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Pittsburgh gets high-tech water meters

A magazine called Government Technology noted Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority’s installation of high tech water meters this week.

The new meters will allow customers to track water usage online or through email or text message updates. PWSA will spend $9.4 million to bring these wireless meters to about 82,000 customers in Pittsburgh. 

Tracking water usage can allow customers to control water consumption or alert users of potential leaks. 

“We're saving $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year, and providing customers a better service,” PWSA spokesperson Melissa Rubin says.

'In Pittsburgh, a refuge for endangered writers'

Aljazeera America reported on a refuge for foreign writers located in Pittsburgh’s Central North Side, City of Asylum. 

City of Asylum, founded by Henry Reese in 2004, is a haven for artists who were persecuted in their native countries for their writing. Other cities house similar refuges supplemented with state sponsorship, but City of Asylum is unique in that it was created by a single citizen and has via philanthropy. 

Yaghoub Yadali is the most recent addition to City of Asylum after his novel “The Rituals of Restlessness” brought him imprisonment and harassment in his native country of Iran.  

“I respect those that stand up against authority to keep them open and honest,” says Reese.

ABC News features Conflict Kitchen

Pittsburgh’s beloved Conflict Kitchen was recently featured in ABC News’ Lifestyle section. The restaurant serves only food from countries in conflict with the United States. 

The nonprofit takeout spot aims to make food a medium for political dialogue and is funded by grants as a part of the research center at Carnegie Mellon. The restaurant’s menu rotates through cuisine from countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. 

Conflict Kitchen also hosts roundtables and events to promote political discussions. 

"In some ways, [it] was a response to what I felt wasn't in this city, which was a lot of cultural and ethnic diversity, and also a sense of being part of an international, global conversation," says Conflict Kitchen co-founder Jon Rubin.

Pittsburgh marketing firm opens the doors to local businesses

According to Digital Journal, a Pittsburgh company is allowing internet users to virtually walk through local businesses with Google

ProFromGo, a marketing firm located in the South Side, provides Google Business View with an inside look at brick and mortar businesses in Pittsburgh. 

The independent photographers at ProFromGo create interior tours of businesses like restaurants, car dealerships, salons, gyms, and more. Revealing the content behind closed doors can promote trust between businesses and their clients. 

"We're a very visual-oriented society right now, so you want to give (customers) videos, pictures... you really want to get across every aspect that you can of what makes you unique and special and give them a reason to choose you," says ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare owner Scott Kerschbaumer.

'Pittsburgh, you're too nice to be unhappy'

The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research recently ranked Pittsburgh as the second least happy city after New York City, but Time Magazine says we have nothing to complain about.  

Pointing to a relatively low cost of living and a relatively high quality of life, Time Magazine’s opinion column says Pittsburghers should be a pleasant bunch. 

However, the study did factor in January temperatures and the amount of precipitation in each city, and we all know how depressing Pittsburgh weather can be. The two happiest cities are both in sunny Virginia.  

“Our research indicates that people care about more than happiness alone, so other factors may encourage them to stay in a city despite their unhappiness,” says researcher Joshua Gottlieb.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study says texts can reduce binge drinking

The British Psychological Society recently reported a study that took place at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine which suggests text messages can prevent young people from binge alcohol consumption. 

The study examined 765 young adult emergency patients who had previously screened positive for hazardous drinking habits. Some patients were sent text messages containing questions about their alcohol consumption and then received feedback on their response. Some received only questions about their drinking tendencies and others received no messages at all. 

According to the research, the young adults that received both questioning and feedback were more likely to reduce binge drinking. 

"Alcohol may bring them to the ER, but we can do our part to keep them from becoming repeat visitors," says Dr. Brian Suffoletto, the managing director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The Atlantic's City Lab remembers the nostalgic Westinghouse light show

The Atlantic’s City Lab recently reflected on the nostalgia of the light show that once stood atop the Westinghouse Electric Supply Company Warehouse on the North Shore. 

“Westinghouse computer systems already run ships and steel mills, power plants, utility networks, and mass transit systems. So, why not a sign—here in Pittsburgh—to dramatize the role Pittsburgh plays in today's new technologies?" bragged a company press release about the sign.

This week, somebody who saw the sign as a child, created a replica of the flashing Westinghouse light show and shared it on YouTube. A company also produces tiny replicas of the sign

Paul Rand created the logo that danced above the Allegheny River for 30 years, a circular emblem made to look like an electrical outlet as well as a ‘W’ for Westinghouse. The sign was erected in June 1967 and the warehouse was demolished in 1998 to make room for PNC Park.

'Why Adelaide should be more like Pittsburgh - a phoenix city that has reinvented itself'

The Herald Sun recently deemed Pittsburgh a ‘phoenix city’ that rose from the ashes of economic decline. According to the article, a city called Adelaide in Australia should follow Pittsburgh’s lead to reinvent itself. 

In the 1980’s, Pittsburgh faced unemployment and corporate takeovers after the collapse of the steel industry, but three decades later has forged on to become one of the most livable cities in the United States with success in healthcare, technology and education. 

Adelaide is facing similar strife with the closing of its major manufacturing company, Holden. The closure is expected to eliminate 24,000 local jobs. However, Adelaide leadership plans to utilize lessons learned from Pittsburgh to survive the decline. The focus will be on diversifying into new industries and urban renewal. 

“We had to imagine a different kind of city than we had been for 100 years,” says former three term Pittsburgh mayor, Tom Murphy.

Singing UPMC doctor makes Cosmo

Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja, an ob-gyn at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has gone viral for his tradition of singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the babies that he delivers. 

In the emotional video, Andrew-Jaja serenades one newborn as a touched mother looks on and the entire delivery room joins in. 

“People say they can’t sing. It doesn’t matter. We all join in together,” he tells CBS.

According to Andrew-Jaja, he has sung approximately 8,000 babies into this world.

First National Bank names Pittsburgh for its corporate headquarters

Look out PNC, MarketWatch says there’s a new bank setting up camp in Pittsburgh. First National Bank’s parent company, F.N.B. Corporation, announced that it has formally named Pittsburgh as corporate headquarters. 

"Naming Pittsburgh as F.N.B. Corporation's official headquarters is a logical progression in our evolution as a regional financial services organization," says Vincent J. Delie, Jr., President and CEO of F.N.B. Corporation.

With Pittsburgh as the bank’s largest market, F.N.B has expanded from a single location in Pittsburgh in 1997 to more than 84 locations today. The bank employs 1,800 people in Western Pennsylvania and has $14.5 billion in total assets.

Pitt student seeks donations after parents cut her off for her sexuality

The Huffington Post UK and the New York Daily News took notice when Kate Koenig, a would-be sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, set up a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 after her parents cut her off and refused to co-sign loans for her schooling because she identifies as both gay and pansexual. 

Koenig was unintentionally outed when her father looked through her mail before the start of her freshmen year and was able to attend her first two semesters at Pitt as they were already paid for. Koenig has been blogging and posting YouTube videos about her struggles since last September with the hashtag #KeepKateInCollege. 

Since creating her page last Wednesday, Koenig has received more than $7,000 in donations and countless messages of support. 

“Going to Pitt is a dream of mine and I couldn't bear the thought of not being able to stay there,” Koenig writes.

Pittsburgh Drone Masters shed light on new technology

According to Bloomberg BusinessweekPittsburgh Drone Masters, a meet up group, is working to clear up the myths surrounding unmanned aerial systems. 

Group leader Micah Rosa says that gaining attention helps prepare the population for a future with drones. He wants the public to view drones as an evolution of model planes, not voyeuristic devices. 

"I'm big on education, so I try to be found in search results so that I can bring [drones] out in a good light," says Rosa.

Commercial drones are currently illegal in the United States, but private companies are allowed test flights with experimental airworthiness certificates. However, the unmanned flight industry is expected to reach $89 billion globally in the next decade and online retailer Amazon recently applied for a testing certificate to utilize drones in Seattle as part of an Amazon Prime Air Delivery service.

Child prodigy and esteemed conductor Lorin Maazel dies at 84

This week the New York Times paid tribute to Lorin Maazel, a child prodigy who grew up to become an enigmatic conductor, after he died in his home at 84. Maazel conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1940, before his tenth birthday. He returned to Pittsburgh throughout his career.  

At 15, he took a break from conducting and began studying at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1946 he organized the Fine Arts Quartet of Pittsburgh and in 1948 he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra shortly before embarking for a long stint in Europe in 1951. 

In 1984, he returned to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as a music consultant and later became its musical director until 1996. During this time, he toured the world and won a grammy with the orchestra.

Richard Mellon Scaife's will leaves his true wealth a mystery

The Chicago Tribune Review notes that when Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife died on July 4, at the age of 82, his will left much of his extraordinary wealth undesignated, but he asked that his dogs go to a good home. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette estimates the conservative political activist’s fortune to be as much as $1.4 billion, but an accurate amount is unknown due to private trusts Scaife constructed throughout his lifetime. 

Only two beneficiaries, the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum in Chadd’s Ford, Pa., and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, were named. Scaife’s children were not mentioned in his will, but Scaife’s lawyer H. Yale Gutnick says that they and a collection of institutions that Scaife supported have been taken care of.

German town follows in Pittsburgh's footsteps

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Bochum, Germany is taking a page out of Pittsburgh’s history books to recover from an industrial collapse. 

After World War II, the city was rebuilt on mining and steel production and later turned to manufacturing. Now, the city is turning to technology and healthcare, much like Pittsburgh, to reconstruct the economy.

At the helm of Bochum’s revival is the city’s largest employer, Ruhr University. With a focus on information science and healthcare, the university intends to mold Bochum into a science hub. 

Uwe Neumann, a regional economy researcher at the Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung e.V. institute in nearby Essen says that it’s easy to compare Pittsburgh and Bochum. 

“The location and the population have proven adaptable. The all-hands-on-deck mentality and the willingness to take your destiny into your own hands play a very important role and are a significant advantage,” Neumann says.
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