Japanese Officials Visit EPB in Chattanooga
EPB recently played host to a group of Japanese representatives of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation East. The company is Japan’s premier provider of phone, television and Internet services.
The delegation met with EPB’s team that led the design and construction of our Smart Grid. As NTT-East continues rebuilding it’s legacy and fiber optic networks following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, engineers wanted to see first-hand how the Chattanooga community took advantage of the latest fiber optic technologies.
The magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami of March 11, 2011 was the worst natural disaster to strike a developed country in modern history. More than 15,000 lives were lost and more than 100,000 buildings were destroyed. Electric power distribution and communication systems in northeastern Japan were left in ruins.
But the resiliency of the Japanese people was amazing. Most services were restored within 50 days. As Japan continues rebuilding it’s communities and core infrastructure engineers with NTT-East want to ensure their systems will be compatible with future demands and technologies.
While learning how EPB’s team integrated multiple platforms of communication with a fiber optic Smart Grid, the Japanese delegation said they were most impressed with EPB’s management style, which is “horizontally” structured. That means boundaries between EPB’s departments and managers are erased as people work together to achieve common goals.
“It’s an all-hands on deck approach,” EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest said. “You can’t solve problems just with automation, you need people in work groups who are collaborative and work as a team with boundaries removed.”
The Japanese delegation’s visit included time spent at EPB’s new operations center to see first-hand how EPB technicians work to install fiber optic services in homes and businesses. They said they were truly impressed with EPB’s commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Equally impressive was to see how EPB Fiber Optics can deliver one-gigabit Internet service to all of it’s more than 170,000 customers in it’s 600 square mile service area.
The NTT-East team included Mr. Gaku Yamda, Manager of Core Network Center, Network Business HQ; Mr. Junichi Kagesawa, Assistant Manager of Service Management and Network Technology Core Network Center; and Ms. Sayaka Sekiya, Assistant Manager of Service Management and Network Operation Core Network Center.
The NTT-East delegation will make its presentation on what it learned from EPB to senior management in Japan in March.
The NTT-East team is the latest international group to visit Chattanooga and EPB. The growing list includes representatives from Ireland, Israel, Denmark and Columbia.
More Business News
Last Update on March 26, 2015 17:18 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that strong hiring should continue despite signs of slower economic growth at the start of 2015.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The decrease suggests that a recent slowdown in manufacturing, housing starts and retail sales have not trickled into the job market, a possible indication that economic growth will rebound after a harsh winter.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, tumbled 7,750 to 297,000. Over the past 12 months, the average has dipped roughly 7 percent.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The relatively low average shows that employers are holding onto workers and may increase hiring. Applications below 300,000 are generally consistent with solid monthly job gains.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for a second straight week, edging closer to historically low levels at the start of the spring home-buying season.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.69 percent from 3.78 percent last week.
The average rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, eased to 2.97 percent from 3.06 percent last week.
A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.40 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.42 percent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, designed to hold down long-term rates.
COLOGNE, Germany (AP) -- The chief executive of Lufthansa says he is "stunned" by a French prosecutor's conclusion that the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane intentionally caused Tuesday's crash which killed 150 people.
Germanwings is Lufthansa's budget-price subsidiary.
Chief executive Carsten Spohr told a news conference in Cologne, Germany, that the airline choses its staff "very carefully" and has no indication of why co-pilot Andreas Lubitz would have crashed the plane. Spohr says pilots undergo yearly medical examination but that doesn't include psychological tests.
Germany's interior minister says that there are no indications the German co-pilot had "any kind of terrorist background." He says German authorities checked intelligence and police databases on the day of the crash, and Lufthansa told them that regular security checks also turned up nothing untoward on the co-pilot.
French prosecutors say Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit. The Airbus A320 is designed with safeguards to allow emergency entry if a pilot inside is unresponsive. But the override code that is known to the crew does not go into effect -- and indeed goes into a lockdown -- if the person inside the cockpit specifically denies entry.
NORWEGIAN AIR-COCKPIT RULES
HELSINKI (AP) -- Europe's third largest budget airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle, says it plans to adopt new rules requiring two crew members to always be present in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.
A Norwegian spokeswoman says the new rules will be adopted "as soon as possible" on all commercial flights globally. She says the decision was taken after details emerged that the co-pilot of the Germanwings Flight 9525 that crashed in France on Tuesday had apparently locked himself in the cockpit.
She says the airline's security department had been thinking about the measure "for a while, and today decided on it."
Other airlines, including Finnish national carrier Finnair, stipulate that there must always be two crew members in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has voted in unusual bipartisan unity to approve a $214 billion measure permanently blocking cuts in physicians' Medicare payments.
The 392-37 vote moved Congress a step closer to resolving a problem that has plagued lawmakers for years.
The package bore wins for both parties. Republicans won a long-term strengthening of Medicare's finances with cost increases for some high-income recipients. Democrats claimed victories with added money for health programs for children and poor families.
The measure would replace a 1997 law that has repeatedly threatened cuts in physicians' Medicare reimbursements. Doctors have warned that those threats could force them to stop treating the program's elderly patients.
The bill's Senate fate is unclear but improving. Democrats' complaints about its abortion curbs and other provisions have been softening.
GAS DRILLING-PUBLIC LANDS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House have found something in common. Many have issues with the Obama administration's new regulations requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Republicans say the new regulations, announced last week, will delay new drilling projects and take marginal lands out of production.
Democratic lawmakers say the regulations are so mild that they won't change current operating standards.
The lawmakers' complaints were aired Thursday during a House subcommittee hearing called to review the Bureau of Land Management's budget for the coming fiscal year.
Bureau Director Neil Kornze (KORN'-zee) says fracking is taking place in 32 states, and the new regulations were aimed primarily at those states with limited or no regulation of the practice.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek bank deposits dropped by more than 7.5 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in February, ramping up pressure on the country's teetering financial system as its government scrambles to reach a deal with creditors.
The central bank of Greece Thursday said private and business deposits dropped to 140.5 billion euros ($154.2 billion) by the end of February.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government has promised to submit a list of detailed reforms to bailout creditors by early next week at the latest. It has also said it would scrap any reforms that hurt economic growth.
Lenders need to approve the changes before releasing the remaining bailout funds that Greece needs to keep up with debt repayments before the summer.
SEAFOOD FROM SLAVES-REACTION
BANGKOK (AP) -- Lawmakers in Thailand have approved a measure creating tougher penalties for violating the country's laws against human trafficking.
The legislation had been under debate for several weeks. But its passage comes in the wake of an Associated Press investigation published this week. It found that fish caught by slaves has entered the supply chains of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States. Seafood that was caught by hundreds of men trapped on a remote Indonesian island was tracked to exporters in Thailand who sell to America.
Thailand's deputy prime minister is denying that there are any slaves working on fishing boats carrying flags of Thailand. Instead, he says the problems are taking place in Indonesia.
But the U.S. State Department blacklisted Thailand last year for failing to meet minimum standards in fighting human trafficking.
U.S. retailers and the National Fisheries Institute have written to the ambassadors from Thailand and Indonesia, demanding to know what will be done to free the slaves described in AP's coverage. They say they've asked the government of Thailand in the past to address the issue of forced labor -- but didn't have any specific allegations until now.
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