UPS to Handle SGI Service Parts Logistics in Latin America and Asia

first_imgSilicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI), the world leader in high-performance computing, visualization and storage solutions, has selected UPS Supply Chain Solutions (NYSE:UPS) as its third-party logistics provider for service parts logistics in Asia and Latin America.SGI already relies on UPS Supply Chain Solutions for service parts logistics in North America.SGI service parts now will be distributed from UPS Supply Chain Solutions distribution centers and field stocking locations in Asia and Latin America. SGI’s customers will be able to use computer technicians trained by UPS Supply Chain Solutions, who can provide on-site repair service of selected SGI systems. SGI also will make use of UPS’s extensive small package network in Latin America.“The expanding global capabilities of UPS and our long-term strategic relationship are the primary reasons we continue to expand our business with them,” said Steve Herbenson, SGI’s director of global logistics. “Since SGI outsourced its inventory and distribution function within North America in early 1996, it has realized a reduction in inventory costs, increased visibility and accuracy of the inventory, dramatically improved customer satisfaction and improved overall efficiency in managing parts in the supply chain.“We now want to leverage UPS Supply Chain Solution’s global network to enhance our customer service in other geographies such as Asia Pacific and Latin America, “ Herbenson added.UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Its business unit UPS Supply Chain Solutions offers transportation and freight, logistics and distribution and international trade services. UPS’s stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS), and the company can be found on the Web at and read more

Moment Analytics Offers Source Code and ‘Outsourcing to Vermont’

first_imgDecember 15, 2008Moment Analytics Offers Source Code and ‘Outsourcing to Vermont’ MONTPELIER, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE) — Moment Analytics, an established provider of high performance trading and risk management systems, announced that they will grant complete access to source code for a low annual fee and pay clients back for their enhancements. Moment will also offer low cost software development services through outsourcing to their staff in Vermont. Clients will be free to use Moment’s software ‘out of the box’ or customize it to suit their exact needs. Moment’s goal is to provide firms of any size and budget access to premium software and the opportunity to earn returns on their technology investments.Key benefits to clients:* Full access to proven source code and technical documentation* Ability to use software ‘out of the box’ or customize to exact needs* Annual membership fee of less than a typical developer’s salary* Access to low cost developers based in Vermont, onsite or offsite* Opportunity to earn a return on technology by contributing codeDavid Kelly, CEO of Moment Analytics, Inc. says, “These challenging times call for new ideas. Our experience is that each firm, business unit and end user is unique and the one-size-fits-all proposition doesn’t work, especially with tighter budgets. Firms want affordable systems and the ability to rapidly deliver custom applications without reinventing wheels. You need source code to do that and we add the opportunity for firms to generate a return on their software development.”Moment Analytics will make source code available to its Roxy risk management platform and Trade Manager electronic execution component. Roxy is a high-performance, scalable pricing and risk management system that can also be used as a standalone calculation server. The server provides robust interfaces that allow custom applications to be written in a variety of programming languages. Roxy’s extensible product scope currently includes fixed income, FX, credit, equities, and commodities.There is also a separate module for pricing CDOs and other securitizations. Roxy calculates P&L and breaks it down by each contributing factor. The generic risk management framework allows for custom specification of first- and second-order sensitivities, as well as cross-gammas. The platform can also run sensitivity or scenario stress tests. Historical VaR is scheduled to be released in January.Trade Manager is a real-time post-trade notification system that can consolidates other execution platforms into a single point of entry to downstream systems. Trades are automatically recorded in a fault tolerant database with a full audit trail and converted to the downstream system’s format. Trade Manager handles a growing set of products, execution platforms and protocols. Products include FX, fixed income, equities and commodities. Trade Manager has been thoroughly tested with the major broker/dealer platforms and can handle voice and electronic trades, with support for baskets, multi-day, and several roll-up algorithms for fills.About Moment AnalyticsMoment Analytics’ mission is to create a more efficient, cost effective way for buy-side and sell-side firms to deploy trading and risk management systems. Our experience spans trading, quantitative research and technology across the entire product spectrum, from cash to exotic derivatives. We have provided systems for trading desks within major dealers and hedge funds. We have also set up front-to-back technology platforms for new hedge funds, providing IT transparency and cost efficiency. is external).last_img read more

Vermont tourism officials anticipating strong summer

first_imgtourism officials are expecting an excellent summer travel season and will launch an aggressive marketing campaign in major metropolitan markets to draw more visitors to the state. Commissioner Bruce Hyde pointed to the continued steady performance of the Rooms and Meals tax as one of the positive indicators of the strength of Vermont’s tourism industry, despite the current economic climate.  Rooms and Meals tax revenues to date for fiscal year 2009 are down by only 3 percent compared with the same period in 2008, a year that had the largest increase in those revenues in a decade. Hyde said Vermont continues to outperform national travel statistics. Vermont is also expected to experience a boost in visitor travel this summer during the 2009 Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, which marks the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the region. More than 100 events, exhibits and programs are scheduled for the Quadricentennial around the state.According to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, visitors made a total of 14.3 million trips to Vermont in 2007. Thirty-three percent of those visitors came during the summer, making it the busiest time of the year in terms of total visitors. Total direct spending by visitors adds an estimated $1.61 billion to the Vermont economy annually and supports more than 37,490 jobs for Vermonters.The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing will kick-off its summer marketing campaign in Boston, New York, Montreal and Vermont next month. The campaign will promote Vermont primarily through radio stations, online advertising, and out-of-home signage in train and subway stations.“We certainly expect the summer season to be a strong one for tourism,” said Commissioner Hyde.  “Many people are planning to travel closer to home this summer because of the economy, and Vermont is well-positioned geographically because it is within a 300-mile radius of more than 80 million people.”last_img read more

Shadow Productions wins six VAB awards

first_imgShadow Productions,At a recent awards show, Burlington-based multimedia marketing company Shadow Productions received six Vermont Association of Broadcasters Commercial of the Year prizes. The awards were given at the Vermont Association of Broadcasters (VAB) conference, held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier in May.  Among the awards Shadow took home were BEST PRODUCED RADIO COMMERCIAL, AGENCY-PRODUCED; FUNNIEST RADIO COMERCIAL, AGENCY PRODUCED; and FUNNIEST TV COMMERCIAL, AGENCY PRODUCED.  Each member of the Shadow Team took home at least one award for writing or production, including producer Rob Ostrander, whose material was entered in the show for the first time this year.Managing Partner Matt Dugan said: Even after almost two decades in business, we get great satisfaction out of producing creative and fun ads for our clients.  364 days of the year, we re busy strategizing, producing, monitoring and assessing and radio, TV and web campaigns. But the other day of the year the VAB awards show we sit back and enjoy it.  There were over 160 contest entries from radio stations, television stations and advertising agencies from around Vermont.  Shadow Productions producer Alex Ball said, We re really proud to win these awards, but it is an even greater honor to be at the show with other professionals from the broadcast industry.  When you hear all the award-winning commercials and meet the people who produced them, it s exciting to think about how much talent we have right here in this state.The complete list of award winners, along with pictures from the event can be found on the VAB website. is external)About Shadow Productions:  Founded in 1990, Burlington s Shadow Productions offers the full range of multimedia electronic marketing services, including animation, TV and radio ads, music, copywriting, and web production.   Shadow Productions can be reached at (802) 863-2076 or is external)last_img read more

Vermont receives $606,000 in arts grants, highest percentage in nation

first_imgGovernor Jim Douglas announced today that 42 Vermont arts organizations have been awarded funding totaling $606,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These grants will help preserve jobs in Vermont s nonprofit arts sector that have been threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to jumpstart the economy, create and protect jobs, and invest in key priorities, said Governor Douglas. Like other jobs, arts jobs help individuals and families pay household expenses, put children through college and achieve financial stability.Through ARRA, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received $50 million to help restore and preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector. As partners of the NEA, state arts agencies and regional arts organizations like the New England Foundation for the Arts, played an important role in advancing the goals of this program. 40 percent of the $50 million was distributed directly to the state and regional arts organizations.The Vermont Arts Council received $250,000 to support and preserve jobs in Vermont s non-profit arts sector. Some arts organizations were eligible to apply directly to the NEA and/or to the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) for this funding. If approved by one or more grant-maker, the applicant had to choose one. Sixteen Vermont Arts organizations were eligible to apply directly to the NEA. Of these, eight were funded for a total of $341,000. Vermont and Iowa ranked highest in the percentage of applicants funded at 50 percent, though Iowa only had eight applications. Two Vermont organizations applied directly to NEFA and one was funded for $15,000. Non-profit arts organizations contribute to economic revitalization not only by employing workers, but also by stimulating commerce, enhancing property values, generating tax revenues and helping communities retain their vibrancy. As of January 2009, Vermont s cultural sector included more than 2,150 arts-related businesses employing at least 6,780 people, and these grants will help this important segment of our economy weather this recession, Douglas continued.This year we have employed more than 75 artists from Lamoille County, paid thousands of dollars in payroll taxes while providing after school, elder and day care arts programs – as well as festivals and shows. We’ve worked with college interns, folks doing community service, Reach Up and vocational training, said Steve Ames, Executive Director River Arts in Morrisville. This grant allows us to rehire a program director and leverage that position to hire many more artists to deliver arts programming in Lamoille County. It will keep our mission to Enrich the Community through the Arts alive and well. The Stimulus funds enable us to continue staff and programs at current levels and to add back an important artist residency. Both are hugely important to Burlington s downtown economy and the quality of life of the region, said Andrea Rogers, Executive Director and CEO, Flynn Theater, BurlingtonThe Arts Council created Art Jobs, a competitive grant program to help the state s arts community weather the immediate economic storm while continuing to fulfill artistic and public service goals. Non-profit arts organizations were invited to apply for one-time grants to support staff salaries, as well as artist or consultant fees. Organizations with annual operating budgets under $150,000 could apply for up to $5,000, and those with budgets of $150,000 or more could apply for up to $10,000. The Council received 92 applications totaling $729,650 in requests.Source: Governor’s office. Aug, 5, 2009last_img read more

Vermont home care costs among the nation’s highest

first_imgAccording to Genworth’s 2010 Cost of Care Survey, home care costs, as well as costs of most other long term care services, are higher in Vermont than they are nationally. The median annual rate for home care costs in Vermont is $48,048 statewide, 11 percent greater than the median annual rate of $43,472 nationally.(1) Vermont, along with Delaware and Utah, is the 14th most expensive state for home care services.This is important to note given that a majority of Americans prefer to receive care in the home.  According to another Genworth survey conducted earlier this year, when asked to identify the setting most preferred to receive long term care, 78 percent chose the home; 18 percent chose assisted living, and only 2 percent selected a nursing home.(2)”Long term care is not just about nursing homes anymore,” said Buck Stinson, President, U.S. Life Insurance Products at Genworth.  “For many Vermont residents the ability to live independently is critical to maintaining quality of life.  Preparing for the expenses associated with one’s preferred care setting is a key factor in retirement planning,” he added.Now in its 35th year of providing long term care insurance to American families, Genworth’s annual Cost of Care Survey helps raise public awareness of the costs associated with various care options across the U.S.  In Vermont, the survey includes information on long term care costs in two regions.Vermont Cost of Care Survey FindingsHome Health Aide Services (Licensed)Statewide, costs are rising at a rate of 3 percent annually over the past five years.  This compares to an annual increase of 2 percent nationally over the same period.(3)Select RegionsMedian Hourly RateVermont-Statewide$21Burlington-South Burlington$20US National$19Assisted Living (One Bedroom/Single Occupancy)Assisted living costs in the Burlington area exceed the national level by 22 percent, while statewide costs are slightly lower than the national rate.  Statewide, annual costs have increased at a rate lower than national costs over the past five years (3 percent in Vermont compared to 7 percent across the U.S.) (3)Select RegionsMedian Annual Rate(4)Vermont-Statewide$36,360Burlington-South Burlington$46,440US National$38,220Nursing Home (Private Room)Statewide, nursing home costs exceed national levels by 27 percent.  Costs in the Burlington area are 37 percent higher than national levels.  The annual increase in cost for this type of care is 5 percent both nationally and statewide over the past five years.(3)Select RegionsMedian Annual Rate(5)Vermont-Statewide$95,360Burlington-South Burlington$103,156US National$75,190Adult Day Health CareCosts for this type of care statewide are double the national rate.  Select RegionsMedian Annual Rate(6)Vermont-Statewide$31,200South Burlington$32,240US National$15,600Let’s TalkTo help families plan more effectively plan for potential long term care needs, Genworth Financial launched its national “Let’s Talk” campaign in 2009.  “The first step in developing a comprehensive long term care plan is to speak with loved ones about the impact that a long term illness would have on them emotionally and financially,” added Mr. Stinson. “Genworth’s 2010 Cost of Care Survey, when used in conjunction with the resources available at, provides families with a complete tool kit for mapping out a comprehensive long term care plan that addresses these concerns.”About Genworth’s 2010 Cost of Care SurveyGenworth’s Cost of Care Survey is the most comprehensive of its kind, covering nearly 13,000 long term care providers in 436 regions nationwide. It surveys the cost of long term care across the U.S. to help Americans plan for the potential costs associated with the various types of care available in their preferred location and setting.CareScout, acquired by Genworth in June 2008, has conducted the survey since 2004.Genworth’s 2010 Cost of Care Survey was conducted during January, February and March 2010.Full results of Genworth’s 2010 Cost of Care Survey, including an interactive map of the cost of care in all 50 states and 436 regions, and other useful tools and information is available online at interactive press release containing downloadable content is available at: is external)About Genworth FinancialGenworth Financial, Inc. is a leading Fortune 500 global financial security company. Genworth employs approximately 6,000 people with a presence in more than 25 countries. Its products and services help meet the investment, protection, retirement and lifestyle needs of more than 15 million customers. Genworth operates through three segments: Retirement & Protection, U.S. Mortgage Insurance and International. Its products and services are offered through financial intermediaries, advisors, independent distributors and sales specialists. Genworth Financial, which traces its roots back to 1871, became a public company in 2004 and is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. For more information, visit From time to time Genworth releases important information via postings on its corporate Web site. Accordingly, investors and other interested parties are encouraged to enroll to receive automatic email alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds regarding new postings. Enrollment information is found under the “Investors” section of CareScoutHeadquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, CareScout helps Americans across the United States find quality care providers for their long term care needs. As an objective source for this provider information, CareScout, now part of the Genworth Financial family of companies, developed the nation’s first quality-of-care ratings system for certified nursing homes and home care providers. Large employers, risk underwriters and families rely on CareScout’s proprietary ratings system, the CareScout network and its database of more than 90,000 providers including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home care agencies to help find and arrange the most appropriate care for loved ones. For more information, visit Health Aide Services annual rates are based on 44 hours/week multiplied by 52 weeks(2)America Talks: Protecting Our Families’ Financial Futures, an online survey of 2,939 U.S. consumers, conducted betweenJanuary 12 -15, 2010, by Age Wave/Harris Interactive, and sponsored by the Genworth Financial companies(3)Represents the compound annual growth rate based on Genworth Cost of Care Survey data from 2005-2010(4)Assisted Living Facility annual rates are based on monthly rate multiplied by 12 months/year(5)Nursing Home annual rates are based on daily rates, multiplied by 365 days/year(6)Adult Day Health Care annual rates are based on 5 days/week multiplied by 52 weeksNote to Editors: National costs for nursing homes, assisted living, home care and adult day health care are the median costs for these types of care calculated by averaging in all 436 regions surveyed.SOURCE Genworth Financial. RICHMOND, Va., 04/27/10/PRNewswire/ —last_img read more

Vermont ranks among lowest in obesity rate

first_imgAdult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010, a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). More than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Vermont had one of lowest rates at 22.8 percent to rank 46th.The report highlights troubling racial, ethnic, regional and income disparities in the nation’s obesity epidemic. For instance, adult obesity rates for Blacks and Latinos were higher than for Whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia; 10 out of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South – with Mississippi weighing in with highest rates for all adults (33.8 percent) for the sixth year in a row; and 35.3 percent of adults earning less than $15,000 per year were obese compared with 24.5 percent of adults earning $50,000 or more per year.”Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region, and income,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.  “This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years, but the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. Millions of Americans still face barriers – like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active – that make healthy choices challenging.”    The report also includes obesity rates among youths ages 10-17, and the results of a new poll on childhood obesity conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The poll shows that 80 percent of Americans recognize that childhood obesity is a significant and growing challenge for the country, and 50 percent of Americans believe childhood obesity is such an important issue that we need to invest more to prevent it immediately. The survey also found that 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, but research shows nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight. Obesity rates among youths ages 10-17 from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) also were included in the 2009 F as in Fat report. Data collection for the next NSCH will begin in 2011. Currently, more than 12 million children and adolescents are considered obese.”Obesity rates among the current generation of young people are unacceptably high and a very serious problem,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF president and CEO. “To reverse this national epidemic, we have to make every community a healthy community. Americans are increasingly ready and willing to make that investment.”Additional key findings include:Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C.Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states.Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension.No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state—West Virginia—had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight—Alabama,Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.  Northeastern and Western states had the lowest adult obesity rates; Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1 percent.The report found that the federal government and many states are undertaking a wide range of policy initiatives to address the obesity crisis.  Some key findings include that:At the federal level:The new health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, has the potential to address the obesity epidemic through a number of prevention and wellness provisions, expand coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, and create a reliable funding stream through the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund;Community Transformation grants have the potential to help leverage the success of existing evidence-based disease prevention programs;President Barack Obama created a White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity,  which issued a new national obesity strategy that contained concrete measures and roles for every agency in the federal government; andFirst Lady Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” initiative to solve childhood obesity within a generation.And at the state level:  Twenty states and D.C. set nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks that are stricter than current United States Department of Agriculture requirements.  Five years ago, only four states had legislation requiring stricter standards.Twenty-eight states and D.C. have nutritional standards for competitive foods sold in schools on a la carte lines, in vending machines, in school stores, or through school bake sales.  Five years ago, only six states had nutritional standards for competitive foods.Every state has some form of physical education requirement for schools, but these requirements are often limited, not enforced or do not meet adequate quality standards.Twenty states have passed requirements for body mass index screenings of children and adolescents or have passed legislation requiring other forms of weight and/or fitness related assessments in schools.  Five years ago, only four states had passed screening requirements.To enhance the prevention of obesity and related diseases, TFAH and RWJF provide a list of recommended actions in the report. Some key policy recommendations include:Support obesity- and disease-prevention programs through the new health reform law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides $15 billion in mandatory appropriations for public health and prevention programs over the next 10 years.Align federal policies and legislation with the goals of the forthcoming National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.  Opportunities to do this can be found through key pieces of federal legislation that are up for reauthorization in the next few years, including the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act; the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act.Expand the commitment to community-based prevention programs initiated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through new provisions in the health reform law, such as Community Transformation grants and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.Continue to invest in research and evaluation on nutrition, physical activity, obesity and obesity-related health outcomes and associated interventions.  The full report with state rankings in all categories is available on TFAH’s Web site at is external) and RWJF’s Web site at is external). The report was supported by a grant from RWJF.STATE-BY-STATE ADULT OBESITY RANKINGSNote: 1 = Highest rate of adult obesity, 51 = lowest rate of adult obesity. Rankings are based on combining three years of data (2007-2009) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to “stabilize” data for comparison purposes. This methodology, recommended by the CDC, compensates for any potential anomalies or usual changes due to the specific sample in any given year in any given state.  States with statistically significant (p1. Mississippi*** (33.8%);2. (tie) Alabama (31.6%); and Tennessee*** (31.6%);4. West Virginia (31.3%);5. Louisiana* (31.2%);6. Oklahoma*** (30.6%);7. Kentucky* (30.5%);8. Arkansas* (30.1%);9. South Carolina (29.9%);10. (tie) Michigan(29.4%); and North Carolina*** (29.4%);12. Missouri* (29.3%); 13. (tie) Ohio (29.0%); and  Texas* (29.0%);15. South Dakota*** (28.5%);16. Kansas*** (28.2%);17. (tie) Georgia (28.1%); Indiana* (28.1%); and Pennsylvania*** (28.1%);20. Delaware(27.9%);21. North Dakota** (27.7%);22. Iowa* (27.6%);23. Nebraska (27.3%);24. (tie) Alaska (26.9%); and Wisconsin(26.9%);26. (tie) Illinois* (26.6%); and Maryland (26.6%);28. Washington*** (26.3%);29. (tie) Arizona (25.8%); and Maine** (25.8%);31. Nevada (25.6%);32. (tie) Minnesota (25.5%); New Mexico*** (25.5%); and Virginia (25.5%);35. New Hampshire* (25.4%); 36. (tie) Florida** (25.1%); Idaho (25.1%); and New York (25.1%);39. (tie) Oregon (25.0%); and Wyoming (25.0%);41.California* (24.4%);42. New Jersey (23.9%);43. Montana*** (23.5%);44. Utah* (23.2%);45. Rhode Island* (22.9%);46.Vermont*** (22.8%);47. Hawaii** (22.6%);48. Massachusetts* (21.7%);49. District of Columbia. (21.5%);50. Connecticut(21.4%);51. Colorado (19.1%).Source: WASHINGTON, June 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —last_img read more

Route 36 in Fairfield, Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch reopen

first_imgA temporary, two-lane bridge has been launched and Route 36 in Fairfield has been reopened. Also, Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch was was reopened Monday. At some point VTrans will will close the roadway for the winter.The Vermont Agency of Transportation had closed a section of Route 36 in Fairfield just east of Swamp Road due to a failed culvert. The road was expected to be closed into November until the Agency erected a temporary bridge, which subsequently went in ahead of schedule.The average daily traffic for this section of Route 36, which is located 1.7 miles east of the St. Albans/Fairfield town line, is about 2,700 vehicles per day. Source: VTrans. 10.22.2010last_img read more

UVM scientist charts gross happiness through Twitter

first_imgUniversity of Vermont,The gross domestic product of the United States ‘ that oft-cited measure of economic health ‘ has been ticking upward for the last two years. But what would you see if you could see a graph of gross domestic happiness?A team of scientists from the University of Vermont have made such a graph ‘ and the trend is down. Reporting in the Dec. 7 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, the team writes, ‘After a gradual upward trend that ran from January to April, 2009, the overall time series has shown a gradual downward trend, accelerating somewhat over the first half of 2011.’ ‘It appears that happiness is going down,’ said Peter Dodds, an applied mathematician at UVM and the lead author on the new study.TwitteronomicsHow does he know this? From Twitter. For three years, he and his colleagues gathered more than 46 billion words written in Twitter tweets by 63 million Twitter users around the globe.In these billions of words is not a view of any individual’s state of mind. Instead, like billions of moving atoms add up to the overall temperature of a room, billions of words used to express what people are feeling resolve into a view of the relative mood of large groups.These billions of words contain everything from ‘the’ to ‘pancakes’ to ‘suicide.’ To get a sense of the emotional gist of various words, the researchers used a service from Amazon called Mechanical Turk. On this website, they paid a group of volunteers to rate, from one to nine, their sense of the ‘happiness’ ‘ the emotional temperature ‘ of the ten thousand most common words in English. Averaging their scores, the volunteers rated, for example, ‘laughter’ at 8.50, ‘food’ 7.44, ‘truck’ 5.48, ‘greed’ 3.06 and ‘terrorist’ 1.30.The Vermont team then took these scores and applied them to the huge pool of words they collected from Twitter. Because these tweets each have a date and time, and, sometimes, other demographic information ‘ like location ‘ they show changing patterns of word use that provide insights into the way groups of people are feeling.The new approach lets the researchers measure happiness at different scales of time and geography ‘ whether global patterns over a workweek ‘ or on Christmas.And stretched out over the last three years, these patterns of word use show a drop in average happiness.Or at least a drop in happiness for those who use Twitter. ‘It does skew toward younger people and people with smartphones and so on ‘ but Twitter is nearly universal now,’ Dodds said, ‘Every demographic is represented.”‘Twitter is a signal,’ Dodds said, ‘just like looking at the words in the New York Times or Google Books.’ (Word sources that the team is also exploring in related studies). ‘They’re all a sample,’ he says. ‘And indeed everything we say or write is a distortion of what goes on inside our head.’But ‘ like GDP is a distortion of the hugely complex interactions that make up the economy and yet is still useful ‘ the new approach by the UVM team provides a powerful sense of the rising and falling pulse of human feelings.Getting serious about happiness‘Individual happiness is a fundamental societal metric,’ the researchers write in their study. Indeed the ultimate goal of much public policy is to improve and protect happiness. But measuring happiness has been exceedingly difficult by traditional means, like self-reporting in social science surveys. Some of the problems with this approach are that people often don’t tell the truth in surveys and the sample sizes are small.And so efforts to measure happiness have been ‘overshadowed by more readily quantifiable economic indicators such as gross domestic product,’ the study notes.The new approach lets the UVM researchers almost instantaneously look over the ‘collective shoulder of society,’ Dodds says. ‘We get a sense of the aggregate expressions of millions of people,’ says Dodds’s colleague Chris Danforth, a mathematician and a co-author the study, while they are communicating in a ‘more natural way,’ he says. And this opens the possibility of taking regular measures of happiness in near real-time ‘ measurements that could have applications in public policy, marketing and other fields.The study describes hundreds of insights from the Twitter data, like a clear weekly happiness signal ‘with the peak generally occurring over the weekend, and the nadir on Monday and Tuesday,’ they write. And over each day happiness seems to drop from morning to night. ‘It’s part of the general unraveling of the mind that happens over the course of the day,’ said Dodds.In the long-term graph that shows an overall drop in happiness, various ups and downs are clearly visible. While the strongest up-trending days are annual holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, ‘all the most negative days are shocks from outside people’s routines,’ Dodds say. Clear drops can be seen with the spread of swine flu, announcement of the U.S. economic bailout, the tsunami in Japan and even the death of actor Patrick Swayze.On the dashhboard‘In measuring happiness, we construct a tunable, real-time, remote sensing, and non-invasive, text-based hedonometer,’ the Vermont scientists write. In other words, a happiness sensor.Right now the sensor is only available to the researchers, but Dodds, Danforth and their colleagues have in mind a tool that could go ‘on the dashboard’ of policy makers, Dodds says. Or, perhaps, on a real estate website for people exploring communities into which they might move, or, simply, ‘if someone is flying in a plane they could look at this dashboard and see how the city below them is feeling,’ he says.Of course feelings change quickly and the nature of happiness itself is one of the most complex, profound issues of human experience.‘There is an important psychological distinction between an individual’s current, experiential happiness and their longer term, reflective evaluation of their life,’ the scientists write, ‘and in using Twitter, our approach is tuned to the former kind.’And looking ahead, the Vermont scientists hope that by following the written expressions of individual Twitter users over long time periods, they’ll be able to infer details of happiness dynamics ‘such as individual stability, social correlation and contagion and connections to well-being and health.’Dodds and his colleagues are no strangers to the debates over the role of happiness that can be traced back through Brave New World to Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Aquinas, and Aristotle. ‘By measuring happiness, we’re not saying that maximizing happiness is the goal of society,’ Dodds says. ‘It might well be that we need to have some persistent degree of grumpiness for cultures to flourish.’Nevertheless, this study provides a new view on a compelling question: why does happiness seem to be declining?See graph:…(link is external)Read Abstract: is external)last_img read more