Thursday, October 30, 2014

Graph of the Week

(The Hamilton Project)

Does Engineering Services Have a Cost Disease?

This would be an interesting question for an economics/engineering management graduate student to look at.  From Wikipedia on the notion of the service sector "infected" with a cost disease:

Baumol's cost disease (also known as the Baumol Effect) is a phenomenon described by William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen in the 1960s.[1] It involves a rise of salaries in jobs that have experienced no increase of labor productivity in response to rising salaries in other jobs which did experience such labor productivity growth. This seemingly goes against the theory in classical economics that wages are closely tied to labor productivity changes.

The rise of wages in jobs without productivity gains is caused by the requirement to compete for employees with jobs that did experience gains and hence can naturally pay higher salaries, just as classical economics predicts. For instance, if the retail sector pays its managers 19th century style salaries, the managers may decide to quit and get a job at an automobile factory where salaries are commensurate to high labor productivity. Hence, managers' salaries are increased not due to labor productivity increases in the retail sector, but rather due to productivity and wage increases in other industries.

The original study was conducted for the performing arts sector.[1] Baumol and Bowen pointed out that the same number of musicians is needed to play a Beethoven string quartet today as was needed in the 19th century; that is, the productivity of classical music performance has not increased. On the other hand, real wages of musicians (as well as in all other professions) have increased greatly since the 19th century.

In a range of businesses, such as the car manufacturing sector and the retail sector, workers are continually getting more productive due to technological innovations to their tools and equipment. In contrast, in some labor-intensive sectors that rely heavily on human interaction or activities, such as nursing, education, or the performing arts there is little or no growth in productivity over time. As with the string quartet example, it takes nurses the same amount of time to change a bandage, or college professors the same amount of time to mark an essay, in 2006 as it did in 1966. This is because those types of activities rely on the movements of the human body, which cannot be engineered to perform more quickly, accurately or efficiently in the same way that a machine, such as a computer, can.

Baumol's cost disease is often used to describe consequences of the lack of growth in productivity in the quaternary sector of the economy and public services such as public hospitals and state colleges. Since many public administration activities are heavily labor-intensive there is little growth in productivity over time because productivity gains come essentially from a better capital technology.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Management Quote of the Day



From SF Giants General Manager Brian Sabean in a New York Times article by Tyler Kepner - A Giant Among Giants:

"I never really understood, till you do this a while - and this is my 18th year - that when you think it's getting easier, it's actually getting harder to do the job.  Because you're always trying to do something bigger and better. You're always trying to reinvent yourself, reinvent the organization.  It keeps you fresh."

A Pragmatic Approach to Climate Change Engineering

From the Houston-Galveston Area Council: Foresight Panel on Environmental Effects and their list of specific recommendations (Link to the report):
  1. Use historical climate record and credible climate change projections in planning.
  2. Enhance coordination of evacuation plans and communications systems.
  3. Review and strengthen mutual aid agreements to improve intergovernmental coordination and cooperation.
  4. Adopt and implement water conservation plans.
  5. Utilize tree plantings and green roofs for shading, energy conservation and stormwater detention.
  6. Develop heat wave management plans.
  7. Use alternative paving products.
  8. Enhance shoreline erosion management.
  9. Prepare for increase in wildfires.
  10. Prepare for increased illnesses.
  11. Implement stricter emission controls.
  12. Advocate hurricane resistant building standards as the minimum building code standard for new construction in high risk areas.
  13. Avoid new development in areas particularly vulnerable to flooding.
  14. Avoid construction in areas subject to sea level rise.
  15. Preserve wetland and riparian zones.
  16. Implement regional wastewater treatment.
  17. Implement gray water reuse.
  18. Advocate green building standard region wide.
  19. Build compact communities.
  20. Build livable centers.
  21. Consider appropriateness of different modes of transportation.
  22. Consider a longer term view of infrastructure needs than as planned today.
  23. Creation of financial mechanisms,
  24. COGs should assist legislators.
  25. H-GAC should assist local governments with climate change planning.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Infrastructure Asset Management and Art

True innovation is about connecting with ideas from other areas and industries.  The world of art and museums is morphing digitally in ways that would be useful to asset management.  Both art and asset management have a common thread - both are about physical spaces, but with virtual help they could become much more.  Augmented Reality will impact both art and asset management very quickly.

From the Brown Institute for Media Innovation:

Art++ (2014-15)


Meaning Augmenting Art with Technology, Art++ aims to improve the experience of visitors in a museum gallery by proposing a new way of delivering information to them. Using augmented reality, Art++ will offer viewers an immersive and interactive learning experience by overlaying content directly on the objects through the viewfinder of a smartphone or tablet device. The Art++ team consists of Jean-Baptiste Boin, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering at Stanford University, and Colleen Stockmann, assistant curator for special projects at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.


Walking Dead Line of the Night

"Pretty people taste better."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola and the Taking of Private Rights for Public Good

The nurse quarantine-gate is somewhat familiar to civil engineering - we all work with the notion of eminent domain and the "taking" of private property for a public good.  We just pay people market prices for the taking.

If you are going to quarantine very brave and dedicated health professionals for 21-days - - you need to pay them during that period - - the government body doing the taking needs to be the payer.

From CNN:

"I believe that folks who want to take that step and are willing to volunteer also understand that it's in their interest and the public health interest to have a 21-day (quarantine) period thereafter if they've been directly exposed to people with the virus," Christie said on Fox News Sunday.
"I don't believe when you're dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system," he said. "This is government's job. If anything else, the government's job is to protect safety and health of our citizens."


Drought Update

Current U.S. Drought Monitor

Ebola As An Engineering Problem

An excellent post from the Engineering Ethics Blog.

Skywell

Russia Fact of the Day

From the New York Times today by Nicholas Kristof - The American Dream Is Leaving America:

"Russia now has the largest percentage of adults with a university education of any industrialized country - a position once held by he United States, although we're plunging in that roster."

Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk - New York City

Link to the recently released report.

Rubicon Global - Gatekeeper to Corporate America's Dumpsters

In a world of data collection and big data - Rubicon  starts by dumpster diving.  You can learn a lot about company from their trash.  Trash is an important starting point in the world of triple bottom lines and sustainability goals.  Rubicon shows the world that environmentalism + capitalism = a lucrative niche in helping clients cut hauling costs, and to recycle whatever they can.  Look for Rubicon to be a leader in recycling innovation and technological applications.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Is Regulatory Capture?

Humanitarian UAV Network

Link to the organization - time is everything in a disaster.  Drone technology will have a huge impact on disaster management.  Drones will rule the disaster space from 500 feet to ground level. Capabilities will grow from video to medical supply delivery supply systems.

Baywatch to Be Replaced by Drones

Ranking the Insurance Companies on Climate Change

A new report from Ceres:
"Amid growing evidence that climate change is having wide-ranging global impacts that will worsen in the years ahead, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2014 Findings & Recommendations, ranks the nation's 330 largest insurance companies on what they are saying and doing to respond to escalating climate risks. The report found strong leadership among fewer than a dozen companies but generally poor responses among the vast majority.
This report summarizes responses from insurance companies to a survey on climate change risks developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). In 2013, insurance regulators in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York and Washington required insurers writing in excess of $100 million in direct written premiums, and licensed to operate in any of the five states, to disclose their climate- related risks using this survey.
The aim of the survey, and Ceres’ analysis of the responses, is to  provide regulators, insurers, investors and other stakeholders with substantive information about the risks insurers face from climate change and the steps insurers are taking—or are not taking— to respond to those risks. Because virtually every large insurer operates in at least one of the mandatory climate risk disclosure states, this analysis effectively opens a window into the entire industry. The report distills key findings and industry trends, and includes company specific scores based on disclosed actions taken to manage climate risks. It also offers recommendations for insurers and regulators to improve the insurance sectors’ overall management of climate change risks."

The Tech Crowd is Thinking Tech Water

News from the Silicon Valley Water Purification Center:
"For the final step, the water flows through chambers that zap it with strong ultraviolet light. Like a powerful disinfectant, the UV rays scramble the DNA (and thus neutralize) any remaining viruses and other trace organic compounds, in a process similar to the sterilization of medicine, food and fruit juices. In all, the process removes 99.99 percent of all pathogens.
The resulting purified water has a TDS (total dissolved solids) content of 40 parts per million. For comparisons sake, drinking water in the county averages 215 parts per million, while the recommended maximum contaminant limit is 500 parts per million. In other words, water from the advanced purification center is clean enough to drink, as one enthusiastic county official did at the plant’s unveiling.
For now, the water is going toward improving the quality of the county’s recycled water, used for irrigating crops and watering golf courses, parks, school lawns, street medians and business park landscaping. It’s also used to cool buildings and data centers, which will eventually include Apple’s new campus in Cupertino, opening in mid-2016. The tech giant is working closely with the water district to expand local recycled water programs, and is contributing $4.8 million toward the construction of a similar advanced recycled water facility near the coming campus.
With the potable quality of the water, the plan all along has been to introduce it into local taps by 2025. But as California’s drought continues, the project may get fast-tracked, and residents may be drinking the recycled water in as little as two years. In that scenario, the recycled water is pumped into aquifers to recharge groundwater, then pumped up, retreated and piped to local homes."

No Stagnation in Toys

The Ebola virus is one of the many GIANTmicrobes sold online — stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes, only one million times their actual size.



The Ebola plush toy - -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Great Invisible

Water Loans for Private Water Reuse

Link to a White Paper on the subject:
"There is good news for commercial, industrial, and institutional water users looking to treat and reuse water onsite as a means of increasing the reliability of water supplies and achieving sustainability goals. A new law went into effect on October 1, 2014 allowing private sector companies to obtain Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loans to construct onsite industrial water reuse projects for the first time.
The 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) was signed into law on June 10, 2014 with the goal of helping to modernize the nation’s water infrastructure. WRRDA also allows privately owned water reuse facilities to have access to government subsidized loans for the first time. While public water utilities have long had access to government subsidized financing through the CWSRF, industries have had to finance their industrial water treatment and reuse systems primarily through a combination of commercial loans and the issuance of corporate bonds.
The WateReuse Association has released a new White Paper that explains the changes in eligibility for the CWSRF, the pros and cons of this financing option, and the steps to take to apply for funding."

How Do Engineers Get New Ideas?

Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity | MIT Technology Review

Mayor 101

Mayor 101 looks like a great class at the University of Minnesota.

From the class page:

"In the course, students will work with four core themes: Creating safe places to call home; Investing in people; Investing in the common good; and Growing the city. Each of them will choose a city or neighborhood and work with Rybak to address those themes and create strategies to harvest that community's assets and meet its challenges—including real-time challenges that may emerge during the term."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Engineering Needs to Start Talking About the Price of Water

And the short answer is water and wastewater rates are ridiculously low in the U.S.  The article, Hey, America It's Time to Talk About the Price of Water, provides a good overview of the issues.  I would like us to consider taking the market market path as outlined in the article - more market based approaches that spur more innovation and greater conservation.  Let's get away from the silly ASCE report grade dream that massive federal aid is in the cards.

From the article:

"Americans got used to paying wee little for a whole lot of pristine water. At the same time, many utilities delayed the long-term capital investments needed to maintain their pipes and plants. Water boards are often run by local elected officials, making decisions uneasily political. A board member with a three-year term might not vote for a water project that would pay off in year six. Officials who tried to raise rates risked being booted out of office. It was easier to hope federal subsidies would continue to flow. They did not. A Reagan Administration phase-out of water-infrastructure grants began 25 years ago. Over the past decade, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water infrastructure funding has declined (with the exception of 2009, the year of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), and policy has shifted from grants to loans.

Unfortunately for water utilities, the timing coincided with the arrival of requirements to scrub dozens of newly regulated contaminants out of drinking water and record numbers of water mains and pipes bursting due to age and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold."
Consumer expenditures on utilities for a four-person household in 2012

Skycatch - Where Construction Firms Look for Drones

Skycatch services the likes of Clayco, DPR, Bechtel, and Bouygues.  Overhead and 3-D mapping - - the drone is becoming the operational necessity for the construction site.  Construction as a "visual" endeavor in need of "visual" tools.  Drones and construction are the perfect match - the providers of critical information linking to a industry in need of greater efficiencies in the field.

Urban Layers. Explore the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric. | MORPHOCODE

Urban Layers. Explore the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric. | MORPHOCODE

Monday, October 20, 2014

In a Month of Bad News . . . It Gets Worse

Graph of the Week

datalab--miner.natural-gas-chart

The Civil Engineer as Urban Analytics Expert

This might be the Masters for you:

One-Year Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Analytics at Georgia Tech

The one-year Master of Science in Analytics is an interdisciplinary degree program that leverages the strengths of Georgia Tech in statistics, operations research, computing, and business by combining the world-class expertise of the Scheller College of Business, the College of Computing, and the College of Engineering.  By blending the strengths of these nationally ranked programs, graduates will learn to integrate skills in a unique and interdisciplinary way that yields deep insights into analytics problems.

Why an Interdisciplinary Master’s in Analytics?

Analytics is an important, fast-growing field that has quickly become a key facet of business strategy.  There is an increasing need for analytics-savvy employees who can think uniquely across disciplines to transform data into relevant insights for making better business decisions. 
Georgia Tech's interdisciplinary approach to analytics gives students the opportunity to learn directly from top international authorities on business intelligence, developers of cutting-edge analytics techniques in statistics and operations research, and world leaders in big data and high-performance computing. Students will use advanced resources across campus such as Georgia Tech's state-of-the-art high-performance computing infrastructure for massive-scale data analytics, work in cross-disciplinary teams to solve real analytics problems for a range of companies and organizations, and more. It all adds up to a unique ability to generate deeper insights into analytics problems.
With the Georgia Tech Master’s in Analytics degree, graduates will enter the workplace with the computing, business, statistics, and operations research skills needed to immediately identify, analyze, and solve analytics problems for better business intelligence and decision support.

12 Battlefield Tools for USMC

Link to the 12.  Many of them have direct application to everyday life - or life during a disaster. Check out these:

HEIT
The Hybrid Energy Internally Transportable Vehicle Trailer is a multipurpose energy supply, allowing units to draw power using fossil fuels, solar panels, batteries and other sources—in other words, whatever’s available. Currently in the concept-demonstrator phase, the two-wheeled trailer attaches to the back of a vehicle, giving Marines a versatile, transportable source of electricity.
SUWP
The Small Unit Water Purification system lets platoons tap available water in the field, cutting down on the logistical demands of sending resupplies. The experimental unit weighs 75 pounds—not a featherweight but a lot lighter than an industrial purification systems—and can purify seven to 10 gallons of water an hour from local sources.

How An Intelligent Text Message Service Aims To Tackle Ebola In Western Africa | MIT Technology Review

How An Intelligent Text Message Service Aims To Tackle Ebola In Western Africa | MIT Technology Review

UN Green Infrastructure Guide

Link to the report.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How Resilient is U.S. Infrastructure to a Pandemic?

As this The Bridge article from 2009 addresses, we have historically focused on infrastructure disaster resilience in terms of physical damage - the earthquake, tornado, or hurricane.  The Biological Century requires us to add another concern - the pandemic.  Additional research and modeling is needed in terms of physical contamination (i.e., decontamination of the train and train stations), disruption caused by illness of key employees (i.e, all the water treatment plant operators get sick), and the negative economic impacts to key parts of the transportation system (i.e., restrictions or low traffic harm the airline industry).

Reading The Hot Zone



From the New York Times.  Once you read what dying from Ebola is like, you will completely understand the need for health care protective clothing that covers everything.

"Mr. Preston first incited public fears about Ebola 20 years ago with “The Hot Zone,” his thriller like narrative that details the virus’s origins and scientists’ struggle to understand and stop it. The book, which has sold 3.5 million copies, could perhaps be classified as dystopian nonfiction. Stephen King called it “one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read.” With fears about Ebola rising once more, “The Hot Zone” has been in high demand: Mr. Preston’s publisher has released 150,000 more copies in recent months, and the book has reappeared on the New York Times best-seller list and on Sunday ranked No. 23 on Amazon."

Urban 'Fingerprints' Finally Reveal the Similarities (and Differences) Between American and European Cities | MIT Technology Review

Urban 'Fingerprints' Finally Reveal the Similarities (and Differences) Between American and European Cities | MIT Technology Review

An Ebola Risk Metric

From the New York Post.  If the crisis grows, will the hourly rate go up?  One way to track risk perception.

For a measly $19 an hour, a government contractor is offering applicants the opportunity to get up close and personal with potential Ebola patients at JFK Airport — including taking their temperatures.

What Engineers Can Learn From The Ebola Crisis

The Ebola epidemic is west Africa has had an impact on my hometown of Dallas.  We have all had a grim reckoning regarding how flat the globe really is in the 21st century.  The key question for the next six months is how much worse is to come.

My input on lessons that engineers should take from this crisis:
  • Human Factors Engineering Matters A Lot - An airplane can crash for basically three reasons.  It is designed improperly, it was build/constructed incorrectly, or/and it was operated improperly/incorrectly.  The same holds for a process - for example the process and procedures necessary to protect health care workers.  In complex systems - processes, pieces of equipment, etc., and how humans interface with technology and equipment is critical.  In many respects, it is still all about people - and how they function under stress in very complex operational environments.
  • Our Systems are Very Tightly Coupled - How a problem that started in Dallas and was able to impact a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean should open eyes.  This crisis has shown the interdependencies of the medical + transportation + education systems.  We have poorly managed these interdependencies in this particular crisis.  We need better systems thinking, applications, and tools during a crisis like the Ebola crisis.
  • The Mobile Phone is Key - Mobile phones spread useful information and may provide vital data to health workers.  The CDC is tracking the location of people who call helplines in order to see where the disease is spreading.  A Swedish NGO called Flowminder has captured people's movements in the region using mobile phone records.
  • Medical Doctors are Just as Bad as Engineers When Talking to the Public - In a crisis, people want honest, complete, and clear answers and directions.  Trust is a key part of the equation. The ability to discuss Ebola 101 effectively to the general public has been a struggle throughout the crisis.  Jumping to Ebola 102 has been a complete disaster.  All our professionals, from doctors to engineers, need a better understanding regarding communication during a national or global crisis.
  • This is the Biological Century: Get Use to It - Many of our most complex global problems have constraints and opportunities embedded in biology.  From increased agricultural productions to new drugs, our future is one of biological optimization.  But Ebola also illustrates the huge challenges that remain - you can do a lot of damage with just seven really old genes.  We could be facing a century of vary nasty viruses that are immune to our current antibiotics.  Also remember that biology hinges on evolutionary change - as a virus moves from place to place and person to person, count on high rates of mutations.
  • Doctors and Engineers Are Not the Smartest People in the Room in a Crisis - From nurses to construction professionals to utility operators, we need to get much better at listening to the front line people during a crisis.  Listening + Looking = Learning - we can learn from many others during a crisis.  They have important viewpoints and ideas.
  • Infrastructure is Key During a Crisis - From airfields to logistical arrangement to tents to beds to goggles, the "stuff" makes a huge difference.  But remember money and "stuff" is of little use without staff.  People are the operational constraint in a global crisis.
  • Exponential Growth Cannot Continue Indefinitely - There are always barriers to any type of exponential growth.
  • Every Public Problem Interfaces With Politics - From Katrina to Ebola, public emergencies take place in a political environment.  Science is a must during this Ebola crisis - but Ebola infects everything, including the clarity and common sense of our political leaders.
  • A Global Crisis Is a Test - The Ebola crisis is a test for a globalizing world.  To win a war on Ebola will require a much larger effort in west Africa than the outside world has no far pledged.
  • Engineers Understand Risk - The Public Doesn't - You cannot catch Ebola by attending the same school as the cousin of the brother of the pilot of that Frontier Airline.  The public doesn't get the odds of winning the lottery.  Understanding pandemic risk is too much to ask for.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ten Questions for Future Infrastructure Resilience Research

1.     Who are the key stakeholders that support resilience activity through disaster management, emergency response, sustainability, and risk mitigation?
2.     What are the dependencies and interdependencies for the area/sector of study and what is the best way to map/graph their connections/linkages?
3.     How can we best model the current conditions before a disruptive event in order to understand the essential functions and capabilities?
4.     Where will data be obtained to conduct the analysis and quantify the impact of the stressor and evaluate courses of action?
5.     What standard methods (tools) can be leveraged in the future to provide an adaptable and repeatable process in the region/state/nation?
6.     How can we measure disaster impact…i.e., How does a stressor perturb/disrupt the functional model and how does it reduce resources/capabilities?
7.     What are the most acute vulnerabilities (may be identified as a result of this modeling and analysis process)?
8.     How do we apply these findings and outcomes to improve decision-making and resourcing in the area of study?
9.     Where is the money?  How can one quantify the economic impact of a systemic resilience process across infrastructure sectors (ROI, value proposition)?
10.  What findings emerged that uncover strengths, weaknesses, gaps, seams or lessons learned in policy, funding, command and control or analytics?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pocket Drone

We Need New Thinking on Water

From Nature - Water politics must adapt to a warming world:
"The United States needs a more rational water sector. As climate change continues, it makes little sense, for example, to use heavily subsidized water supplies to grow rice in California or Texas when the crop could be imported from water-rich countries in southeast Asia. (The excessive water, incidentally, is needed not to grow the rice but to suppress weeds.)
To address water shortages, Texas plans to develop new reservoirs. The depreciated cost of construction per acre-foot is more than $600. This is about the same cost as of desalination. Water-industry reform would open the door to alternative technologies — desalination included — that cannot compete in currently distorted markets. For the United States and others to encourage innovation and ensure access to fresh water, the old system of subsidies must be reformed.
In the second half of the last century, new regulations drastically changed the telecommunications and electricity industries in the United States and elsewhere. This success could be transferred to the water sector worldwide, starting now with federal-guided reforms in drought-stricken California and Texas."

Ebola Graph of the Week


New Business Models for the Water Industry

Link to the video series.

The Top 30 Global Talent Centers

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Second Global Infrastructure Investment Index 2014

A new report from Arcadis.

Everyone Should be Thinking Integration

From a press release by the USEPA.  Note the focus on information management, decision support systems, and asset management.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing $335,000 in technical assistance to five communities to help them develop components of integrated plans for wastewater and stormwater management.    
“EPA is committed to helping communities meet their requirements and goals for water projects that benefit public health, the environment, and the local economy,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Integrated planning provides the important flexibility that cities and towns need to address water challenges in an efficient and effective manner.”
Integrated planning lets communities sequence projects so they can start those with the highest priority first. EPA technical assistance will help recipients meet Clean Water Act requirements for water management in a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial way. EPA, states and municipalities have historically focused on meeting each Clean Water Act requirement separately, an approach that may have constrained communities from addressing the most serious water issues first.
In June 2012, EPA issued a framework promoting an integrated planning approach after working closely with state authorities, local governments, water utilities, and environmental groups.
In May 2014, 28 communities responded to EPA’s request for letters of interest in technical assistance. EPA made its decision after evaluating the letters’ consideration of several factors, including human health and water quality challenges, innovative approaches, community and national impacts, and commitment to integrated planning. 
The selected communities are
  • Burlington, Vt.: The City of Burlington proposed to evaluate its financial capability to fund an integrated stormwater and wastewater program; develop criteria for prioritizing community wastewater and stormwater needs based on social, economic and environmental factors; develop a list of example projects that rank highly based on these criteria; and evaluate innovative methods of pollutant reduction. 
  • Durham, N.H.: The Town of Durham and the University of New Hampshire proposed to evaluate opportunities to consolidate wastewater and stormwater resources, develop a wastewater and stormwater funding strategy, and develop a toolkit for tracking pollutant load contributions and reductions from wastewater and stormwater.  
  • Santa Maria, Calif.: The City of Santa Maria proposed to develop an asset management approach to prioritize investments, identify innovative approaches such as green infrastructure, and identify environmental and public health benefits.
  • Springfield, Mo.: The City of Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities of Springfield proposed to develop a decision analysis tool to prioritize investments. The tool will identify, characterize and evaluate key pollutants and sources of water pollution.
  • Onondaga County, N.Y.: The Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection proposed to outline a process to engage stakeholders and identify, evaluate, and select stormwater and wastewater projects.

Business Development and Your Social Capital

From the October 7, 2014 New Yorker, The Limits of Friendship.  This idea of a fixed amount of social capital that can go toward relationship management and business development in the context of we all just have 1,440 minutes in a day is interesting.

""There’s no question, Dunbar agrees, that networks like Facebook are changing the nature of human interaction. “What Facebook does and why it’s been so successful in so many ways is it allows you to keep track of people who would otherwise effectively disappear,” he said. But one of the things that keeps face-to-face friendships strong is the nature of shared experience: you laugh together; you dance together; you gape at the hot-dog eaters on Coney Island together. We do have a social-media equivalent—sharing, liking, knowing that all of your friends have looked at the same cat video on YouTube as you did—but it lacks the synchronicity of shared experience. It’s like a comedy that you watch by yourself: you won’t laugh as loudly or as often, even if you’re fully aware that all your friends think it’s hysterical. We’ve seen the same movie, but we can’t bond over it in the same way.

With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones. We may widen our network to two, three, or four hundred people that we see as friends, not just acquaintances, but keeping up an actual friendship requires resources. “The amount of social capital you have is pretty fixed,” Dunbar said. “It involves time investment. If you garner connections with more people, you end up distributing your fixed amount of social capital more thinly so the average capital per person is lower.” If we’re busy putting in the effort, however minimal, to “like” and comment and interact with an ever-widening network, we have less time and capacity left for our closer groups. Traditionally, it’s a sixty-forty split of attention: we spend sixty per cent of our time with our core groups of fifty, fifteen, and five, and forty with the larger spheres. Social networks may be growing our base, and, in the process, reversing that balance.""