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Official: Arrival of Bird Flu in Maryland Expected This Fall

Maryland's top agricultural official expects the bird flu outbreak that has ravaged poultry flocks across much of the country to arrive in the state this fall. The Daily Times of Salisbury reports that Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder announced Thursday that officials believe the disease, which is not known to infect humans, will make its way to Maryland soon.

“We have every reason to believe that HPAI will enter Maryland this fall, and we are making every effort to keep it out of our commercial chickenhouses and backyard flocks,” Bartenfelder said in a statement.

“I strongly encourage all flock owners and managers to take this disease as seriously as they have ever taken anything and to practice enhanced bio-security at all times.”

Citing the threat to the state's $1 billion poultry industry, Bartenfelder declared a ban on displaying poultry at all fairs and shows, starting after Aug. 25. The department also issued a quarantine order Wednesday mandating all hatching eggs and poultry coming into the state to be tested within 10 days unless they have originated from a certified clean facility. This strain of avian flu is more likely to sicken and kill birds that contract it than a strain found at two Delaware farms and one near Pocomoke City in 2004.

“This one is unprecedented because of the scope of it and the virulence of the virus,” said Mike Radebaugh, the state of Maryland's veterinarian. “These birds, 90 percent are dying within 5 days. Definitely, the economic impact of this is going to reverberate around the country for years.”

One reason for hope in Delmarva is that broilers, the area's dominant type of chicken production, have been relatively unscathed in areas affected by the flu, Radebaugh said. But since it only takes one gram of fecal material from an infected duck to affect 1 million birds, he stressed that it will be important for farmers, contractors and visitors to take every available precaution to keep birds healthy.

Source: NBC Washington

Improved open data nets Transit App service for three cities


Three more cities now have real-time public transportation information available to their commuters, without having to develop or maintain the mobile apps themselves. All it took was improved open data, and some serious collaboration with some civic-minded coders.

All three cities -- Chattanooga, Tenn., Baltimore, and Cleveland -- are now served by Transit App, which uses open public transportation data to display all local transport options and departure times instantly in 99 cities worldwide. Users can view bus schedules and arrivals, metro rail maps and departures, request service from Uber, plan a bicycle trip with viewable bike paths and more.

To do this, Transit App relies on the city's open data portals and transportation information from various local agencies, which means cities with better data are more likely to be added to the service.

Before Chattanooga became one of Transit App's available locations, however, its transit information had not yet been offered online, according to a company post in Medium.

Through a partnership with the Code for America team and the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, digital transit schedules were made available to third-party developers on GitHub. Shortly after, Chattanooga had a Transit App with schedules, trip planning, information on the bike-sharing program and real-time transit data. According to Transit App, this citywide citizen service was all done at no cost to Chattanooga government, and without any proposal requests.

After Chattanooga's success, the team at Transit App was inspired by a Code for America brigade captain, Chris Whong, and his Baltimore project. Whong took data from the Maryland Transit Administration's website and created a site with a real-time bus location map -- largely out of frustration with the inefficiency of the state's own bus tracker.

According to Transit App, Baltimore's transit-tracking system had already cost the city $2.7 million, and in order to transform that information to a shareable format, the city said it would cost another $600,000.

Once Code for America was able to access Baltimore's real-time transit information with Whong's help, Transit App implemented it into its systems and opened up yet another easily usable city service.

This service is especially beneficial for a city like Baltimore, where more than half of residents do not have a car.



Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway-With Me in It

I was driving 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

Though I hadn't touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

As I tried to cope with all this, a picture of the two hackers performing these stunts appeared on the car's digital display: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, wearing their trademark track suits. A nice touch, I thought.

The Jeep's strange behavior wasn't entirely unexpected. I'd come to St. Louis to be Miller and Valasek's digital crash-test dummy, a willing subject on whom they could test the car-hacking research they'd been doing over the past year. The result of their work was a hacking technique-what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit-that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker's nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep's entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.


Study: Critical Infrastructure Attacks Often Result in Physical Damage

A new report from Intel Security has revealed that critical infrastructure cyber-attacks often result in physical damage, and could even result in a loss of human life in the future.

The "Holding the Line Against Cyber Threats: Critical Infrastructure Readiness Survey" was commissioned by The Aspen Institute and saw researchers interview 625 IT decision makers working across critical infrastructure in Europe and the US.

They found that 86 percent of executives were keen for greater public and private sector collaboration to protest these critical services, with 76 percent saying that a national defence force was needed so as to respond when an attack hit a critical national infrastructure company inside national borders.

Over four in five respondents (89 percent) said that they had experienced at least one attack on a system within their organisation, which they deemed secure, over the last three years, with 72 percent saying that the threat level of attacks was escalating.

Almost half of all respondents (48 percent) believe it is likely that attack on critical infrastructure, with the potential to result in the loss of human life, could happen within the next three years (64 percent said this had not happened yet due to their own good IT security). Half of all respondents said that attacks that had already happened resulted in physical damage.

"This data raises new and vital questions about how public and private interests can best join forces to mitigate and defend against cyber-attacks," said Clark Kent Ervin, director of homeland security programme at Aspen Institute. "This issue must be addressed by policymakers and corporate leaders alike."


Flooding damaged hundreds of cars shipped through the Port of Baltimore during the last year


The Port of Baltimore has trumpeted success shipping automobiles of late, but aging infrastructure is causing flooding problems that officials fear could hurt its future with automobile manufacturers.

Maryland's port authority on Thursday was poised to ask the state Board of Public Works to approve $9.5 million to fix recurring flooding that has occurred during times of heavy rain over the last year but it withdrew the request at the last moment.

The withdrawal was a procedural decision, port representative Richard Scher said. The funding request is expected to be heard at the board's next meeting Aug. 5.

Dundalk Marine Terminal has been experiencing flooding during severe storms, according to Board of Public Works documents. Floodwaters from an Aug. 12 storm damaged more than 800 vehicles last year. That storm dumped 5 inches of rain on the terminal in three hours. Other storms causing flooding in the last year include a June 2014 storm with 2.5 inches of rain falling in three hours and a June 27 storm that dropped 4 inches of rain over a two-hour period.

The flooding threatens to cost the port automobile business, it said in board documents. The port has been on a recent hot streak in auto shipping. The port led the country in automobile shipments for the fourth straight year in 2014, breaking its own record with 792,795 cars shipped.

Board documents cite old infrastructure as a reason for the flooding. Dundalk Marine Terminal's storm drainage system dates back to the former Harbor Field airport, with contract drawings stretching back to the late 1920s. The $9.5 million the port plans to request would go for design, engineering, and construction of storm water improvements. They would include new water containment vaults and conveyance systems.

Source: BBJ