Teleperformance home camera surveillance plan worries Indian staff

BENGALURU: Indian employees of Teleperformance are concerned about the decision of the BPO company to install AI cameras in the homes of those who serve certain customers.
A recent report from NBC News said that some of the Teleperformance workers in Colombia were being forced to sign a contract that allows surveillance by AI-powered cameras in their homes, voice analysis and storage of data collected from people. family members of workers, including minors.
The $ 6.5 billion BPO company has more than 70,000 employees in India out of the 3.8 lakh employed globally. The company, which counts Apple, Google, Uber and Barclays among its customers, has 2.4 lakh of employees working from home.
When TOI asked Teleperformance about the surveillance measure being considered at its Jaipur center, its management said that, where permitted under applicable privacy and labor laws, it used cameras for security purposes when employees working from home are connected to its systems. In these programs, it periodically takes snapshots of an employee’s work environment to ensure compliance with security protocols such as their clean office requirement.
Management has stated that in a limited number of client programs that require a very high degree of security and where permitted under applicable privacy and labor laws, more frequent snapshots are taken intermittently in accordance with protocols. of security. In no case does it use cameras for continuous surveillance in the home work environment.
Teleperformance has stated that it is committed to respecting the privacy of its employees and is not interested in collecting unnecessary information from them. The information is collected, he said, to protect the privacy and security of customer data.
The NBC report said: “At the end of 2020, Teleperformance workers in Albania, including those working on the Apple UK account, complained to the country’s Information and Data Protection Commissioner. the company’s proposal to introduce video surveillance in their homes. The commissioner subsequently ruled that Teleperformance could not use webcams to monitor Albanian workers in their homes.
Several BPM companies use time tracking tools like TimeDoctor, Toggl, Timely and Tickspot, and project management solutions like Basecamp, Asana and Trello to monitor the progress of projects, to take screenshots of employees. at preset intervals and to monitor screen time on social media.


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Chinese iron ore futures dip into regulator’s price watch plan

BEIJING (Reuters) – Benchmark iron ore futures in China fell for a second straight session on Tuesday, reducing their gains so far in 2021 to 31% from more than 50% earlier, as Beijing’s plans to step up the inspection of commodity prices have shaken sentiment.

Piles of imported iron ore are seen at a port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China on May 9, 2019. Photo taken on May 9, 2019. REUTERS / Stringer / Files

The most traded iron ore contract on the Dalian Stock Exchange, for delivery in September, fell 5.2% to 1,110 yuan ($ 171.75) per tonne, its lowest level in two weeks. It closed 2.7% lower at 1,139 yuan per tonne.

“Following recent macroeconomic policies… speculation has started to calm down and iron ore prices have fluctuated,” Huatai Futures analysts wrote in a note.

The state planner and Chinese market regulator examined the spot market at the Beijing Iron Ore Mall on Monday and said it would closely monitor prices and investigate malicious speculation.

Spot prices for iron ore containing 62% iron for delivery to China, compiled by consultancy SteelHome, fell from $ 7 to $ 210.5 per tonne on Monday.

Meanwhile, the lean season for steel products and capacity controls at factories have also weakened demand for steel ingredients, Huatai Futures said.

Construction rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, for delivery in October, fell 2.1% to 4,885 yuan per tonne, the lowest closing price since May 27.

Hot-rolled coils, used in manufacturing, fell 2.4% to 5,153 yuan per ton.

Dalian coking coal ended up 0.4% at 1,969 yuan per ton.

Coke futures on the Dalian Stock Exchange rose 0.4% to 2,682 yuan per tonne.

Shanghai stainless steel futures, for July delivery, jumped 2.1% to 16,435 yuan per tonne.

($ 1 = 6.4628 Chinese renminbi yuan)

Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; edited by Uttaresh.V, Aditya Soni


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Chinese iron ore futures dip as price watch plan worsens sentiment

BEIJING, June 22 (Reuters) – Benchmark iron ore futures in China fell for a second straight session on Tuesday, slashing their gains to 30% so far in 2021 from more than 50% earlier, as Beijing plans to step up inspection of commodity prices feeling bumpy.

The most traded iron ore contract on the Dalian Stock Exchange, for delivery in September, fell 5.2% to 1,110 yuan ($ 171.75) per tonne, the lowest in two weeks. It was down 3.6% to 1,128 yuan at 03:20 GMT.

“Following recent macroeconomic policies… speculation has started to calm down and iron ore prices have fluctuated,” Huatai Futures analysts wrote in a note.

The state planner and Chinese market regulator examined the spot market at the Beijing Iron Ore Mall on Monday and said it would closely monitor prices and investigate malicious speculation.

Spot prices for iron ore containing 62% iron for delivery to China, compiled by consultancy SteelHome, fell from $ 7 to $ 210.5 per tonne on Monday. SH-CCN-IRNOR62

Meanwhile, the lean season for steel products and capacity controls at factories have also weakened demand for ingredients for steelmaking, Huatai Futures added.

Dalian coking coal fell 0.8% to 1,945 yuan per ton.

Coke futures on the Dalian Stock Exchange slipped 0.8% to 2,650 yuan per tonne.

Construction rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, for delivery in October, fell 2.3% to 5,126 yuan per ton.

Hot-rolled coils, used in manufacturing, fell 3.0% to 5,126 yuan per ton.

Shanghai stainless steel futures, for July delivery, gained 2.6% to 16,515 yuan per tonne.

$ 1 = 6.4628 yuan Chinese renminbi Report by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; edited by Uttaresh.V


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EPA fines Benalla company over explosion, surveillance plan

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) fined particle board manufacturer Benalla Monsbent Pty Ltd (as D&R Henderson) over $ 16,000 for two offenses, including one involving an explosion reported by a member public.

The second fine was for an insufficient monitoring plan to meet the conditions of the company’s EPA license.

EPA Regional Director for the Northeast, Renee Palmer, said the caller for the EPA pollution hotline also described a plume of smoke rising from the premises.

“The explosion took place inside the facility, the local CFA brigade was called to the scene and WorkSafe was notified, but the company did not report the incident to the EPA,” Ms. Palmer said.

“It is a legal obligation for any company operating under an EPA license to notify the EPA of any violation of its license conditions, and it is a clear responsibility, it is written on its license,” he said. she declared.

The company provided details when contacted by EPA officers, and the EPA has determined that the release of smoke and pressure during the incident is considered a release to air without authorization, which must be reported to the EPA.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The explosion and fire took place around 1 p.m. on November 3, 2020.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1970 and the Violations Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the notice of violation or to have a hearing and a decision reviewed. the case by a court.

Members of the public can report the pollution by calling the EPA’s 24-hour hotline at 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization / authors and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author (s). here.


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Missouri lawmakers approve prescription drug oversight plan; Bill walks up to the governor’s office

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri is closer than ever to joining all other states in having a statewide prescription drug database, after the House on Tuesday sent in a bill that would create one to Governor Mike Parson for consideration.

The GOP-led House voted 91-64 in favor of the bill, which would allow a state-wide database that would provide doctors and pharmacists with a patient’s prescribing history so that they can they can intervene with medical help for those who may be struggling with an addiction.

Parson said he supports prescription drug monitoring.

Missouri is the only state without a database to track prescriptions, although St. Louis County created one after state lawmakers failed to act. At a minimum, it is estimated that 85% of Missourians are already covered by the surveillance program run by St. Louis County and joined by Greene County and many other counties in the state, according to the County of St. Louis website. St. Louis.

Following:Greene County to join Springfield in local prescription drug monitoring program

Following:Report: Stigma is a Barrier to Mental Health and Addiction Treatment in Greene County

Republican backer Rep. Travis Smith stressed on Tuesday that this means state lawmakers have no control over the default surveillance program for most states.

“It allows us to drive the narratives,” he said of the bill.

The bill’s passage came after years of unsuccessful attempts to implement such a program statewide.

Some skeptical Republicans have been the main dissidents, arguing that such databases could be hacked and threaten patient privacy.

“I would be interested to know how many people in this chamber are currently taking antidepressants (or) antipsychotic drugs,” Republican Representative Justin Hill told colleagues in the House. “Because it will all be in a database that the state does not have to manage. “

Missouri’s plan would only collect data on drugs that are considered controlled substances, such as opioid pain relievers and certain anti-anxiety drugs. The data could not be provided to law enforcement and could only be used for medical treatment.

Senator Holly Rehder, a Republican from Sikeston, has worked for this legislation since she was first elected to the House in 2012.

“After nine years of trying and not giving up, we got the PDMP right,” Rehder said in a Facebook video Tuesday. “He is heading to the governor’s office and I am very grateful for the bipartisan support.”

“It’s about families. It’s about substance use disorders,” she said. “It’s about allowing our healthcare professionals to see their patient data so they can make the best informed decision, and we can help stop the opioid epidemic.”

– News-Leader reporter Jackie Rehwald contributed to this report.


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2020 packaging producer responsibility monitoring plan

The Environment Agency monitors businesses to ensure that:

  • packaging producers in England contribute to the recovery and recycling targets of the European packaging directive
  • register of all compulsory producers
  • producer compliance systems fulfill their statutory obligations on behalf of member producers
  • they provide accurate data on packaging handled, recovered and recycled in the UK
  • there is precise data on registered producers
  • processing, recovery and export operators comply with the approval conditions
  • packaging waste is recycled and recovered according to the standards of the directive
  • waste packaging is not transported illegally

Our compliance activities include:

  • documentary assessments and reviews
  • validation checks on data submissions
  • analysis of data trends, search for fraudulent behavior, errors and anomalies
  • site visits

The revenues from packaging costs finance the majority of our compliance work with:

  • producers
  • producer compliance regimes
  • approved reprocessors
  • accredited exporters

We are allocating this funding, along with tax revenues from other producer responsibility regimes, to our national producer responsibility team.

In March 2019, we restructured the way we work to meet the demands of producer responsibility. We have moved to a nationally managed single delivery approach. This left us with a few vacancies, but we have now recruited 14 new agents. They start in February 2020. These agents will need to undergo a training program before they can monitor operators. Therefore, this resource will not be immediately available for site audits.

The revenues from packaging costs do not finance our:

  • inspections of green list waste exports
  • compliance with the Regulation on the cross-border transport of waste
  • surveys of unregistered packaging producers (called “freeriders”)

We pay for these activities with public funds.

1. Noncompliance

The Environment Agency will continue to identify packaging producers who are not registered (freeriders). We will investigate any freeriders that are reported to us. We will use a risk-based approach focusing on the operators with the greatest impact on the environment. We will use various means to bring non-conformers into compliance.

We also fund a specialized waste regime investigation team to support our officers in their investigations and to direct serious and significant cases.

Where appropriate, we will use our enforcement powers and tools in accordance with the Environment Agency’s enforcement and sanctions policy.

2. Evaluation, follow-up and validation of submissions

Submissions include:

  • registrations
  • accreditations
  • quarterly data returns

The Environment Agency performs a number of monitoring activities when processing registrations from both:

  • direct registrants
  • producers adhering to schemes

We monitor the information and data submitted by all (nearly 7,000) registered producers, including comparing data submissions with those from previous years.

In April of each year, after the registration deadline, we identify producers who have not re-registered. We contact them for:

  • know why they did not re-register
  • bring them into conformity if necessary

In some cases, we work with compliance programs to achieve this. However, when producers do not register or tell us their status, we will investigate them as freeriders.

At the accreditation application stage, we assess the complete application as well as the submitted sampling and inspection plans. We have to make sure they are sturdy and reliable. After granting accreditation, we will monitor sampling and inspection plans during on-site inspections and desk reviews. We will also verify other supporting documents and activities.

We will send reprocessors and accredited exporters a notice of suspension if they do not submit a quarterly data report. We can follow up on performance improvement requirements or take enforcement action as needed. We may also suspend or cancel accreditation if other accreditation conditions are not met.

3. Surveillance systems, direct registrants and accredited operators

Compliance programs for licensed producers must register their program annually. We perform a detailed compliance assessment of each registration.

We monitor producer compliance programs on a quarterly basis to verify progress in meeting their members’ obligations – for example by verifying procurement models for:

  • packaging recycling notes (PRN)
  • recycling notes for the export of packaging (PERN)

We do this to manage the risk of the UK failing to meet national and EU targets. We check more frequently towards the end of the compliance year. If necessary, we will highlight any issues we have with the program through phone or email discussions.

Towards the end of the compliance period, we check whether producers directly registered with us have fulfilled their obligations. We will contact the producers if there is a problem. We are sending reminders and will also verify that the obligated parties are:

  • to acquire PRN Where PERN
  • accepting PRN
  • submit certificates of conformity

We contact producers when we see a risk of non-compliance, for example if they have not acquired any PRN.

4. Compliance monitoring

Using a risk-based approach, we conduct compliance monitoring of:

  • packaging producers
  • conformity diagrams
  • approved reprocessors
  • accredited exporters

For calendar year 2020, we plan to perform 10 on-site inspections of approved compliance programs. This is in addition to our ongoing, desktop-based, all-program compliance assessments.

We plan to perform a minimum of 110 inspections of accredited operator sites, visiting all operators identified as high risk (sites categorized in red and amber). These site inspections will be guided by our risk profiling assessments. We can visit more sites if we feel it is necessary. We will decide according to the risk of the operator.

We may perform more than one site inspection on certain operators if our information, or our risk assessment, tells us it is necessary. Site inspections can be a pre-arranged or unannounced visit. Some sites can accommodate both types.

5. Summary of planned compliance activities

Producers

We will do it:

  • review and validate all direct listing requests so that national publications contain accurate data
  • investigate all reported freeriders to increase producer registrations – this to reduce non-compliance and ensure a level playing field for all producers
  • contact all producers who do not re-register (deposits) to confirm that they are no longer a producer, or to bring them back into compliance
  • make 83 producer site visits based on the risk we assess in terms of scale, complexity, late registration and data assessment – our goal is to validate data submissions or request that the data be resubmitted
  • contact all direct reporting companies at risk of non-compliance – to ensure they meet their recovery and recycling obligations and submit their certificate of compliance

Producer compliance regimes

We will perform basic checks on all registration datasets so that national publications contain accurate data.

To identify and resolve potential non-conformities, we will use documentary surveillance to:

  • compliance assess all system records
  • monitor all producer compliance programs on a quarterly basis and discuss their compliance position
  • evaluate all ad hoc Environment Agency model submissions (around 200)
  • assess the declaration of conformity for all producer compliance programs

We will perform 10 site inspections to verify that the approval conditions have been met and to identify and resolve any failures.

Accredited operators

We will do it:

  • determine all requests (and sampling and inspection plans) within the legal 12-week deadline and only accredit those that fully meet regulatory requirements
  • perform desk reviews of all quarterly data returns and correct any anomalies identified
  • perform a minimum of 110 site inspections, visit all red and orange sites (based on our risk profile) to verify compliance with accreditation conditions, and use improvement, enforcement, or two, to remedy any failure

6. Caveat

We reserve the right to refocus our efforts and priorities based on emerging threats throughout a year.


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Nigeria: 2021 Needs and Response Monitoring Plan (April 2021) – Nigeria

Part 1

introduction

“If I only had an hour to fell a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Transformation Agenda affirmed that coordination and leadership in the humanitarian system are essential to ensure that populations affected by conflict or disasters receive timely, life-saving assistance based on need.

Strengthening coordination and leadership requires commitment at all stages of the humanitarian program cycle (HPC) to jointly assess the situation; develop operational plans to cover priority humanitarian needs; mobilize and allocate resources according to priorities; monitor progress; assess whether it is having the expected and sufficient effect for the various affected populations; adjust strategy and plans accordingly; and document how this is done to support accountability and transparency.

The monitoring of humanitarian aid delivered to affected populations has existed for some time. Humanitarian actors, during the implementation of projects, establish systems and procedures that measure what is implemented and delivered, the results obtained and the quality.

However, monitoring the collective results of a large-scale multi-agency intervention is less standardized. In recent years, efforts to follow up on the response on this larger scale have gained momentum and several initiatives have been undertaken. The current monitoring plan stems from this, setting the basic principles for monitoring the collective response to humanitarian crises.


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2021 packaging producer responsibility monitoring plan

Our monitoring policy

The Environment Agency monitors the compliance of companies in England with responsibilities under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (amended). This includes:

  • producers
  • approved compliance programs
  • accredited reprocessors and exporters

We monitor businesses to ensure that:

  • packaging producers in England contribute to UK recycling targets
  • register of all compulsory producers
  • producer compliance systems fulfill their legal obligations on behalf of member producers
  • producers and producer compliance programs provide accurate data on packaging handled and recycled in the UK
  • there are precise data on registered producers
  • reprocessors and exporters comply with their legal obligations, including accreditation conditions
  • packaging waste is recycled according to the correct standards
  • waste packaging is legally recycled

Under the packaging waste regulations, we receive information and data from producers, compliance programs, reprocessors and exporters. This includes:

  • accreditation and approval requests
  • registration requests
  • quarterly returns
  • resubmissions
  • certificates and declarations of conformity

We monitor this information to assess and determine compliance.

Our monitoring activities include:

  • assess the performance and behavior of companies to identify potential non-conformities
  • assess and determine accreditation and approval requests
  • evaluate and determine records
  • investigation into “dropouts” of producers (producers already registered who do not re-register)
  • investigate the “free riders” (obligated unregistered producers)
  • validation of submissions
  • evaluate and investigate late or missing submissions
  • evaluate and analyze the recycling ratings of packaging (PRN) and recycling notes for the export of packaging (PERN)
  • evaluate and analyze waste files and issue PRN and PERN
  • assess and determine the certificate and declarations of conformity
  • intelligence gathering and data trend analysis
  • risk profiling
  • monitor companies at risk for the environment and the packaging regime

Funding

Most of our compliance work is funded by packaging costs. We are allocating this funding, along with tax revenues from other producer responsibility regimes, to our national producer responsibility team.

We also fund a dedicated waste regime investigation team to support our investigations of serious and significant non-compliance.

The revenues from packaging costs do not finance our:

  • inspections of green list waste exports
  • compliance with the Regulation on the cross-border transport of waste
  • enforcement activity under the packaging regime (e.g. withdrawal of approval, revocation of accreditation and prosecution)

We pay for these activities with public funds.

Our watch activity

Producers

At a minimum, we will monitor all registered producers by:

  • validate, evaluate and analyze the information and data submitted during registration (around 7,000 producers), and after resubmissions
  • identify, assess and investigate late or missing submissions
  • surveillance PRN and PERN – we will contact producers who may not comply to ensure they meet recycling obligations and submit a certificate of compliance
  • evaluate certificates of conformity
  • risk profiling
  • identify and contact unregistered packaging producers (drop-offs and free-riders) and bring them into compliance

We can perform additional compliance checks throughout the year. This may include site visits or a remote audit.

Compliance diagrams

At a minimum, we will monitor all approved compliance programs by:

  • validate, evaluate and analyze the information and data submitted during registration and after resubmissions
  • evaluate and investigate late or missing submissions
  • surveillance PRN and PERN – we will contact compliance systems that may not comply to ensure they meet recycling obligations and submit a declaration of compliance
  • assess declarations of conformity
  • risk profiling

We can perform additional compliance checks throughout the year. This may include site visits or a remote audit.

Retractors and exporters

At a minimum, we will monitor all accredited reprocessors and exporters by:

  • assess and determine accreditation requests
  • validate and analyze the information and data submitted during the request (for accreditation, following quarterly returns and resubmissions)
  • evaluate and investigate late or missing submissions
  • evaluate and analyze the waste registration, and issue PRN and PERN
  • risk profiling

We can perform additional compliance checks throughout the year. This may include site visits or a remote audit.

Noncompliance

When we identify a business that is not in compliance, we can work with them to bring them into compliance. If necessary, we will use our enforcement powers under our Enforcement and Sanctions Policy and Code of Regulators.

Our approach will depend on:

  • severity of non-compliance
  • attitude of the offender
  • risk to the environment and the packaging regime

Risk assessment

We follow an intelligence and risk-based approach that focuses on the companies that have the greatest impact on the packaging regime and the environment.

We will continue to review our approach to ensure we respond and address all risks and issues. Our monitoring activities in this plan may change.


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Kingston Council adopts oversight plan for short-term rentals

Content of the article

KINGSTON – Despite concerns about the potential for city-sponsored oversight of its citizens, city council has approved a new set of regulations for the short-term rental industry.

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The new rules, the result of three years of hard work by city staff, require short-term rental hosts to obtain a municipal operating license and pay the municipal lodging tax of four percent for each reservation.

The new bylaw also provides for the hiring of Harmari STR, of Toronto, to provide software that will allow the city to identify the exact addresses where short-term rentals are based, monitor bookings through online sites, and create an online portal where guests can pay the municipal lodging tax.

“We believe that enforcement must, in part, take place in the digital realm,” said Paige Agnew, the city’s community services commissioner who has led efforts to develop the new regulations.

The board’s decision to pursue a contract with Harmari overturned a recommendation by the Administrative Policy Committee last week not to use a compliance monitoring company and instead consider collecting tax revenue directly from Airbnb, the platform. -form used by approximately 85% of the 488 short-term rental properties in Kingston.

Since the proposed settlement was first submitted to council earlier this year, the city has removed requirements that properties must be rented a maximum of 180 days per year and limited to the hosts’ primary residence.

But it was the plan to hire a company to monitor short-term rentals that was the most controversial.

During presentations to the board, several hosts said the surveillance would violate their privacy and that of their guests.

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“We should do it in a way that is not going to treat us like criminals and thugs but as collaborative and contributing members of the city who want to do things the right way and want to be a part of and add to this community.” . “said host Kurt Khan.

“Hosts are individuals who make ends meet, mostly solo entrepreneurs,” added host Adrienne Montgomery. “We are not Airbnb; we just use their reservation system.

The CEO of Harmari described the company’s surveillance as “open source intelligence” that searches the Internet for publicly available information to determine short-term rental transactions.

Still, some councilors were uncomfortable hiring a company to monitor local citizens.

Pittsburgh District Council. Ryan Boehme said the city should have more “faith” and “trust” in local short-term rental hosts to comply with municipal lodging tax requirements.

“We’re essentially hiring a SWAT team when just a little bit of public education will likely produce the exact same results,” Boehme said.

Commune District Campaign. Gary Oosterhof said he was “embarrassed” by the proposed monitoring arrangements.

“Harmari is nothing more than a big hammer used to kill a mosquito,” he said.

One of the main reasons for the new regulations, besides tax collection, is to protect the existing rental housing stock.

There are approximately 70,000 residences in Kingston. According to the city, 488 are advertised as short-term rental properties, but many advisers said they were still suspicious of the area’s impact on the city’s housing stock.

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“We are still in a housing crisis,” King’s Town District Council said. said Rob Hutchison. “We want to protect the existing building stock and we want to protect our neighborhoods. “

Without a company like Harmari, Agnew said, city staff would have to manually monitor short-term rentals by scrolling through their posts to determine the number of stays booked and the amount of taxes payable.

Many advisers have played down concerns about how intrusive Harmari’s efforts will be.

“There will never be anyone standing on someone’s lawn in Hamari asking people why certain dates have been listed as blocked,” the Lakeside District Council said. Wayne Hill, who proposed the amendment that reintroduced the company’s hiring into the regulations.

Other advisors weren’t content to just accept information Airbnb would be willing to provide instead of what Harmari can find.

Knowing more about short-term rental properties would also allow the city to better monitor them for other safety regulations and property standards, she added.

City treasurer Desiree Kennedy also expressed concern about receiving a one-time lump sum payment from Airbnb instead of individual guest payments.

“It can be a challenge if the city doesn’t have the host information,” Kennedy said. “We are required to make sure that our income is complete, that we collect whatever is owed to the city. This can become a challenge if we do not have the details to support these funds.

“If the money comes in and we don’t know where it came from or how it was calculated, it is difficult for us to validate that these revenues are complete. When you have an entity like Airbnb collecting it, we have no control over their processes.

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New Haven suspends mask monitoring plan

Local musician Smitty has been featured in the city’s Mask Up campaign, among growing efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

New Haven City Hall has ended a planned “mask census” to track the number of people wearing COVID protective face covers – then determine how to get more of them to comply.

Less than an hour after the Independent first published an article about the new census, city spokesman Gage Frank told the Independent that the program was now “on hold.”

“We saw some concern from residents,” he said of the reason for the sudden hiatus in the program, which was still in the planning stage and had not yet been implemented. In practice.

“It was just about targeting the messages” to encourage the appropriate use of the mask, he said. It was designed as a way to measure mask use by direct observation, as opposed to phone calls and surveys.

For now, at least, the plan has been scrapped.

City Hall is planning a “mask census” to understand how many people across the city are wearing COVID protective face coverings – and then find out how to get more to comply.

The program is not yet operational, Mayor Justin Elicker and city deputy general manager Rebecca Bombero told Independent Friday.

Bombero, who is the coordinator of the fledgling effort, said recent contacts with alders and community management teams have resulted in only one volunteer signing up to help. Now she and her team are coming together to find the best way to proceed. She said the program will likely rely on city employees rather than volunteers to do the data collection work.

A parallel effort to recruit volunteers for a new senior telephone banking program has been more successful. (See more on this below.)

CAD assistant Becky Bombero. (File photo by Thomas Breen.)

If and when the mask count program rolls out, here’s the plan:

A volunteer or city staff member will be dispatched to a busy part of the city where, by order of the state, masks must be worn – such as at a bus stop, train station or near the entrance of a store.

Bombero said the mask enumerator will be stationed a safe distance from other people, likely in a vehicle or in a chair.

They will track how many people they see, how many are wearing masks and how many are wearing masks correctly, for example on the mouth and nose, rather than on the chin.

The enumerator will then enter these figures in a follow-up sheet to be aggregated and analyzed by the town hall.

Elicker and Bombero both compared the effort to the one-off pedestrian counts that organizations like the Town Green Special Services District take to track changes in the number of people walking through the city center, and to use that as a proxy for economic health and potential business. impact.

“We have anecdotes,” Elicker said of mask compliance across town. “We don’t have any data. The city can react better with the data.

Bombero agreed, noting that such a mask count effort will provide “just one more metric we can follow on how best to respond to the pandemic.”

How to use this generalized data?

Bombero and Elicker said this could inform the type of educational campaigns the city might want to put in place to encourage proper mask wearing. It can also result in targeted mask distribution events.

Bombero said the program was inspired in part by federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on collecting observational mask-wearing data. For months, public health experts have promotes mask wear as one of the most effective tools to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state requires residents to wear masks whenever in public and unable to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.

“The goal is to find out if people in general are wearing masks and are wearing masks correctly,” Elicker said. “Do we have to change our messaging? Do we need to do more awareness? Are things going well? There is no intention of monitoring businesses or getting anyone into trouble. It’s just to get a sense over time of how people’s behavior has changed when it comes to wearing masks to guide our decisions ”in education and awareness.

This spring, the city launched a “Hide” campaign, with notice boards posted around the city showing prominent locals (like Smitty, above) wearing sports masks.

Elicker: No “Surveillance”. Cousin: always suspicious

Mayor Elicker: It’s not about surveillance.

Elicker and Bombero stressed that the program is not really about individual follow-up.

This will not result in citations or fines for those who do not wear masks.

While the city is amend companies up to $ 100 if employees are caught not wearing masks at work, this mask census program is not about law enforcement but rather data collection and education, they said.

A city staff member sent an email to local clergy earlier this week encouraging them to solicit volunteers for a so-called “mask watch” program. The city subsequently removed the word “surveillance” from any online reference to the program.

Elicker said that “the use of the word ‘surveillance’ by a staff member is not an accurate representation of everything we are trying to do. We try to guide our decision making ”with data. Don’t keep an eye on individuals.

Photo by Sam Gurwitt

Rev. Cousin. (Photo by Sam Gurwitt.)

Reverend Bethel AME, Steven Cousin, told The Independent that seeing the word “surveillance” in reference to this mask compliance program in an email from the city initially raised many concerns. Which neighbors will the city be watching? Who will be targeted? If the numbers don’t match what the city wants, will there be appeals, citations, fines?

“We understand about Covid and how the numbers are increasing,” he said. “But especially in the African American community, we’re always going to look at it from a different perspective, on how that could be another way of monitoring ourselves and trying to get unwanted attention.”

In a follow-up call after this reporter spoke to Elicker and Bombero about how this program actually works – its widespread data collection, not individual tracking – Cousin said the mask count effort was ringing in the air. theory. But in practice, he said, observation, data collection and subsequent analysis will only delay outreach and education work that can be done more immediately by the town hall.

“If it’s about the safety of masks and people wearing masks properly,” he said, “why not go to those areas and hand out face masks while they’re there? This is how you educate people, through this personal one-on-one intervention.

Cousin cited Dixwell entrepreneur Rodney Williams mask gifts all over town as a model for what he would like to see from the city. “Go out into vulnerable neighborhoods and distribute free masks,” he said. “I would love to see the city do something like this”, where they know people gather – that is, at bus stops or train stations or near popular stores – and distribute on those sites and talk to people who don’t have masks.

“Given the history of this country, it’s always going to be greeted with a sort of skepticism, especially in the African American community, ”he said of mass data collection. “It may sound harmless.” But that doesn’t mean everyone will greet him that way.

Telephone calls to seniors

Residents of the Bella Vista Seniors Complex line up to vote. (Photo by Courtney Luciana.)

While only one person has signed up to volunteer for the still-ongoing mask counting program, Bombero said, the city has already recruited 13 volunteers to help with its new telephone banking program for seniors. This pandemic-era awareness effort has volunteers. make regular phone calls to seniors across town to educate them about the current high risks of transmitting the novel coronavirus, the importance of staying safe and home when possible, and connecting them with resources like nurses, The “hot line” of the Clifford Beers clinic, and free meal distribution programs.

Bombero said the town had the phone numbers of about 7,500 older people in the area and that the volunteers had made about 1,000 phone calls in the past two weeks.

Elicker said the city had a similar program in place during the first wave of the pandemic this spring. “The goal is to check people’s mental health,” he said. “To see if they have basic needs in food and things like that. To make sure people know we’re in the red and to let people know about testing sites. “

Volunteers take notes on every call they make, Bombero said, and then she and her team go through those notes to see what kind of follow-up they need to provide based on those conversations.

This story was first published on November 20, 2020 by the Independent from New Haven.


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