ONE GIANT LEAP FOR PIZZA

In a stunt that could mark the end of scooter-driven fast food, a New Zealand Domino’s sent its first ever unmanned aircraft to successfully carry out a pizza order. Video footage shows the drone swooping down from the sky to hover over a house north of Auckland, then winching the order down. Domino’s is testing the delivery method in partnership with a drone company called Flirtey. READ MORE

CAN BIG DATA HELP WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASE SURVEILLANCE?

An article in a publication focusing on pathogens and preparedness says that traditional infectious disease surveillance, which is typically based on laboratory tests and other data collected by public health institutions, could be replaced by hybrid tools that combine traditional surveillance with big data streams from internet queries. Global Biodefense says that traditional surveillance is the gold standard but can have time lags, is expensive to produce, and typically lacks the local resolution needed for accurate monitoring. Further, it can be cost-prohibitive in low-income countries. By contrast, big data streams from internet queries, for example, are available in real time and can track disease activity locally, but have their own biases. Hybrid tools may provide a way forward, the article suggests, serving to complement, rather than replace, existing methods. READ MORE

APPS BLAMED FOR BIGGEST SPIKE IN TRAFFIC DEATHS IN 50 YEARS

After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years, the New York Times reports. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most new vehicles sold today have software that connects to a smartphone and allows drivers to place phone calls, dictate texts and use apps hands-free. But freeing the drivers’ hands does not necessarily clear their heads, critics say. READ MORE

NEW ZEALAND’S FOOD CODE REVISIONS COULD BE STALLED BY QUAKE

Food Safety News notes that it is not known if the deadly 7.5 magnitude earthquake that stuck New Zealand earlier this week will slow work on minor changes to the country’s Food Standards Agency. On Friday before the big quake, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) asked for the public’s help on the changes with Dec. 16 as the deadline for submissions. Monday’s earthquake produced waves more than 8 feet higher than usual tide levels and numerous aftershocks. READ MORE