Tag Archive | "Transportation"

Durable Goods Down 7.6%, Signaling Economic Soft Spot

Business orders for aircraft, machinery and equipment fell 7.9% in July, adding up to just  $226.6 billion. This was largely driven by a 52.3% drop in orders for commercial aircraft.  However, even when this was stripped out, orders for non-transportation durable goods were down .6%.  Nondefense capital goods orders, for just machinery and equipment, also fell 3.3%.These disappointing numbers means that the economy may have hit a soft spot, and signals that businesses are hesitant about purchasing expensive equipment.

However, this downturn follows three months of strong growth:  3.9% in June,   5.5% in May, and 3.6% in April’s 3.6%.

Shipments of previously ordered durable goods were down .3%. July is the first month in the third quarter, so this is not good news for the future Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. Shipments are an important component of the nation’s economic growth. (Source: Census Bureau, Advance Report on Durable Goods, August 26, 2013)

How This Affects You

The only goods news is that July’s downturn followed three months of strong growth. Therefore, it could just be a temporary soft spot, and August orders could return to the long-term trend. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep an eye on it, and to remain cautious. The durable goods report is the most important leading economic indicator for future GDP growth.

Related Articles

  • Durable Goods as a Component of GDP
  • Other Leading Economic Indicators
  • Types of Manufacturing Jobs


Source: About.com

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Government Thought Leadership with Bill Schrier

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File

While attending the 79th Annual APCO Expo and Conference in Annaheim, California, I had the opportunity to sit down with industry thought leader, Bill Schrier, (@BillSchrier)who is now with the Office of the CIO for the State of Washington. Washington has been a progressive state with technology, and Bill drove much of that Thought Leadership during his tenure there.

FLETCH: Hey, it’s Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network and we’re here at APCO in Anaheim, California. We’re sitting down with someone that I follow quite a bit on Twitter and the ‘websphere’ and that’s Bill Schrier who is now with the Office of the CIO with the State of Washington.
Welcome to the podcast, Bill.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. Glad to be here.

FLETCH: It’s absolutely an honor for me to finally sit down with you after all these years. We talk from time-to-time but this is a great opportunity to get some really interesting stuff out there. Next Gen 9-1-1 is happening. The conference at APCO is all about Next Gen 9-1-1 and you and I were just talking about Next Generation 3-1-1 and how those applications might actually be paving the road for what we’re going to be doing in public safety.

BILL: Absolutely right. There’s a ton of exciting stuff that’s going on with 3-1-1 around the country. Of course, 3-1-1 is not universal. There are only larger cities and counties I think have it but nevertheless, 3-1-1 is kind of paving the way for Next Generation 9-1-1 and it’s use of applications, video and images.

FLETCH: And we’ve talked about Boston for example. They’re using an app to report potholes, right? So that’s taking data from the cellphone, that’s additional data, something that we’re talking about and it’s putting that information into the 3-1-1 center.

BILL: That’s right. I forgot the name of the Boston app actually that actually uses the accelerometer in the iPhone so it knows if you’re going over a pothole and then tries to report it. Boston’s also got something called Citizen Connect and the Citizen Connect interface is directly with their 3-1-1 System. Citizen Connect is where you can, as a citizen in Boston, I take a photograph for example of a missed garbage pickup or downed stop sign or a dead animal on the street or a street light out, send the photograph into a report and it goes right into Boston’s Constituent Relationship Management System and then can be dispatched to city workers. So Citizen Connect is kind of a cool app as well.


FLETCH: So you could also start tracking metrics, which I think is really important. If you’re going to have an app, you’ve got to track the metrics.

BILL: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I think we need to get to with things like Citizen Connect with 3-1-1. It’s just like tracking a package for FedEx or UPS where you actually know the date timestamp of when the call came in, when it was triaged, when it was dispatched to a crew, when the crew got there, when the thing was fixed and then you’ve even sent an email or somehow otherwise contact the citizen and say, “Is it really fixed and was it fixed to your satisfaction?”

FLETCH: You were the CTO for the City of Seattle. What do you think was your biggest accomplishment there?

BILL: Well I think one of the biggest accomplishments was open data. We actually have that at Seattle now and Seattle was one of the first cities who actually do this, something called Data.Seattle.Gov and we’ve put out a whole bunch of data sets. We’ve exposed government data, data that the governments are collecting about building permits or crimes or 9-1-1 calls or whole hosts of other things on Data.Seattle.Gov for anyone to see.

FLETCH: That’s what Next Generation is really becoming all about, the big data. We’re looking at lots and lots of big data. One thing that came out just recently right here at Southern California was the big data that they looked at around 9-1-1 calls and the accuracy of the location on that. Did you happen to see that report?

BILL: No. I didn’t actually.

FLETCH: The CalNENA Chapter actually used Public Safety Networks, and what they did was they collected all of the call data from Cellular 9-1-1 calls and whether they received Phase I or Phase II data at the end of the call. And what they showed over the last 2 years a decrease in location accuracy mainly because of the saturation of cellphones and people making calls inside the buildings. The report didn’t cover that, that’s my assumption based on the data. But this is a perfect example where we’ve got to start looking at this big data. It’s more than just, “9-1-1 What is your emergency?”

BILL: Yeah. Absolutely right. Especially when you consider the fact that not only is your iPhone or Smartphone potentially a huge data collector for a number of different data points. But vehicles are getting automated as well. Vehicles already collect a lot of data although it isn’t necessarily stored but what’s going on in the vehicle. But the National Transportation Safety Board just a couple of weeks ago started to publicly push car manufacturers to collect a lot more data and actually create connected vehicle networks where vehicles might talk to each others as they’re driving down the street to help improve traffic safety.

FLETCH: What you have right now is the information the telematics that OnStar can to collect from your vehicle when you overturn in the median. The DeltaV, what occupants were sitting etc., I heard they [the DOT] could predict, based on some studies, with 80% accuracy what the injuries are. Imagine getting that data right through the ESI Network, the Next Gen 9-1-1 Network to the Healthcare System; Fire up the helicopter, and get Dr. Bob off the golf course. That’s one of the use cases that I talk about for Next Gen 9-1-1. Again, all focused on big data.

BILL: Exactly. As a matter of fact, Kevin McGinnis as you might know is on the First Responder Network Authority, a FirstNet Board Member, will describe that in detail when he’s talking. How that could vastly improve EMS especially in rural areas where it might take 20 minutes for the accident to actually be discovered and then 20 minutes or 30 minutes for the ambulance or the medic unit to actually get there.

FLETCH: Yeah. You know rural America really is a problematic area for public safety for those exact reasons. They don’t have the population therefore they don’t have the technology and that just puts people at risks. So now, if you live in a big city here in a high rise, your cellphone doesn’t work for 9-1-1 yet, everybody is dropping their wired landline. So you can see where this is beginning to be a really big problem and we need a little more guidance on it.
What are you doing for the State of Washington now? You are with the Office of the CIO?

BILL: Well, I’m the FirstNet point of contact which means that I will actually work with police and fire chiefs and mayors and utility directors not just in State Agencies but across the state to help prepare for FirstNet construction in the state. Another significant job I’ve got is with Data.WA.Gov, the open data set for Washington State which has got 500 or 600 data sets and I’m trying to evangelize putting more government data out or open that data up. And that actually could be just a grasp for the application developers to develop apps to actually better show citizens what’s happening with their state government.

FLETCH: And there’s a lot going on with data here at APCO too you mentioned?

BILL: Yes. As a matter of fact, tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and this isn’t a common knowledge yet but will be by the time the Podcast is broadcast, APCO is going to host the Data Jam. So APCO has actually invited developers and they’ve actually worked with Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy on this. They are inviting developers from around the region here in Southern California to come to a Data Jam and actually look at some of these open data sets from across the country and see what sort of applications they might be able to design or develop. They would better expose public safety information either the responders or the citizens.

FLETCH: Really cool stuff. You know, we’re kind of really lucky. You and I got to watch the Telecommunications Industry grow and explode, we’ve got to watch the internet grow and explode and now we’re watching Next Generation Emergency Services grow and explode. It’s really some exciting times and I’m glad to know you Bill, and I really appreciate you sitting down with me. You always have a great view of the world as its going and I find you very, very interesting.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. It’s very enjoyable to be with you today.

Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted ;-)
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911


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Five for Friday: Other Forms of Travel That Won’t Happen Before Hyperloop

This week* Hyperloop came and went, leaving a trail of speculation in its wake. If you weren’t on the Internet this week and have no clue as to what I’m talking about, Elon Musk – the current real life Tony Stark, of Space-X and Tesla fame – demonstrated his idea for high-speed travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The idea itself is something out of 1950s futurism: Tubes parallel to the interstate freeway, shooting people in pods 800 mph between the two cities.

If Hyperloop can get up and running, it would no doubt change collaboration between the Bay Area and LA. The commute would be a mere 30 minutes, and solar power would keep costs and ticket prices down. This would allow riders to attend separate meetings in San Francisco and Los Angeles as easily – and maybe more easily – than getting from one meeting in Palo Alto and another in San Francisco.

There are other methods of transportation that are also in the works that will bring us even closer together to other cities, and even the stars. However, all of these are a ways off. In the meantime we still have have stuffy planes and miles of asphalt, which is why unified communications and BYOD are still important. We can still take a look at some of the most futuristic transport ideas out there and see how close they are to reality.

1. Teleportation

THE DREAM: How awesome would this be? No long lines at the airport, no all-day international flights, no screaming toddlers on the red-eye. Just one place to the next with all of the ease of putting on a pair of pants.

THE REALITY: China has successfully teleported a photon. Not a hamster, a photon. Also this is called quantum teleportation, and isn’t geared towards sending you from work to vacation. Also, you’ll probably die. On the off chance you don’t, there’s what I will call “The Fly” problem (from the movie). You see, you are not really just you. Inside of you there’s over a trillion organisms. So the transporter would have to copy and reassemble your gut bacteria too, somehow without mixing you and them up. Which means you should probably keep driving your car into work.

2. Warp Drive

THE DREAM: If you love space operas, you’ve probably seen this scene: The captain stands at the helm authoritatively, orders the pilot, and then suddenly there’s a cool CG shot where the stars are all blurry. It was probably called jumping, warp, hyperspace, hyperspeed, FTL, or something similar. However they’re all the same, the ability to travel faster than the speed of light. The meeting on the Mars colony? Who needs a video conference, you’re going to be there in a few minutes.

THE REALITY: We think this is possible, and NASA is testing it out. You wouldn’t be traveling through space, space itself would be moving, contracting behind your ship and expanding in front, as you rest within a “warp bubble.” While scientists are in the testing and building phases, don’t expect a trip to the Alpha Centauri Marketing Conference anytime soon. NASA has yet to prove that warp bubbles can be created – much less exist. Their technology is so delicate that even the slightest seismic motion can skew the data.

3. Hoverboards and Anti-Gravity Transportation

THE DREAM: Okay, so this is more like a hobby form of transportation, but I would consider trading in my car for a hoverboard if someone told me I could. How cool would it be to cruise on into work on your hoverboard? Or you head in on your speeder bike? You would no longer be a slave to gravity!  

THE REALITY: We want hoverboards, badly. But true anti-gravity technology (not powerful fans) may not be real. Scientists think it may be related to anti-matter and are testing for it, but the results so far are inconclusive. We do however have other possible options that will produce a similar effect, just not that true anti-gravity tech we grew up watching.

image courtesy of gizmodo.au

4. The Space Elevator

THE DREAM: Say Google’s new headquarters were located on the Google HQ Space Station. While you couldn’t hop on a Google bike and ride on up there, you could take the Google Space Elevator. Just strap in and check in with your boss via your Avaya One-X Mobile app as the elevator shoots up into space on a series of cables. It docks, and you float in to catch your Q3 meeting and some free space food packets.

REALITY: We want this to happen, but as of right now we don’t have strong enough materials to make the components needed. And that’s just one of the many complications.

5. Self-Driving Car

THE DREAM: Driving yourself is a thing of the past, because your sedan has a silly- looking spinning camera on top that helps drive you around. Just sit back and get work done or play Candy Crush while getting chauffeured around.

THE REALITY: This is the one piece of tech on this list that’s actually close to being cracked, and we’re getting excited. Google’s smart cars can be seen zipping around the Bay Area, whether they’re out on the highway or stopping off to let their riders buy some comics. The cars so far have been largely successful, including mostly accident-free, for the past few years, but they still need supervision and are not considered “fully autonomous”. While some smart cars may be rolling out within the next few years, a completely self-driven car is still several years away. Also, you’re going to have to get used to not freaking out you aren’t controlling your own car. Still though, you could very well have a fully decked out Avaya virtual office in your self-driving car in several years. Giving you the full power of collaboration on the highway.

*This article has time traveled from the past! Or it’s been re-posted at a later date. Whatever.

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Healthcare Costs Down — Thanks to Obamacare?

Here’s something you probably thought you’d never see. The costs for medical care commodities, like medications, medical equipment and supplies, are .1% lower than last year. Medical care services rose 2.6%, but that’s better than the annual 3.6% rise we’ve seen consistently during the past few years.

The main reason for Obamacare was to lower health care costs, and therefore government spending on Medicare. Could it be working? Thanks to regulations that have already been enacted, fewer Medicare patients are being re-admitted within 30 days, as hospitals seek to avoid penalties. Other hopsitals are avoiding unnecessary test and procedures because they now share in the savings. Third, hospital Medicare payments are being reduced if there’s poor performance. In DC, Kaiser Permanente has already announced it’s dropping its premiums 19.4%. (Source: USA Today, Administration Lowered Premiums, July 29, 2013; Washington Post, Health Care Law Lowers Costs for Small Businesses, July 26, 2013)

There’s other trends buried in the  Consumer Price Index report. Overall, prices are 2% higher than last year, and .2% higher than last month. Most of that is due to higher gas prices, which I warned you about last month. Prices at the pump are a chilling 5.2% higher than last July, and a solid 1% higher than in June. That’s a result of higher oil prices in June winding through the distribution system.

Food prices are starting to inch up, thanks to high oil and gas prices that drive up transportation costs. Prices at the grocery store are 1% higher than last year, while restaurant prices are up 2.1%.

So, isn’t this dangerously close to the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2%? Doesn’t this mean the Fed will begin tapering soon? No, because the Fed looks at the core inflation rate, which strips out these volatile food and energy prices. Since last year, the prices on everything else only rose 1.7%. As result, now investors are worried about deflation, rather than inflation. That’s because a little bit of inflation is a good thing. When people expect prices to rise in the future, they are more likely to buy now to avoid the cost increase. A moderate 2% rate of inflation is just enough to spur demand, and promote health economic growth.

Will high gas prices cause ? No, because the official measure of inflation only looks at year-over-year price increases. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve really only watches the rate, which leaves out both energy and food prices. The core rate was 1.6%, lower than the Fed’s 2% target. As far as the nation’s central bank is concerned, deflation is a greater threat than inflation. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, August 15, 2013)

How It Affects You

The low threat of inflation, and the possible emergence of deflation, means the Fed will probably not begin tapering until December or later. In other words, it will continue to boost economic growth with Quantitative Easing. Nevertheless, bond buyers are anticipating the Fed’s moves, and have already sent interest rates on the 10-year Treasury to 2.7%.

As for lower health care costs, the best way to take advantage of them is to compare insurance plans on the health care exchanges. They don’t officially open until October 1 (just six weeks away) but you can start to familiarize yourself now.

Inflation Related Articles

  • Current Inflation Rate
  • U.S. Inflation Rates Since the Great Depression
  • Causes of Inflation


Source: About.com

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Hub Travel

When you visit a region, switching hotels sometimes can add expense to your travel.

It’s important to consider the advantages of hub travel. Find a good hotel that is located either in the middle of a region or adjacent to a major transportation hub.

From that hub hotel, you make day trips to various places. You’ll unpack only once. Most importantly, you’ll have some leverage to negotiate better room rates. After all, you’ll be filling a room for perhaps 5-7 nights. Those are days the hotel won’t worry about occupancy, and they should reward you accordingly.

Find out if the hotel has the amenities you want and convenient, efficient connections to trains, buses and other forms of transportation. Extended stay hotels often work quite well as hubs, because they’re set up for customers who will spend weeks rather than days. But the goal is to find a place you’ll be happy to treat as a home-away-from-home for each day of your trip.

As an example, consider a sample itinerary for hub travel in Bavaria. Apply the principle to any area where there are attractions scattered across a wide area.

Source: About.com

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TSA Promises to Punish Its Own

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where cases of employee misconduct have jumped 26% in the last two years, but serious offenders are rarely fired, has promised Congress it would be more consistent in handing out punishment.

In a recent review of 9,600 cases of misconduct by TSA employees from 2010 to 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that while incidents of misconduct had increased by 26% over the period, only 17% of all cases resulted in firings.

In some cases, the GAO identified serious acts of misconduct that could jeopardize security and passenger safety, yet resulted only in letters of reprimand or short work suspensions.

In reaction to the GAO’s report, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on July 31 to probe the issue of “TSA Integrity Challenges.”

In his opening statement, committee chairman Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) summed up the problem noting that since the September 11, 2001 attacks, “the American public looks to the TSA to keep them safe when flying.” However, he continued, “with countless TSA misconduct cases spread throughout the country, confidence in airport security is quickly waning.”

“The TSA lists ‘Integrity’ as one of its core values, but unfortunately, integrity has been lost in many cases,” stated Rep. Duncan, after tolling off list of recent TSA transgressions including stealing valuables from passengers’ luggage, allowing dangerous and prohibited items through security checkpoints, and grossly mistreating young, elderly, and disabled passengers who clearly posed no threat to security.

“In February of this year, TSA improperly detained a 3-year-old disabled, wheelchair-bound child suffering from spina bifida on her way to Disney World with her family,” Duncan noted.

Also See: GAO Pans TSA Behavioral Screening Program

Stepping up to testify for the TSA was its deputy administrator John Halinski, standing in for the recently retired Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Without committing to doing anything to identify and correct the root causes of the rapid increase in employee misconduct, TSA’s deputy administrator John Halinski told the committee, “If we can prove that an individual is intentionally subjugating the security system and we can prove it immediately, they’re out the door.”

And what if they can’t prove it right away? “What happens if we can’t immediately prove it is, we give them the due diligence any American is able to get through a process, we run an investigation,” Halinski testified.

Also See: GAO Sneaks Explosives Past TSA Airport Security

Halinski told lawmakers that the TSA followed a three-tiered process for dealing with employee misconduct beginning with letters of reprimand, followed by temporary suspensions and termination.

The GAO had reported that of the 9,622 cases of misconduct it investigated, only 1,636 or 17%, resulted in the employee being fired. Reprimand letters were issued in 47% of the cases, while 31% resulted in temporary suspensions.

But Halinski defended TSA’s punishment process, noting that, “Of the total cases reviewed by GAO, 3,117 involved attendance and leave, which are issues that challenge all employers in both the public and private sectors.”

“The most serious categories including neglect of duty, integrity and ethics, and falsification represented 11% or 1,122 cases,” he added. “TSA investigates all allegations of misconduct and takes appropriate action, which can include referral to law enforcement and termination of employment.”

According to Halinski, the TSA screens an average of 1.8 million passengers at 450 airports daily, and checks more than 14 million passengers and 13 million transportation workers against terrorist watch lists each week.

Also See:
GAO Finds Low Morale in Homeland Security
Congress Probes Misconduct by TSA Screeners

Source: About.com

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Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach

Westin Hotels: Affordable Flair

Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach

The Westin hotel brand is a favorite go-to for luxury travelers seeking budget-conscious accommodations with solid four-star flair.

After all, Westin is part of the Starwood company, which also operates W and Waldorf Astoria hotels.

Here at Luxury Travel, we’ve recently discovered two very nice Westin hotels with affordable rates. One perches on a coveted American beach, the other dead-center in the nation’s most storied metropolis.

Westin Fort Lauderdale hotel lobby

The Westin Beach Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale’s very name says a lot. This family-friendly relaxation station beckons sun-worshipers to one of the USA’s cleanest beaches. And the hotel’s dining is tops, with a Shula’s steakhouse and Amatsu for sushi. Check in virtually to The Westin Beach Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale >>

Westin Grand Central NYC Hotel 42nd St.

The Westin New York Grand Central dazzles with a brilliant Manhattan location across 42nd St. from the Grand Central transportation hub. Many rooms offer King Kong-worthy NYC skyline views. And THE LCL, the hotel’s lobby bar and restaurant, is pure Big Apple polish. Step right up to The Westin New York Grand Central >>

Empire Suite Westin Grand Central Hotel

Pix from top: ©The Westin Beach Resort & Spa Fort Lauderdale, beach and lobby; ©The Westin New York Grand Central, entrance and Empire Suite.

Source: About.com

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The Tuscany NYC Hotel

Business travelers looking for a cozy home in New York City may want to consider The Tuscany hotel. The Tuscany in New York City (a St Giles Luxury Hotel) has a Midtown East location (39th Street, between Park and Lexington) that makes it convenient to many of the city’s key business areas, as well as transportation. Read the full review of The Tuscany Hotel for all the details.

Source: About.com

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Business Investment Up 4.2% in June

Companies ordered $244.5 billion in durable goods, during June. This 4.2% increase in orders means economic growth will remain strong. That’s because businesses are confident enough in the future to purchase the machinery and equipment needed to boost supply.

This confidence builds on the 5.2% rise in May, and April’s 3.6% increase. As usual, transportation orders (mostly commercial aircraft) rose 12.8% alone, $87.1 billion.

Shipments of previously ordered durable goods were flat. That means second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will probably be disappointing, as shipments are included in the quarterly GDP report due Wednesday. (Source: Census Bureau, Advance Report on Durable Goods, July 25, 2013)

How This Affects You

Durable goods orders show what’s happening in the real economy, as opposed to the stock market. As business increase their orders for capital equipment, they will surely need people to run the machinery and equipment, and maintain the trucks and aircraft. These orders can take nine months or a year to fill, so these added jobs might not show up for a year or more. However, it does mean that companies believe the future is bright enough to make these expensive investments.

Related Articles

  • Durable Goods as a Component of GDP
  • Other Leading Economic Indicators
  • Types of Manufacturing Jobs


Source: About.com

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ontario camping

Learn to Camp in Ontario

ontario camping

Ontario Parks hosts some of the best learn-to-camp sessions in North America. The line-up of Summer 2013 events has been scheduled and spots are filling up fast. Check with the calendar of events and plan your Ontario camping getaway.

If you’ve already participated in a learn-to-camp lesson and want to refresh your skills, a new graduate program will be offered this summer. New Learn to Fish sessions are also planned at four Ontario Parks and Parkbus will offer public transportation from the Greater Toronto Area to a new Learn to Camp in Northern Ontario. Other new park activities to try in 2013 range from taking a kayak lesson to learning how to build a dry stone wall. Visit Ontario Parks for mare details.

More: Best Canadian National Parks for Camping | Top 5 Provincial Parks in Canada

Source: About.com

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