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Verizon wants your land-line, and good times for a Rochester defense contractor

Justina Davies
via Flickr
Verizon is testing out a product for fetching local land-lines.

For those of you who've grown accustomed to reading the inimitable Rachel Ward in this space, I offer a quick apology. I'll be pinch-hitting today. So without further ado, here's your Morning Round-up!

Verizon wants your land-line

The Rochester Business Journal is reporting that Verizon is using the Rochester area to test out a new product.

Verizon’s Home Phone Connect is a plug-in device that converts existing land-lines to a Verizon Wireless account. Customers signing up for the service would keep their existing numbers but add cell-phone features such as voice mail at no extra charge, Verizon spokesman John O’Malley said.

The new service will feature a minutes-based billing system, eliminating long distance charges for domestic calls. RBJ says the move by Verizon is designed to snatch customers away from Rochester-based Frontier Communications as well as other carriers.

All we want to know is if this other Verizon "landline slayer" ever caught on?

Good year for defense contractor

The Democrat and Chronicle's Matt Daneman sat down with the president of the Rochester-based arm of ITT, a defense contractor based in Westchester County. ITT's Geospatial Systems Division employs 1,300 workers in Rochester and the company says local business has been growing steadily.

From 2006, if you take geospatial and you put everything together, we've been growing about 3.7 percent. It's been a slow growth. Some of that is economics. Some of that is government. We've done a great job in making the business more efficient. Our bottom line has grown almost double (the 3.7 percent). We'll grow this year again in that 3 to 3.5 percent range.

The Rochester-based arm of ITT makes everything from night vision systems to satellite imaging to climate monitoring systems. ITT came to area after buying Kodak's aerial and space imaging business in 2004 for $725 million.

A lot of what they do is confidential, which is probably why it landed both ITT and Kodak on the Top Secret America project that the Washington Post put out last summer. We reported on Rochester's contributions to the list at the time, and found that it was, at best, out-of-date.

Trees that glow

It's a little early for Christmas trees, but consider this: scientists in Taiwan are using nanoparticles called bio light emitting diodes, or bio LEDs, to create glowing tree leaves.

"In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night," said Yen-Hsun Su in an interview with Chemistry World. "This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis."

Don't hold your breath though. Discovery News says it's a long way off.

Faster offshore wind

As some of our reporting has borne out, the permitting process for large scale wind power projects can be a major obstacle for developers. That is especially the case for offshore wind projects.

Now the Obama administration wants to speed up the permitting process significantly. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar announced an initiative on Tuesday targeted at spurring offshore wind development.

From the AP via TreeHugger:

At a speech in Baltimore, Salazar said he will institute a "smart permitting process" that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more. "The Cape Wind lease is an historic milestone in America's renewable energy future, but to fully harness the economic and energy benefits of our nation's vast Atlantic wind potential we need to implement a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough and unburdened by needless red tape," Salazar said.

It took eight years for Cape Wind to receive federal approval.

Lists, lists, lists

Several upstate cities were recently listed as great places to start over. The region recently received good news on the unemployment front. But what's this? Rochester is apparently the 15th worse place in America to find a job?

13 WHAM News' Evan Dawson has some analysis.

More lists, lists, lists

If you think Rochester's latest ranking is bad, it's got nothing on Buffalo's latest list appearance: Buffalo is the 17th most dangerous city in America.

From the Buffalo News:

The rankings, newly released by CQ Press and based on 2009 crime data, show that Buffalo has gone from the 27th most dangerous city in the country to 17th -- by far the city's worst rating since the rankings were first published in 1995. No other municipality in the state fared so poorly this year.

Lists are crazy.

Kodak Park

Last but not least, Eastman Business Park has been in the news lately. A trucking company recently moved in.

But, really, that's just pretense for a look at this meandering, esoteric review from the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Kodak Park is the epicenter of this global reformulation of one of the most formative elements of the information age. This is where mass imaging – analogue, chemical – was birthed. Within its 22 mile perimeter, and over its 1,100 acres lies the physical history of physical imaging.

The business park is said to be the largest industrial complex in the northeast United States.

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WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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