Uber Claims Credit for Drop in Drunk Driving Accidents. But Where’s the Evidence?

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Last week Uber revealed another way the ridesharing service is revolutionizing travel: Cities that use Uber see a reduction in drunk driving accidents among young people, a company report showed.“When empowered with more transportation options like Uber, people are making better choices that save lives,” the company declared.David Plouffe—President Obama’s former campaign manager who is now filling the same role for Uber—emailed millions of users to share the astounding news. “Since we launched uberX in California, drunk-driving crashes decreased by 60 per month for drivers under 30,” Plouffe wrote. “That’s 1,800 crashes likely prevented over the past 2 ½ years.”What is Uber’s evidence that they “likely prevented” so many crashes?Not much.Indeed, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which co-authored the report, cautioned us against connecting the rise of Uber to a drop in drunk driving. “Nobody is saying that there is a causation relationship here, this is a correlation relationship. Purely correlational,” said Amy George, senior vice president of marketing and communications for MADD. (MADD took a less cautious stance in a  press release last week: New Report from MADD, Uber Reveals Ridesharing Services Important Innovation to Reduce Drunk Driving.)Uber’s report has two key graphics: The first shows alcohol-involved crashes in California markets where Uber operates. The second shows the same, but in cities where there is no Uber service. Each graph compares accidents between under-30 and 30-and-over drivers. The charts actually show, in general, a downward trend of drunk driving accidents in both Uber and non-Uber markets.But Uber and Plouffe are hanging their assertion on another facet of the analysis: drunk driving crashes for those under 30 have dropped more in cities that have Uber versus those that don’t. “We believe there is a direct relationship between the presence of uberX (Uber’s lowest-cost option) in a city and the amount of drunk driving crashes involving younger populations,” the report says.That could be. But we don’t really know, and neither does Uber.center_img Uber does not provide evidence in its report that Uber users and those under 30 are the same population. A methodology shared with us by Uber asserts that their users are generally younger and more technologically savvy. MADD’s George said they sent the data analysis to an outside research group for extra vetting. She declined to name the group because they were not formally part of the report.Michael Amodeo, an Uber spokesperson, sent us a statement in response to questions about the analysis:“We believe the results of the study are an encouraging step in the right direction and provide evidence that ridesharing services like Uber are making a meaningful and positive impact on mindsets and the rate of drunk driving. We attempt to deal with other factors in our study by breaking out the under 30 and over 30 groups, and we’re comparing them against each other.”Uber’s report credits an analysis by Nate Good, who is chief technology officer for an online ticketing company as well as an amateur statistician and self-described ridesharing proponent. Uber’s report reads: “Inspired by Nate Good’s analysis—which demonstrated a clear downward trend in alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania’s youngest cohort once ridesharing was available—we decided to replicate that study in California at large using data procured from the State.”However, Good’s study had nothing to do with “alcohol-related crashes.” Good analyzed DUI arrests. “That was a poor choice of words on Uber’s part,” Good told us.Good was careful to note various caveats of his analysis. No 1 on his list: “Correlation does not equate to causation.” No. 2: “I am a computer science professional and a data science enthusiast, but by no means a statistician.”Good said he attempted to analyze alcohol-involved crash data but could not find a reliable data source.We’ve also reached out to Plouffe, but haven’t heard back yet.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Controversial Mute Swans ‘Management Plan’ Public Input Period Ending

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Sylvia DurresThe clock is ticking on Long Islanders’ chances to help decide the fate of those large, fluffy white swans gracefully drifting atop the water of countless ponds and lakes throughout Nassau and Suffolk.Friday marks the final day for public comment on the latest New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) management strategy for these large, silent birds—known as mute swans, or their scientific name, Cyngus olor—a plan that has already been revised due to fierce outcry among residents and wildlife advocates for the beloved creatures. Those who wish to comment are advised to email the DEC at Wildlife@dec.ny.gov with “Swan Plan” as the subject line.Recognized by their long, arched necks and orange-and-black-striped-and-knobbed bills and renowned for their beauty as they glide across the water bodies of Nassau and Suffolk and throughout the state, these gentle giants are not native to Long Island, the region, or the United States, and are classified as an “invasive species” by the agency.The swans were brought to North America from Eurasia as ornamentals to beautify estates in the late 1800s, says the DEC, and those that were intentionally released or escaped established populations that flourished, becoming established in the early 1900s. There are presently approximately 2,200 of the feathery waterfowl statewide, it adds.This, the agency deems a serious problem, and outlined its gripes with the snow-colored sailors in its 2013 draft “Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State,” listing among those: “aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”“Mute swans are conspicuous birds that occur in some of the most densely populated areas of the State,” reads the analysis, noting some people’s affinity for the birds. “Mute swans have little or no fear of humans so they are easily observed and provide opportunities for people to come in close contact with them. Some people become protective of individual birds that they encounter regularly. “However, mute swans can cause problems for people too,” it contends. “Some swans will directly attack humans, especially small children, who get too close to nests or young… The potential for injury is low, but the aggressive behavior of swans can be a serious nuisance and render some land or water areas inaccessible for outdoor recreation during the nesting season. Where large flocks occur on water bodies used for drinking water or swimming, the deposition of fecal matter may contribute to high fecal coliform counts which in turn may be a concern to local public health and municipal water supply officials. Mute swans have also been associated with high fecal coliform counts in coastal waters, which could affect some shellfishing areas on Long Island.”The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) classifies the graceful mute swan an invasive species and wants them managed. The agency has considered shooting, sterilizing, capturing and euthanizing the large birds. (Long Island Press/Sylvia Durres)The DEC has been operating under a mute swan management policy adopted in 1993 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Marine Resources (now combined as the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, or DFWMR), according to the report, which states that policy “permits removal of mute swans from lands administered by DFWMR, prohibits release of captive mute swans into the wild and authorizes issuance of permits for swan control by others on a site-specific basis.”“This new plan supports further action by DEC to eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025, while allowing responsible ownership of these birds in captivity,” it continues.In order to meet this elimination goal, the agency considered a series of methods to eliminate the “free-ranging” swans, including shooting, euthanizing, sterilizing and capturing them and destroying their nests and eggs. “Lethal control methods will include shooting of free-ranging swans and live capture and euthanasia in accordance with established guidelines for wildlife,” states the DEC’s original report, no longer available on the DEC’s website. “Consideration will be given to donating the meat (or any other parts of birds killed) to charitable organizations (e.g., food pantries) or scientific, educational or zoological institutions. Non-lethal population control methods may include nest destruction, treating eggs with corn oil or puncturing to prevent hatching, and surgical or chemical sterilization.”The December 2013 draft plan also considered authorizing “property owners and others to conduct mute swan control activities.”“Various control methods may be authorized,” it states, “including but not limited to: oiling, puncturing, shaking, freezing, replacing or removing eggs; destruction of nests; sterilization of birds; shooting; and capture and removal of swans to be euthanized or turned over to persons licensed to keep the birds in captivity.”Thousands weighed in with e-mails, letters, form letter e-mails and signatures on various petitions during a public comment period ending Feb. 21 on the agency’s draft management plan released in January 2014.“They are beautiful birds that people enjoy seeing in their daily lives, especially in urban environments,” blasted one response from the public, with many comments, along with the DEC’s respective responses to them. [Available for viewing HERE]“Canada geese are a much bigger problem than swans, do something about them instead,” demanded another.“Oppose use of any taxpayer funds for control of mute swans by DEC or others,” blasted yet another.These concerns and many more were taken into consideration in writing their current plan, a “Revised Draft” released last month and open to public comment until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 24. [Read Revised Draft Plan HERE] Those who wish to comment are advised to email the DEC at Wildlife@dec.ny.gov with “Swan Plan” as the subject line.“Wildlife management can present challenges in trying to balance conflicting interests, such as when a beautiful bird has undesirable impacts,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement regarding the latest plan [Read HERE]. “This revised plan remains committed to minimizing the impacts of mute swans on wildlife dependent on wetlands for their habitats, while being sensitive to public concerns about how and where that is accomplished.”Among those revisions: rather than eliminating all free-flying swans, the new goal focuses on minimizing the bird’s impacts; permitting municipalities to keep swans at local parks and other settings pursuant to local swan management plans, as long as certain conditions are met; commitment to the full consideration of non-lethal techniques, including egg-oiling and placement of swans in possession of persons licensed by DEC, except where immediate removal of swans is necessary to protect public safety and health; and, among others, a more concise summary of the impacts mute swans can have, citing additional scientific studies.“Because many people object to the use of lethal control methods, especially killing adult birds, DEC will use ‘non-lethal’ methods (i.e., egg-addling and placement at licensed facilities), where practical and timely, to achieve the management objectives,” it reads. “However, this will require some commitment of funding and assistance from organizations and individuals who wish to see non-lethal options used to the extent possible. Placement and proper care of swans in public parks or other controlled settings can be costly to local governments or communities, but if people who enjoy seeing mute swans are willing to support such programs, DEC will cooperate with those efforts.“Complete elimination of mute swans from New York is not a viable option given the expressed public opinions associated with these birds,” it continues. “However, the demand for viewing swans can be largely met through closely regulated possession of mute swans for enjoyment in urban parks and other public settings. Measures are needed to ensure that those swans do not reproduce or leave those areas, to prevent their entry into wild populations or impacts on natural resources. Prohibitions on importation and commercial trade or propagation of mute swans are also needed to help prevent escapes or intentional releases of additional mute swans to the wild in New York.” Controversial lethal and non-lethal methods are not entirely off the table, however, according to the agency’s revised plan. “DEC staff will continue to conduct, assist or support mute swan control activities on any accessible public or private lands (with landowner consent) or waters in New York State to accomplish the objectives of this plan,” it reads. “Control options will include nest destruction, egg-addling (coating with corn oil), capture and placement of swans at licensed sanctuaries or other captive settings, shooting of free-ranging swans (where it can be done safely), and live capture and euthanasia. Where immediate removal of birds is not necessary to alleviate a site-specific conflict, full consideration will be given to use of “non-lethal” methods (i.e., egg-addling and placement at licensed facilities) to achieve desired population reductions.”Mute swans are not afraid of humans, and thus swim right up to visitors at Argyle Lake in Babylon. The DEC has considered shooting, euthanizing, sterilizing and capturing the silent birds. (Long Island Press/Sylvia Durres)While the gorgeous closed-billed swans are deemed outlaws and enemies of the state here, the feathery mutes are exalted and even revered in other cultures and countries, glorified for their grace and beauty and actually protected by some world leaders. The Danish, for example, honor the mute swan as their national bird.The bird embodies the collective heart and imagination of all of Great Britain annually each third week in July, when the British Monarchy honors the centuries-old ceremony and celebration of “Swan Upping,” according to its official website.The annual census of the swan’s population within several counties’ stretches of the Thames River, the Swan Upping ceremony entails several swan-specific officials—“The Queen’s Swan Marker, the Royal Swan Uppers and the Swan Uppers of the Vinters’ and Dyers’ livery companies,” it states—embarking on a celebrated five-day journey in rowing skiffs up-river, all wearing traditional scarlet uniforms and flying pennants and flags.“When a brood of cygnets [young mute swans] is sighted, a cry of ‘All up!’ is given to signal that the boats should get into position,” explains the site. “On passing Windsor Castle, the rowers stand to attention in their boat with oars raised and salute ‘Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans.’”Schoolchildren are invited to witness the grand event, and the birds are given a health check and tagged with rings by The Queen’s Swan Warden—a professor of ornithology at Cambridge University’s zoology department. The birds are also weighed and measured. The data gleaned from the Swan Upping is used to help guide conservation methods to protect the swans. The celebration dates to the 12th Century, and today, the Royal Crown “retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water,” according to the website.The renowned mute swans who reside within the moat at the more than 800-year-old medieval Bishop’s Palace in Wells, England, ring specialized bells when they are hungry and have become a popular tourist attraction. The Palace maintains an online diary of the swans’ activities, even referring to them by name.As per the DEC:Comments on the revised draft mute swan plan may be submitted in writing through April 24 to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to Wildlife@dec.ny.gov (please type “Swan Plan” in the subject line).last_img read more

MasterCard’s big interactive payments bet

first_img“We see a future where every device becomes a commerce device. This not only includes a shift in mobile-based payments, but also a move from ‘static’ plastic to ‘dynamic’ interactive payment cards and systems.”That’s MasterCard Group Exec, Global Credit and Debit Products Carlos Menendez commenting on the company’s recent investment in a dynamic card that, literally, powers payments at existing points of sale.MasterCard and Dynamics Inc., a company that designs and manufactures intelligent battery-powered payment devices and advanced payment platforms, are partnering in a commercial initiative to drive innovation in the interactive payment card market, according to a MasterCard release.The initiative follows the recent announcement of Dynamics’ Series C funding of $70 million, as a result of which its new investors MasterCard and CIBC joined existing backers Bain Capital Ventures and Adams Capital Management. Thanks to the partnership, MasterCard will now offer exclusive Dynamics products to its issuers worldwide. These products aim to provide consumers with added choice, flexibility and security at the point of sale. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

How can I tell if my staff is keeping their business continuity plan up-to-date?

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr If you’re like most credit unions, you’ve worked hard to get your Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan into shape this past year. If you are an Ongoing Operations client, you’ve also updated your business impact analysis (BIA) and probably had a tabletop exercise. But what happens after the “formal” activities are over?How can you tell if your staff remains engaged in BCP planning?For the most part, if you are still relying on a paper plan it will be pretty tough for you to measure your staff’s participation in the planning process. Outside of the normal “sign in” sheets you might compile during regularly scheduled DR/BCP related activities (fire drills, shelter-in-place drills, tabletop, etc.) there really isn’t a way to see if the plan is being kept up-to-date.However, if you have an online plan (like CURecover) there are many ways to measure your staff’s activities (and as a result be able to demonstrate activity during an NCUA Audit):Check the web stats on your portal – One of the reasons we love SharePoint as our development platform is the built-in reporting functionality known as Web Analytics. Web analytics data is available at the site collection level and the individual site level. Key performance indicators that you can use are: continue reading »last_img read more

Tried & true deposit growth strategies

first_imgby: Amanda LoweryYou’ve spent months (maybe years) aggressively courting members in their prime borrowing years to offset your credit union’s aging Baby Boomer population. You’ve run promotions, offered incentives, competed on rate. And you’ve been rewarded with successful lending growth. But now, you might have a different challenge ahead: being loaned out. That means you need more deposits, pronto.Thanks to the effectiveness of loan promotion strategies and regional economic conditions, we’re seeing some credit unions on the East Coast reach this point. If you’re in the fortunate position of needing deposits again, here are a few tried and true growth strategies you should consider.1. Have a deliberate conversation. Many credit unions are returning to the days of calling members to check on their satisfaction and inform them of products that may be beneficial to them, like a personal banker. Focus these efforts by identifying your high-potential members first. Create a profile of your desired depositor (product, delivery channel usage, age, other products, zip code, etc.), then review your member data to see who fits this profile but doesn’t current have deposits with you. It’s time to give them a call.2. Make it easy. A lot of financial institutions say they excel at customer service, but only a few actually do. Invest some time and effort in making the deposit process easier and more satisfying. Consumers (especially Millenials) expect to be able to do just about everything online, so make the process simple and offer assistance moving online banking data. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

#CUNAGAC is underway!

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The Governmental Affairs Conference has begun! It’s the biggest week of the year for credit unions and we will bring you coverage every day of CUNA’s 2015 conference. Check out the links below for the latest from Day 1 at #CUNAGAC!CU Magazine: Your Foundation: Providing Impactful PhilanthropyCU Magazine: Advocacy Gives CUs, Members a United VoiceCU Magazine: Desjardins Winners Committed to Financial EducationCU Magazine: Maxwell, Herring Winners Honor Duty to ServeCU Magazine: McChrystal: Beware the Pitfalls of ‘Predictive Hubris’CUNA News Now: NEW: NCUA’s Matz calls 2015 year of reg. reliefCUNA News Now: CU advocacy efforts take center stage during 2015 GACCUNA News Now: GAC: McChrystal presents first-ever ED (Filene) TalkCUNA News Now: GAC: Small CU roundtable explores ‘Five to Thrive’ growth strategiesCUNA News Now: GAC: CUs share their ‘Unite for Good’ storiesCU Times: Metsger Encourages Industry Evolution: Onsite CoverageCU Times: NCUA writing supplemental capital rule: Onsite at GACCU Times: Kasasa Now Flying Under Own Brand: Onsite CoverageCU Times: Credit Unions Are Like Coral Reefs: Onsite Coveragelast_img read more

Emergency savings – here’s what you really need

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Jennifer WatersHere’s the truth about savings in America: We all talk a lot about how much we should be saving and spending, but the majority of us don’t save enough to pay for a surprise expense that must be covered immediately.More than 60% of Americans don’t have enough money stashed away to pay for unforeseen expenses such as a $1,000 stint in the emergency room or a $500 fender-bender, according to a Bankrate.com study earlier this year.The same survey found that 82% of us keep household budgets — mostly with pen and paper or in our heads — but we look to outside help to pull us out of a financial crisis.It’s a good thing most Americans have a household budget, but what’s up with the savings dearth? “Too few have the ability to cover expenses outside their budget without going into debt or turning to family and friends for help,” says Claes Bell, Bankrate’s banking analyst. continue reading »last_img read more

NAFCU’s Long quoted in WSJ and Barron’s on employment

first_img 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU Chief Economist and Director of Research Curt Long was featured in several news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, with his take on October’s positive job numbers Friday.In October, employment increased by 271,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent despite 313,000 workers joining the labor force.In Long’s comments on this month’s job numbers, which are summarized in a NAFCU Macro Data Flash, he emphasized that observers are now expecting the Federal Open Market Committee to raise interest rates in December.HousingWire quoted Long saying: “As disappointing as last month’s jobs report was, this one more than makes up for it. Job gains surged past analysts’ expectations … Barring catastrophe, everything looks set for the Fed to raise rates in December.” continue reading »last_img read more

Card fraud myth busters: Five common misperceptions your members may hold

first_imgHere in the U.S., card fraud is rampant. In fact, according to a recent Barclay’s report published in Security Magazine, 47 percent of the world’s credit card fraud happens in the U.S., even though Americans account for just 24 percent of total credit card volume worldwide.While technologies such as EMV and tokenization will eventually play a key role in curtailing U.S. card fraud, experts agree that their best weapon against this threat is an informed consumer.“In life, information is powerful,” said Bill Freer, risk manager for CO-OP Financial Services. “Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the fight against card fraud. Teaching members proper security protocols should be a top priority for every credit union, especially with so many misperceptions out there about how fraud occurs.”Myth #1: I’m Safer On-Site Than OnlineAccording to Freer, the number one misperception most consumers have about card fraud is that online transactions pose the greatest risk. “Online fraud is always a concern, but most of the fraud we see occurs because of skimming devices and malware at merchant sites and ATMs,” he said. “These tools allow fraudsters to record all the card data information they need often without ever touching a physical card.” continue reading » 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more