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The Commerce Blog

NOAA National Weather Service to Use New Hurricane Wind Scale

Satellite image of Hurricane Ike, 2008. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s National Weather Service will use a new hurricane scale this season called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The scale keeps the same wind speed ranges as the original Saffir-Simpson Scale for each of the five hurricane categories, but no longer ties specific storm surge and flooding effects to each category. Changes were made to the Saffir-Simpson Scale because storm surge values and associated flooding are dependent on a combination of the storm’s intensity, size, motion and barometric pressure, as well as the depth of the near-shore waters and local topographical features. (More)

NTIA, Census Bureau Report New Findings on Internet Use in the United States

Image of circle of connected computers. Courtesy of Shutterstock

Image © Francesco Bisignani/Shutterstock

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new report taking a first look at data collected through the Internet Usage Survey of more than 50,000 households, commissioned by NTIA and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2009. Since 2007, the data show that, while virtually all demographic groups have experienced rising broadband Internet access adoption at home, historic disparities among particular demographic groups overall continue to persist. (More) (Census tables) (NTIA “Digital Nation” report—PDF)

Under Secretary Blank Statement on New Residential Construction in January 2010

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released data on new residential construction in January 2010. Housing starts rose 2.8 percent in January and permits decreased 4.9 percent. Starts have advanced 23.4 percent and permits have risen 24.7 percent above their April 2009 low point. “Despite the mixed performance at the start of the year, the outlook for growth in housing activity remains positive,” Commerce Under Secretary Rebecca Blank said. (More) (Release)

NIST Issues Expanded Draft of Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy

NIST logo.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued the second draft of its Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements, which now identifies more than 120 interfaces that will link diverse devices, systems and organizations engaged in two-way flows of electricity and information and classifies these connections according to the level of damage that could result from a security breach. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

Locke gesturing from podium.

File photo

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced his decision to appoint the new members of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board). The board’s new charter expanded membership to include a more diverse and expansive industry representation from private sector participants in the travel and tourism industry. The appointees represent a broad cross-section of the industry including transportation services, financial services, and hotels and restaurants, as well as a mix of small and large firms from across the country. (More) (TTAB Web site) (Member list)

2010 Census 'Portrait of America' Road Tour at Daytona Beach Speedway

No. 16 Ford Fusion with onlookers. Click for larger image.

The 2010 Census is right around the corner, with forms to be mailed in mid-March. Thirteen vehicles are traveling across the country, engaging audiences at events from the Super Bowl to state and county fairs, church functions and community events. From Feb. 11-14, 2010 Census-sponsored No. 16 Ford Fusion, was on display at Daytona International Speedway and will be driven in three upcoming NASCAR races in Atlanta, Ga., Bristol, Tenn. and Martinsville, W.Va. by Greg Biffle. (More) (Road Tour) (Vehicles) (2010 Census Web site)

Secretary Locke Statement on January 2010 Retail Sales Numbers

Department of Commerce seal

The Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales data for January 2010. Retail sales increased 0.5 percent compared with an expected rise of 0.3 percent. Retail sales rose 7.6 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, following a gain of 6.4 percent in the third quarter. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Statement on December 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services

Locke speaking from lectern.

File photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the December 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports in December 2009 increased by 3.3 percent to $142.7 billion since November 2009. Imports in December increased 4.8 percent over November to $182.9 billion. Total U.S. exports decreased by 15 percent to $1.55 trillion for 2009 from 2008. The final trade deficit for 2009 was $381 billion with total U.S. imports of $1.93 trillion. (More) (Release)

Commerce Awards Recovery Act Broadband Expansion Grants Totaling More than $20 Million for Virginia

Recovery Acy logo.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced two grants totaling more than $21.5 million to expand broadband Internet infrastructure in Virginia. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. These investments will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth and create jobs. (More)

Commerce Department Proposes Establishment of NOAA Climate Service

Department of Commerce seal.

Individuals and decision-makers across widely diverse sectors—from agriculture energy to transportation—increasingly are asking Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for information about climate change in order to make the best choices for their families, communities and businesses. To meet the rising tide of these requests, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the intent to create a NOAA Climate Service line office dedicated to bringing together the agency’s strong climate science and service delivery capabilities. (More) (Announcement) (Climate Web site)