Watch: How traffic light programming helps manage congestion

From Practical Engineering:

Traffic management in dense urban areas is an extremely complex problem with a host of conflicting goals and challenges. One of the most fundamental of those challenges happens at an intersection, where multiple streams of traffic - including vehicles, bikes and pedestrians - need to safely, and with any luck, efficiently, cross each others’ paths. However we accommodate it now or in future, traffic will continue to be one of the biggest challenges in our urban areas and traffic signals will continue to be one of its solutions.
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A video series that explains how public infrastructure works

Practical Engineering is a video series that clearly and entertainingly explains how public infrastructure works - dams, water towers, bridges, reservoirs, and so on.  Above: how water towers work.

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New Ways of Seeing: James Bridle's BBC radio show about networked digital tools in our "image-soaked culture"

James "New Aesthetic" Bridle (previously) is several kinds of provocateur and artist (who can forget his autonomous vehicle trap, to say nothing of his groundbreaking research on the violent Youtube Kids spammers who came to dominate the platform with hour+ long cartoons depicting cartoon characters barfing and murdering all over each other?). Read the rest

Minnesota AG's report reveals big telcos are literally letting their infrastructure rot

More than a decade of foot-dragging on fiber rollout has left millions of Americans dependent on taxpayer-funded copper-line infrastructure for landlines and DSL, but it's not like the carriers are plowing their no-fiber savings into copper maintenance, instead, as a report released by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson details, incumbent telcos are literally leaving their infrastructure to rot: wires are draped across customers' lawns (and over their propane tanks!), boxes containing key network gear are left smashed and rusting, and carriers' poles and other furniture are literally propped up with 2x4s, or have random logs placed against their wires to hold them in place. Read the rest

Augmented reality software shows where pipes and other underground structures are

Geographic information systems used to be 2-D maps, but new AR technologies are letting users see where pipes and other underground infrastructure is through augmented reality .

Brief video showcasing a few features of the vGIS Utilities system (http://www.vgis.io/). vGIS Utilities is the most advanced augmented reality solution for GIS designed specifically with utilities, municipalities and GIS service providers in mind. The system connects to Esri ArcGIS to seamlessly convert traditional 2D GIS data into powerful, accurate and stable 3D visuals.

vGIS is the only system that supports the full spectrum of technologies - augmented reality (Android and iOS), mixed reality (HoloLens) and virtual reality.

The system is deployed in at over 40 sites across the world to bring real-life benefits to municipalities, utilities, locate service providers and multiple other organizations.

The most advanced AR system for GIS - vGIS Utilities (YouTube / Meemim vGIS) Read the rest

Bernie Sanders' New Deal: ending involuntary unemployment with guaranteed $15/hour infrastructure jobs

Bernie Sanders has a plan to solve America's wage stagnation and its long-neglected infrastructure: tax the super-rich and massively profitable corporations, then use the money to fix the multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure overhand left behind by decades of neglect, and hire Americans at $15/hour, plus full healthcare, to do the work. Read the rest

Cryptojacking malware discovered running on critical infrastructure control systems

Radiflow reports that they discovered cryptojacking software -- malware that mines cryptocurrency -- running in the monitoring and control network of an unnamed European water utility, the first such discovery, and a point of serious concern about the security and integrity of critical infrastructure to both targeted and untargeted attacks. Read the rest

One quarter of New Orleans' catch-basins were clogged to uselessness with 93,000 lbs of plastic Mardi Gras beads

London has fatbergs: glistening, multiton agglomerations of fat, sanitary napkins, "flushable" wipes, human waste, dirty diapers, used condoms, and delicious strawberry jam; New Orleans has 93,000 pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads. Read the rest

Superstorms are tearing up America's crumbling, neglected infrastructure

US infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP is at a low not seen since WWII, and that's why America's bridges, dams, roads, power plants and other key infrastructure are such easy fodder for Hurricane Harvey (and the impending Irma devastation). Trump's plan for infrastructure spending is a "ludicrous patchwork of tax breaks and privatizations" that will do nothing to solve the problem. Read the rest

Unknown hackers have gained near-total control over some US power generation companies

Hacker takeovers of power infrastructure have been seen in Ukraine (where they are reliably attributed to Russian state actors), but now the US power-grid has been compromised by hackers of unknown origin, who have "switch-flipping" control -- that is, they can just turn it all off. Read the rest

Researchers demonstrate attack for pwning entire wind-farms

University of Tulsa security researchers Jason Staggs and his colleagues will present Adventures in Attacking Wind Farm Control Networks at this year's Black Hat conference, detailing the work they did penetration-testing windfarms. Read the rest

You know who else invested in infrastructure? Autobahn spending was key to Hitler's consolidation of power

In Highway to Hitler, Nico Voigtländer (UCLA) and Hans‐Joachim Voth (University of Zurich)'s 2014 paper analyzing the impact of the massive infrastructure investment in creating the Autobahn, the authors conclude that the major spending project was key to Hitler's consolidation of power. Read the rest

A nation of Flints: America has 1.2m miles of deteriorating lead pipes and they'll cost $1 trillion to fix

Lead pipes have a lifespan of about 75 years -- and America's lead pipe are about 75 years old. 3,000 American municipalities have 1.2m miles of lead pipe, and it's all overdue for replacement, but there's no plan in hand to do so, and any workable plan will cost about $1 trillion to execute. Read the rest

NTP: the rebirth of ailing, failing core network infrastructure

Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a decade), and maintained almost entirely by one person. Read the rest

Timelapse of giant sinkhole repair in Japan

It took just days for a construction crew to repair a road that collapsed into a sinkhole in the business district of Fukuoka, Japan.

From CNN:

After the sinkhole appeared on November 8, subcontractors worked around the clock to fill in the 30 meter (98 ft) wide, 15 meter (50 ft) deep hole by the 12th with a mixture of sand and cement. The job was complicated by the water which had seeped in from sewage pipes destroyed by collapsing sections of road.

After that it only took another 48 hours to reinstall all utilities -- electricity, water, sewage, gas and telecommunication lines -- and to resurface the road. There were no reports of injuries.

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The internet's core infrastructure is dangerously unsupported and could crumble (but we can save it!)

Nadia Eghbal's Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure is a long, detailed report on the structural impediments to maintaining key pieces of free/open software that underpin the internet -- it reveals the startling fragility of tools that protect the integrity, safety, privacy and finances of billions of people, which are often maintained by tiny numbers of people (sometimes just one person). Read the rest

Make America Grit Again: poor towns tearing up roads they can't afford to maintain

Aarian Marshall reports that poor towns are ripping up pothole-ridden roads rather than pay to maintain them.

Repaving roads is expensive, so Montpelier instead used its diminishing public works budget to take a step back in time and un-pave the road. Workers hauled out a machine called a “reclaimer” and pulverized the damaged asphalt and smoothed out the road’s exterior. They filled the space between Vermont’s cruddy soil and hardier dirt and gravel up top with a “geotextile”, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.

In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat.

It's also true that some rural towns paved unnecessarily and bizarrely. When I lived in the southwest, I'd sometimes run into grids of perfectly black country roads gridding through the empty flat llano, like something put into Sim City before you even get started on what buildings you zone for. Oil money.

Which is to say this sounds like an infrastructure problem, but in many cases it's just coming to terms with the reality of life in the country: "most of the community leaders interviewed by the report’s authors said their residents approved of de-paving, especially if agencies kept them informed about the process."

Photo: Deborah Fitchett (CC-BY-2.0) Read the rest

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