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White Paper Series

White Paper Series

No. 16 "Holy Moly" - Municipal Organizations and the Cyber Ransomware Problem
Hector Ocampo and Chris Bronk
September 2021


Cyberattacks on municipal governments are rising, often bringing significant financial damage and disruption with them. Despite their frequency, municipal governments still struggle to levy defenses against them. Shortcomings in information technology management in municipalities manifest in poor cybersecurity. Of particular interest is the problem of cryptographic ransomware, in which cybercriminal syndicates levy significant ransoms, often paid in cryptocurrencies. This paper chronicles the rise of this form of cyberattack against local government, with particular attention to a case occurring in 2019 across the State of Texas. Observations from interviews undertaken for that case are employed as the basis for a set of recommendations on how local government may adapt to confront the ransomware issue.

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No. 15 Community-Wide Hazmat Risk Assessment
Maribel Burgos, Lauren Erickson, James Hannan, Will Janowski, Sara Moran, Amber Murray, Ja-Nessia Prince, and Samaree Warner
January 2020


The Houston Fire Department hazmat team partnered again to Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston (Hobby School) to continue an analysis of the department’s hazmat risk and response to events. The purpose of this study is to provide an assessment of hazmat risk which builds upon more than just the volume of past incidents to actually predict non-historical risk and determine potential areas of improvement for the Houston Fire Department. This hazmat risk assessment creates a model that evaluates probability, severity, and vulnerability of community risk, as well as the intersection of risk and response times.

The analysis shows that the Houston Hazmat Response Team at Station 22 in southeast Houston has not kept pace with the growth of the city itself in terms of resources and personnel. Despite having no increase in the number of employees at the station, Houston continues to grow as a city, as do the potential risks and responsibilities for the Houston Hazmat Response Team’s only unit. This report provides clear and convincing evidence of the importance of having an efficient and well-utilized hazmat team, and furthers the research of the 2016 Facet Report recommendations for the Houston Fire Department. By considering the locations of Tier II sites and their relationship with vulnerable community areas, as well as the intersection of response time and predicted community risk, this report has added further data for consideration in choosing a location for an additional Hazmat Response station and team.

Keywords: Houston Fire Department, hazmat team, hazmat risk, community risk

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No. 14 The Trade-Offs between At-Large and Single-Member Districts
Scott Hofer, Cong Huang, and Richard Murray
October 2018


This report provides a review of the existing literature about the trade-offs between at-large and single-member districts at the local offices in the United States. Overall, at-large districts were the most common form of representation in most local offices until the 1960s and the passage of Voting Rights Act in 1965. Since the 1960s single-member districts have been the method of choice for most local elections because they enable smaller, geographically situated communities to send their own representatives to larger legislative assemblies. The history behind these two electoral systems corresponds with their respective pros and cons. In general, at-large elections are found to improve diversity in gender representation on city councils with more female councilors being elected. On the other hand, single-member districts benefit the representation of some racial minority groups, including African Americans and Latinos. But the positive potential depends on context: (1) the concentration, (2) the size, and (3) the polarization of the vote. Specifically, the advantages of single-member districts are minimal in a largely homogenous community or in a community where underrepresented groups are not concentrated geographically. African Americans are found to be overrepresented on school boards with at-large elections when African Americans occupy a smaller part of the population.

Keywords: at-large districts, single-member districts, gender representation, racial representation.
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Nazrul Hoque and Savannah L. Sipole
December 2017


This report provides population estimates for the State of Texas and describes its patterns of population change for 2010-2016, as of July 1, 2016. It shows the estimated population for the Council of Government Regions (COG), metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), counties, and places. It also presents data on components of population change, such as, natural increase, international migration, and domestic migration. Texas’ population increased from 25,145,561 in 2010 to 27,862,596 in 2016. This is an increase of 2,717,035 persons or 10.8 percent between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2016. This growth leads the nation in numerical increase. All three components; natural increase, domestic and international migration played important roles for this growth.

Keywords: population estimate, natural increase, domestic migration, international migration.

Thomas Brown, Cynthia Crews, Alejandro Cruz, Charity Dominguez, Ebony Fleming, Benjamin Hanna, Taelor Hardesty, Carlos A. Villegas, and Rex Anne C. Waggoner
June 2017


This study attempts to provide a snapshot of the current state of social mobility in Texas by using geographical/spatial tools to describe the current state poverty, education, inequality, and income in terms of intergenerational mobility (IGM). By using data from the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), American Community Survey (ACS), and Texas Health Data (THD), this study aims to provide a better understanding of social mobility in Texas according to the life-cycle stages: family structure, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. In general, the study identifies that the Rio Grande region presents the highest number of negative indicators for IGM. Metropolitan regions, particularly the Capital Area COG, present the least negative indicators for IGM.

Nazrul Hoque
May 2017


This report examines the future demographic changes underway in the State of Texas using the latest population projections data available from the Hobby School of Public Affairs. Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the United States. The population of Texas will increase from 25.1 million in 2010 to 31.2, 40.5 or 54.4 million in 2050, depending on the projection scenario. A large portion of the increase is projected to be caused by migration (both in-migrants and immigrants). Texas population will become increasingly ethnically diverse. Under the 1.0 scenario, the Hispanic population is expected to surpass the Anglo population by 2017. The population will also become older than it is at present. Under 1.0 scenario, the proportion of population 65 years of age or older will increase from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 17.4 percent in 2050. As policy makers, businesses, and nonprofit organizations deliberate on the growth and prosperity of Texas in the future, they need to consider these demographic trends.

No. 10: University of Houston Students and the 2016 Election
The Graduate College of Social Work and the Hobby School of Public Affairs
April 2017


In November 2016, the Graduate College of Social Work and the Hobby School of Public Affairs interviewed a total of 895 students enrolled in the state-mandated U.S. Government course (POLS 1337) at the University of Houston, thus eliciting a sample demographically representative of the University’s undergraduate student body. The purpose of this study is to understand how the most diverse generation of Americans votes and engages in politics.

Gordon L. Dilmore, Jim Granato, Alan Witt, Elizabeth Anderson Fletcher, Tom C. Duncavage, Terry Mayes
December 2016


This study examines the threat and damage that coastal surge brings to Houston Metroplex and points out the importance of well-planned evacuation. In particular, the evacuation of several million people from a highly-populated area requires careful planning, coordination of resources, and precise direction from the leadership. Given widespread damages caused by severe weather over the past few decades to Houston Metroplex, the related authorities should work together to develop the orderly and coordinated evacuation plans so as to reduce loss of life and property.

Keywords: evacuation, coastal surge, flooding, disaster, Houston Metroplex.

Hobby School of Public Affairs
December 2016


The Texas Lottery Commission 2016 Demographic Study of Texas Lottery Players surveyed a total of 1,685 Texas residents aged 18 years and older between June and August, 2016. The survey respondents included both past-year players (who had played any Texas Lottery game in the past year) and non-players (who had not played any Texas Lottery game in the past year). The percentage of respondents playing any Texas Lottery game (the participation rate) for 2016 was 35.0 percent, which was 6.3 percentage points higher than the rate of 28.7 percent in 2015. The increase in the participation rate was statistically significant. In contrast to the overall downward trend in the Texas Lottery participation rates in the last two decades, there was a noticeable gain of 10 percentage points in the participation rates over the past two years. There were statistically significant differences between the samples of past-year players and non-players of Texas Lottery games in 2016 with regard to employment status, own or rent home, age, number of children under 18 living in household, gender, and Hispanic origin. Among past-year players, differences in the percent playing any game were statistically significant based on the players’ Hispanic origin, gender, age and employment status. Among the individual games/add-on features, Lotto Texas was the most popular game in terms of participation in 2016, with a high participation rate of 61.1 percent. The second- and third-most popular games in 2016 were Mega Millions (60.3 percent) and Powerball (56.5 percent), respectively. In comparison to 2015, a total of five games recorded a double-digit increase in their respective participation rate in 2016. They were Powerball (increase of 36.4 percentage points), Mega Millions (31.3 percentage points), Lotto Texas (29.9 percentage points), Pick 3 Day (19.9 percentage points) and Cash Five (15.8 percentage points). Texas Triple Chance, a new game introduced in 2015, had the highest frequency of purchase among those playing at least once a week (38.9 percent) among past-year players. Consistent with past years’ findings, most 2016 past-year players had participated in Texas lottery games for more than five years. The lottery sales districts with the highest and the lowest participation rates in any Texas Lottery games in 2016 were Houston East (45.9 percent) and Houston Northwest (27.0 percent). The lottery sales district with the largest participation rate increase for 2016 was Houston East (18.2 percentage points). In contrast, the San Antonio sales district experienced the greatest participation rate decline, 4.5 percentage points. The differences in participation rates between 2015 and 2016 were statistically significant for the lottery sales districts of Dallas South, Houston East, and Houston Southwest.

Keywords: Texas lottery, lottery players, lottery games, demographics, Texas.

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Governor Bill Hobby, Mark P. Jones, Jim Granato, Renée Cross
May 2016

Abstract: This study examines the impact of Texas’s current voter photo identification regulation in the November 2014 election using a case study of voter behavior, preferences and attitudes in U.S. Congressional District 23 (CD-23). CD-23 is widely considered to be the only one of the state’s 36 U.S. House districts where both the Democratic Party and Republican Party candidates have a realistic chance of victory in November. The 2014 election saw CD-23’s then freshman incumbent representative (Pete Gallego, D-Alpine) narrowly defeated by the district’s current representative (Will Hurd, R-San Antonio).

A survey of 400 CD-23 registered voters who did not vote in the November 2014 election indicates that for 5.8% of these Texans the principal reason given for why they did not vote was because they did not possess any of the seven forms of photo identification required by the state to cast a vote in person. More than twice that many (12.8%) agreed that their lack of any one of these seven photo IDs was a reason they did not vote.

However, when further queried about the different forms of photo identification in their possession, the survey revealed that a much lower proportion (2.7%) of CD-23 non-voters in fact lacked one of the seven needed to vote in person. In all, while 12.8% and 5.8% of these non-voters cited a lack of a photo ID as a reason or the principal reason they did not vote, only 1.0% and 0.5% of the respondents both respectively attributed their non-voting in part or primarily to a lack of photo ID and actually did not possess an approved form of photo ID.

This study suggests that the most significant impact of the Texas voter photo ID law on voter participation in CD-23 in November 2014 was to discourage turnout among registered voters who did indeed possess an approved form of photo ID, but through some combination of misunderstanding, doubt or lack of knowledge, believed that they did not possess the necessary photo identification.

The disjuncture between the proportion of voters who listed a lack of an ID as a reason or the principal reason they did not vote and the proportion of these individuals who actually did not have an ID highlights the potential for a future voter education campaign to clearly explain the types of photo identification required to cast a vote in person in Texas. This education campaign however needs to be designed based on a comprehensive study targeted at understanding the sources and causes of confusion which resulted in so many Texans believing they did not have a required form of photo ID when in reality they actually did.

This study also examines the potential impact of the Texas voter photo ID law on the outcome of the 2014 election in CD-23. It suggests that the presence of the law kept far more Gallego than Hurd supporters away from the polls last fall.

Keywords: Texas voter photo ID law, Latino non-voters, voter turnout, Texas Congressional District 23, 2014 election

No. 6: Demographic Survey of Texas Lottery Players 2015
Hobby Center for Public Policy
April 2016

Abstract: The Texas Lottery Commission 2015 Demographic Study of Texas Lottery Players surveyed a total of 1,979 Texas citizens aged 18 years and older between July and September of 2015. The survey respondents included both past-year players (who had played any Texas Lottery game in the past year) and non-players (who had not played any Texas Lottery game in the past year.) The percentage of respondents playing any Texas Lottery game (the participation rate) for 2015 was 28.7 percent, which was 3.7 percentage points higher than the 25.0 percent reported in 2014. The difference was statistically significant.2 There were statistically significant differences between the samples of past year players and non-players of Texas Lottery games in 2015 with regard to age, Hispanic origin and education. Among past-year players, differences in the percent playing any game were statistically significant based on the players’ education, Hispanic origin and age. Income, unemployment status, own or rent home, marital status, children under 18 living in household, number of children under 18 living in household, gender, race and occupation were not statistically significant. Texas Lottery scratch games surpassed Lotto Texas as the most popular product by participation percentage among all games/features in 2015, with a participation rate of 41.5 percent. A total of six games showed a double-digit decline in their respective participation rate from 2014 to 2015, with the greatest decreases found for Lotto Texas, Mega Millions, Cash Five and Powerball. It was possible that the filtering out of non-players for the individual game questions in the beginning of this year’s survey contributed – at least partly – to the large decreases in rates. The lottery sales districts with the highest and the lowest participation rates in any Texas Lottery games in 2015 were El Paso (47.1 percent) and Lubbock (24.7 percent). The lottery sales districts with the largest increases in participation rates for 2015 were Fort Worth and San Antonio: 21.0 percentage points and 20.8 percentage points, respectively. Dallas South sales district had the greatest decline in its participation rate from 2014 to 2015, falling by 10.3 percentage points.

Keywords: Texas lottery, lottery players, lottery games, demographics, Texas.

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No. 5: Factors Associated with Misconceptions about HIV Transmission among Ever-Married Women in Bangladesh
Nazrul Islam Mondal, Nazrul Hoque, Rocky Khan Chowdhury, Sabbir Hossain
April 2016

Abstract: In 2012, HIV/AIDS was the sixth leading cause of death world-wide, fifth in the middle income countries, and third in the low-income countries. In 2012, more than 1.5 million people died of HIV/AIDS (WHO, 2012). Approximately 34 million people are living with HIV. However, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic continues to be associated with misconceptions and misinformed opinions, which increase the risk of HIV transmission. Therefore, the present study aimed to identify the determinant factors among different socioeconomic and demographic factors affecting misconceptions about HIV transmission among ever-married women in Bangladesh. Data and necessary information of 9,272 ever-married women were extracted from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2011. Three types of misconceptions were considered. Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were used as the statistical tools to determine the factors affecting misconceptions about HIV transmission. The results revealed that misconceptions are more prevalent among women who are older, less educated, have husbands who are less educated, live in rural areas, have poor economic conditions, and have less access to mass media. The respondent's age, education, husband's education, place of residence, wealth index, and exposure to mass media are significantly associated with the misconceptions. Finally, logistic regression analysis identified age, education, place of residence, wealth index, and exposure to mass media as significant predictors. Because socioeconomic factors are the key determinants of misconceptions about HIV transmission, intervention programs should be aimed at HIV prevention via education and awareness programs to reduce misconceptions as important parts of the prevention strategy.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, misconception, Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS), transmission, sociodemographic.

Johanna Luttrell
March 2016

Abstract: Development literature on global gender empowerment devotes much attention to employment, a code word for the inclusion of women’s labor in the global market. Recent work in transnational feminisms shows that the emphasis on employment before assets, especially before housing, may not prevent exploitation of labor and perpetuity of poverty within the specific context of urban settings in the global south. This paper first highlights research that shows how women in this urban context are increasingly taking on too much responsibility, working in a confluence of survival-oriented activities that undermine their own well-being. I also highlight research that addresses how women in this context are able to get out of poverty: when they can labor in such a way that they are not merely working to survive, but also working for accumulation of their own material assets, foremost of which is basic housing. Finally, I consider these transnational feminist insights about the importance of housing for women in light of broader, philosophical concerns about property ownership, specifically Locke’s theory of property. I show how Locke could give a defense against forced evictions common in the urban slums, along with support for a normative connection between women’s labor and assets.

Keywords: gender empowerment, transnational feminisms, survival-oriented activities, Locke’s theory of property

Nazrul Islam Mondal, Nazrul Hoque, Rocky Khan Chowdhury, Jeffrey Howard
February 2016

Abstract: Every year almost two million people die worldwide due to Tuberculosis (TB) and most deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In 2010, Bangladesh ranked sixth among 22 high burden countries (HBCs) where, the incidence rate was 225 and mortality rate was 43 per 100,000 population for TB. However, Tuberculosis control program in Bangladesh is still unsatisfactory due to insufficient knowledge and stigma attached to TB. Patients with low knowledge may be at higher risk of experiencing delays in diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The aims of this study were to identify the knowledge levels of TB and investigate the factors associated with knowledge level among the TB patients in Bangladesh. A cross-sectional study was conducted at Rajshahi City, Bangladesh. A total of 384 TB patients were interviewed through a pretested, structured questionnaire using purposive sampling techniques. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the effects of selected socio-demographic factors on TB knowledge level. The results revealed that pulmonary TB patients had greater knowledge than that of extra-pulmonary patients, and that sex, age, educational status and TB type were significantly associated with knowledge level. In general, males and young adults, ages 21-35, had greater awareness about transmission and prevention of TB than females and adults over 35. Individuals with higher education and urban area patients were comparatively better informed about TB infection. Patients with greater knowledge about TB were also less likely to experience delays in seeking treatment.

Keywords: Tuberculosis, National TB program, Rajshahi City, Knowledge index, Logistic regression model.

Ismail Tareque, Nazrul Hoque, Towfiqua Mahfuza Islam, Kazuo Kawahara, Makiko Sugawa
January 2016

Abstract: Life expectancy has increased considerably throughout the world. In Bangladesh, life expectancy has increased from about 53 years in 1975 to 69 years in 2010. However, it is unknown whether the increase in life expectancy is simultaneously accompanied by an increase in disability-free life expectancy (DFLE). The purpose of the study described in this article was to explore the relationship between life expectancy and DFLE in the Rajshahi District of Bangladesh by examining the relationships between the Active Aging Index (AAI) and DFLE. The findings of the study suggest that urban, more educated, elderly males are more active in all aspects of life and have longer DFLE. Females are found to outlive males but are more likely to live a greater part of their remaining life in disability. Positive correlations between the AAI and DFLE suggest that older adults could enjoy more DFLE by involving themselves in active aging activities.

Keywords: aging, active aging index, disability-free life expectancy, Bangladesh.
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Elizabeth Anderson-Fletcher, Dusya Vera, JeAnna Abbott
December 2015

Abstract: This paper utilizes an organizational mindfulness perspective to analyze the series of events that led to the misdiagnosis of the first Ebola case in the U.S. in 2014 and to the transmission of the virus to two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. We use an interdisciplinary approach that bridges the supply chain and management fields, drawing from the literature in patient safety and medical errors, and organizational culture and mindfulness. Our approach is two-part: we provide descriptive (what happened) representations of mindlessness in the “Ebola crisis chain” and then, offer normative (what should have happened) recommendations for mindfulness in responses to health care emergencies. We conclude by discussing cultural aspects of mindfulness in hospitals with a description of how a mindful culture would look, and how it would benefit the health care supply chain.

Keywords: health care supply chain, medical errors and patient safety, hospital quality and performance, global public health, resilience, organizational culture, high-reliability organizations, mindfulness.