Technology

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

House lawmakers have finally landed on a proposal to fund water quality efforts in Vermont, but leaders in the state's technology industry say the plan could put a damper on a growing sector of the Vermont economy.

Ford's Crown Victoria Interceptor was the car of choice for Vermont State Police and many local and state law enforcement agencies. VSP took their last Crown Vic out of service in November and will auction off the last one to come off the road this month.
Vermont State Police

It was pretty easy to spot a police car in Vermont in the years around the turn of the century. Local or state officers were likely behind the wheel of a singularly iconic car: the Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor. But no longer.

An affiliate reinsurance company, or ARC, is an insurance product the Dept. of Financial Regulation thinks could bring new business to Vermont, similar to captive insurance.
erhui1979 / istock

Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation is home to a captive insurance division that stealthily regulates over 600 companies registered in the state and brings in around $25 million a year. Now the division is offering another insurance product it hopes could bring additional business to the state: it's called ARC, short for an affiliate reinsurance company.

A child looks on as a duo play the 1988 "Operation Thunderbolt" arcade game during the April 7, 2019 opening of the "Dream Machine II Arcade Exhibit" in Rutland.
Nick Grandchamp, courtesy

You're just as likely to run into a game of Pac-Man or Street Fighter II today in the basement of a diehard collector of retro 1980s arcade games as you are to play one in the corner of a pizza parlor or bowling alley. But one Rutland collector is putting more than a dozen of the machines together in a pop-up exhibit showcasing the games, their history and the value of playing together.

A partial view of a care tire set against a black background.
nicolas_ / iStock

The Agency of Transportation wants Vermont to be a testing site for self-driving cars, but there’s a debate in the Statehouse right now over how much oversight towns should have when the technology is tested on public roads.

A maintenance crew walks towards Vermont Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets in South Burlington in April 2010. The final four F-16s departed Vermont on Saturday, April 6, making room for a fleet of 18 F-35 jets set to arrive this fall.
Toby Talbot / AP

After more than 30 years, the last F-16 fighter jets flew out of Vermont Saturday, April 6. Now the Vermont Air National Guard is preparing pilots, mechanics and more for the arrival of a new fleet of F-35 jets this fall. We're looking back at the F-16s' years of service in Vermont and getting an update on the controversy and costs surrounding the coming F-35s.

What does your life in Vermont look like in the year 2050? We're imagining Vermont at the mid-century and asking you to share what has - and hasn't - changed.
hanibaram / iStock

We're jumping ahead to the year 2050 to imagine what life will be like in Vermont by mid-century, and looking back from an imagined future to talk about how Vermont can address climate change and other challenges. 

Some 3 billion American chestnut trees succumbed to a fungal blight in the early 1900s. Now an organization dedicated to restoring the tree is seeking approval to release a genetically engineered chestnut tree into the wild.
Public Domain via Pixabay

The once-ubiquitous American chestnut tree is now functionally extinct, nearly erased from the landscape by a blight that killed roughly 3 billion trees over 50 years. Now a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the tree is seeking federal approval to release a genetically engineered blight-resistant chestnut into the wild. But is a genetically engineered tree the right way to restore a virtually extinct species?

VTel CEO Michel Guite
Steve Zind / VPR File

Vermont Telephone Company CEO Michel Guite is defending his federally funded wireless broadband project, and says it serves hundreds of  thousands of addresses in Vermont. But the state says areas that were supposed to be reached by the VTel signal remain unserved.

The Beta Technologies prototype Ava XC lands during a test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport.
Eric Adams / Courtesy Beta Technologies

This special Vermont Edition collects recent interviews that highlight technological innovations being developed in our area. We'll hear about cutting-edge cartography, a tactile sketchpad that helps blind students in subjects that require graphing and an electric air taxi.

VTel CEO Michel Guite
Steve Zind / VPR File

Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have gone toward bringing high-speed internet to the small towns and backroads of Vermont. But one project, a wireless system built by Springfield-based Vermont Telephone Company, has not yet delivered what was promised.

A worker installs fiber optic lines in Norton.
Toby Talbot / AP

Despite wide agreement that broadband internet access is crucial to the state's economic development, more than a quarter of Vermont residents are on the wrong side of that digital divide. We're talking about the scale of the challenge and what's being considered to deliver broadband to the state's rural areas, including a new bill that would help towns figure out how to make their own pushes for broadband projects. 

Vermonters receive an estimated 145,000 robocalls every day. We're looking at what's behind the rapidly increasing numbers of robocalls.
Kirillm / iStock

Vermonters gets an estimated 4.5 million robocalls each month. Calls from scammers and marketers to an 802 number have doubled in just the last two years. We're looking at what's behind the rise in robocalls and ways you can protect yourself from the flood of unwanted calls.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos discusses cybersecurity and priorities in the new legislative session on "Vermont Edition."
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Washington, D.C. We're talking with Sec. Condos about what he learned at the NASS meeting about voting security and cyber threats facing states today, and discussing constitutional amendments in the legislature.

The Beta Technologies prototype Ava XC lands during a test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport.
Eric Adams / Beta Technologies

Electric transportation offers the promise of rapid travel and zero emissions, often seen in the increasingly sophisticated electric cars that can travel 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. But electric air travel poses unique challenges, not the least of which includes swapping a jet fuel-powered engine for a battery-powered aircraft.

Now the South Burlington- and Plattsburgh-based Beta Technologies is demoing an electric "air taxi" that the company says will be the electric aircraft at the center of planned cross-country flight this summer.

Col. Bill Wagner (center) and Col. Lawrence Seaberg (left) watch cyber defense tactics demonstrated by Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Cover (right) during a May 2014 exercise with the Vermont Army National Guard Computer Network Defense Team.
Capt. Kyle Key / DVIDS

Nine soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard are now stationed at Maryland's Fort Meade as part of a year-long deployment supporting U.S. Army Cyber Command. 

One guardsman on the deployment, Col. Bill Wagner, tells Vermont Edition that even after a month of training, it's unclear what the small Vermont contingent will do day-to-day during the year-long missions.

"Meal kits" aim to make cooking meals at home easier and less time-consuming. We're looking at the promise and reality of meal kits and Vermont-grown alternatives.
Unsplash

"Meal kit" services are an increasingly popular way to put dinner on the table, delivering everything you need to prepare a meal in a single box of ready-to-cook ingredients.

But what about finding time to cook and confidence in the kitchen? Do meal kits really save time, and do they help you eat fresh and local? We're talking about meal kits and Vermont's home-grown alternatives.

5G networks would require new antennas on existing telecommunication towers.
Emanuele D'Amico / iStock

The promises of 5G - the fifth-generation cellular technology - are incredibly fast speeds and the ability to connect thousands of devices at once. But according to the state's chief of telecommunications Vermonters hoping the technology will bring much-delayed broadband and cellular coverage to rural areas of the state will be disappointed.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

A row of six phones, each served by a different carrier with a variety of wires.
John Dillon / VPR

Two state officials devised a data collection project this fall to challenge cell carriers' claims that between them they cover virtually the entire state.

All Things Considered host Henry Epp talked to VPR reporter John Dillon about the goal of improving cell service around Vermont, and the MacGyver-like problem solving that went into the state's challenge. 

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