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"Tech Behind Bars" is a deeply reported, multi-media three-part examination of the growing intersection of the corrections system and the technology industry. Part 1, "Inside the prison system’s illicit digital world," explores the growing problem of smartphone smuggling inside federal and state prisons, and reveals dozens of social media profiles of inmates currently serving time in several states, many of whom were using the internet illicitly from their cells. Part 2, "After years behind bars, can prisoners re-enter a digital society?", explores what happens to inmates after they're released from length prison stays, and are forced into a world and a job market that expects them to have familiarity with the tools of the digital age, and profiles Code 7370, a program at San Quentin State Prison that is equipping inmates with computer skills in preparation for their re-entry. Part 3, "Can technology and prisons get along?", is an examination of the growing number of attempts to integrate modern technology into correctional facilities, through the lens of the Napa County Jail, which is giving tablets to its inmates in attempt to keep them up to speed with the digital revolution.
What's unique about the 911 emergency system in Rhode Island is that it allows operators to trace a persons location using a GPS system. As this story explains, this system can be useful only if the cell phones have a GPS chip in it, which is present only in newer models.
The Industry Standard reports that the demand for an ore called columbite-tantalite -- or coltan -- is helping to fuel the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When refined, coltan becomes tantalum, a highly heat-resistant metal powder that is a key component in everything from mobile phones to computer chips and VCR's. As the demand for these products has increased, "a new, more sinister market began flourishing in the ...Congo. There, warring groups - many funded and supplied by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda - are exploiting coltan mining to help finance a bloody civil war now in its third year." Although selling coltan is not illegal, a United Nations report in April suggested that thousands of tons of coltan had been smuggled from the Congo into Rwanda and Uganda, and may have eventually made it to the U.S. companies that use the material. For their part, these companies have no way of knowing whether the tantalum they use is helping to finance the civil war. Another side effect of the coltan trade: mining activity is especially big in the mountainous northeastern region of the Congo, where endangered gorillas live.
The Dallas Observer investigates the number of phone calls made by the mayor, city council and top city managers using city owned mobile phones. The investigation reveals that the city pays a flat rate on all local calls, which allows many city officials to spend a significant amount of time on the phone. (April 6, 1995)