Sunday, July 31, 2016

Evaluating the effects of the I-35W bridge collapse on road-users in the twin cities metropolitan region

Evaluating the effects of the I-35W bridge collapse on road-users in the twin cities metropolitan region: (2011). Evaluating the effects of the I-35W bridge collapse on road-users in the twin cities metropolitan region. Transportation Planning and Technology: Vol. 34, Traffic Congestion Mitigation: Combining Engineering and Economic Perspectives, pp. 691-703. doi: 10.1080/03081060.2011.602850

Graph of the Week

Bill Gates Looks at Productivity

Word of the Day - Jagoff

From Mark Cuban - link.

The Fire Cities

A History of Data Mining

Thursday, July 28, 2016

James Cameron on Climate Change

The Unlearned Engineer

Great article in Medium on downskilling and upskilling:
"What our irresistible obsolescence reveals (or puts out in the open), whatever our responsibilities, is that the ability to unlearn, as much as learning, becomes a competitive advantage for both organizations and humans. It forces us to have a more and more humble attitude as to our “expertise”. It also pushes us to embrace a more socio-political approach to technology."

The Challenges of Running a Water Utility in 2016

The Autonomous Bulldozer

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Graph of the Week

MOOCs and Your Engineering Career

An Engineer Looks at Climate Change

Outline of notes on climate change:

·       Many names and signal word/phrases for the same thing – climate change, global warming, extreme weather, etc.  This has produced a “War of the Words” – the banning of certain words in places like Florida (i.e., global warming).

·       The scientific community is clear – between 1991 and 2012, a review of 13,950 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles found that only 24 papers rejected anthropogenic global warming.

·       There is both an “input” and “output” side to the climate change debate and discussion.  The “input” side is dominated by reducing carbon emissions before reaching and passing a carbon dioxide threshold, while the “output” side looks at the ramifications of either incremental or absolute climate change – severe droughts, flooding, land use planning, resiliency, emergency response, etc.  The bulk of the AEC industry will benefit from climate change on the “output” side – helping clients and communities adapt to a changing world.  The benefits of both the “input” and “output” sides of climate change will also be positive for the AEC industry – from renewable energy to new sources of water supply to flood control.  The AEC industry is the ONLY industry positioned to solve a broad range of “output” climate change problems our clients face this century.  Our collective weakness and prison of our success has been incremental thinking – where thinking about climate change solutions will require bolder and more expansive thinking on a rough journey to an uncertain future.

·       Climate change is a “creeping” problem – temporally it moves at a snail’s pace.  Historically, we have individually and collectively been terrible at managing slow moving problems (i.e., the financial solvency of Social Security is a classic example).  The difference in the concept of time is hugely problematic for the political aristocracy when dealing with creeping problems – the one-year planning cycle versus the 100-year problem.  There currently exists no penalty for climate change planning inertia in 2016.  Keep in mind the more likely scenario of the politics catching up to the science is at an inflection point or trigger event (i.e., a hurricane in Miami that kills 25,000 people in 2035).

·       Discussing climate change directly interfaces with all segments of modern society – social, economic, environmental, political, etc.  Climate change is viewed as a “wicked problem” – hugely complex, global, systems based, and interdisciplinary.

·       Climate change over this century will produce both economic winners and losers.  Canada and Russia are expected to benefit economically, while equatorial Africa will not.  The same holds for the United States.  A warming planet could produce economic growth in Montana (i.e., as a new retirement beacon) and hurt Chicago due to killer heat waves.  Places like Ohio might benefit from climate change (i.e., a global manufacturing center with more reliable water resources and a milder climate) while places like Arizona might face mounting water supply woes that restricts future development.  Climate change will produce a rebalancing of the world in terms of economics and population via climate change forced migration – producing broad global and regional debates and problems.

·       Climate change is viewed globally as a monolithic problem – but the reality is one of regional and local context. 

·       The climate change debate has produced public segmentation centered along political ideology.  Some of this segmentation is focused on fundamental debates regarding the limits of economic growth and the notion of sustainability. The political spectrum produces broad support for things like increasing transportation funding, but little broad support for anything under the banner of “Climate Change” infrastructure improvements.

·       In a Pew Research national survey from March 9, 2016 – 45% of respondents agreed with the statement that “Climate change is a very serious problem.”  There is a gender gap in terms of the climate change – women are more concerned about climate change than men (i.e., a function of political ideology – 52% of women are registered Democrats versus 44% of men).  We are increasingly a 50%/50% nation – climate change is just another example on the road to 50/50.

·       One critical “output” of global warming/climate change is water – either too much water or not enough.  Rising atmospheric moisture from global warming will increase both the intensity and variability of rainfall – especially in places like Ohio (i.e., too much rainfall) and Texas (i.e., too little rainfall).  Sea level rise and higher coastal storm surges will increasingly be problematic – 40% of the U.S. population lives in a county that is on a sea coast.  Climate change and the impact on littoralization – the tendency for people and businesses to cluster on coastlines – needs to be watched this century.

·       Flooding will be a dominate climate change theme – heavy downpours are increasing.  Across most of the U.S., the heaviest rainfall events have become heavier and more frequent.  The amount of rain failing on the heaviest rain days has also increased over the past decades.  Since 1991, the amount of rain failing in very heavy precipitation events has been significantly above average.  The increase has been greater in the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Great Plains – more than 30% above the 1901-1960 average.

·       Communities will face the “known knowns” of climate change – more frequent flooding is an example.  These types of risks and consequences are manageable and well-defined.  The bigger risks are the “unknown unknowns” – the futuristic Stephen King-like “zombie” algae blooms of 2040 that threaten water quality in Lake Erie. 

·       In terms of coastal communities – both the insurance and municipal bond markets might be drivers of initial change in the context of climate change.  Insurance availability will clarify coastal “defend” or “retreat” decisions, while the financial markets will demand increasing assurances that communities are thinking about the risks associated with the climate change.

·       Our climate change future might be about planning and designing for resilience – the ability to bounce back more quickly and effectively in the face of extreme weather events, economic shocks, and social change.  The Rockefeller Foundation has established the Global 100 – communities around the globe working on resiliency.  Below is a sample of the resiliency challenges identified by the cities from citizen surveys and meetings.  Many of the concerns directly interface with current and future climate change projections (i.e., flooding) while many others paint a “Welcome to Hell” future where aging and failing infrastructure collides with extreme weather events of increasing frequency and magnitudes this century.

El Paso
Coastal Flooding
Economic Inequality
Aging Infrastructure
Aging Infrastructure
Aging Infrastructure
Infrastructure Failure
Coastal Flooding
Endemic Crime and Violence
Epidemic of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Poor Health Infrastructure
Disease Outbreak
Economic Shifts
Infrastructure Failure
Poor Health Infrastructure
Poor Transportation System
Heat Wave
Rainfall Flooding
Rainfall Flooding
Rainfall Flooding
Infrastructure Failure
Rising Sea Level and Coastal Erosion
Social Inequality
Social Inequality
Overtaxed/Under Developed/Unreliable Transportation System
Social Inequality
Poor Air Quality/Pollution
Rainfall Flooding

·       Cities, especially large urban centers (i.e., The City-State), will probably be forced to take the lead on climate change planning in a federal/state fiscally constrained YOYO (You’re on Your Own) World.  Technology, resiliency thinking, creativity, and innovation probably will reside with cities like Columbus, Louisville, Dallas, etc.  Cities are getting progressively better at addressing and managing “wicked problems” on their own (some of this comes from a class of skilled and gifted Mayors) – look for this to continue with climate change.

Trump Talks HVAC

Skyscrapers - The App

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week in Aviation History

How Engineers Should Think About Social Media

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the current issue of The Economist:

"As the world’s biggest manufacturing power, China is well placed to lead this transition. Which is why this week GE, the world’s biggest industrial company, opened what it calls a “digital foundry” in Shanghai. The centre will help Chinese companies develop and commercialise products for the industrial internet of things, which involves factory machines and industrial goods communicating with each other and their surroundings. It will probably be a much bigger market than the one for consumers. China has millions of factories with billions of machines and it also makes most of the world’s electronics, including many of the sensors and other electronic devices that would form the backbone of such a network. Moreover, the government is keen to upgrade the country’s manufacturing base."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On the Summer 2016 Reading List

The Sociopath - #1 National Bestseller

A paragraph to ponder - from The New Yorker - Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All:

"If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”"

Autodesk's Green Stormwater Management Tool

Tyler Cowen Talks Talks Trump

Tweet of the Day

Redesigning NYC's MTA System

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Look For Augmented Reality to Make Huge Inroads into Engineering Applications

The Adaptable Leader

Watch Brookfield Asset Management

From Urbanomics:

"In a reflection of the rise of "alternative" investment class in a world of ultra-low yields, Brookfield, the Toronto-based asset manager which has $250 bn under management, hasraised a $14 bn fund to invest in infrastructure. It would be the largest single commitment to a sector. Brookfield, which bought the owner of London's Canary Wharf, allocates 60% of its investments to developed and the rest to emerging markets, and follows a counter-cyclical investment strategy of buying in distressed periods. It has as partners some of the world's largest SWF's like Singapore's GIC and Qatar Investment Authority and has been acquiring assets in Latin America, including a 2013 acquisition of an integrated system of railroads, ports and inland terminals in Brazil and is investing $7bn to expand the port and terminals."

Link to Brookfield Asset Management.

Video Game Playing and Unemployed Young Males

"Right now, I’m gathering facts about the possible mechanisms at play, beginning with a hard look at time-use by young men with less than a four-year degree. In the 2000s, employment rates for this group dropped sharply – more than in any other group. We have determined that, in general, they are not going back to school or switching careers, so what are they doing with their time? The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week. This change marks a relatively major shift that makes me question its effect on their attachment to the labor market.
To answer that question, I researched what fraction of these unemployed gamers from 2000 were also idle the previous year. A staggering 22% - almost one quarter – of unemployed young men did not work the previous year either. These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, like they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games. The obvious problem with this lifestyle occurs as they age and haven’t accumulated any skills or experience. As a 30- or 40-year old man getting married and needing to provide for a family, job options are extremely limited. This older group of lower-educated men seems to be much less happy than their cohorts."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Plan on a Late Election Night and Morning

The Education of an Engineer - Working on Your Listening Skills

FLUID - First Learning Water Meter

The World's Widest Immersed Road Tunnel

Death of the Angry White Man

From NewGeography - -

Is Pokemon Go Technology the Future of Infrastructure Asset Management?

Hurricane Drought

From the New York Times:

"The United States coastline has been calm so far this hurricane season, just as it has been over the last decade. Since 2005, the year of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the country has been in a hurricane “drought,” with no major hurricane (Category 3 or above, meaning winds above 110 miles per hour) making landfall. The nation’s most hurricane-prone regions, the Southeast and Gulf Coasts, have been eerily quiet."

Term of the Day - Subway Desert

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Defining a Resilient Business Model for Water Utilities

NYC's Flood Protection - The Big U

Mr. Robot Looks at SCADA

A paragraph to ponder from DataCenterDynamics:

"In terms of raw data, the number of attacks has increased each of the last few years: Dell saw worldwide SCADA attacks increase from 91,676 in January 2012 to 163,228 in January 2013, up to 675,186 in January 2014."

Image result for pictures from Mr. Robot

Laissez-faire Engineering

From the Marginal Revolution:

"Very few people imagined that self-driving cars would advance so quickly or be deployed so rapidly. As a result, robot cars are largely unregulated. There is no government testing regime or pre-certification for robot cars, for example. Indeed, most states don’t even require a human driver because no one imagined that there was an alternative. Many people, however, are beginning to question laissez-faire in light of the first fatality involving a partially-autonomous car that occurred in May and became public last week. That would be a mistake. The normal system of laissez-faire is working well for robot cars.

Laissez-faire for new technologies is the norm. In the automotive world, for example, new technologies have been deployed on cars for over a hundred years without pre-certification including seatbelts, air bags, crumple zones, abs braking systems, adaptive cruise control and lane departure and collision warning systems. Some of these technologies are now regulated but regulation came after these technologies were developed and became common. Airbags began to be deployed in the 1970s, for example when they were not as safe as they are today but airbags improved over time and by the 1990s were fairly common. It was only in 1998, long after they were an option and the design had stabilized, that the Federal government required airbags in all new cars.

Lane departure and collision warning systems, among other technologies, remain largely unregulated by the Federal government today. All technologies, however, are regulated by the ordinary rules of tort (part of the laissez-faire system). The tort system is imperfect but it works tolerably well especially when it focuses on contract and disclosure. Market regulation also occurs through the insurance companies. Will insurance companies given a discount for self-driving cars? Will they charge more? Forbid the use of self-driving cars? Let the system evolve an answer.

Had burdensome regulations been imposed on airbags in the 1970s the technology would have been delayed and the net result could well have been more injury and death. We have ignored important tradeoffs in drug regulation to our detriment. Let’s avoid these errors in the regulation of other technologies.

The fatality in May was a tragedy but so were the approximately 35,000 other traffic fatalities that occurred last year without a robot at the wheel. At present, these technologies appear to be increasing safety but even more importantly what I have called the glide path of the technology looks very good. Investment is flowing into this field and we don’t want to forestall improvements by raising costs now or imposing technological “fixes” which could well be obsolete in a few years.

Laissez-faire is working well for robot cars. Let’s avoid over-regulation today so that in a dozen years we can argue about whether all cars should be required to be robot cars."

Understanding Mr. Robot

The Engineer as Walkability Expert

Monday, July 4, 2016

California Water Map


Can You Teach Engineers to Innovate?

"The answer to this question is:  no.  You cannot teach people to innovate.  You can teach them tools and techniques like TRIZ or trend spotting.  You can teach them process methodologies that lead them from customer needs to ideas to prototypes to customer validation tests.  You can teach them to think about innovation outcomes that are more disruptive or radical than incremental change.  You can show them Doblin’s Ten Types model to help them think through the potential outcomes of an innovation activity.  But until they understand that innovation is a holistic implementation of all of these factors, and requires them to release their fear, uncertainty and doubt, you are hammering jello to a wall.  It will not stick.  The wall must be removed as the knowledge is applied.
People can innovate.  What we can do is accelerate, simplify and make their innovation activities more productive and efficient through tools and techniques.  But what we cannot do is remove fear, uncertainty, corporate constraints and a lack of executive commitment.  We cannot force organizations to sustain innovation activities so the work is repeated until it becomes familiar and eventually second nature.  So the real question is: can we teach organizations and corporate cultures to innovate?  We know the answer to this is yes, but few companies have the time and patience to make the change that’s necessary."

The Spread of the Exit Moment - #TXexit

Happy 4th of July - - How the Markets Reacted to Amexit

Civil Engineering: The Profession of the Low Bid

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Digital Globalization in the Era of Walls

River LA

Too Many Deaths

From NewGeography - - Limited European economic growth in the context of the past (i.e., too many wars) and the present/future (i.e., declining birth rates).


Help Support US Golf Jobs

Song Lyrics of the Day - 80's Mercedes by Maren Morris

Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh

Still runs good, built to last
Moves like a hula girl on the dash
She ain't made for practicality
Yeah, I guess she's just like me

It's Saturday night, about time to go
Got my white leather jacket and a neon soul
Once I turn on the radio I'm ready to roll,
Ready to roll

Feel like a hard-to-get starlet when I'm driving
Turning every head, hell I ain't even trying
Got them Ray-Ban shades pretty in pink
Call me old school but hey

I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes
I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes

Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh

Pop the top down like a summer dream
She's my teenage time machine
Just keeps getting sweeter with age
She's classic through any decade

The suns in the sky, glitter on the seats
You can try, but the Benz is hard to beat
So, hey, if you want you can ride with me,
Ride with me

Feel like a hard-to-get starlet when I'm driving
Turning every head, hell I ain't even trying
Got them Ray-Ban shades pretty in pink
Call me old school but hey

I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes
I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes

Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh

It's Saturday night, about time to go
Got my white leather jacket and a neon soul
Once I turn on the radio I'm ready to roll
Ready to roll

Feel like a hard-to-get starlet when I'm driving
Turning every head hell I ain't even trying
Got them Ray-Ban shades pretty in pink
Call me old school but hey

I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes
I'm a 90's baby
In my 80's Mercedes

Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh
Woah oh, whoa oh, oh

Hunting Stolen Cars With Drones

What If You Were the Public Works Director for Westeros

The Open and Transparent Water Data Act

Link to the California bill.  From the Meetings of the Mind blog:

"In seeking to meet the needs of residents, businesses and the environment, California lacks a comprehensive and accurate way to assess the water use and supply under its management responsibility.  The State of California currently lacks the water data, or the widely adopted practices and technologies, which will enable better water management by its own governmental agencies.  In addition, water infrastructure throughout the state is aging and in need of repair, numerous communities are without safe water, and many suffer from unreliable and degraded water supplies."