little underpowered compared to most modern gaming consoles. But the versatility of gaming scenarios, from family game nights, to road trips is pretty much unparalleled by any other system. If you know a gamer who doesn’t have a Nintendo Switch, this would put a smile on their face. Of course you could also get an Xbox or PS4, but odds are the person in your life already has one if they are into games at all. 

Get Nintendo Switch at Amazon

Smartwatch

Smartwatches are one of those fun accessories to a smartphone that you need to use, in order to understand. Unlike many accessories of this nature, there’s a pretty high barrier of entry to get in on this trend. So, what better way to bring joy to a man’s heart than with the gift of a smartwatch. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch is a stylish smartwatch that works great with his Android smartphone. The Tizen-based watch even add Samsung Pay ability through the watch, making contactless or magnetic stripe payments fun and easy. The days of cash are numbered and contactless payment opportunities are becoming more and more widespread. Best get on that wagon now.

Of course, if you need a watch for an iPhone user, look no further than the Apple Watch Series 3. No seriously, look no further, because that’s basically the only smartwatch that will work. The Apple Watch Series 3 adds LTE connectivity to the fold, which can be a great addition to the smartwatch family.

Looking for more options? Be sure to check out our guide to the best smartwatches.

Get Samsung Gear S3 Frontier at Amazon
Get Apple Watch at Amazon

Power bank

You can’t anticipate what’s going to happen on a daily basis, especially when it comes to your smartphone battery. So many smartphones today boast “all day battery life” which frankly leaves little room for error if your day is going to be longer than planned. Sometimes, you’ve just had a heavy gaming day. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good idea to have some extra juice on you when you need to tether on the train ride home, or entertain the kid while in line at the DMV. Does that seem to specific? Because believe me, it happens.

In cases like those, the Anker Powercore+ 20,000 mAh power bank might be a little on the beefy side, but it is very slick looking and slips easily into a bag. Plus it gives you PowerIQ technology and even a USB Type-C port for charging. This will top you off at the end of a long day, or keep you going during an overnight camping trip.

If you need something a little more compact, take a look at the Eighty Plus 10,000 mAh power bank. It’s a lot more sleek and also more attractive. We have a full rundown of a number of other power banks here on Android Authority. If neither of these two are exciting – well, that’s because they’re power banks, but we also have a longer list to look at.

Get Eighty Plus 10,000 at Amazon
Get Anker External Battery at Amazon

Tracking Beacon

People lose stuff. Like always. Which is why there has been a recent surge in tracking tags that attach to your stuff, so you can locate it when you lose it. Use cases for these things extend from wallets and purses, to bikes, to keys – you name it. Many of these tracking tag systems rely on the crowd to throw a blanket of coverage over an entire area. Connectivity range is limited, so in order to track items beyond 30 feet away from your phone, Tile users can report items they come across to their owners. It’s an elegant solution that requires a ton of user adoption in order to saturate an area.

Tile, and similar competitor Trackr have both gotten the type of widespread adoption required to make this somewhat of a reality. There are still gaps, to be sure, but GPS enabled trackers have miserable battery life and cost a lot of money. If you know someone who tends to misplace items, Tile or Trackr might just be a good stocking stuffer this holiday season.

Get Tile at Amazon
Get Tracker at Amazon

So that’ll do it for our holiday gift guide for the men in your life. ‘Are any of these items on your shopping list? Think we left something out? Hit us up in the comments below and let us know what you’ll be camping out on Black Friday for.

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The #1 Reason the GOP Tax Plan Is an Economic Catastrophe: It Will Send Health Care Costs Through the Roof

The bill is poised to cause real pain and suffering to people who struggle to pay for health care.

Of all the reasons the Republican tax bill will be a mugging of the majority of non-wealthy Americans, one reason stands out above all else—the bill will seriously set back everyone who has struggled to pay for health insurance and medical expenses.

Repealing the Obamacare coverage mandate is likely to prompt insurers to raise premiums by an estimated 10 percent annually into the foreseeable future, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Why? Because as up to 13 million people drop their policies—CBO’s estimate—the remaining policy holders will end up paying more. (Those dropping coverage will revert to pre-Obamacare days of postponing treatments and hoping for the best.)

That’s just the start of the dire news affecting health care costs, as anticipated increases will more than offset any tax break. Not that most Americans were going to see tax cuts anyway—the bottom 50 percent of wage earners will see their after-tax incomes shrink by 2 percent; the middle 40 percent’s after-tax incomes will shrink by 0.6 percent; while the top 10 percent will see their incomes grow by 1.5 percent or more, the New York Times noted Monday.

There’s more bad health care news. The tax bill’s $1.5 trillion cost also preys on seniors, triggering spending cuts of 4 percent annually for Medicare, the federal health program for those 65 and older.

Currently, before Congress has its final votes on the bill, there’s no shortage of physicians who do not accept Medicare, due to  reimbursement rates. The result is people needing to see some physicians have to pay cash up front, if they can, and then fight with supplemental insurance providers to be reimbursed. This downward spiral will only worsen as Congress cuts Medicare.

The GOP bill also trashes preventive health care for the poorest households, a majority of which are single mothers with children. The same budget pressures that trigger automatic cuts for Medicare will also apply to the food and nutritional assistance programs. Additionally, the bill’s authors have swapped in a stingier formula for cost-of-living index increases—the so-called chained CPI. That new metric translates into less assistance, not more, for the needy in coming years.

The punishment of the poor and vulnerable doesn’t stop there. The tax bill’s changes in the earned income tax credit will divert an estimated $19 billion from poor families. The bill’s new requirement that families seeking child tax credit provide a Social Security number will translate into higher taxes for undocumented immigrants, who work and pay taxes but lack that paperwork.

But the bill’s biggest negative impact is that it will take bigger bites from paychecks and savings for health care spending. The bill’s GOP authors will counter that they lowered the threshold for deducting medical expenses from 10 percent of annual income to 7.5 percent. However, like many GOP tax breaks, it can only be claimed after spending the money in the first place—if you have it.

The coming shocks to the health care system have prompted industry experts and insiders to beseech Congress to vote no on the bill this week.

“In the wealthiest country on earth, 40 million people live in poverty,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, who ran the Medicaid and Medicare programs for the Obama administration. “The GOP tax bill would dramatically increase the wealth of the very wealthy & begin a cycle of cuts to poverty & health programs… Uneasy Rs have one last chance.”

“This is a horrid bill,” John Baackes, chief executive of L.A. Care, a public plan covering 2 million mostly poor residents of Los Angeles County, told the L.A. Times. “They haven’t been able to repeal and replace [Obamacare], so they’ll attack it through the budget by looking for ways knock down the money that’s needed to cover people.”

But high-ranking Republicans, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, have told conservative radio that cutting health care programs is their top federal budget priority—with Ryan saying he will be targeting welfare, Medicare and Medicaid (state-run care for those under 65) in 2018.

Meanwhile, neither Ryan nor his Senate counterparts have taken action to continue funding CHIP, the federal health care program that covers 9 million poor children. (On Monday, Alabama announced it was freezing 2018 CHIP enrollment.)

The GOP bill is poised to cause real pain and suffering to people who struggle to pay for health care. 

As Slavitt wrote late Monday, “BREAKING: Trump Administration announced it is ending program to pay differently to improve quality in Medicaid, as happens in Medicare & everywhere else. I’ve run these programs. This is tragic bigotry.”

Yes, more bigotry against the middle class and working poor. Despite GOP campaign trail rhetoric, there’s no tax simplification, fairness, economic growth or fiscal discipline in the Republicans’ tax bill. It transfers money up the ladder to those already making six-figures and into corporate profits. Almost everyone else pays more—starting with their health care (or lack of it).   

 

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Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 4

This session started with an interesting fight in a wizard’s tower. It turned out the wizard was both undead and quite mad, wanting to preserve everything for eternity by freezing it. So the group was hit with a lot of ice magic which hindered their movement, while battling the wizard and his 4 icy mummies. But the group prevailed and scored another card from the deck of many things, which had been frozen in a block of ice together with a Barlgura demon. That caused quite some concern on how to get to the card without being attacked by the demon, however it turned out that the demon didn’t wake up at all and just got banished back to the abyss by defrosting him.

So the group moved on to the garrison, having found both possible ways to open the door there, a scroll from the wizard’s tower and the sword of the lost paladin. But there was another Barlgura demon in the garrison, together with some specters, and this time the demon was alive. I had the demon use his disguise spell to assume the same form as the specters, so the group didn’t immediately know where the main threat was. But otherwise the combat went without major events, and the group found the brazier, one of the three objects they were searching for Sir Oakley.

So they returned to Sir Oakley and rested in the temple. Then they decided to take the stairs in the temple leading down to a dungeon, where they encountered a band of gnolls. The group attacked immediately, while the gnolls tried to retreat. Most of the gnolls made it to the next room and barred the door, but the barbarian just crashed through that door with an exceptional strength check. So the group fought the gnolls from both rooms at once, which was a tough fight. After the fight we decided to stop for this session.

Elemental Evil: Sessions 16

In the previous session the group had after much hesitation entered Scarlet Moon Hall, the last of the four haunted keeps. They had killed the guards on the middle floor where they had come in and thrown the bodies down the big hole in the middle of the floor into a pile of rubbish burning there. But there were still two floors above them, and they suspected the leader of the fire cult to be on the top floor.

So they fought their way up to the next level. However that level was a trap: The floor appeared solid, but the middle was weakened and ready to break. With the druid in bear form and the cleric both standing on that part on the floor, it broke after 3 rounds of combat. That landed the druid and the cleric downstairs in the burning rubbish, where 5 magmins attacked them. Meanwhile the others had killed all the guards and progressed to the top floor. There Elizar, the keep leader, had cast a wall of fire across the room, which gave him time for an incantation to wake up the fire elemental outside the tower in the burning wicker giant. The elemental then came into the tower at the bottom, where the druid and cleric were. Between the boss and the elemental and already weakened from the fight against the guards, this was a rather tough fight. But the group won, looted the boss, and escaped the way they came before the rest of the camp arrived.

As this had been their strategy in the previous towers, kill the boss, grab his key, and escape, they never got the chance to interrogate any cultists on what all this was about. That was a bit of a problem, as they now had the 4 elemental keys to open the magical portals to the temple of elemental evil, but no clue what was in there or even why they should go there. So this time I had put a letter on the boss explaining the situation. Sometimes you just can’t be subtle as a DM. The letter told them that the 4 prophets of elemental evil were in competition, each trying to be the first to summon his prince of elemental evil. For that they needed to sow elemental chaos, which gave them the energy for the summoning. According to the letter the prophetess of elemental air was ahead in that game (I made that up because the air temple is the lowest level one).

Then in another not-so-subtle move I reminded the group that they had a friendly NPC junior cultist in the air keep. So they went there and got more information about the layout of the temple of elemental evil: A square of 4 elemental temples at the first level below ground, then the fane of the eye connecting everything, and then on the lowest level the 4 elemental nodes from which the princes would be summoned. Well, they got the message and now went into the air temple, but not before the group cleric cut the friendly NPCs throat and turned her into a zombie with his animate dead spell. From the entry point there was a long tunnel leading to a big cave with an old dwarven city, with a step pyramid in the middle. That was now the Temple of Howling Hatred.

While the sorceress didn’t have much opportunity to use her new fireball spell against the fire-resistant or immune fire cultists previously, she now could use that spell. So the first three rooms went: Door open, fireball, cultists mostly dead, wipe up the rest. As the third of the rooms was smaller than the other two, I used an old rule which I had in mind from previous editions, that the fireball had a fixed volume and would blow beyond his 20 feet radius sphere when cast into a too small room. That burned two of the group members. My bad, that rule doesn’t exist any more in 5th edition, so I had to apologize later and say that in future that wouldn’t happen any more. Oh, and lightning bolts don’t bounce of wall any more either.

Reaching the pyramid they noticed a mage on a wyvern on top, who promptly attacked them. That ended up being the second ultra-hard fight of the session. The mage used a lightning bolt to good effect, then turned invisible, and then used another lightning bolt on several group members. They managed to kill both the mage and the wyvern but then retreated due to being heavily wounded and out of resources. At that point we ended the session.

We will play more sessions, but probably not until the end of the campaign book. I told my players that I would like to stop being the DM later this year, and that somebody else should take over. I had somewhat run out of enthusiasm for this campaign, and after over 6 years as DM of that group I think I deserve a break. The next DM will take some months to prepare his campaign, and he is planning to let everybody keep their characters. So I’ll make a character of their level and join the group.

How Big Data Analytics Make Cities Smarter?

Smart city and big data

There has been a lot of activity around the concept of Smart City for some time. Cities are being identified as future smart cities. Theoretically at least, smart cities can fundamentally change our lives at many levels such as less pollution, garbage, parking problems and more energy savings. Though the prospect seems mouth-watering, the implementation of the smart city concept around the world has been sporadic at best because of several reasons. Whatever the stage the smart city implementation is at globally, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the power to drive the implementation.

Undoubtedly, the main strength of the big data concept is the high influence it will have on numerous aspects of a smart city and consequently on people’s lives. Big data is growing rapidly, currently at a projected rate of 40 % growth in the amount of global data generated per year versus only 5 % growth in global IT spending. Around 90 % of the world’s digitized data was captured over just the past two years. As a result, many governments have started to utilize big data to support the development and sustainability of smart cities around the world. That allowed cities to maintain standards, principles, and requirements of the applications of smart city through realizing the main smart city characteristics. These characteristics include sustainability, resilience, governance, enhanced quality of life, and intelligent management of natural resources and city facilities.

Big Data in Smart Cities

If major cities were to invest into smart transport systems today, then by 2030 they would save around $800 billion annually. On top of that, smart transport systems also contribute in a few other ways, including:
  • Less automobile congestion and fewer accidents
  • More advancements in faster long distance travel
  • Clean air from the reduction of pollution
  • Excess of new jobs from updates in transportation networks
  • Furthermore, any upgraded transportation option appeals to established businesses looking for a new locale, as they do to startup businesses. Any business wants to know that their workers and clients have access to efficient modern transportation. That access lowers annual budgets for businesses in terms of what they pay in gas mileage and delivery costs.
Big data tracks transportation infrastructure needs and costs helping cities define ways to expand their public transport options in the most efficient way possible. It defines what areas of the city need to open up and how receptive people are about initiatives to raise money for such a project. Cities that use this type of big data analytics are called smart cities and much of the world wants in on the innovations.
Many major cities are starting to use INRIX, a system that analyzes data from traditional road sensor networks and mobile device data. San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission saved over $250,000 per year from the direct data collection of INRIX. 

Big Data in Law Enforcement

Contrary to popular belief, in terms of fighting crime, big data is actually allowing police and other law enforcement officers to behave less like Big Brother than more. Data analytics allows law enforcement officers to track real trouble spots and dangerous criminals.


Many local agencies are starting to use PREDPOL or predictive policing systems that collect three main data points from every report: type of crime, location and time of the incident, to make accurate officer deployment decisions in the future.

PREDPOOL



Once high criminal activities are identified, new education initiatives and outreach programs can be utilized in those jurisdictions.


Big Data in Education

The collection and analysis of big data helps educators understand which students need help, why they need help as well as identifying areas in which they excel.
Educators can provide relevant individual and group activities to support each student’s goals and needs. Teachers will be able to assess student progress on a consistent basis in order to challenge students and help them grow.
The analytics provide more three-dimensional insights of their students’ progress while allowing parents a way to understand how each child learns. 
AltSchool is one of the first K-8th grade school providing this personalized learning experience which is only available in developing smart cities such as San Francisco and New York.
altschool
The introduction of big data in the education space has encouraged students of all ages to learn remotely in the comfort of their homes. These massive open online courses collect data from millions of course takers and analyze it to find trouble areas that are causing students to fail. After analyzing millions of data points, algorithms continually updated each course to deliver an “adaptive learning experience” based on each individual’s strength, weaknesses and preferences.
These are just two examples of the many ways smart cities are adapting schools into more personalized and remote learning platforms which may change the learning experience forever.

Big Data in Health

The United Nations says that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be considered urban. With populations living in such close proximities, this means that health initiatives must be available to everyone no matter their background, race or economic status.
Big data can already predict the outbreaks of viruses and even track cases of depression. Smart cities will use millions of sensors that provide personalized medical services. Many citizens of smart cities will be able to activate their medical service by a mobile app or free standing kiosks throughout the city. Pulsepoint Respond is a great example of a personalized app that alerts CPR-trained bystanders of sudden cardiac arrests within their immediate area.
PlusPoint
On top of that, smart cities have already started testing systems that allow elderly patients the option to remain in their homes instead of at a nursing care facility. These type of systems include a standalone table, a tablet with Skype and wireless home sensors used for video communication between the patient and their remote caregiver.
The wireless sensors monitor the house and send alerts about safety situations such as a left-on stove or doors opening in the middle of the night. After testing this system in Oslo, Norway, the study has shown that the system can save $85,000 for each person since they don’t have to move into a nursing facility.

Big Data in Energy Usage.

Over 75% of the world’s energy consumption come from cities and 40% of municipal energy cost come solely from street lighting. Since adopting smart street lights which automatically adjust light levels to suit the needs of citizens, Lansing, Michigan saved 70% of their energy cost.
Experts predict that by 2020 there will be over 100 million of these smart light bulbs and lam>s used worldwide. Other cities like Charlotte, North Carolina have implemented smart building energy management which cut their total energy use by 8.4% and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
Moreover, the Spanish town of Santander installed 12,500 air pollution and RFID sensors around the city which diminished energy costs by 25% and waste management cost by an additional 20%. Smart cities are barely underway, yet they are already making substantial impact on the environment and to the citizens living in them.
Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Songdo in South Korea are prime examples of connected cities that, using a local energy optimisation system, materialise the promises of a zero emission, zero waste model. All of the data from the sensors, spread throughout the city, are analysed in real time to optimise a number of aspects of inhabitants’ lives.


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