Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

The Commerce Blog

NIST Data: Enabling the Technical Basis for Evacuation Planning of High-Rise Buildings

Fireman in stairwellResearchers at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are stepping up the pace for designing safer building evacuations by releasing large, numerical data sets that track the movement of people on stairs during high-rise building evacuation drills. The data sets will ensure that architects, engineers, emergency planners and others involved in building design have a strong technical basis for safer, more cost-effective building evacuations.

“While stairs have been used in buildings for ages, there is little scientific understanding of how people use them,” explained NIST researcher Erica Kuligowski. “For example, we know little of how the width of the stair affects the flow rate, whether people grow fatigued as they descend from tall buildings, or how people merge into a crowded stairwell.”

Working with the Public Buildings Service at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), NIST researchers made video recordings of evacuation drills in stairwells at nine buildings ranging in height from six to 62 stories tall. The first data sets being released (available at www.nist.gov/bfrl/fire_research/building-occupant-evacuation.cfm) come from four of the buildings and include movement information on more than 3,000 people. Other evacuation data will be posted on the NIST Web site as it becomes available.  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Investments to Improve Broadband Internet Access

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced 35 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare across the country. The investments, totaling $482.4 million in grants, will fund projects that pave the way to bring enhanced high-speed Internet access to millions of households and businesses and link thousands of schools, hospitals, libraries, and public safety offices to the information superhighway.

 “In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides,” Locke said. “These critical Recovery Act investments will create jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable economic growth in communities across America.”

 “These projects will have a real, lasting impact on communities across the country,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. “We are investing in ‘middle mile’ networks that bring high-speed Internet access to communities and connect key anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, and hospitals. We are also investing in projects to improve access and spur Internet usage and adoption. This allows us to get the most bang for every grant dollar and award projects that will address communities’ broadband problems while creating jobs and facilitating  sustainable economic growth.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Speaks at the Virginia Summit on Export Opportunities

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke - joined by Senator Mark Warner and Export-Import Bank President Fred P. Hochberg - today delivered the keynote address at the Virginia Summit on Export Opportunities in Richmond. Locke highlighted President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) and gave an update on the NEI, and its goal of doubling exports and supporting several million jobs over the next five years.

The Summit focused on ways in which the federal government can coordinate with local government and private-sector partners to promote trade and export opportunities in Virginia. In 2009, Virginia companies exported more than $15 billion of merchandise overseas, up from $2.8 billion in 2005. 18.1 percent of manufacturing jobs in Virginia depend on exports.

President Obama announced the NEI during his State of the Union earlier this year. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more cabinet-level coordination to grow U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his cabinet. NEI site: http://export.gov

Exports remain an integral part of the U.S. economy. In 2008, American exports accounted for nearly 7 percent of our total employment and one in three manufacturing jobs. In the first four months of 2010, exports grew almost 17 percent compared to the same period last year.  Remarks

Secretary Locke Announces Board of Directors for New Corporation for Travel Promotion

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today appointed 11 travel and tourism industry leaders to serve on the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) Board of Directors. The CTP is a new non-profit corporation that will promote travel to the United States and communicate and improve the entry process so that visitors want to return.

The Corporation will help enhance the competitiveness of an already robust industry, which supports more than 8 million American jobs and is a critical source of export strength. Many other nations operate ministries of tourism that actively market their countries as tourist destinations around the world. The Corporation will help get America into the game and encourage people across the globe to travel to the U.S.  

“We are extremely pleased to join with this diverse group of talented travel and tourism industry leaders as we work together to strengthen this important sector of the U.S. economy,” Locke said. “President Obama recognizes the critical role that attracting international visitors to the United States plays in creating jobs and growing our economy.”

The CTP and its efforts to promote America as a travel destination will be funded by private donations and matching funds from a new fee collected from foreign travelers to the U.S.

The CTP Board of Directors represents various regions of the United States and each member has expertise and experience in specific sectors of the travel and tourism industry.  See the full release

NOAA: Fourth-Warmest U.S. Summer on Record

U.S. temperature map graphicThe contiguous United States had its fourth-warmest summer (June-August) on record, according to the latest NOAA State of the Climate report issued today. The report also showed the August average temperature was 75.0 degrees F, which is 2.2 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average. Last month’s average precipitation was 2.41 inches, 0.19 inch below the 1901-2000 average.

The monthly analysis, based on records dating back to 1895, is prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.  Read more

USPTO Launches Data Visualization Center

Image of dashboardCommerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week launched a beta version of the “USPTO Data Visualization Center.”  This tool will give the public access to important data covering USPTO patent operations in a convenient dashboard format.  The patents dashboard provides more refined pendency information than was previously available, as well as other critical indicators such as the number of applications in the backlog, production, staffing and more.

This information will help the entire intellectual property (IP) community to better understand the USPTO’s processes, and enable applicants to make more informed decisions about their applications, especially as the USPTO develops more opportunities for applicants to control the timing at which their applications are examined.  The new dashboard, which will be updated monthly, will also be used internally by the USPTO to analyze and improve its examination process and to track the effectiveness of its improvement efforts.  The USPTO also plans to add relevant data to track progress in other areas such as Trademarks and worksharing with global IP offices.

The USPTO is pleased to offer this new tool which provides a window into USPTO operations that has not been available to the public before.  To learn more about what the USPTO will be measuring and tracking visit the dashboard at www.uspto.gov/dashboards.  And to read USPTO Director Kappos’ blog about the dashboard, visit www.uspto.gov/blogData Visulization Center

 

NOAA Reopens More than 30,000 Square Miles in the Gulf to Fishing

Map of Reopened Fishing AreaToday NOAA reopened 3,114 square miles of Gulf waters offshore of the western Florida panhandle to commercial and recreational fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“We are pleased to continue moving forward with reopening portions of Gulf federal waters to recreational and commercial fishing,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’d like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this process, as we work to ensure seafood safety remains our primary objective.”

At its closest point, the area to be reopened is about 55 miles northeast of the Deepwater/BP wellhead. The total area is about one percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Release

Secretary Locke Hosts First Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Secretary Locke Seated at Table Addressing Members of CouncilSecretary Gary Locke today hosted the first meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Commerce Department. The Council advises Locke and the administration on key innovation and entrepreneurship issues and supports President Obama's innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identify new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and job creation.

Council members include successful entrepreneurs, investors, and university and non-profit leaders. Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution and co-founder of AOL; Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan; and Desh Deshpande, chairman of Sparta Group, A123 Systems and Sycamore Networks, among others, serve as the advisory council’s co-chairs. To see the full agenda from today's meeting, please click on the following link. Agenda (PDF)

To share ideas on how to spark innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. and hear from Steve Case, co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, on the topic and the council’s first meeting, click here.

Secretary Locke Announces Opening of Permanent CommerceConnect Office in Michigan

Secretary Locke Speaks

Secretary Gary Locke today announced the opening of a permanent CommerceConnect office in Pontiac, Mich., during his visit to ALTe, a southeastern Michigan technology company that offers electric and hybrid propulsion system alternatives for the vehicle transportation industry and is experiencing substantial growth through innovation in the alternative energy industry. Locke spoke with local businesses about the new office and the Commerce Department’s collaboration with state and local partners to continue the one-stop initiative he first unveiled in June 2009 that brings department and other federal, state and local programs under one roof in an effort to help businesses at every point of their life cycle. U.S. Rep. Gary Peters joined Locke for the announcement.

Locke also announced an official partnership between the department and Michigan-based non-profit The MORE Program, bringing state and local government, business organizations, educational institutions and private foundations together to connect innovators, entrepreneurs, and businesses with the resources needed to grow and flourish.

“When we launched the pilot phase of CommerceConnect last year, we had one goal in mind: to streamline government bureaucracy and bring services and solutions directly to the businesses and entrepreneurs who are creating and sustaining jobs,” Locke said. “With today’s announcement, we are giving CommerceConnect a permanent home in the Detroit area because we know that Main Street business owners should be spending their time working to grow their businesses, meet payroll, and keep their customers happy, not trying to navigate federal bureaucracies.”

Locke opened the CommerceConnect pilot office in Plymouth last October. Since opening its doors, the pilot has served over 90 companies, providing 199 referrals to 10 different Commerce bureaus and an additional 111 referrals to 13 other Federal, state, local and non-profit partners throughout the region.

Following his visit to ALTe, Locke and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow met with Michigan businesses at Automation Alley, the state’s largest technology business association that has helped Michigan dramatically increase its exports. Release  |  Remarks  | CommerceConnect

Secretary Locke Discusses Export Control Reform at 23rd Annual Bureau of Industry and Security Update Conference

Locke on podiumSecretary Gary Locke addressed the annual conference to discuss reforms to the U.S. export control system that will strengthen national security and improve the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors. In addition, President Barack Obama delivered a recorded statement about the administration’s efforts to reform the export control system.  Remarks  |  BIS 2010 Update website