Posted by – December 4, 2016
In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assessed sixteen categories of infrastructure ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants and gave the U.S a D+ grade for its $3.6 trillion of overdue maintenance and a pressing need for modernization. ASCE notes that America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+ in 2013, ranging from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. WaPo’s Graphics Reporter Tim Meko recently summarized the issue with a series of maps and links that are required reading to inform the current political discussion and protests over U.S. infrastructure needs. This includes the below map of the location and status of U.S. bridges, many of which are deemed as “structurally deficient” (in red):
The Federal Highway Administration says the nation’s 607,380 bridges are on average 42 years old and require $20.5 billion annually by 2028 to eliminate the backlog of repairs and replacements (only $12.8 billion is being spent currently).
A good time to be an engineer!
After decades of neglect, the Washington DC Metro system will begin a year-long surge in track maintenance on Monday, starting with two weeks of work on the Orange Line that will reduce service on my daily commute from Vienna by 70 percent:
This surge of repairs to the nation’s second-busiest mass transport system is in response to a growing series of service delays, track failures, and electrical fires culminating in last year’s death of a commuter trapped in a tunnel on a smoke-filled train. General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld ordered the maintenance surge along with changes to the system’s budget, culture, and management in an effort to improve safety and reliability.
As well as making commuting a challenge for the 6 million residents of the Washington DC region, it will be something of a social experiment. Commuters may choose to work from home on their companies’ or agencies’ VPNs or email, but mine gets overloaded when Federal offices are closed on snow days and it’s impossible to work on classified systems outside of the office; how will that change the pace and content of work, office culture, and family life? Metro users may get up earlier and arrive home later, or shift to other modes of transport; will this result in massive traffic jams, increased air pollution, more accidents, and a boom for bicycle shops?
The Washington Post’s SafeTrack web site provides further analysis and graphics, and the Washington Metro Transit Authority’s website is a good source for up-to the minute reports. I’d also recommend the outstanding free app DC Metro and Bus by DixonMobility (iOS and Android) to tell you when you’ll get to squeeze onto that next train…
Posted by – April 13, 2016
The National Weather Service has announced that, starting May 11, it would stop yelling at you, and no longer issue its official forecasts formatted exclusively in uppercase letters. NWS noted that the uppercase format was a relic of an era when teleprinters only used uppercase letters, but recent upgrades in the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System are allowing for the change to mixed-case letters. Getting the public to respond appropriately to warnings and alerts is an ongoing challenge for the NWS, but mixed case will allow for better organization and emphasis in it’s official forecasts.
Posted by – March 12, 2016
NASA has released the view from space of the March 9 total solar eclipse, as recorded by the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. The below animation shows the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other, from the Indian Ocean to the open waters and islands of the Pacific Ocean. DSCOVR is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space, hovering between the sun and Earth to provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events – a solar storm buoy in deep space.
Posted by – January 31, 2016
AGU reports that NASA and NOAA independently assessed that the planet’s average surface temperature jumped to a new high in 2015, except for a cool spot in the North Atlantic. Based on about 6300 stations, ships and buoys, both agencies found the average global temperature had increased compared to 2014 – which had also been a record year. NASA found the average was 0.87°C higher than the average temperature over 1951 – 1980, where NOAA found a 0.90°C increase compared to the average over 1901 – 2000. The below image, courtesy of the Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, shows the 2015 change from the longterm average temperature, with hottest areas on Earth in red and the coldest in blue.
Compliments to Cody Sullivan, AGU Intern, for the excellent article in EOS this past week!
Posted by – December 27, 2015
On the heels of devastating storms that killed 11 in North Texas December 26, @CraigatFEMA (FEMA Director Craig Fugate) warns that the rough weather will continue into the New Year, caused by a low pressure system moving slowly north/northeastward from the lower Mississippi Valley. Not only a valuable warning of the rain, snow, ice and flooding we will likely see the week of December 28-January 1, this forecast and map are examples of the fine work done by the Climate Prediction Office of the National Weather Service.
Have a Safe New Year,
P.S. For information on the North Texas Tornadoes and to donate, please contact the American Red Cross of North Texas
Posted by – December 18, 2015
In a recent interview with Santa, IBM’s Graeme Noseworthy discussed the North Pole’s use of Big Data and analytics to assess who is naughty and nice for over a billion children. The North Pole collects structured and unstructured data ranging from customer profiles and gift-package radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to Offline Sibling Sentiment Data (OSSD) into a single Naughty/Nice Child Data (NNCD) database in real time that allows Santa align children’s behavior and requests with appropriate gifts.
Nope, nothing creepy about that!
The below infographic summarizes the data structure, and is the xAnalytica Christmas Graphic for 2015:
Runner up was Huskie’s analysis of the best days to go Christmas shopping in Dublin. xAnalytica’s Christmas Graphics from previous years:
Posted by – December 7, 2015
For your Monday morning commute, I repost the Washington DC Metro System Map, re-labelled with anagrams. My daily commute on the No Rage Line from Faux Van Magnifier to Hemp Scorn Sq. will never be the same:
Kudos to CharonX, via Reddit
Posted by – November 15, 2015
Capping off a year-long interagency collaboration, the White House has released the National Space Weather Action Plan to improve national resilience to the potentially devastating effects of major solar flares.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center provides a useful summary of current conditions and predictions, including a series of dashboards summarizing information targeted at specific user communities, such as Emergency Managers.
Thanks to AGU for the tip!
Posted by – September 1, 2015
I am not a fan of pie charts, which to me add no understanding, but this is one that works:
Via I F**king Love Science, with thanks to Ed for the tip!