Help CDFA Reduce Lost and Stolen Mobile Devices

Let’s face it smartphones are easy to snatch and take. A recent survey found that 3 out of 10 cell phone users between the ages of 35 and 54 have misplaced their device or had it stolen, as Kashmir Hill reports on Forbes.com.  CDFA’s Information Security Office receives several incidents per month of lost and stolen devices that need to be reported and managed.

LOST: If you suspect your state smart phone or tablet is lost, time is of the essence. I recently lost my state cell phone and immediately reported it.  By reporting with the battery still charged, the phone was immediately located by our IT team. I was able to retrieve the phone from under the passenger seat of my car.

STOLEN:  Be Aware. Know your surroundings and be cognizant of your smartphone use behavior.  It’s best to not call attention to your smartphone and create an opportunity for a thief to steal it.  We most frequently receive lost and stolen reports such as stolen from a restaurant table or on the seat of a truck.

REPORT IT. If you know your smartphone is stolen, immediately notify the department’s Information Security Officer, Tim Tyler so we can avoid incurring charges on the usage. You must also report a stolen device to your local police department.

Robert Schmidt

 

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20 Years of Ag Fertilizer Research Opened Online

Over the past 20 years, CDFA’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) has funded over $12 million dollars worth of scientific research on the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use of fertilizing materials.  One of the goals of this research is to advise growers as well as agricultural supply and service professionals on effective agronomic practices. However, to date, the only way for growers to learn about the results of these research projects has been to read the highly technical and lengthy research reports.

In an effort to make the wealth of information contained in these technical reports more user-friendly, the program has created a web-based “searchable” database.  Phase 1 of the database is now complete and can be accessed here. The database includes summaries of FREP technical reports which users can search by keyword, crop, county, and timeframe. Scientific findings from ongoing research will continue to be added to the database from a variety of sources including fertilizer recommendations collected through research institutions such as the University of California, Davis.

Phase 2 of the project will involve the creation of interactive crop fertilization guidelines. These guidelines will be created using a number of sources in addition to FREP research and will make the current data even more user-friendly through a visually interactive interface.  Additional information about Phase 2 can be found here.

This initiative is part of a larger departmental effort to bring practical solutions that aid growers in enhancing on-farm environmental stewardship practices and effectively using agricultural inputs. Balancing agricultural inputs with the output of food production to feed a growing global population is an important part of farming in California.

For further information on the FREP database effort, please contact FREP staff at frep@cdfa.ca.gov or (916) 900-5022.

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PiercesDisease.Org Online with CalCloud Infrastructure

Pierce’s Disease (PD) is a fatal bacterial disease of grapevines that is spread by certain types of insects, such as leafhoppers. It has been present in California for more than 100 years and in the past has caused sizable losses to vineyards in localized “hotspot” areas of the state. Until recently, it did not pose a severe threat to the majority of regions where grapes are grown. This situation changed dramatically with the arrival of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), an aggressive insect vector of PD. Because of this insect, vineyards in traditionally safe growing regions are now at risk from the disease. Considering only grapes, the disease now threatens a crop production value of $4.45 billion and associated economic activity within California in excess of $61.5 billion. There is currently no known cure for PD, which is why CDFA leads a longstanding, industry-supported program to help growers protect their vines from the disease and fund research to find solutions.

The PiercesDisease.Org website was originally developed in 2007 by the Public Intellectual Property Resources for Agriculture (PIPRA) headquartered at University of California, Davis.  It was to provide a way for over 200 researchers and growers to collaborate on this plant disease.   In 2014, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Information Technology (IT) team was asked to modernize the platform that would enable the PD research community to share best practices, available grants, symposium proceedings and resources through a website application.  Over a course of several months, the team developed and launched the new site on California’s new CalCloud Infrastructure environment.

Traditionally, CDFA IT would have to purchase equipment and software licensing to launch a new application website.  Now, CDFA IT can issue a service request and get approval to proceed within the CalCloud software and launch a new virtual instance to their specifications.  CalCloud Infrastructure is the future of managing server environments entrusting cloud deployment software to take care of the details.  By allowing IT to focus on delivering business solutions, CDFA can bring developer speed to drive business value.  The PiercesDisease.Org website is now online with CalCloud Infrastructure.

Contact: Robert Schmidt, CDFA Agency, Chief Information Officer, robert.schmidt@cdfa.ca.gov

 

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From Smart Phones to Sensors, Data Drives the Future of Ag

In California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) balanced, agency-wide roadmap, information technology drives and supports innovative and cutting-edge initiatives that will position board members, inspectors, veterinarians, scientists, technicians and other CDFA constituents not only to achieve the goals of today and tomorrow, but to reach beyond and foster the information technology of the future.  CDFA is focused on four technology areas to drive this future:

Big Data: Specialists in CDFA and elsewhere are generating data at increasing rates. To maximize knowledge extracted from these large and diverse data sets, CDFA supports computing to efficiently manage its data and geospatial information which will further its organization’s mission.  This includes moving from collecting data on paper to systems that capture the information at the source and eventually providing predicative and real-time analytics.

User Interface: Field office specialists need flexible software and hardware to accomplish their mission.  CDFA is shifting its development team from desktop applications to mobile web development and in-time alternative user interfaces such as voice and gesturing.  These alternative interfaces will make it possible to capture data efficiently.

Social Communication: As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, people are finding new ways of sending and receiving information.  In the new social media arena, the public is an active participant and user instead of a passive reader or viewer.  Self-signup channels, real-time feedback and social media-enabled applications are part of CDFA’s technology evolution.

Sensors: In the future CDFA will use remote-sensing data from ground, aircraft, and satellite platforms to develop methods to monitor, assess, and manage the agricultural ecosystem on small and large scales.  This will include airborne and satellite hyperspectral images to help detect problem areas and the chemical composition of plants.

Contact: Robert Schmidt, CDFA Director of the Executive Office OITS and Agency Information Officer (AIO)

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Mobile Technology is at Home on the Range

Livestock Brand Inspectors have been performing their jobs in the same way since 1917, when the Bureau of Livestock Identification was established, as a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; by the use of hand completed forms sent by postal mail.

Brand Inspectors for CDFA inspect and certify cattle brands and track livestock movement.  A cattle brand is used to mark ownership of livestock, and Brand Inspectors use this identifying feature not only to ensure rightful ownership, but to thwart cattle theft as well.

Tracking rightful ownership and sale of cattle through paper and postal mail leaves plenty of room for cattle theft to sneak by without notice, because Inspectors do not have real time information to prevent a potential theft.  However, CDFA has found a way to put real-time data in the hands of its inspectors: by developing an app!

CDFA has brought mobile technology to “home on the range” by developing the Livestock Identification application (LID) to provide inspectors and the Bureau with a real-time catalog of inspections, certificates of ownership, and cattle movement.

Photo of Tablet and Brand Book

CDFA has brought mobile technology to
“home on the range”
Photo: Jenna Baxter

CDFA maintains a database of registered brands, which can be utilized through two applications: the LID application, or through the California Brand Book app.  The Brand Book is a complete record of all registered brands, including owner information.  Currently, the application tracks all of the 23,000 registered and active brands in the state, as well as retaining information of retired or idle brands.

The LID Application isn’t just an improvement to the Brand Inspector’s workday, it modernizes the way livestock owners conduct their business with the Bureau as well.  With the deployment of the LID Application, can issue a certificate of ownership at the site of sale and immediately transmit the data electronically to the Bureau’s headquarters in Sacramento.  This is a vast improvement of the nearly century old process of mailing the Department hand completed applications with a check.

Some of the sophisticated features of the application allow for recording the geo-coordinates of where inspections are being made, as well as keeping a record of all inspections made in the app, allowing for better statistical data on the movement of cattle.

Inspectors are excited about how the LID Application will streamline their day-to-day operations and give them access to information on cattle movement within the state.  Inspectors are present at all livestock auction sales that take place within the state to verify that any sale is lawful, by verification that seller is the current lawful owner of the stock.  Armed with a live database of brands in hand, Inspectors will be given greater power to stop theft in its tracks.

The development of the LID application will eliminate much of the time intensive aspects of an Inspectors work day.  By enabling the Bureau with mobile technology, the Brand Inspectors will now have more time to focus on enforcement, and the Department’s Livestock Inspectors can respond to a livestock disease outbreak in an emergency situation – saving cattle owners, and ultimately the consumer a lot of money.

Article Credits: Jenna Baxter, Robert Schmidt, David Preciado

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California’s Animal Border Crossing Data System

California Border Protection Stations (BPS) are the first line of defense in protecting our environment and resources from invasive species.  At these stations, vehicles are inspected for commodities infested with invasive species. California established its first agricultural inspection stations in the early 1920s. Today there are 16 of these facilities located on the major highways entering the state. At these stations, vehicles and commodities are checked to ensure they are pest-free and meet all regulatory requirements.

One of these BPS responsibilities is ensuring that animal movements into California are registered by species, border station of entry, state or country of origin and Animal Health Branch District destination for any time period.  Most livestock and poultry have entry permit and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) requirements to enter California.  Horses and other equines do not require a permit.

IT has recently updated the 15-year-old Animal Border Crossing data system with a user-friendly interface that now tracks non-hatching eggs and egg products and the company of origin of the egg shipments as well as enhancements to the animal movement data. By IT business analysis staff visiting the border crossings and observing transactions, a short list (10-20) of the most common destination operations was developed, saving BPS staff time to process transactions and keeping the traffic flowing smoothly.

Contact: Robert Schmidt, CDFA Director of the Executive Office OITS and Agency Information Officer (AIO)

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CDFA Growing Mobile Apps for California Citizens

CDFA’s ongoing commitment to outreach through technology has led to the development of three new applications for smart phones. The first is a guide to local farmers’ markets. The new application was developed in collaboration with the State Department of Technology and works across all smart phones. It leverages California’s mobile framework with location-aware services and map features. Our application will help you locate the nearest certified farmers market in your area along with contact information.

Through our work in weights and measures, which includes the regulation of public scales, a mobile application for truckers has been developed to help locate the nearest scales.  The need for this application was identified after tracking 2,500 unique visitors each month to CDFA’s web site in search of locations.

We have also expanded our Report-A-Pest app.  Developed by the CDFA mobile development team, the app provides the ability to photograph and report suspected harmful pests to state and local agricultural officials. Using camera and GPS technology, the app provides invasive species specialists with valuable sighting information.

Screen of Report a Pest App

Report a Pest

 

This exciting frontier of mobile technology is just beginning to help us better serve the people of California. More than 50 public mobile applications from state government are now available through California’s Mobile Gallery, and we expect many, many more as we embrace advances certain to come in years ahead.

Robert Schmidt, CDFA Agency Information Officer

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