Police Raid Florida Home of Fired COVID Dashboard Designer
Rebekah Jones, the Florida data scientist who said she was fired in May after refusing to manipulate data on a widely praised coronavirus dashboard that she designed, had an even more dramatic encounter with the state government Monday when the police raided her Tallahassee home.
Jones said in a Twitter thread that police entered her home at 8:30 a.m., confiscated all of her computer hardware and technology and pointed guns at both her and her children.
"This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly," Jones tweeted. "This is what happens to people who speak truth to power."
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Rick Swearingen confirmed that the raid occurred in a statement reported by NBC6 South Florida. However, he denied that weapons were pointed at anyone during the incident. He said that agents knocked and called Jones, but that she hung up on them and refused to answer the door for 20 minutes.
In a video of the incident posted by Jones on Twitter, police officers appeared at the door with guns drawn and asked Jones who else was in the house, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. When she said her husband and children were inside, one agent entered the home with his gun still drawn and told her husband to come downstairs. At one point, an agent told Jones to calm down.
"He just pointed a gun at my children!" she responded.
1/ There will be no update today. At 8:30 am this morning, state police came into my house and took all my hardwa… https://t.co/GXDz5hd6Wh— Rebekah Jones (@Rebekah Jones)1607377881.0
The FDLE said they went to Jones's home to carry out a search warrant based on a complaint from the Department of Health (DOH), Jones' former employer.
"FDLE began an investigation November 10, 2020, after receiving a complaint from the Department of Health (DOH) regarding unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only," FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said in a statement reported by the Tallahassee Democrat.
The case revolves around a message sent by an unidentified individual to the emergency alert system.
"It's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead," the message read. "You know this is wrong. You don't have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it's too late."
AN FDLE investigator said he traced the message to an IP address linked to Jones' Comcast account. While an IP address shows where an internet connection was made, it does not prove Jones sent the message, tech experts told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Jones denied sending the message in an interview with CNN. She said she lost access to government accounts when she was fired and did not have the skills to hack into them. She also denied the phrasing and data in the message were hers.
"The number of deaths that the person used wasn't even right," Jones told CNN. "They were actually under by about 430 deaths. I would never round down 430 deaths."
Jones helped to design Florida's highly praised coronavirus database before being fired in May. She said her dismissal came because she had refused to alter data on the dashboard in order to bolster support for re-opening. The DOH claimed she was fired for insubordination.
After she was fired, she developed her own website that tracks Florida coronavirus data, according to CNN. It is operated by one of the computers seized Monday. Jones said the police also took flash drives that contained "proof that [state officials] were lying in January about things like internal reports and notices from the CDC" and "evidence of illegal activities by the state." She said she accessed the reports legally and received some from others after she left the DOH.DOH data shows that Florida has experienced a total of 1,065,785 coronavirus cases and 19,282 resident deaths. Jones' website, which was last updated Dec. 6, puts the totals at 1,153,415 cases and 19,423 deaths since March 1.
- Florida Becomes Second State to Exceed New York's Coronavirus ... ›
- Scientist Behind Florida's Coronavirus Database Says She Was ... ›
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›