Issues of Interest

FACIAL RECOGNITION  The Orlando Police Department is one of the first police stations in America to test Amazon Rekognition facial recognition technology. The program allows police to upload a photo to “detect, analyze, and compare faces for a wide variety of user verification, cataloging, people counting, and public safety use cases.” The program is in a pilot phase and currently has three cameras in operation. A coalition of 40 civil rights groups, including the ACLU and Demand Progress, has asked Amazon to stop selling the program to local law enforcement agencies, stating it would lead to the expansion of surveillance of vulnerable communities.

ZIKA VIRUS As of May 1st, there have been 109 reported cases of Zika in Florida. Two of the cases are believed to have been contracted in Florida. Ten counties in Florida are using federal grants to fund preventive measures against the disease.

TOURISM According to VISIT ORLANDO, 72 million tourists visited the city in 2017, up from 68 million the previous year. Orlando is currently the most visited city in the nation.

CITRUS UPDATE While the latest citrus forecast is dim, the industry is trying to stay positive as they hope to get a piece of a $2.36 billion disaster-relief package that Congress approved for agricultural businesses impacted by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017. If the predictions hold, this may be the lowest production of oranges in Florida since 1942-1943. Harvested grapefruit totaled 3.95 million boxes, nearly half the prior season’s yield of 7.76 million boxes.

SENATE PARKING GARAGE REOPENING The Florida Senate will recoup 210 parking spots in August. This will complete $28 million of repairs to the garage located beneath the Senate Office Building plaza. The garage was closed in May 2016 due to serious safety concerns. The House will undergo a $30 million repair to its parking garage next.