Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thinking About Health Emergencies

A paragraph to ponder from Vox:

"Over the past decade, the World Health Organization has declared four global health emergencies. Two of them were in the past two years: the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the Zika outbreak that's spread through the Americas."

Where Sewage Backs Up in Baltimore

Our 10-Year Hurricane Gap

Our Unhealthy Infrastructure

Working for a Robot

From Inc:
"Kahneman isn't alone. A recent Oxford University study reports that computers may soon replace people in 45% of American jobs, and not just manual labor. Leaders at all levels may be looking for new gigs as automation permeates the workforce.
Whether we like it or not, change is afoot. So to avoid being displaced by a circuit board, we need to focus on the very attributes that make us human. This applies in our competition against actual technology, as well as those humans out there who operate as 'robot bosses.'"

Cities and Crisis

No Drought in the West?

The World of Uber

New paper on the impacts of ride-sharing services:

"The advent of smart-phone based, ride-sharing applications has revolutionized the vehicle for hire market. Advocates point to the ease of use and lower wait times compared to hailing a taxi or pre-arranging limousine service. Others argue that proper government oversight is necessary to protect ride-share passengers from driver error or vehicle part failure and violence from unlicensed strangers. Using a unique panel of over 150 cities and counties from 2010 through 2013, we investigate whether the introduction of the ride-sharing service, Uber, is associated with changes in vehicle accidents and crime. We find that Uber’s entry lowers the rate of DUIs and fatal accidents. For most specifications, we also find declines in arrests for assault and disorderly conduct. Conversely, we observe an increase in vehicle thefts."

Monday, May 30, 2016

IoT Market Graphic


What is AoE?

From Teradata
"The Internet of Things (IoT) has been used to describe the vast network of objects and sensors that transmit and exchange data. For the IoT to provide business value, it requires a smart network—one intelligent enough to support a growing array of people, processes and things.
That’s where the “Analytics of Everything” (AoE) can play a major role. In many ways, the AoE presents the biggest challenge—and opportunity—of putting data to use. Even the most tech-savvy organizations recognize that extracting value from data can be a difficult, skills-intensive process, especially when integrating it with business operations and human behavioral data. But now more than ever, it’s essential to take full advantage of all this information to find better, more efficient ways to operate and make decisions."

Dealing With Change

europe to asia changes in immigration

GIS and the World of Apps

The Future of the Bay Area and Resiliency

Graph of the Week

Flipd - Tech for the Distracted

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Engineering 101 - How We Display Information Matters


 Which is better for your clients - tables or interactive maps?

Map Your Tech Sector

When We Built Bridges in 10 Days

From the Boston Globe - A lesson on infrastructure from the Anderson Bridge fiasco:
"America desperately needs a major increase in infrastructure investment and, if carried out effectively, an investment program could come close to paying for itself by generating an expanding economy. With record low interest rates, low material costs, and high construction unemployment, there is no better time. When states defer maintenance and repair for decades — as was done with the Anderson Bridge — it places a huge burden on future generations.
However, to collectively tackle the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, citizens need to believe that the government is up to the task. In an era when public trust in government remains near all-time lows, every public task is freighted with consequence. The relationship is cyclical — if government can start being more effective, it will win more trust, leading to more effectiveness. If, on the other hand, projects such as the Anderson Bridge repair project become the norm — then we are fated to increasing cynicism and distrust.
The Anderson Bridge is approximately one-sixth the length of the bridge Julius Caesar’s men built across the Rhine in 10 days in 55 BC. Caesar’s feat is admired not just for its technical mastery but also for its boldness. An allied tribe had offered boats to carry Caesar’s troops across the river, to avoid the difficult task of bridge-building. Yet Caesar rejected this offer, on the grounds that it would not be “fitting for the prestige of Rome.”

We should hold America’s infrastructure to the same standard."

Civil Engineering and the Inability to Fix a 200-foot Long Bridge

Getting Future Engineers off Call of Duty and on Dreams


Talking About Death - Undertaking L.A.

She Leads Africa

Engineering for Kids

Link to the Engineering for Kids website.

New to the Book Pile

Transit Street Design Guide / Island Press

A Great Discussion Regarding our EM Future

Summer Outlook


Male vs Female View of Politics

Latest poll results from Pew Research.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Project Tango

Getting Humans Out of Shoes

Moving iPhone Manufacturing Jobs Back to the US

In the Age of Robotics, we have fewer and fewer jobs to move back to the US.  From the South China Morning Post:

"“The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,” said the department’s head Xu Yulian."

Andrew Sullivan on Democracy

The Art of Crane Assembly

The VA and TSA Have the Same Problem - The Long Wait Problem

The recent reporting on TSA airport screening lines and VA medical care wait times seem to have the same problem - - growth in demand for services (i.e., more people flying and aging/10-years of constant war veteran demographics) without a growth in service capabilities.  Both problems need more industrial engineering and less politics.  Correct me if I am wrong but is airport security throughput more a function of physical space (i.e.  X number of airport entry points with Y number of screening stations) than people?  Engineering needs to study the three Ps of the screening problem - - people, processes, and places (i.e., entry points).  The problem is not just more people.  The VA problem is different - - having to wait six weeks to see a doctor is more a function of the limited supply of doctors and medical professionals than process or facility constraints.  The limiting constraint to seeing my doctor or dentist over the next three weeks is the number of minutes in the day - - one doctor or dentist can only see X number of patients in a 24-hour period.  The VA probably has a "more people" problem.  More professional medical staff in more places with better processes would increase system throughput.

The VA, TSA, and most part of government operations all have the same problem - - the long wait problem.

Does Your Office Look Like the Set from Happy Days?

Detroit Meets Silicon Valley

A Good Introduction to Green Bonds

Urban Economics

From Amazon:

Today, the Bay Area is home to the most successful knowledge economy in America, while Los Angeles has fallen progressively further behind its neighbor to the north and a number of other American metropolises. Yet, in 1970, experts would have predicted that L.A. would outpace San Francisco in population, income, economic power, and influence. The usual factors used to explain urban growth—luck, immigration, local economic policies, and the pool of skilled labor—do not account for the contrast between the two cities and their fates. So what does?

The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies challenges many of the conventional notions about economic development and sheds new light on its workings. The authors argue that it is essential to understand the interactions of three major components—economic specialization, human capital formation, and institutional factors—to determine how well a regional economy will cope with new opportunities and challenges. Drawing on economics, sociology, political science, and geography, they argue that the economic development of metropolitan regions hinges on previously underexplored capacities for organizational change in firms, networks of people, and networks of leaders. By studying San Francisco and Los Angeles in unprecedented levels of depth, this book extracts lessons for the field of economic development studies and urban regions around the world.

Graph of the Week


Riyadh Metro


Friday, May 27, 2016

Engineers on the BBC

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Future Water

HoneyComb - Droning on the Farm

Is Texas the Next California?


Synchro PRO 2016

Notice to the AEC Industry - Open Up an Office In London

Report indicates London's population will increase by over one million during the next decade.

Update on Superbugs

From Vox:
"If the new, drug-resistant E. coli spreads, CDC Director Tom Frieden said, it would mean a return to a pre-antibiotic era.
"It basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics — that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics," he told the Washington Post on Thursday.
If we help more and more bacteria evolve to outsmart the drugs we have, it means common medical procedures like hip operations and C-sections will soon become more dangerous, and some medical interventions — organ transplants, chemotherapy — will be impossible to survive."

The Term in Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)

From an unnamed source - -

Advanced Activated Sludge Treatment Process

As the heartbeat of the plant, the new activated sludge basins perform a majority of the biological oxygen demand (BOD) and ammonia removal required by the facility's discharge permit. The process is also designed to accommodate biological nutrient removal (BNR) should future discharge permits require more stringent nutrient limits. This marks a change in the plant's treatment processes from a fixed-film process to a complete mix biological process. The improved system uses fine bubble diffused air, which provides a higher oxygen transfer while also meeting mixing requirements. The rate of aeration is streamlined to optimize the biological process through automated dissolved oxygen control.

AI Down on the Farm

The Pattern of Reduced Achievement


"We make use of a new data source – matched birth records and longitudinal student records in Florida – to study the degree to which student outcomes differ across successive immigrant generations. Specifically, we investigate whether first, second, and third generation Asian and Hispanic immigrants in Florida perform differently on reading and mathematics tests, and whether they are differentially likely to get into serious trouble in school, to be truant from school, to graduate from high school, or to be ready for college upon high school graduation. We find evidence suggesting that early-arriving first generation immigrants perform better than do second generation immigrants, and second generation immigrants perform better than third generation immigrants. Among first generation immigrants, the earlier the arrival, the better the students tend to perform. These patterns of findings hold for both Asian and Hispanic students, and suggest a general pattern of successively reduced achievement – beyond a transitional period for recent immigrants – in the generations following the generation that immigrated to the United States."

Coming Out in September

Money in the Streets

Moore, OK - A Case Study in Resilience

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

NGO Disaster Response - A Sample of the Challenges

The Return of Geostrategic Risk

Vox Has the Best Article on the Technology/Productivity Conundrum

How Tax Policy Changes Behavior


The Feds Long Retreat From Water Investment

Changing Who We Live With

Engineering in the Female Century

"Donald Trump may get the nuclear suitcase, a cranky “park bench” socialist took Hillary Clinton to the wire, many countries are becoming less free, and the neo-Nazi party came very close to assuming power in Austria.  I could list more such events.
Haven’t you, like I, wondered what is up?  What the hell is going on?

I don’t know, but let me tell you my (highly uncertain) default hypothesis.  I don’t see decisive evidence for it, but it is a kind of “first blast” attempt to fit the basic facts while remaining within the realm of reason.

The contemporary world is not very well built for a large chunk of males.  The nature of current service jobs, coddled class time and homework-intensive schooling, a feminized culture allergic to most forms of violence, post-feminist gender relations, and egalitarian semi-cosmopolitanism just don’t sit well with many…what shall I call them?  Brutes?

Quite simply, there are many people who don’t like it when the world becomes nicer.  They do less well with nice.  And they respond by in turn behaving less nicely, if only in their voting behavior and perhaps their internet harassment as well.

Female median wages have been rising pretty consistently, but the male median wage, at least as measured, was higher back in 1969 than it is today (admittedly the deflator probably is off, but even that such a measure is possible speaks volumes).  A lot of men did better psychologically and maybe also economically in a world where America had a greater number of tough manufacturing jobs.  They thrived under brutish conditions, including a military draft to crack some of their heads into line.

To borrow a phrasing from Peter Thiel, perhaps men did better in the age of “technological progress without globalization” rather than “globalization without technological progress,” as has been the case as of late."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not So Peak VMT

Link to the report.

The Hidden Genius Project

Link to their website.

The Best Location to Tunnel Under Trump's Wall

Community Input on Dallas' Resilience

Link to the survey.

The History of Eating

The Business of Disaster

The Future of Busing?

Circa 1982

I am re-reading David Halberstam's wonderful The Reckoning - - where 1982 might mark the trailhead of our current manufacturing pull-back, de-industrialization, declining middle class, political chaos, etc. collective crisis.

From the book:

"As a general rule, the people now making a lot of money were not producing things, and the people who were producing things were not making a lot of money.  It was a dismaying equation for a nation once colossally productive, and a bitter pill for many companies, cut off from their past and unsure of their future."

Beer, Water, and Responsiblity

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tracking the Red Dots in the West

How Civil Engineers Might Play in the Sandbox of the Future

Bachman Interceptor - Microtunneling

Taking A Class With Professor Jolie

The Concentration of Job Growth

From Richard Florida - -

Where Americans Live in London

Link to the site.

Smart Cities Need Smart States

Designing Two Walls for President Trump

Are Compact Cities More Affordable?

From NewGeography Are Compact Cities More Affordable?

The Carbon Footprint of Your Death-Cycle

From Grist:

"This takes a lot of resources. Each year, more than 30 million board feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of concrete, 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, and 90,000 tons of steel are used for underground burials in the United States alone. That’s as much steel as is in the Golden Gate Bridge."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

U.S. Politics in 2030

What Month Was Your CEO/President Born?

From NYT's Upshot:

"According to a 2008 study, most children born in the summer tend to be among the youngest members of their class at school, which appears to explain why they are significantly less likely to hold leadership positionsduring high school and thus, another study indicates, less likely to landpremium jobs later in life. Similarly, according to research published in the journal Economics Letters in 2012, the number of American chief executives who were born in June and July is almost one-third lower than would be expected on the basis of chance alone. Even the first letter of a person’s last name can explain significant achievement gaps. Assistant professors in the 10 top-ranked American economics departments, for instance, were more likely to be promoted to tenure the earlier the first letter of their last names fell in the alphabet, a 2006 study found. Researchers attributed this to the custom in economics of listing co-authors’ names alphabetically on papers, noting that no similar effect existed for professors in psychology, whose names are not listed alphabetically."

Engineering Silience

Sweden's Minister of the Future

From the Government Offices of Sweden:

"“Politics is facing major challenges – and great opportunities. A new and complex playing field for politics demands new ways of working together. We need to develop ways to reconcile competitiveness and job creation with ecological sustainability and inclusive social development.”"

Engineering Fashion Statement for Summer 2016

SAE's Ladder of Automation

What I Learned From The Economist This Week

From an article on Amazon - "Amazon's Clothing Coup":

"In 2011 the online retailer [Amazon] accounted for 1.4% of American sales of clothing, handbags and shoes.  Next year Cowen, a financial services firm, expects it to overtake Macy's as America's top seller of apparel."

UT's Climate Change and African Political Stability Program

Link to the program at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Urban Coastal Resilience Report

Link to the report.

When a Town Runs Dry

Pollution at Sea

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Paragraph to Ponder

From the Urbanomics blog:

"The consortium hired to reconstruct and operate a new terminal at LaGuardia for 35 years secured $2.5 bn of financing through a municipal bond offering which attracted considerable interest. The Baa3 rated (one notch above junk) 30-year 2046 bond was priced with a yield of 3.27% and a 5% coupon. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch index of triple-B-rated munis across multiple maturity dates yielded 2.88%. This is against 2.6% yield for 30 year US Treasuries. The consortium, LaGuardia Gateway Partners, includes airport operator Vantage Airport Group, construction company Skanska, and Meridiam Infrastructure, an investor and asset manager of infrastructure projects." 

Figuring a Way to Short Ships

Record Low for Lake Mead


The Operations Dashboard

Graph of the Week

The Kansas City Drone Company

Link to their website.

A Paragraph to Ponder

"But Jerry Storch, CEO of Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company, which operates Saks 5th Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Gilt and Germany’s Galeria Kaufof, as well as its eponymous stores north of the border, would beg to differ.
“That narrative is all wrong; 90.2 percent of sales are still in stores,” he told a packed audience. “Amazon still only controls 1.5 percent of U.S. retail sales.”"

City Resilience Index

Report from Arup.

HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Designing Bathrooms

A paragraph to ponder from Warren's space:

“The bathroom “issue” is entirely phony.  It has never been a problem.  Anyway, if men wanted to sneak in (they don’t), they could always have done so, with or without North Carolina’s law.  How is it to be enforced?  DNA testing by the TSA at every bathroom door?  Anyway, your house has a unisex bathroom, I presume, and in Europe they are not entirely uncommon—after all, the stalls have doors.  Etc, etc.  On both sides it is just a club to beat up the other side in the silly Cultural Wars, and to make people hate and disdain each other.  Adam Smith would not have approved.”

How Will We Die in 2050?

Engineering for a future of "superbugs" - report from the British government.  The term AMR stands for antimicrobial resistance - i.e., superbug.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bill Gates on His Summer Reading List

Talking Climate Change

Bechtel - Changing the World

Resilient Norfolk

Driverless Cabs in 2019

The Thing I Like Most About Coursera Classes

The 8 to 10 minute lectures are made for working professionals in the World of Small Screens.  Learn when you can, where you can, what you can, and how best you can around your busy schedule.

The Psychology of Charts


Historical mapping project from Rice University.

Engineering in a Polarized America

Coming out in June.

Thinking About the Beach This Summer

Overview of the NYC Subway System

ASCE's Failure to Act Study

Mapping the Disappearing West

Investing In Our Dams

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Million Dollar Creep


Trailer - Disappearing West

Sustainability and Social Justice

From Will Wilkinson in the Great Enrichment and Social Justice:

"When people talk about “social justice,” sometimes they’re really talking about “distributive justice.” The immense influence of socialist ideology in the 20th century encouraged the idea that social and distributive justice pretty much came to the same thing. But 1991 was a long time ago, and these days when people agitate for social justice, or refer derisively to those who do as “social justice warriors,” they’re likely to be talking at least as much about the distribution of rights and dignity as they are to be talking about the distribution of material resources and economic opportunities. That’s a healthy development. Social justice is about a lot more than dividing up the surplus from the totality of society’s manifold, interlocking cooperative schemes. Social justice is also about (but not exhausted by) the way we need to treat people in order to get cooperation off the ground in the first place. How do we bring people to the table? How do we encourage them to bring their best? How do we get them to adhere to and enforce the norms that make cooperation more productive and that keep it from falling apart?"

Sensemaking in a Nonsense Driven World

Dallas SAME Post Participating in the City of Dallas Resiliency Planning Efforts

The City of Dallas is one of 35 cities from around the world invited to join the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network.  Chosen from multiple applicants, Dallas will be part of a group of network cities including Mexico City; Byblos, Lebanon; New York City; Dakar, Senegal; Surat, India; and Bangkok, Thailand.

100 Resilient Cities was created by the Rockefeller Foundation with the goal of helping cities build reliance to the threats that are increasingly part of the 21st century.   In the case of Dallas, the goal is to build community partnerships and strengthen its resilience in the hope of addressing population growth, income inequality, and the effects of severe weather.  Around the globe cities are facing threats of chronic food and water shortages, crime, pollution and insufficient public transportation systems.
Each city is also eligible to receive grant funds to hire a Chief Resilience Officer to lead the analysis, planning and implementation of the city’s resilience strategy, working with different government agencies across society.  Theresa O’Donnell is the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Dallas.  Ms. O’Donnell has more than 25 years of experience as a professional planner and has served the City of Dallas since 2003 in a number of roles; most as Chief Planning Officer.  Her prior positions with the City include Interim Assistant City Manager in which she oversaw the departments of Sustainable Development & Construction, Housing & Community Services, Aviation, and the Office of Fair Housing.  She also served as the Director of Sustainable Development and Construction for more than 10 years.  Ms. O’Donnell has been invited to the Joint Dallas and Fort Worth SAME Emergency Response + Infrastructure Resiliency Workshop, “Being Strong In a World Where Things Go Wrong”, on June 20th.

I had the opportunity to participate and represent the Dallas Post in a May workshop event sponsored by the Dallas Resiliency Office.  The workshop provided an overview of the resiliency efforts of El Paso Texas, table exercises on risk analysis (i.e., ranking of major shocks to the city – tornados, hail storms, floods, earthquakes, public health outbreaks, infrastructure failure, civil disruption, and terrorism), identifying which assets within the City of Dallas are the most valuable, identification of risks in terms of severity and frequency, and finally the resilience gaps due to a lack of data or function.  The workshop group of over 50 individuals represented a broad cross-section of Dallas in terms of social, demographic, economic, cultural, political, and physical infrastructure interests. 

I had three points of takeaway from the workshop.  The first is Dallas is in the discovery phase of resiliency thinking.  Most global/mega cites are at the same stage.  What are the key city specific resiliency questions that need to be addressed and what are the data/information gaps that appear to dominate in the early stages of the process.  The second point is the holistic nature of resiliency thinking and application.  Infrastructure planning, design, and operation is critical to long-term resiliency planning.  What the Rockefeller process does is force communities and engineers to think beyond the physical aspects of resilience, but also think of strengthening a community in terms of social, economic, educational, and culture needs to help better manage when things go wrong.  The last point is the paradox of resiliency and sustainability.  The genre of sustainability has dominated the thinking of planning and engineering for many years, but a new wave of resiliency thinking is arriving.  Sustainability and resiliency are two ways to think about the same problem, with the understanding that being more resilient may make you less sustainable and being more sustainable may make you less resilient in terms of the physical assets under the infrastructure umbrella.  This century might be one of balancing both the goals of sustainability and resiliency.

Graph of the Week


Hong Kong on the Brink of Recession

Wednesday, May 18, 2016