Archive for the ‘infrastructure’ Category

Next-generation IT infrastructure

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Next-generation IT infrastructure
Source: McKinsey & Company

The pressure on IT infrastructure leaders is unrelenting. They must deliver higher service levels and new IT-enabled capabilities, help accelerate application delivery, and do so while managing costs. As standard IT improvements near a breaking point, it’s no wonder that many IT infrastructure leaders have started to look for more transformative options, including next-generation IT infrastructure (NGI)—a highly automated platform for the delivery of IT infrastructure services built on top of new and open technologies such as cloud computing. NGI promises leaner organizations that rely more on cloud-provider-level hardware and software efficiencies. In addition, NGI facilitates better support of new business needs opened up by big data, digital customer outreach, and mobile applications.

To understand how senior executives view NGI, we canvassed opinions from invitees to our semiannual Chief Infrastructure Technology Executive Roundtable. The results were revealing: executives expressed strong interest in all key NGI technologies, from open-source infrastructure-management environments to software-defined networking, software-as-a-service offerings, cloud orchestration and management, and application-configuration management. Yet most have not yet fully taken advantage of the promise of NGI, largely because of the up-front investment required. The immaturity and complexity of the technology is also slowing adoption, as is concern about the security of the public cloud, particularly with respect to companies’ loss of control in the event of private litigation or inquiries from governmental agencies.

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Resilient Cities Research Report

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Resilient Cities Research Report
Source: Grosvenor

The ability of cities to thrive as centres of human habitation, production and cultural development, despite the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and globalisation, is determined by their resilience. From a real estate investor’s perspective, resilience allows cities to preserve capital values and generate sustainable rental income in the long term. In human terms, cities are resilient if they absorb shocks, like Hurricane Sandy, maintain their output of goods and services and continue to provide their inhabitants with a good quality of life according to the standards of the time.

Resilience – the ability of a city to avoid or bounce back from an adverse event – comes from the interplay of vulnerability and adaptive capacity.

Vulnerability is a city’s exposure to shocks in terms of both magnitude and frequency. Shocks may be due to changes in the climate, environmental degradation, shortage of resources, failed infrastructure or community strife due to inequality. That most cities have survived for the last several centuries or, in some cases, millennia, indicates a long period of stability in the pattern of urban growth. Recent population growth and industrialisation, despite many benefits, are destabilising planetary systems and making previously safe places more vulnerable than they ever were before.

Yet cities, like societies, are adaptable. Just like societies, they vary enormously in their adaptive capacity due to governance, institutions, technology, wealth and the propensity to plan.

So resilience increases when cities have more adaptive capacity and decreases when they are more vulnerable. Exponential population and economic growth is placing so much pressure on resources that resilience, which has for so long been a free gift of history, urgently needs to be rethought.

By quantifying the resilience of 50 of the world’s most important cities we, at Grosvenor, hope to contribute to this vital debate.

Highway Trust Fund Ticker

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Highway Trust Fund Ticker
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014.

New From the GAO

April 18, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Nuclear Weapons: Technology Development Efforts for the Uranium Processing Facility. GAO-14-295, April 18.
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2. Maritime Infrastructure: Key Issues Related to Commercial Activity in the U.S. Arctic over the Next Decade. GAO-14-299, March 19.
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3. Medicare Imaging Accreditation: Effect on Access to Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Is Unclear amid Other Policy Changes. GAO-14-378, April 18.
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4. Large Partnerships: Characteristics of Population and IRS Audits. GAO-14-379R, March 19.

Are you ready for the resource revolution?

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Are you ready for the resource revolution?
Source: McKinsey & Company

Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps for New York City did not identify that nearly 65 percent of the area inundated during Hurricane Sandy—home to nearly 300,000 people—was at risk from coastal flooding, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report tallies the human toll and impact to critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

New From the GAO

April 9, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office


1. Defense Infrastructure: In-Kind Projects Initiated during Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. GAO-14-280R, April 9.

2. Mine Safety: Basis for Proposed Exposure Limit on Respirable Coal Mine Dust and Possible Approaches for Lowering Dust Levels. GAO-14-345, April 9.
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1. Health Care Workforce: Federal Investments in Training and the Availability of Data for Workforce Projections, by Linda T. Kohn, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-14-510T, April 9.
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2. VA Health Care: Ongoing and Past Work Identified Access Problems That May Delay Needed Medical Care for Veterans, by Debra A. Draper, director, health care, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-509T, April 9.
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3. Social Security Disability Programs: SSA Could Take Steps to Improve Its Assessment of Continued Eligibility, by Daniel Bertoni, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-492T, April 9.
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Quality of Infrastructure is a Top Deal Maker or Breaker for Real Estate Investment and Development Decisions

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Quality of Infrastructure is a Top Deal Maker or Breaker for Real Estate Investment and Development Decisions
Source: Urban Land Institute

The quality of infrastructure systems – including transportation, utilities, and telecommunications – is a top factor influencing real estate investment and development decisions in cities around the world, sharing a high ranking with consumer demand in terms of importance, according to a survey of public- and private-sector leaders conducted by the Urban Land Institute and EY. The findings are included in the Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City report, released this week at ULI’s 2014 Spring Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The survey, conducted in January 2014, reflects the opinions of 241 public sector officials and 202 senior-level real estate executives (developers, investors, lenders and advisors) based in large and mid-sized cities across the globe, with concentrations in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Among the combined group of public and private sector participants, 88 percent rated infrastructure quality as the top influencer of real estate investment and development. Demographic forces, including consumer demand and workforce skills, ranked as other top considerations determining real estate investment locations. Infrastructure quality was rated as the highest influencer by public leaders (91 percent) and second to highest by private leaders (86 percent). Consumer demand was viewed as the top factor by the private sector (90 percent).

Strong telecommunications systems (including high-speed internet capability) led the list of infrastructure categories that drive real estate investment, along with good roads, bridges, and reliable and affordable energy.

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance

April 4, 2014 Comments off

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From press release:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that a new report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, 2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, confirms that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s highway and transit systems. Secretary Foxx has highlighted the need for transportation investment in a series of speeches that take aim at America’s infrastructure deficit and identify ways to use innovation and improved planning to stretch transportation dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance report, based on 2010 data, estimates all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to both maintain and improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, federal, State and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.

The report also indicates that as much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2010, total spending to maintain and expand transit systems was $16.5 billion – a spending level also boosted temporarily by Recovery Act dollars.

Is the curb 80% full or 20% empty? Assessing the impacts of San Francisco’s parking pricing experiment

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Is the curb 80% full or 20% empty? Assessing the impacts of San Francisco’s parking pricing experiment
Source: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

The city of San Francisco is undertaking a large-scale controlled parking pricing experiment. San Francisco has adopted a performance goal of 60–80% occupancy for its metered parking. The goal represents an heuristic performance measure intended to reduce double parking and cruising for parking, and improve the driver experience; it follows a wave of academic and policy literature that calls for adjusting on-street parking prices to achieve similar occupancy targets. In this paper, we evaluate the relationship between occupancy rules and metrics of direct policy interest, such as the probability of finding a parking space and the amount of cruising. We show how cruising and arrival rates can be simulated or estimated from hourly occupancy data. Further, we evaluate the impacts of the first two years of the San Francisco program, and conclude that rate changes have helped achieve the City’s occupancy goal and reduced cruising by 50%.

USGS — New Utah Maps and Road Provider

April 3, 2014 Comments off

New Utah Maps and Road Provider
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Newly released US Topo maps for Utah now feature a new commercial road data provider. The latest highway, road and street data from HERE has been added to the 1,476 revised US Topo quadrangles for the state.

The new maps also include Public Land Survey System (PLSS). These data are added to the growing list of states west of the Mississippi River. PLSS is a way of subdividing and describing land in the United States. All lands in the public domain are subject to subdivision by this rectangular system of surveys, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Other selected states will begin getting PLSS map data during the next respective revision cycle.

The new design for US Topo maps improves readability of maps for online and printed use, while retaining the look and feel of the traditional USGS topographic map. Map symbols are easy to read when the digital aerial photograph layer imagery is turned on.

Where America is sprawling and what it means

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Where America is sprawling and what it means (PDF)
Source: Smart Growth America

People in compact, connected metropolitan regions are more likely to move up the economic ladder, have lower household costs, enjoy more transportation choices and lead longer, safer, healthier lives according to a new report out today by Smart Growth America and the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 evaluates development in 221 major metropolitan areas in the United States, and ranks these areas based on how sprawling or compact they are. The report also examines how sprawl relates to life in those communities, based on factors like economic mobility, the cost of housing and transportation, life expectancy, obesity, chronic disease and safety.

CRS — Surface Transportation Program Reauthorization Issues for Congress

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Surface Transportation Program Reauthorization Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The authorization for federal spending on highway and public transportation programs, as well as surface transportation safety and research and some rail programs, expires September 30, 2014. The existing authorization, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141) was a two-year bill, funding FY2013 and FY2014.

Nearly all the funding for highways and most of the funding for public transportation is drawn from the highway trust fund (HTF). However, the motor fuel taxes that are the main source of HTF revenue no longer raise enough money to support the programs Congress has authorized. Congressional Budget Office projections indicate that the shortfall between revenues and outlays will average roughly $16 billion annually from FY2015 through FY2020. MAP-21 made up the most of the difference between motor fuel tax revenue and spending authorization by transferring money from the Treasury general fund to the HTF. As Congress considers surface transportation reauthorization, the funding shortfall is the major issue framing the debate. The alternatives will involve choices among raising motor fuels taxes, cutting spending, finding other revenue sources for the HTF, approving further transfers from the general fund, and seeking to increase private investment in surface transportation infrastructure. MAP-21 made major changes in the program structure for both highways and public transportation. Some of the changes were designed to increase program efficiency by requiring performance measurement and streamlining project development. As these changes are recent, their effectiveness may be difficult to evaluate.

New From the GAO

March 27, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Canceled DOD Programs: DOD Needs to Better Use Available Guidance and Manage Reusable Assets. GAO-14-77, March 27.
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2. Native American Housing: Additional Actions Needed to Better Support Tribal Efforts. GAO-14-255, March 27.
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3. Major Automated Information Systems: Selected Defense Programs Need to Implement Key Acquisition Practices. GAO-14-309, March 27.
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4. Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Most Federal Spending Directly Supports Work with Manufacturers, but Distribution Could Be Improved. GAO-14-317, March 27.
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5. Defense Infrastructure: DOD’s 2013 Facilities Corrosion Study Addressed Reporting Elements. GAO-14-337R, March 27.

6. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute: Review of the Audit of the Financial Statements for 2013 and 2012. GAO-14-415R, March 27.

New From the GAO

March 26, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office


1. International Food Aid: Better Agency Collaboration Needed to Assess and Improve Emergency Food Aid Procurement System. GAO-14-22, March 26.
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2. Medicare: Certain Physician Feedback Reporting Practices of Private Entities Could Improve CMS’s Efforts. GAO-14-279, March 26.
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3. Federal Contracting: Noncompetitive Contracts Based on Urgency Need Additional Oversight. GAO-14-304, March 26.
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1. USDA Litigation: Limited Data Available on USDA Attorney Fee Claims and Payments, by Eileen R. Larence, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, House Committee on Agriculture. GAO-14-458T, March 26.
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2. Critical Infrastructure Protection: Observations on Key Factors in DHS’s Implementation of Its Partnership Approach, by Stephen L. Caldwell, director, homeland security and justice, and Gregory C. Wilshusen, director, information security issues, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-464T, March 26.
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3. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Slower Than Expected Progress in Software Testing May Limit Initial Warfighting Capabilities, by Michael J. Sullivan, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-14-468T, March 26.

Repair Priorities 2014

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Repair Priorities 2014
Source: Smart Growth America

Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads is the latest report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense analyzing road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The update also assesses how these priorities have changed since the release of the first edition in 2011.

State leaders—including governors, legislators and DOT officials—have the ability to change these priorities for the better. This report recommends actions that state officials can take to increase the portion of funds going to repair, such as

  • raising the public profile of repair projects;
  • using asset management practices;
  • focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads;
  • setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and
  • using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

These strategies can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

CRS — Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as to encourage adaptation to climate change. During his speech, the President made reference to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project—a pipeline that would transport crude oil derived from Canadian oil sands deposits in Alberta to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. He stated that an evaluation of the proposed pipeline’s impacts on climate change would be “critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair

March 21, 2014 Comments off

New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair
Source: Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.

Those are the findings of Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, a new report out today from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report examines road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, how much states currently invest in road repair and how much they would need to spend to adequately maintain America’s roads.

Between 2009 and 2011, states spent $20.4 billion each year on road expansion. During that same period, states spent $16.5 billion on road repair—not enough to keep road conditions from declining. From 2008 to 2011, the amount of roads in good condition decreased from 41 percent to 37 percent, while the number in poor condition increased from 17 percent to 21 percent.

The Future of Transportation Infrastructure Investments: Determining Best Practices for States’ Funding and Financing Mechanisms

March 18, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Transportation Infrastructure Investments: Determining Best Practices for States’ Funding and Financing Mechanisms (PDF)
Source: Associated Equipment Distributors (by Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, College of William & Mary)
From press release:

Policymakers working to fix America’s crumbling transportation network have an important new tool. A study by researchers at the College of William & Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy (TJPPP) released Jan. 31 examines the vast array of funding and financing mechanisms states are using to pay for roads and bridges. The report, which was sponsored by Associated Equipment Distributors, a trade association representing construction equipment dealers, includes a chart to allow quick comparison between state programs. The study comes as the federal highway program faces unprecedented challenges. The Congressional Budget Office reported in July 2013 that due to inadequate Highway Trust Fund (HTF) resources, Congress would need to reduce the authority to obligate funds in FY 2015 to zero for both highways and transit.

Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactions, and Implications for U.S. Policy

March 17, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactions, and Implications for U.S. Policy
Source: RAND Corporation

Most analyses of Chinese engagement in Africa focus either on what China gets out of these partnerships or the impacts that China’s aid and investment have had on African countries. This analysis approaches Sino-African relations as a vibrant, two-way dynamic in which both sides adjust to policy initiatives and popular perceptions emanating from the other. The authors focus on (1) Chinese and African objectives in the political and economic spheres and how they work to achieve them, (2) African perceptions of Chinese engagement, (3) how China has adjusted its policies to accommodate often-hostile African responses, and (4) whether the United States and China are competing for influence, access, and resources in Africa and how they might cooperate in the region.

The authors find that Chinese engagement in the region is primarily concerned with natural resource extraction, infrastructure development, and manufacturing, in contrast to the United States’ focus on higher-technology trade and services as well as aid policies aimed at promoting democracy, good governance, and human development. African governments generally welcome engagement with China, as it brings them political legitimacy and contributes to their economic development. Some segments of African society criticize Chinese enterprises for their poor labor conditions, unsustainable environmental practices, and job displacement, but China has been modifying its approach to the continent to address these concerns. China and the United States are not strategic rivals in Africa, but greater American commercial engagement in African markets could generate competition that would both benefit African countries and advance U.S. interests.


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