Russell Nichols is a freelance writer who focuses on technology, culture and mental health. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine and Government Technology.
When HealthCare.gov — the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange website — went live in 2013, it was slow, buggy and hard to navigate — a digital mess. Two weeks later, three programmers in the Bay Area launched HealthSherpa.com, an alternative website to help online shoppers understand their options under the ACA and see plans and prices quickly.
Throughout the region, public and private-sector players are rethinking women’s health, expanding and diversifying their approach to maternal and infant health.
Nematodes pose a conundrum to farmers. The worm-like microscopic creatures are everywhere. Some are parasitic, infecting plants and destroying crops — but others actually attack insect pests. The ability to target the “bad” while leaving the “good” unharmed would be a boon for agricultural production.
Eric Sweet used to be a pilot, hauling cargo and flying corporate jets. Then he tried his hand at real estate. Now, through his Sacramento-based startup, Robotics Evolution, he’s focused on educating youth on robotics by offering special arenas where their robots can compete in various competitions.
As part of an entrepreneurship course at UC Davis, Mathew Magno was instructed to come up with a problem to solve. He didn’t think twice: Magno wanted to solve the nightmare that is finding a place to park.
City officials and developers are eyeing transit hubs for residential projects — but can it be effective in the Capital Region, which lacks the mass transit hubs of larger cities?
Anybody who says video games are bad for your health hasn’t met Dr. Tony Simon.
Telehealth is on the rise throughout the Capital Region, with video visits that save patients and hospitals both time and money. But can it reach the patients who need it the most?
For more than 50 years, Yolo Family Service Agency provided mental health services to Yolo County. In May, the small nonprofit agency shut down for good.
California is in the throes of a mental health crisis. But there’s a severe shortage of mental health professionals, which experts predict will only get worse. Comstock’s looks into access to mental health resources and efforts to get services to the people who need them most.
The Sacramento-based startup makes cannabis-infused topical skin care products and for Chelsea Dudgeon, CEO and cofounder, her grandmother was “a tough sell” in the beginning.
The Tuesday after renowned chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, Patrick Mulvaney asked for help. The owner of Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant in Midtown Sacramento could no longer cook in good conscience — but he needed guidance.
In 2017, Aaron Watkins launched a rental service called STEMtrunk because he doesn’t believe educational toys should be left behind. He calls his Yuba City-based startup “Netflix for learning toys” because it works with the same subscription-based concept.
Before big-time Sacramento developer Mort Friedman passed away in 2012, he handed the keys of the family business to his son, Mark Friedman. The transition was relatively seamless. Mort’s other sons pursued careers outside the industry and in different cities.
More than 10 million people live with Parkinson’s disease and there is no cure. Decades ago it was thought that exercise could exacerbate symptoms of the disease; now studies show it to be effective in delaying the onset of symptoms.
Anu Snacks produces snack bars from spent beer grain, mixed with dried fruit and nuts with various coatings. The idea was a hit, winning $17,500 in prizes this year at the UC Davis Big Bang! competition for entrepreneurship.
With Rhombus Systems cameras, customers can view and share livestreams, manage unlimited locations from one console and set up other features.
Full of electrolytes, this drink supports light to strenuous activity levels, repleting and rehydrating the body without excess sugars and calories.
With the deployment of Verizon’s 5G wireless network on the horizon in 2018, some say Sacramento has the potential to become a lightning rod for tech. Is there truth to the hype?
She’s a four-time breast cancer survivor who has been through nine surgeries. But for Cinde Dolphin, the post-surgery process has always been a pain, specifically the drain bulbs.
In 2018, Golden Pacific Bank is an anomaly, one of the few remaining community banks in the Capital Region to emerge in the past 10 years and not be acquired by a larger entity.
Even though 76 percent of Americans think fast food is “not too good” or “not good at all for you,” almost half say they eat fast food at least weekly, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.
Clean carpets, proper ventilation and special filters may help keep allergens out of the workplace. Another strategy entails sealing cracks in a building to make sure unwanted particles can’t sneak in.
Allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S and result in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year and over $700 million in lost productivity. We talk to local experts about ways to keep them at bay, both medical and holistic.
You might say Dr. Charles Lee created a synthetic bone graft substitute by accident.
Mike Malinowski, president of the Streamline Institute, had a plan.
With 26 industry professionals, he set out to create a program that streamlines permitting for construction in the Sacramento region. The idea was that with clear standards for building document content and organization plus a checklist used by all participating jurisdictions, plan examiners, building officials and design professionals could be on the same page.
In the early 2000s, Mariah Lichtenstern was an undergrad studying the rhetoric of narrative and image at UC Berkeley and starting a boutique production company in the Bay Area. That was when Napster was disrupting the music industry in a way that would leave it forever changed.
In 2014, the City of Sacramento’s construction valuation (which tracks the dollar amount of issued permits) was $390 million, but by June 2018, that valuation will be about $1.5 billion (adjusted for inflation), according to Ryan DeVore, Sacramento’s community development director.
Permitting can be a logistical mess for developers, while the future of economic development depends on this process. Efforts to improve the process find that enhanced communication trumps speed in terms of efficiency.
Around the world, 2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home. This Sacramento startup aims to make a difference.
If you have any stake in Stockton’s economy, you know the pain of watching residents (a.k.a. super commuters) leave the city to work in the Bay Area every day of the week.
For almost a decade, David Sypnieski has been working in the ag-tech space, focusing on the production and processing levels of California’s food system. Six years ago, he noticed a major hole in the supply chain: Food companies and growers didn’t have solid, easy-to-access data to help them evolve with the times.
The most common reason people visit their doctor might surprise you. It’s not back problems, high blood pressure or diabetes. According to a 2013 survey by the Mayo Clinic, the No. 1 reason is skin disorders.
The Capital Region has a couple of homegrown video game success stories, but most growth is taking place in its community of indie developers. As the region seeks to brand itself more as a tech hub, these gamers want to ensure their industry is part of the push.
Should a school district struggling to fill vacant teaching positions recruit from overseas? With that question looming overhead, Sacramento City Unified School District develops a new credential program with Sacramento State to address its teacher shortage over the long-term.
The opioid crisis was born in the late 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies said opioids — a class of drugs that produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain — weren’t addicting. Healthcare providers prescribed more of them. Twenty years later, we’re in the throes of an epidemic.
The big idea was garbage.
Frederick Janson was in the garage, taking the trash out of his first house in North Natomas. That was when he noticed how full the blue recycle bin was with plastic containers. He realized these recyclables he was paying somebody to take away could be used as building materials.
From a robot’s perspective, humans probably look like deeply flawed creatures: imprecise, accident-prone, injury-ridden, hazardous — walking glitches waiting to happen.
This view isn’t exactly wrong.
Inflatable Pubs can be rented for corporate events, weddings, birthday parties or any other type of festivity. Prices range from $400 to $600 per day with additional shipping fees for deliveries outside the region. Right now, Shenanigans has two inflatable pubs, imported straight from Ireland.
For sports fans, it’s not about wins and losses, but how you experience that game that counts. Brian Dombrowski learned this shooting videos for youth and high school sports events in the Bay Area. He was filming original content for coaches, but they weren’t the only ones interested in his footage.
In a virtual world, everybody who helped Oculus Rift raise $2.5 million on Kickstarter would own a piece of the company. But in reality, the VR pioneer was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion, and the backers received high-tech goggles and other goodies, but no stock.
The Sacramento Area Council of Governments reported that between 2013 and 2021, the region needs to build about 105,000 housing units to meet demand. Dividing that number by the nine years means almost 12,000 units per year.
Typically, fruit goes through many hands — farmer, packer, shipper, broker — before reaching the supermarket. Based in Lodi, Branch to Box focuses on cutting out the middlemen (hence the name) to provide the freshest possible fruit to offices.
Plumas Lake Elementary School District in Yuba County partnered with SmartWatt, a New York-based solar firm with an office in Rocklin, to optimize its energy system, including the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. It wasn’t the first solar panel project for SmartWatt, but it is the company’s largest to date.
This year marks the deadline for California’s 10-year bet on solar roofs. In 2006, the state launched the “Million Solar Roofs” vision, pumping $3.2 billion into incentive programs. The plan was to build one million solar roofs, or the equivalent thereof, generating 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2017.
If you’re a basketball player, you’re not one to just sit around and spectate. You want to prove you got skills too. Problem is, finding people to hoop with is no walk in the park.
In 2014, Darling launched Free Form Factory, making after-market decks and hulls out of durable polymer material. Two years later, the company relocated from Rochester, New York to Rancho Cordova. Free Form Factory has unveiled a stand-up watercraft prototype that is 100-percent recyclable and electric-powered.
If you’re texting and driving, Sarah Morell might be recording you. She’s usually riding shotgun, as her husband drives, with her camera phone, ready to catch traffic safety violators on video. Her 6-year-old daughter’s in on the action too.
The push to integrate VR into the media has surged in recent years. The Guardian last summer unveiled its first VR project, 6×9, putting viewers into a solitary confinement prison cell. Last fall, The New York Times introduced The Daily 360. These immersive videos, made with Samsung technology, give readers rare glimpses into scenes worldwide.
From police shootings to incidents like the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, gun violence has been dominating news cycles in recent years. Additional virtual training could help civilians know how to respond in a hostile encounter.