Park Service’s Sweeping Ban Of Model Aircraft And Drones Creates Confusion

The National Park Service announced today that they are banning the use of drones and model aircraft in all National Parks, subject to a few limited exceptions.  According to a policy memorandum released by Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the Park Service, the directive is an interim measure while the park service attempts to properly evaluate drone and other model aircraft uses.

While the policy memorandum has flaws, it is at least more clear than the National Park Service’s prior method of announcing potential fines and jail time through Twitter, Facebook, and website postings.  This approach may also be a reasonable first step, assuming the National Park Service opens the regulatory process up to public comment, there exists the possibility that some uses of drones may be allowed in the future.

For example, National Parks may want to allow persons to operate drones for limited uses in designated areas during certain times of the year (as many National Parks previously allowed) or for artistic and cinematic documentation that may serve to portray the park system in a positive light.  The Park Service may also want to develop a less onerous permit application process than the one announced in the memorandum, that would allow for scientific studies that do not impact wildlife.

The   (Photo credit: Yosemite National Park Facebook page)

The National Park Service has banned drones and model aircraft in most National Parks (Photo credit: Yosemite National Park Facebook page).

In their announcement, the National Park Service also seems to admit that my arguments in these posts (here, and here) were completely on point, the National Park Service wrote:

Another reason for the required closures is that current NPS regulations do not specifically address launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft.  The prohibition on operating or using aircraft in 36 CFR 2.17(a)(1) does not apply to unmanned aircraft because the definition of “aircraft” in 36 C.F.R. 1.4 is limited to devices used or intended to be used for human flight.

This looks strikingly similar to what I wrote in this May 5, 2014 post, when I said:

the National Park Service defines aircraft as:

“a device that is used or intended to be used for human flight in the air, including powerless flight.”

That is their definition, it is the law that is on the books (as opposed to made up law in Tweets and press releases).  That regulation can be found by any concerned citizen (here it is).  If the government wants to fine or imprison people for flying an “aircraft” they can only do so pursuant to the rules they’ve promulgated.  Those rules state that aircraft are “used or intended to be used for human flight.”

But what about current model aircraft operations in parks?  This is where things become a bit more confusing.  The National Park Service in its policy memorandum has decreed that the ban on “unmanned aircraft” includes a ban on drones and model aircraft, specifically:

For the purposes of this Policy Memorandum, the term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links).  This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g. model airplanes, quadcopters, drones0 that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.

The Park Service creates a carve out for the “limited existing use of model aircraft” but that still doesn’t address every circumstance.  Existing permitted uses likely means the parks that currently allow model aircraft flights on model aircraft fields.  I compiled a list of those National Parks that allow model aircraft use in at least some parts of the parks, they include: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Delaware Water Gap, Valley Forge, Gateway National Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes- Michigan National Park, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Mississippi National River Recreation Area (Spring Lake Park Preserve), and Paramount Ranch (Santa Monica Mountains).

While it’s clear that model aircraft could likely continue operation in those places where they’ve been explicitly allowed, what about in other areas where it seems absurd to ban them?

For example, would this paper airplane that can be flown by a phone be banned?  What about this $9.50 remote controlled helicopter, would it violate the ban if operated near a camper’s tent by a child?  What about this $71 quadcopter if flown over that same tent?   How about this $479 quadcopter flown over the same tent?  It’s not clear whether any of these uses would be permitted.

This legal hairsplitting matters, under the Park Service’s policy memorandum, the use of remote controlled flying toys is punishable by 6 months in jail or a $5,000 fine.  I have interviewed and am aware of multiple persons who have been cited by the National Park Service for flying model aircraft/small drones.  Moreover, as Jason Koebler wrote, at least one person was told if he paid the citation it would be a $350 punishment, however if he went to trial to challenge the Park Service’s interpretation, he would face 6 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The Park Service’s policy memorandum has added some clarity, but has also created confusion.  Children and others using remote controlled toys in parks have to hope that a park ranger wont cite them.  The smart move for park visitors is to not bring your remote controlled flying toys to the National Parks (sorry kids).  I’m hopeful that as the park service develops new regulations they will make carve outs (perhaps by weight, noise, or manner of use) for smaller systems that are unlikely to disturb others or harm the park.

Gregory S. McNeal is a professor specializing in law and public policy.  You can follow him on Twitter @GregoryMcNeal or on Facebook.  

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Why the aerospace industry is investing in 3-D printing

They have been used to make everything from pizzas to prosthetic hands to guns. But can 3-D printers churn out entire satellites?

That’s the goal for some aerospace contractors, who think this technology is poised to revolutionize the way expensive, high-maintenance products are manufactured.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other aerospace companies have already embraced the concept of using 3-D printers to manufacture small parts. For example, Lockheed’s Juno spacecraft, which is on its way to explore Jupiter, relies on a set of 3-D printed brackets. Boeing has used several 3-D printed parts in its airplanes, including the Dreamliner. Northrop Grumman has a titanium component in its X-47B unmanned aircraft built for the Navy and has plans to use 3-D printed parts in the F-35 fighter jet.

Companies are always looking for ways to cut costs, but the emphasis on developing new technology has increased as the government’s defense budget shrinks and contractors compete for business, executives say.

“The real end goal isn’t just to do 3-D printing,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed’s space systems division, which is investing heavily in the technology. “It’s about delivering a capability at a much lower cost across the board.”


A 3-D printed waveguide bracket that is onboard the Juno spacecraft. (Lockheed Martin/Lockheed Martin)

The average Defense Department satellite takes eight years to produce, Ambrose said. Lockheed’s goal is to eventually cut that down to under five years.

Government agencies are more open to experimentation right now, contractors say. President Obama started the National Additive and Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as “America Makes,” in 2012 to promote research and standards in the field of 3-D printing.

At the same time, competitors across the world are trying to revive manufacturing in their homelands by embracing new technologies.

“Companies recognize that if this technology continues to develop, it could be a real change in manufacturing competitiveness,” said Mark Thut, who leads innovation efforts in the aerospace sector for PriceWaterhouseCoopers. “They certainly don’t want to be surprised by that.”

3-D printing — which is formally known as additive manufacturing — uses a computer-generated digital blueprint to build an object layer by layer. One of its advantages is the ability to produce complex geometric designs or create customized parts that may be used just once, companies say.

The process is time-consuming and depending on the materials used, can still be expensive. But the technology is evolving quickly as engineers try to cut down on production time and develop more cost-effective materials.

The specialized printing was mainly used to make rapid prototypes and test them in the development phase. But the technology has progressed from creating models to making actual parts.

Right now, engineers still don’t use 3-D printing to make critical, load-bearing structures. But that will only be a matter of time.

“It’s kind of getting into toddler mode,” said Michael Hayes, a technical lead engineer with Boeing’s research and technology division. “Soon it’ll be walking, and the way things are moving, it’ll be running.”

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US FAA outlines restrictions for model aircraft in wake of reckless use

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Monday interpreted existing rules to prohibit hobbyists’ model aircraft from flying within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of an airport without clearance from the airport or ground control.

The guidance follows incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people, FAA said. The U.S. National Park Service last week banned the operation of drones amidst concerns about the safety of people and harassment of animals.

Model aircraft hobbyists have to ensure that the aircraft is visible to the operator at all times without viewing aids like binoculars, and is not used for commercial purposes, the FAA said. The aircraft should not weigh more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms), including the weight of the payload and fuel, unless it’s certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization

The FAA also defended its right to set rules in a notice that went into effect on Monday and is open for public comment for 30 days.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 established in section 336 a special rule for model aircraft, which prohibited the agency from making any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if the aircraft meets statutory requirements such as the maximum weight and its use exclusively for hobby or recreational purposes.

The FAA holds the rulemaking prohibition does not apply in the case of general rules that it may issue or modify that apply to all aircraft, such as rules addressing the use of airspace for safety or security reasons. “The statute does not require FAA to exempt model aircraft from those rules because those rules are not specifically regarding model aircraft,” it said in the notice.

If a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against the operators for the safety violations, FAA said.

Rules addressing operation of the aircraft may, for example, include prohibitions on careless or reckless operation and dropping objects so as to create a hazard to persons or property.

The agency also interpreted existing statutes to rule out the use of hobbyist and recreational model aircraft for purposes such as photographing a property or event to sell the photos to someone else, or delivering packages to people for a fee.

The FAA said earlier this month it is considering exemptions that will allow the use of commercial drones for filming movies, after seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for the film and television industry. Amazon.com and other companies have said that they plan to use drones for commercial purposes such as delivery of packages.

An administrative law judge of the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the classification of UAS does not appear in the Federal Aviation Regulations, raising questions whether the FAA has the authority to set rules for them.

Ruling in the case of a photographer Raphael Pirker, who was fined US$10,000 by the FAA in October 2011 for allegedly flying recklessly a powered glider aircraft, Judge Patrick G. Geraghty ruled in March that existing policy regarding the commercial use of drones, “cannot be considered as establishing a rule or enforceable regulation.” The FAA has appealed the ruling before the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the board rules.

The FAA is required by U.S. Congress to frame a “safe integration” plan for the commercial use of UAS by Sept. 30, 2015. The agency said in February that it expected to publish a proposed rule for small UAS of under about 55 pounds this year. “That proposed rule will likely include provisions for commercial operations,” it said. Model aircraft are included under UAS in the 2012 Act.

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One-On-One: UofL informatics expert Dr. Robert Esterhay

‘Population Health’ shifting healthcare’s focus upstream

By Ed Lane

Dr. Robert J. Esterhay, chair of the Department for Health Management and Systems Sciences in the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, has been involved with healthcare informatics for more than 35 years. His medical school thesis in 1969 – prior to personal computers and the Internet – involved computer-assisted learning using computer-simulated patients for training medical students and faculty.

Dr. Robert Esterhay

Dr. Robert Esterhay

In the mid-1970s, he led an early implementation of an electronic medical record information system at the University of Maryland Cancer Center and in the mid-1990s headed a nationwide implementation of an electronic medical record system in 60 long-term acute care hospitals and 300 nursing homes for Kindred Healthcare (formerly Vencor). Esterhay was also instrumental in creating a comprehensive cancer database that continues to be used today. He is a member of the Kentucky TeleHealth Network Board and served as the first co-chair of the Kentucky e-Health Board.

Esterhay describes why and how U.S. medical providers are aligning into networks

Ed Lane: “Population Health” is a new academic and health industry textbook that took more than 21 months to complete using the efforts of a coordinating editorial team and a group of authors from the healthcare, public health and academic communities. As one of its executive editors, could you briefly explain the meaning of the term “population health” and how this shift in perspective affects the nation’s health and wellness?

Robert Esterhay: Not everyone agrees on the meaning of “population health.” If you talk to experts, you will get different definitions. In our book, the editors created a summary of different definitions created by healthcare experts. The conclusion I reached is that population health is a complex ecosystem that involves at least four overlapping components. The first part is consumers or patients. The second part is the healthcare system, with which we’re very familiar and is the focus of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The third part is the traditional role of public health in the education and safety of our communities. The fourth part is the social policies that influence how this ecosystem operates and interacts with itself.

EL: How do local public health departments and officials enact health-related initiatives to protect individuals?

RE: The traditional departments of health worry about clean water, clean air, restaurant inspections – what would be called traditional public health services. In the past they’ve provided immunizations. Even immunizations today, many of them are no longer done by health departments; they’re done in physicians’ offices or in hospital settings or pharmacies. Pharmacies will also remind you, depending on your age, whether your immunizations are up to date. Health departments no longer provide primary care. The health department’s other big role is educating a population about getting flu shots, exercising, eating correctly and so forth. So the role of the traditional public health department is changing.

EL: One fact in “Population Health” is that in 1900 the world’s population was about 1 billion, while today it’s 7 billion and still growing. What difference do these population shifts make in healthcare?

RE: Poverty is one of the most significant factors with respect to the health of a community or a population. For instance, Louisville has a West End where people are poor, as opposed to the people who live in the East End. People in Louisville’s West End don’t live as long as those in East Louisville. To reflect back upon the world, every community has a West End. In fact, in parts of the world, when you go to a large city, it is only the West End.

If you look at West Africa where Ebola is a problem, those are really poor countries. They don’t have the infrastructure. They don’t have roads and hospitals and healthcare people to provide enough care and support. When the president sends in the military, that’s the only large, mobile group that can get in there quickly and set up hospitals and start to compensate for the lack of infrastructure in West Africa. Every community, for the most part, has a West End, and many global cities are only a West End.

EL: What have we learned from the efforts to create state health information exchanges to collect and share medical data?

RE: We’ve learned that 75 percent of state health information exchanges do not have a sustainable business model and therefore will fail. We’ve seen many of them already shut down and close; others have been moved into other parts of a state’s organization just to keep them going, or they have become Medicaid-only. In Kentucky, the lack of a sustainable business model is a challenge. Kentucky’s health information exchange will have to start charging for its operation, either some sort of membership fee or fees based on transactions. The exchange will end up competing with the private sector, which is building health information exchanges for Accountable Care Organizations. State exchanges won’t be able to compete with the private sector, which is moving much faster.

EL: KentuckyOne Health, which owns Jewish Hospital, St. Mary’s HealthCare, and the Saint Joseph Health System as well as partnering with the UofL Hospital’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, recently announced that it is operating at a deficit of $200 million a year.

RE: I recall when Norton Healthcare acquired hospitals from Hospital Corporation of America in Nashville; after the acquisition, it took Norton a while to dig out of its debt. It’s also going to take KentuckyOne a while to achieve operational savings. It took Norton several years to improve its bottom line, and KentuckyOne will likely take a similar amount of time.

EL: Humana and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield are two of the largest insurers here in Kentucky. How well are those firms managed?

RE: Humana and Anthem are rapidly adapting to the changes in the healthcare market. They are trying to put the needs of the customer or consumer first. Other large insurance companies like United Healthcare also are consumer-focused and trying to get people more engaged in their own health information. Managing a person’s personal health information, aggregating all the information and monetizing these services will create new businesses, new ways of thinking and new opportunities.

EL: How is the Affordable Care Act causing changes with new programs that affect how we access, pay for and assess the quality of healthcare services in the United States?

RE: Most people need to realize that the ACA is predominantly about insurance reform. It has not very much to do with healthcare itself. And it’s being implemented over a period of time; it’s very complex, and people don’t understand all the pieces and parts.

Consumers are happy with some benefits of the ACA: You can’t be denied coverage if you have an existing precondition; your child can remain on your insurance plan up to the age of 26; and some wonderful prevention and screening coverages are provided. There’s a lot that people don’t like about the ACA: Consumers are upset with the individual mandate; basically if you don’t have insurance coverage you’re going to pay a penalty or a fee.

The Supreme Court upheld the legality of the mandate. The mandate resulted because healthcare costs are exploding at a tremendous rate. In retrospect, when the cost of healthcare gets to a point people cannot tolerate, then the federal government creates legislation to do something about it. Over a long period of time, you can see it’s a cycle, like a sine wave. Costs go up, the government responds, the government does something and the cost of care comes down a little bit. But what people don’t understand is that, overall, the cost of care continues to increase no matter what. The challenge is, can the rate at which costs are escalating be decreased?

As part of the ACA, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) set up an innovation center with the idea of creating accountable care organizations and how providers charge patients for their care. The idea is to move from paying a fee for each provided service into what’s called bundled pay. Healthcare providers achieve efficiencies by bundling all the costs of an episode of care, which actually brings down the cost of that care. It’s very difficult for large businesses to figure out how to do bundled payments based on an entire episode of care over time. It’s very challenging for the healthcare business environment to figure out how to move from service reimbursement to bundled. Most everyone is still using fee-for-service compensation.

EL: Recent national news is covering the Ebola epidemic in Africa and incidents of U.S. healthcare workers being infected. This very dangerous communicable disease and related media hype have the American public concerned about a major epidemic in the United States. How concerned should Americans be in regard to an Ebola outbreak?

RE: It’s unlikely there will be an outbreak of Ebola in this country. The people who get Ebola are healthcare workers, and the healthcare workers who most frequently get Ebola are nurses, because they are the ones taking care of the sick. As you mentioned, the news media hyped Ebola, got the public fearing it, and some very inappropriate things have been done because people are frightened. A person’s chance of being struck by lightning is actually greater than the chance of contracting Ebola in the United States right now. You’re much more likely to die from influenza, and yet a significant number of people don’t get their flu shots.

EL: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 36,000 people in the United States die of flu each year.

RE: Yes. Influenza and Ebola are totally different. You can’t even compare them. The media doesn’t make a big deal about 30,000 people dying from flu. People are not afraid of flu because they know what happens to people who have flu. The American public doesn’t react to flu the same way it is currently reacting to Ebola. It’s really amazing.

EL: What are the stated goals of “Healthy People 2020”?

RE: The goals of “Healthy People 2020” are quite different from the Affordable Care Act. The 2020 goals are basically saying that this is where we are now statistically with respect to heart disease or Type 2 diabetes in this country, and this is what we should try to achieve by 2020. Those become measures of indicators of population health.

In addition to looking at health statistics, the other question raised in that 2020 report is the whole idea of looking at the social determinants of health: having a job, a good education, transportation, those criteria that actually say more about a person’s health than all the healthcare services in the world. Remember, in many other countries that don’t have an expensive healthcare system, people live longer and are healthier than people in the United States, which is ranked around 34th on the list with respect to health indicators. Those countries don’t have an expensive healthcare system and yet they do better than we do. Now why is that?

EL: Because some Americans are living in poverty?

RE: Yes. The United States has a very large population that lives in poverty. When you look at healthcare averages, you’re not looking at the distribution of population and what’s really going on. Averages don’t give you a true picture. Ron Crouch, who wrote the chapter on demographics, pointed out that, yes, Americans are living longer, and the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, and it’s distributed in an interesting way. If you look at a spatial map of the United States and look at the distribution of the population, it’s amazing that it’s not uniform. Poverty in America is increasing, the middle class is declining in size, and there are tremendous implications for healthcare services when you look at these data.

EL: One of the other sections in the book discusses the mechanisms that are needed to control and lead a network.

RE: There’s a book that we reference in Chapter Two, which Dr. Judah Thornewill and I wrote. In fact, we created a course called Network Leadership. Network leadership is very different than organizational leadership. When you are in charge of a network, you behave differently. You just can’t demand people to do things like you can if you’re the leader of an organization. You have to understand that there’s an interplay of power, control, money and trust. And unless you’re trusted in a network, you really can’t achieve much.

In the book that Mike Leavitt and Rich McKeown wrote called “Finding Allies and Building Alliances,” they make the point that if you want to create an alliance, which is a network, the best way to do it is if there’s a common problem that’s causing everyone pain – and if everyone realizes that they can’t solve the problem themselves but have to work together to solve it. And what makes that work often in a community is someone who has – we call them a convener of stature, or a convener of importance. Somebody whom the community respects and to whom people will listen.

EL: You mention in the book having many links within a network in order to build trust and leadership.

RE: Leaders have to build relationships. It’s all about relationship building. You have people who can build relationships very well within an organization; you also have people who can bridge and build relationships with the external community. It’s really about building the social capital that’s required in a community to get large projects done, that will have significant impact on the community. Health fits into that category; population health fits into that category.

You can destroy trust in less than half a second by saying something that undermines everything you’ve tried to accomplish. You have to realize as leader of a network that you can destroy trust. What takes years to build can be destroyed in an incredibly short period of time.

EL: Two facts in the book stood out in terms of demographics. One was fertility rates are declining worldwide, and the other was that population growth is not due to increased fertility but to increased longevity.

RE: Right. The U.S. “population pyramid” (oldest age cohorts at the top, youngest at the bottom) doesn’t look like a pyramid anymore; it looks like a box or a trapezoid at best. In terms of world population, the UofL School of Public Health is in negotiations to establish a program with the University of Lahore in Pakistan and will create a satellite campus 8,000 or so miles away. Pakistani students will earn a University of Louisville degree, a master’s in public health. That’s underway. You look at the population pyramid of Pakistan and compare it to the United States, and they have what looks like a pyramid because they don’t live as long and their fertility rate and childbirth rates are far greater in comparison to the United States. So Pakistan has a true age pyramid. Their biggest challenge is child and maternal health. In the United States, our biggest healthcare challenge isn’t child and maternal health; it’s our aging population.

EL: Is there a differential in the U.S. population growth rate of different races?

RE: As pointed out in the book, most of the birthrates are higher in the immigrant population that have come to our country, and that rate is much higher than it is for the population that’s been in this country for generations. So if you’re looking at race – the immigrant population and the poor population – the fertility rates are greater than they would be in the corresponding white population. There is a definite difference.

EL: “Population Health” says, “The current system of healthcare cannot continue to focus on caring for people after they are ill. The system must focus on disease prevention, chronic disease management, and health outcomes for individuals, communities and populations.”

RE: I’ve criticized that our healthcare system deals with sickness and not with being well. You can’t really do anything about a lot of the chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes unless you go upstream. There’s not enough money on the planet to deal with Type 2 diabetes downstream, where you have all the consequences of the disease. The only way you can tackle the problem is looking upstream. What does that mean? You start with kids – they’re overweight and not getting enough exercise. In fact, a lot of kids now have Type 2 diabetes, which is frightening. The only way you can deal with downstream problems, which are so expensive, is to invest money upstream to encourage kids to eat and exercise properly. If you take a systems thinking approach and you think about dealing with the upstream problems, which relate to poverty, not having a good education or a job, not living in a neighborhood where it’s safe to walk, run, play and get exercise, all of those things lead to downstream problems.

EL: Is there a good strategy in place at this time to reduce chronic diseases?

RE: We need to do a lot of work. Under the ACA, there are certain things that are covered: screenings, certain prevention things are covered and provided. Large companies offer programs of exercise and eating wisely. Many large corporations will incentivize their employees by providing opportunities to get exercise, maybe even a coach or trainer. Large businesses realize that it’s a business decision to have healthy, happy employees rather than having disgruntled employees who miss a lot of work and mess up production lines. It’s been a while, but the case has been made that an employer that invests in having a healthy workforce will do better than one that doesn’t.

EL: Will Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) be compensated for keeping people from getting chronic disease?

RE: It’s tough, because an ACO has to realize it’s responsible for the patient when the patient’s not in the hospital. That’s a different way of thinking. It’s tough because the ACO needs to know about the people receiving coverage. How do they live? What do they eat? Do they exercise? And if the insured do not sign on for the wellness effort, how can the ACO be paid in terms of how costs are going to be kept down when, in fact, its insured are staying in the hospital longer than planned and the ACO ends up paying for it?

EL: And the insured pay for it, too, because they are less healthy.

RE: Yes. So it’s a really tough road to go down. Most people don’t understand that before an ACO can be implemented, it must create a clinically integrated network. It’s a precursor to your ACO to have all the providers that competed for money come together and say, “We’re going to do this together, and we may not make as much money, but we’ll continue to make money, and so I’ll do this for less (money) if you can guarantee that I’m going to continue to be able to provide these kinds of services.” And all of that negotiation that takes place between physicians and specialties is a tough thing to accomplish.

EL: One other key to making the ACO functional is to have good data, because if you don’t have data, how do you know whether you’ve done a good job?

RE: You have to have useful healthcare data, not just “big data.” A lot of people have big data that’s junk.

EL: Is defining data a critical issue?

RE: That’s a very good question. Most of the operations data that hospitals utilize are called administrative data. There are different kinds; the biggest category is the claims data, which are the codes providers submit to get reimbursed. Each code is worth something; so much money per service provided. On a massive scale, around the clock, 24/7, codes are going to the sources of money; and once the code for service is exchanged, the provider gets reimbursed. That’s the basis.

There’s a movement of information and money that most people don’t understand, that when an employer provides a benefit to an employee, they have negotiated with a provider how much it will be compensated. They say, these are the names of the people, and this is what’s going to be covered. Well, what’s covered also gets further negotiated in terms of what’s on the (prescription drug treatment) formulary. The formulary is probably going to contain more generic drugs than brand-name drugs because they’re cheaper. Or there are going to be certain procedures that are negotiated: What procedures are covered at what rate, and what formulary is being used, and which drugs? You have a tremendous amount of information being moved electronically these days and funds being electronically deposited. It’s amazing that it works.

EL: According to the book, 25 percent of all Medicare payments are spent on end-of-life care, along with a lot of private money. Current end-of-life treatments often do not enhance, and sometimes even detract from, a patient’s quality of life. As the baby boomers age, can end-of-life care be improved and costs lowered?

RE: Some states are trying to create what are called standing orders, where the individual can say at the end of my life, these are the things I want done and these are the things I don’t want done. That will be an enormous move in the direction of reducing unnecessary end-of-life expenses.

EL: Malaria infects 500 million people each year. Typhus caused millions of deaths in the 20th century alone. Bubonic plague killed 75 to 200 million people in the 14th century; the third pandemic in 1850 spread to all inhabited continents, killed 12 million people, and didn’t taper off until 1950. Smallpox, now successfully eradicated, is credited with the deaths of millions. The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected one-third of the world’s population and killed 100 million. What is the probability that a major pandemic will occur in the future?

RE: There will always be something new in terms of a health threat, and technological progress often leads to unintended consequences. An airplane can move Ebola across an ocean in a matter of hours. We’ve proved that. We also have 24/7 news coverage, so we can frighten anybody we want to in the world instantaneously by people making inappropriate comments for whatever reasons. We have seen what fear can do; fear can be spread in a dramatic fashion and probably can even be made worse by whatever the situation is.

President Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear is a terrible thing. Fear is a tremendous challenge with which healthcare has to deal. People understand the power of fear and use it in ways that are very destructive. Fear is not a virus; fear is a psychological thing. New healthcare threats will emerge. It will never end. Healthcare can respond so much faster these days with its technology, information and communication capabilities.

EL: How will the quality of healthcare in the U.S. change during the next 25 years?

RE: It’ll be different. Healthcare has its own economy, and in the United States, based on how we have a free-market system, it will morph and it will change – just like IBM (first) built mainframe computers and they went through a metamorphosis, a transformation, a change, and that IBM today is basically a consulting company. They still exist, it’s still called IBM, but what they do is quite different. Our healthcare system will end up the same way.

How it operates today will be dramatically different than how it operates in the future. I would hope that it would be more devoted to health and wellness and less to diagnoses and dealing with complications of end-stage disease and the expense associated with that. But not until the marketplace figures out how to engage consumers in their own health information and how to live healthier and better lives, and until the private sector can figure out how to make a business out of all of that and how to make money out of all that – I think in 25 years it’ll get there. It might even get there a lot sooner.

 

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FAA Rules On Drones Vs. Model Aircraft Protested

Proposed FAA dividing line between model aircraft and drones is too limiting to hobbyists, says the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Smartphones Of The Future: 6 Cool Technologies
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Proposed FAA rules would define model aircraft too narrowly and commercial drones too broadly, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) protests in comments filed with the agency.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently accepting comments on its Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which attempts to clarify the distinction between a model aircraft and a drone. Model aircraft are minimally regulated, as opposed to commercial unmanned aircraft, a category for which the rules are still being written.

The ITIF is a prominent technology think tank, in a league with the RAND Corporation, with IT industry backers that include Google and Cisco. Google has bought a couple of drone manufacturers and is exploring how unmanned aircraft might fit into its operations. Hobbyist groups such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics are also protesting the proposed rules, but the ITIF’s motivation is more to avoid choking off avenues for experimentation and innovation. The position paper makes a comparison with early rules limiting the Internet to noncommercial uses, which if not changed would have prevented the emergence of the whole online economy.

“We try to argue for policies surrounding the idea of permissionless innovation,” Alan McQuinn, principle author of the ITIF’s comments, says in an interview. In other words, the FAA should not create rules that prevent revolutionary applications of the technology from being created in some tinkerer’s garage, he says.

[Should we worry? Read Wearables, Drones Scare Americans.]

Although the Federal Aviation Administration recently began approving the first commercial drone flights over land on a case-by-case basis, guiding regulations are required to help companies seeking to take advantage of technology understand what is and is not legal, as a rule. Under the FAA Modernization Act of 2012, Congress charged the agency with drafting rules for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems by September 2015. The agency has expressed confidence it will meet that deadline, although the FAA’s own inspector general’s office doubts it.

Meanwhile, the proposed model aircraft rule is an early indication of how the FAA will interpret the provision of the law exempting model aircraft from tight regulation and allowing them to be governed mostly by voluntary guidelines of the hobbyist community.

Drone pilot with video goggles, assisted by a spotter.(Image: FPV Pilot by Patrick McKay via Wikimedia Commons)

Technological advances driven by the proliferation of military surveillance and killer drones, as well as by model aircraft manufacturers and hobbyists, mean there is no longer a sharp distinction between a drone and a model aircraft. Thus the FAA considers a model aircraft to be a type of unmanned aerial system (UAS), drawing distinctions based on the size of the vehicle, as well as how it is used. A UAS consists of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or “drone”) plus all the remote control gadgetry.

Some parts of the law seem unambiguous. For example, in order to fall into the model aircraft category a vehicle must weigh less than 55 pounds. The FAA did clarify that the weight includes payload — you couldn’t legally operate a 30-pound aircraft carrying a 30-pound block of cheese to your picnic and claim the hobbyist exemption.

However, the rules also state that the aircraft must be operated within the “line of sight” of the pilot, and there the FAA and its critics have a difference of opinion. Model aircraft enthusiasts want to be able to use first person view (FPV) goggles, the increasingly popular accessories that allow the pilot to see through drone camera eyes. In the absence of a ruling to the contrary, groups such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics have suggested a workaround of having FPV pilots work with a copilot, or spotter, who will keep an eye on the aircraft, side-by-side with a goggle-wearing pilot. Now, the FAA is saying that its “plain language” interpretation of the law is that the pilot should be watching the aircraft with his own eyeballs.

“To ensure that the operator has the best view of the aircraft, the statutory requirement would preclude the use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and

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David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek’s coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and … View Full BioPreviousNext

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The importance of a father figure’s example in a man’s life

         When I was a kid, my father always used to take me to the model airplane track to see small prototypes tested. These prototypes were led by a guide, and were able to do takeoffs, stunts, flips and landings. While my father watched the show, my thoughts revolved around the importance of his presence beside me. Furthermore, the gentle manner in which he treated my mother was a great example to me of how I should treat her. His smile and his respectful and friendly demeanor were my model of how I should treat others. Whenever we made mistakes or broke family rules, his attitude of firmly showing his disappointment without physically or verbally abusing us was enough to foster learning and improvement in a positive way.
1. The reflection in the mirror
        Often, as we grow, we see in our children our own past. It’s common to hope that our successes become their successes and that our weaknesses never occur in them. With a sense of protection, we surround them with rules and trap them in our security network, sometimes even hindering their own system of self-worth and value.
2. Trust that your son will do what is right
        Whenever opportunities for a son to serve others occur, a good father should accompany him to observe his attitude and disposition. When a father has the opportunity to be alone with his son in a time of helping someone in need, it can be a significant and touching moment.
        I will never forget the special opportunity I had of visiting a family once a month with my father who brought groceries to them to help out during hard times. I can vividly remember the feelings of friendship and gratitude they had for my father.
3. Genuine discipline and praise
        Our brain is a strong source of processing facts around us quickly and efficiently, but sometimes it can let us down. Having experienced many situations of frustration and weakness, all of us let feelings of disappointment and sadness build up within us, ready to burst at any moment. This leads to much of the evil we observe in today’s society.
        When a father sees his son involved in a moment of weakness or a mistake, it’s easy to act impulsively and immediately apply the classic punishments and grounding. These actions generally aren’t the right solution for the child, however, and often are simply reactions in moments of weakness and frustration. If effort is made, when there is a correction that is truly necessary, a father will be inspired to handle it in the best way possible. After making a correction, demonstrating even more love and genuine care allows the child to see the trust their father has that they will overcome their weakness and continue improving.
        The ability to make up for poor actions and improve weak parts in our behavior and character is strengthened when a father who disciplines also does what he teaches. By doing so, a good father becomes a great role model for the future for his own family.

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Former Pilot Builds Airplane Model And Donates It To The San Diego Air …

R.G. Head estimates he has built about 40 model airplanes over his lifetime, but the one he built recently took him two years to complete and can be considered his masterpiece: a German WW I Albatros D II complete with a Mercedes engine.

This airplane was flown by a German pilot by the name of Oswald Boelcke who was more famous in Germany than the Red Baron. In fact, Boelcke was the Red Baron’s squadron commander, mentor and flight instructor. Boelcke was the first pilot to write down aerial techniques and instructed other pilots on those techniques. He is reported to have had 40 victories during the war. Head enjoys telling the story of Boelcke which he researched in detail. He was killed at 25 years old in 1916 and had fought in WWI for two years.

Head officially presented the Albatros D II to the San Diego Air Space Museum Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 11, during a celebration in the Boardroom which included a lecture on the airplane by Head followed by a reception.

 When Head decided to build an airplane with the intention of donating it to the Air Space Museum he contacted the curator who recommended building the Albatros D II since the museum was lacking one. The curator also recommended that Head leave one side of the airplane open so visitors can see the “skeleton” of the plane. So Head left one side open while the right side is covered with English linen in keeping with the original design. “Sometimes it did rip off. That was a big problem [back then.] The airplanes were hand made,” he explained.  Head also built a display which shows the materials used to build the plane, which include seven different types of bolts, various types of woods and seven grades of sandpaper. 

Before and during the construction of the model, Head did a lot of research including contacting the curator of the tradition room in the Boelcke Museum in Germany who procured him some original WWI German medals Boelcke received, which are now part of the display together with the airplane at the Air Space Museum. One of those medals is the Blue Max or “Order Pour Le Merit” which originated in 1740 when Frederick the Great, King of Prussia was in power. The Blue Max was the highest order of merit for the kingdom of Prussia. Head’s German friend also sent him an original squadron plaque, the same squadron Boelcke belonged to, as well as an original postcard which depicts Boelcke in his military uniform. Thanks to the correspondence he has been able to get his hands on unique historical pieces and has made a friend. Head and his wife Carole will travel to Germany next year and stop by to visit the museum curator. 

Head served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot reaching the rank of Brigadier General and is a Silver Star recipient. He served a tour in Vietnam which included a crash landing. He was later stationed in Italy and Asia during his career.

While building the model airplane, the cockpit was the most challenging part, explained Head. The cockpit was replicated in the most intimate details including the control panel which actually works and a tiny map of France.

Head used 19 plans of the airplanes from different views while building the model. He ordered the airplane kit. When it arrived it was literally “a pile of lumber with plans,” said Head. Some people asked why he built a German plane. He explains that pilots like sailors feel a professional affinity. Head is an avid sailor.

He proudly shows the propeller he made using six sheets of wood of different colors and finished it with six coats of marine varnish. Head spent four hours a day working on the plane. He would wake up at 6 a.m. and work for a couple of hours then bring the newspaper and coffee to his wife and have some family time before going back to his work.

Head loves the challenge of  the details and looking for pieces that he can adapt to his model airplanes. In fact he even used very small sailboat cleats for turnbuckles which are 1/4 scale.

“I haunted the Coronado Hardware to find little pieces,” said Head. “I had pictures of what I was looking for.” He was forced to be inventive to find just the right pieces.  For example he used garden hose plastic pieces for spark plugs. For valve springs he used ball point pen springs. For the radiator he used coffee stirring sticks. “That took the longest to figure out,” he said. 

The wings were laser cut to create the right curvature. All the controls work on the plane through the control lines that run the length of of the plane to the tail. Head loves working on his creations and finds it relaxing. “Every time you do something you can see the progress. I’m constantly solving problems,” he said.

Head used what he calls itty bitty tools in the process of building the airplane including a a jig saw, a table saw, and dremel – all miniature tools.

Head started flying when he was a high school student and soloed at 16 years old in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he grew up. He attended the Air Force Academy and became a pilot. He flew the F-100, the A – 1 in Vietnam and the F-4 Phantom II finishing his career flying the F- 16. “I always loved airplanes. I retired from the Air Force and had an engineering career and that’s what brought us to San Diego,” he said.

The pilot in the plane is a doll made by a little old lady in England which specializes in dolls. “Carole says he looks like me,” joked Head of the pilot doll. The leather seat in the cockpit was made by Canvas Services on Shelter Island.  

 Head has a binder full of photos and information he found during his research about the airplane which he also donated to the museum. Head has also made a blue velvet pillow which displays the medals Boelcke received during his career. In Germany it is a tradition for the pillow with the medals to be carried by the pilot’s best friend at the funeral.

For his next project, Head pointed to a box in his garage still sealed which contains a Victorian doll house. It’s a tradition for Head to make a doll house for each of his granddaughters. “The house will be fun,” he said. The doll house tradition started with his father who built dollhouses for his granddaughters. Now Head continues the tradition by building and giving his granddaughters a doll house when they turn 7 years old.

Head presented the airplane and the artifacts to the Air Space Museum on Veterans Day which he explained used to be called Armistice Day, a tradition created after the end WW I in 1918.

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