Now You Can Use Your Phone To Pay For Parking In Minneapolis

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By Peter Cox, MPR News

“The city of Minneapolis is rolling out a new meterless parking payment option: the smartphone.  Customers can use the MPLS Parking app to plug in their parking-spot number and pay through their phone. They can also add more time to their meter while they’re away from the parking spot. The city is testing the app out in 975 spots in the North Loop and Downtown West.”

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota To Cut 450 Tech Jobs

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By Peter Cox, MPR News

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will cut around 450 positions over the next four years with losses coming in information technology, the state’s largest insurer said Tuesday.

Those job cuts will be made gradually, from 2016 through 2019, in order to make the reductions transparent and predictable to employees, the company said in a statement. Blue Cross employs about 3,500 people throughout Minnesota, so the cuts represent about 13 percent of the current workforce.”

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Minnesota colleges cater to students’ entrepreneurial ambitions

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By Alex Friedrich, MPR News

“Empowered by technology and impatient with the limits of conventional jobs, an increasing number of Minnesota college students are showing an interest in working for themselves, campus officials say.

In recent years, some universities in the state established programs to teach them how to do it. Such entrepreneurship classes are not just luring business majors. Students from the arts and sciences also want to strike out.”

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MN State Senate passes tougher cell phone tracking standards

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By Tim Pugmire, MPR News

“The Minnesota Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill requiring police to obtain a warrant in order to track a person’s location by their cell phone or other electronic devices.

The vote today was 56 -1. Under the bill, law enforcement must show probable cause of a crime. There’s also a requirement for notifying people when their tracking information is collected.”

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Minneapolis to regulate ride-share companies

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By Curtis Gilbert, MPR News

“The city of Minneapolis plans to regulate ride-share companies rather than block them.

A City Council committee Tuesday asked staff to draw up new regulations that would work with the business models of Lyft and Uber X, two companies with cell phone apps that allow drivers to use their personal cars like taxicabs.”

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Rochester programming classes bet on the future

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By Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio

“ROCHESTER, Minn. — Eyes glued to his laptop, 7-year-old Chaitanya Ghatty stands at the end of a long table, trying to coax a computer program to do what he wants. It doesn’t seem to want to listen.

“It’s supposed to be a colorful ball of cat fur, which always changes colors and bounces off walls leaving a colorful trail behind it like a spider web,” he explains to his father. Instead of bouncing off the walls, however, the fur ball floats off the screen.”

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Civic hackers aim to crack open public data

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By Jon Collins, MPR News

” ST. PAUL, Minn. — After Matt Decuir moved from Seattle to Minneapolis earlier this year, he missed the real-time apps he’d used to find out exactly when Seattle buses or trains would arrive at a stop.

Metro Transit tracks each vehicle by GPS, but doesn’t present the information in an easily accessible way, Decuir said.

At a “hackathon” organized in June, where programmers gather to brainstorm and collaborate, Decuir and four other programmers decided to tackle the problem directly. “

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Best Buy sets new high for recycling electronics

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By Martin Moylan, MPR News

“ST. PAUL, Minn. — Best Buy reached a new high for recycling last year, as the retailer collected 173 million pounds of unwanted appliances and electronics In-store electronics recycling collections have been growing at a 20 percent annual clip for several years, said Leo Raudys, the retailer’s senior director for environmental stability.

“About half of the weight we collect is TVs, and most of that is still the old tube TVs,” Raudys said. “So there’s quite a bit more out there than you would imagine. About 30 percent of the rest of the weight is computer monitors. Again, very heavy. A lot of glass. And the rest is made up of things like desktops and laptops and miscellaneous electronics.”

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Twin Cities region has a good start in robotics; let’s capitalize on it

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By Andrew Borene, MPR News (commentary)

“The Twin Cities area has a head start to become an international robotics and automation center of excellence. A robotics ecosystem already taking form will build upon our region’s expertise in effective high-tech innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration.

Robots are moving into our personal lives by cleaning living room floors, handling hazardous materials, parking cars and saving lives in roles from security to medicine. The world’s emerging robotics industry has vast potential to benefit the quality of life for people all over the world, creating millions of high-paying jobs in the process.”

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High-tech sensors track performance of 35W bridge

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By Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio

“MINNEAPOLIS — Five years after the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring 145, officials say the new replacement bridge is performing well.

They can say that with confidence because the bridge is fitted with hundreds of high-tech sensors that track how the span reacts to things like weight on the bridge, vibration and temperature. Researchers say the data they collect from the span could change how bridges are designed in the future.”

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