Earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Facial Recognition, Gun Violence: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

February 17, 2023

This week, we discuss insights from RAND researchers on the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria; law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software; what the federal government could do to improve data collection on gun deaths and injuries; how to better support women in the military who’ve experienced sexual trauma; educator turnover since COVID-19 hit; and why a recent California law failed to boost housing production.

People work at the site of a collapsed building, in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Turkey, February 14, 2023, photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Earthquake in Turkey, Syria: Insights from RAND Researchers

The devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria earlier this month was one of the strongest to hit the region in the past century. More than 36,000 people have been confirmed dead.

As rescue efforts continue and the long recovery process begins, many questions remain. What might it take to overcome the challenges of providing aid to war-torn Syria? How can the international community meet the needs of refugees and other vulnerable populations? What will the long-term reconstruction effort look like?

RAND researchers with expertise in disaster recovery, emergency management, economics, and health care recently provided insights into these questions and more on The RAND Blog.

Facial recognition software used at an airport, photo by izusek/Getty Images

Photo by izusek/Getty Images

Assessing the Use of Facial Recognition Technology in Policing

Facial recognition technology is increasingly used by law enforcement. This tool may be groundbreaking, but it poses serious risks. For example, misuse of facial recognition or system failures could lead to convictions of innocent people. A new RAND report looks at how facial recognition is being used in policing, examines the accuracy of the technology across different applications, and provides a road map to help policymakers navigate potential risks.

Photos of mass shooting victims at a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, January 31, 2023, photo by Image of Sport/Sipa USA vie Reuters

Photos of mass shooting victims at a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, January 31, 2023

Photo by Image of Sport/Sipa USA/Reuters

Reducing Gun Violence Requires a Better Means of Measuring It

By the end of January, there had already been more than 4,200 firearm deaths in the United States. Despite the high rates of gun violence, data collection on gun deaths and injuries is severely lacking. According to RAND experts, shying away from measuring the problem may be making it more difficult to fix. Fortunately, there are opportunities for the federal government to improve data collection efforts. It could begin by removing the barriers that prevent researchers from using data that are already available.

White female patient in a green shirt talks to white female therapist, photo by master1305/Getty Images

Photo by master1305/Getty Images

Preventing Military Sexual Assault Is Important. So Is Getting Care Afterward

Recent estimates show that six percent of women in the military were sexually assaulted in the last year. Another 24 percent experienced sexual harassment. The resulting trauma from sexual violence can be lasting, and according to RAND's Julia Rollison, much more could be done to help victims receive the mental health care they need. Both military and veteran services could take steps to reduce stigma, improve access to care, and provide safe and supportive environments for treatment.

A Black female teacher works on her laptop in the classroom, photo by skynesher/Getty Images

Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

Increased Teacher Turnover and the Efforts to Address It

Teacher turnover rates have increased significantly since before the pandemic, reaching 10 percent nationally at the end of the 2021–2022 school year. Principal turnover has increased, too—up to 16 percent going into the 2022–2023 school year. That's according to a new RAND survey. Notably, the results also show that states and school districts are responding to staff shortages: Ninety percent of districts reported policy changes to help boost teacher ranks, such as increased pay or benefits.

, photo by Anthony Plascencia/The Star/USAToday Network via Reuterss

An accessory dwelling unit behind a home in Santa Paula, California, February 9, 2023

Photo by Anthony Plascencia/The Star/USAToday Network/Reuters

California Housing Crisis: Why a Recent Law Fell Short

In late 2021, the California Legislature passed a new housing production bill, Senate Bill 9. It allows homeowners to more easily convert a single-family home into a duplex or to split a single-family lot into two parcels—with the potential to build on each. This new law provided a glimmer of hope in a state that desperately needs housing. But according to RAND's Jason Ward, its effects seem to be trivial. That's because it is builders, not homeowners, who are in the business of producing housing, he says.

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