Monday, July 21, 2014

Managing the Selfie Generation

See the examples of where not to.

Hazard Owl - Arup Risk Information Action System

I would like to see more on the Arup System - - seems to get at the requirement of the Smart City + The Resilient City.  This is a huge plus if we can actually get to a real-time natural hazard information.  From the their website:
"Each year natural disasters cause significant damage to businesses and communities globally. A key component when designing for resilience is understanding the risks natural hazards pose and having the ability to react rapidly before a hazard occurs. Current alert systems provide hazard information, but they do not assess the vulnerability or consequence a hazard presents to the assets of concern.
Arup has developed a system that assesses real-time natural hazard information and the risks they pose to a portfolio of assets. When a pre-defined risk measure is exceeded Hazard Owl sends an alert to a client’s risk management team to initiate a response. From early warnings through to post-hazard assessment and works, Arup’s Hazard Owl helps ensure business continuity by significantly improving the resilience of your assets."

Water System Strategic Advisor

ASCE Career Connections - - interesting position for the Seattle Public Utilities.

Drone Law

A good site for the latest news on drone regulations.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Engineering and the Economics of War

Cost comparison between the Israeli drone dome defense system and a Hamas rocket.

Amerika, du hast es besser

We have a bunch of children on our border that understand Goethe's famous poem - "America, you've got it better."  The line comes from Den Vereinigten Staten ("To the United States").  Just as German Jews in the middle decades of the nineteenth century turned their backs on their home country and looked to America - - a country founded upon the proposition that equality of all men and the inalienability of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were self-evident truths - - to find the freedom and equality that they had failed to achieve in Germany.

America has been the refuge from discrimination and prejudice since our founding, but also the national embodiment of Enlightenment ideals.  When Goethe wrote his poem in 1827, he was reflecting upon the advantages that youthful America had over Europe in having no tradition, no "decaying castles," - - a country waiting to have its history written upon it.

Those individuals protesting on the bridges over Dallas and Fort Worth are the embodiment of a old class of people hoping to protect "decaying castles" - - they could care less about our collective history of encouraging migration to the United States and publicizing the financial, social, and political advantages of the "New World."  They have no interest in providing hope and support to those prepared to make what has been an alarming and exciting fresh start.

We are losing the image of America as "the common man's utopia" to the rest of the world.  We will all be poorer for it.

North Texas - Engineering The Toll Road Capital

From the Dave Lieber column in the Dallas Morning News - Area's roads toll for thee.  From the article in the paper today:

"The emergence of North Texas as Toll Road Capital, USA represents failure of government of the worst kind.  We have to pay for what we could do for free."

They say they don't raise our taxes.  But fees that can cost hundreds of family dollars a month to get to an from are money out our our pocket.  Call it by any name you want."

I disagree.  Government gets blamed way too much for things that are just flowing down from citizens and voters.  We have changed as a society.  The actions of the collective have taken a backseat to the individual. Taxes versus tolls is just the tip of the iceberg.  Our declining infrastructure and failing public education is symbolic of our failing culture and society - - we see everything through a fiscal lens and ignore the more important societal shifts.  We no longer think in terms of the collective.  From health care to highways we have become a nation with a very dangerous view of the world - - me first.  What do I get out of it?  How can I maximize my collective benefit with minimal input?  We hate the idea of helping the needy in terms of health care and love the idea of paying a toll so we can get to work faster than our neighbors.  We love our private schools and do nothing to help support and change our public systems.  We love the military and our wars - - as long as my kid isn't involved and has no risk of coming home in a body bag.

Tolling is the most visible example of we get the kind of government we want and deserve.  It all is coming down to me and not us.  Pooling resources for our collective benefit is becoming a distant memory.