Technology development in the East Bay got a helping hand on Monday when FATHOM, an Oakland-based 3D printing and additive manufacturing company, announced a partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Labs.
“FATHOM is very excited about this advanced technology partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Lab,” Rich Stump, Principal at FATHOM, said. “Bringing together FATHOM’s professional commercial industry expertise and LLNL’s unique R&D capabilities, we will now have the ability to co-develop and introduce new technologies to help the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry.”
Both companies are hoping their new partnership will result in advancements in processing, testing, characterization, hardware and software.
“Additive manufacturing is rapidly changing the design and production of all kinds of products.” Diane Chinn, division leader of Materials Engineering at LLNL, said. “At Lawrence Livermore, we are not only applying additive manufacturing to our core mission of national security, but seeking ways to accelerate the process and create new materials.”
The announcement of the new tech partnership comes alongside a jobs report that saw major increases in employment numbers in February. According to a report in the Oakland Tribune, the Bay Area added 14,000 jobs, 2,600 in the East Bay, last month. It was the largest one-month job increase since August, and brought the jobless rate in the three major metros to its lowest number since late 2008.
While it’s clear that tech hiring is driving the job growth, with over a quarter of all the new jobs in that industry, what remains to be seen is how well the East Bay can keep up with its neighbors to the west.
As the East Bay stays relatively even or even ahead of San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in new construction jobs, it falls behind when it comes to tech. Of the 3,700 new tech jobs created in February, 2,900 of them are located west of the bay and 800 are spread across the entire East Bay.
Yet just because the East Bay is hiring fewer tech workers doesn’t mean its denizens aren’t turning to tech to solve problems.
According to a report by Mashable’s Kurt Wagner, the OPD has been using Twitter, Facebook, and even Nextdoor, to keep the public in the loop, squelch rumors and even solve crimes since a shooting at Oikos University, a Koren Christian college, in 2012. But more recently, it’s been students at Castlemont High School in East Oakland who have been getting into the tech-crime-fighting game.
A recent story on SFGate says that at a hackathon for low-income youth, Castlemont seniors Maria Lopez and Esmeralda Arguenta were part of team that designed a new app called SafeBlok. The app would give real-time, crowdsourced information on crime in her neighborhood and others like it.
“Let’s say I want to go to my friend’s house and I know that the streets I’m going to walk on are dangerous or the bus I take is dangerous,” Argueta said. “So I’m going to check out those spots and see what’s happening, so I don’t get caught in the crossfire.”
While Lopez says most of her friends already post about crimes and shootings they hear outside their homes, she hopes the app will change the attitude that surrounds crime in her community.
“Violence has become so integrated in the community that people don’t see it as a problem anymore,” she said.
Another truth is that OPD may need these kids more than they think. OPD is considering shuttering its gunshot detection system ShotSpotter according to reports on KCBS and the San Francisco Chronicle. The 8-year-old system uses microphones placed throughout West and East Oakland to detect gunshots and deploy police officers.
The police department says the $250,000 a year plus spent on system could be better used to fund other technology. Among the technology the department is considering is its own helicopter that can cover more ground in less time than a patrol car and that uses infrared sensors to find suspects hiding on roofs and behind fences. Plus, the department says, the public is already doing a good job of reporting gunshots. Residents, however, aren’t so sure.
“I think they spend a lot of money on (stuff) that isn’t necessary, but this seems necessary,” Jimmy Hurt, a 22-year-old resident of 83rd Ave, told The Chronicle. “Basically they would rather save money than save lives.”
With other residents skeptical of police and the technology they use, or don’t use, to detect crimes in their neighborhoods, the debate over how much tech the police can a should have access to isn’t going away anytime soon.