Google and other tech giants want Hong Kong alternative after U.S. blocks undersea cable

• 'U.S. tech giants are considering alternatives to Hong Kong as a global data hub after national security officials upended plans for a trans-Pacific internet link to the territory, according to people familiar with the matter.' —- WSJ Read the rest

Mexico City escalator breakdowns blamed on pee-pee

Everyone is pissed.

In Mexico City, many people who travel on the subway system blame authorities for the many broken escalators at train stops. Metro officials blame something else: “vast amounts of pee,” reports A-Pee.

Nobody's clear exactly how it happens, but human urine, in really large amounts, is “penetrating and corroding the drive wheels and mechanisms of the escalators that carry riders up from underground stations,” AP reports:

In a list published Tuesday, the Metro system listed “corrosion due to urine” as one of the top five causes of escalator breakdowns. Fermin Ramirez, the system’s assistant manager for rails and facilities, said riders appear to be urinating on escalators at off-peak hours and lightly used stations, “even though it seems hard to believe.”

“When we open up escalators for maintenance, there is always urine,” Ramirez said. Most stations have no public bathroom facilities, a fact Twitter users were quick to point out, noting there are not even any pay toilets.

Of the system’s 467 escalators, 22 are out of service on any given day.

The biggest problem, subway authorities admit, is that the many escalators are old, or have been damaged by rough use.

Mexico city plans to replace about 55 escalators over the next two years.

Read more: Mexico City subway says pee causes escalator breakdowns Read the rest

Amazon reinstates FedEx ground delivery for Prime after suspending it last month

Amazon has reinstated FedEx as a ground delivery carrier for Prime members' shipments. The online retailer said today the shipper consistently met its delivery requirements, after suspending it last month. Read the rest

The beauty of sewers before the first flush

Our cities' sewers are some of the most incredible structures in the built environment. In a new book, "An Underground Guide to Sewers: or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c." historian Stephen Halliday explores the systems (and people) that deal with our shit so we don't have to. From the book description:

Halliday begins with sanitation in the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Imperial Rome, and continues with medieval waterways (also known as “sewage in the street”); the civil engineers and urban planners of the industrial age, as seen in Liverpool, Boston, Paris, London, and Hamburg; and, finally, the biochemical transformations of the modern city. The narrative is illustrated generously with photographs, both old and new, and by archival plans, blueprints, and color maps tracing the development of complex sewage systems in twenty cities. The photographs document construction feats, various heroics and disasters, and ingenious innovations; new photography from an urban exploration collective offers edgy takes on subterranean networks in cities including Montreal, Paris, London, Berlin, and Prague.

"An Underground Guide to Sewers: or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c." (Amazon)

More images at Smithsonian: "These Photos Capture the World’s Sewer Systems When They Were Brand New"

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Canada's infrastructure was once cheap and effective to build. Now, it's a titanic transfer from taxpayers to the world's biggest businesses and investors

[We're delighted to have Rosemary Frei back with us, this time reporting on a global transformation: once, infrastructure was created efficiently with cheap central bank funding and now it's done with public-private partnerships, at much higher price-tags, creating massive transfers from taxpayers to the biggest businesses and private equity funds in the world. As we get ready for huge infrastructure buildouts to address climate change, the super-rich stand to reap trillions – money we could be spending on saving our lives and even our planet. -Cory]

Trillions of dollars are being plowed into high-tech hospitals, zero-emission public transit and other megaprojects around the globe. Shiny new infrastructure is popping up virtually everywhere, from Australia to Appalachia. Read the rest

Power going out for Northern California again, thanks PG&E

As high winds, warm dry air, and extreme fire risk returns to areas of Northern and Central California today, Pacific Gas & Electric is again shutting off people's electricity to reduce fire risk. Read the rest

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.

[via Doobybrain] Read the rest

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

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