Building a Shared Map of the Nation's Infrastructure to Enable Smart Investments

We had an event at ASU with the title above last week that I attended to try and get a pulse on the future in the same regards since I'm doing a lot of work in that space right now.

Notes and comments below in blue as usual.

Jonathan Koppell
Been working with
  • Sacramento - environmental and health policy
  • Austin - Entrepreneurship
  • Virginia - critical infrastructure

Terry Gerton
How to prioritize infrastructure investment?
    • Hindered by:
    • Lack of systematic data of location and condition
    • Public leadership
    • Private vision for national infrastructure map

Greg DiLoreto
  • Investment in infrastructure increasing in USA
  • Not competitive with major countries in Asia, at all
  • Failing to act is costing USA ~$4T/year, $3.4k per family.
  • Increase investment from 2.5% to 3.5% of GDP
  • Put the trust back in (hwy) trust fund
  • Authorize programs to improve specific categories of infrastructure
  • We must pay real costs
  • Leadership
  • >$5M projects should require lifecycle cost accounting
  • Incentives for maintenance
  • Streamline permitting
  • Develop pipeline for PPA
  • Resiliency
  • Sustainability
  • Community programs
  • Consider emerging tech
  • Local land use planning
  • R&D

Panel on working towards an integrated regional transit network
Craig Helmann, Senior Program Manager, Data Dept, Puget Sound Regional Com.

Andrea d'Amato, Assistant Secretary for Operational Excellence, Mass.DOT

Vladimir Livshits, Systems Analysis Program Manager, MAG,
  • Infrastructure Data for Smart Planning and Investments: Regional Perspective

Kome Ajisse, Director of Planning, SCAG,
  • SCAG is nation's largest metro planning org (MPO)
  • Strategic investments to relieve congestion
    • Rail expansion
    • Goods movement/logistics industry investment
    • Increased active transportation options
    • Strengthens the health of our communities
    • Economic development (jobs)
  • Financial Plan - $550B
  • ~70% of communities w/in SCAG have limited or minimal staff resources to analyze data, ~50% have no in-house GIS services, 80% share data through direct communications. (SCAG Regional Data Survey Fall 2017)
  • They have Data Science Fellowships for student interns.
  • Regional Data Platform: Process, People, Technology x Data collection, data communication, knowledge & action
  • Active transportation database - bicycles & mobile data collection.
  • Partnerships for local data refinement

Q: impact of data, e.g. power digs up road, then telecom digs up road, etc. etc.
A: Andrea, we're trying for access & equity, partnering with Apple, Waze, Google.
A: Kome, our intent is to make the data as granular as possible. Caltran has its own real-time transit map.
A: Vladimir our models are tailored to scenario analyses.

Q: …??
A: Andrea, dealing with the connotations of the word "Bus"
A: Kome, drop was b/c of TNCs,
A: Craig, technology is changing so rapidly

Mod comment: Germany has good multimodal transit

Q: Gas taxes? Can you comment?
Kome: working on something, need research
Vladimir: there may be no pump in the future, maybe charge businesses? Also consider air, and unmanned air craft.
Craig: we already have highest gas tax. Looking to transition to usage tax by 2030.
I really like the usage idea. I'd try to apply some principles of use/wear and necessary interdependence with other systems. Some kind of digital tracking should be relatively straightforward in the next 10 years given where we're going with that technology. Would also give us a nice natl. database.  My first experiment would be a 3-tier policy with partial contributions from city, state, and fed policy/rules. They would be climate-adjusted weight x distance fee. As I understand weight (trucks) accounts for most of the wear, at least in warmer climates where there's no snow. 
Q: How much did you find that policies were an obstacle to collecting and using data? E.g. here in AZ we have data sharing legislation
Kome: the data we use don't have that constraint on them , but dictionaries are different in different jurisdictions. So we aggregate and educate. We also buy a lot of data. We have a big report coming out as we have shortage of about 1/2 M housing.
Andrea: Have you heard the expression, "data rich and information poor?" hahaha. National past time in Boston is to talk about how bad transportation is.
Vladimir: we've got a lot of data, purchase a lot, they all come with strings attached. E.g. sharing, # of users, secured machines.

Q: Collaborating on data?
Vladimir: we have data
Andrea: used to be commissioner of Boston.  
Says she wants help with their GIS database. Real-time integration. 
Seems like it would be perfect for University collaboration.
I tried to catch her afterwards, but couldn't find her.
Craig: they work a lot with university of Washington.
Kome: Have to be careful to not be too friendly with one university and not another. They have international relationships too. Their issue is just getting more granular data.

Keynote: Tom Clemens, Bentley Systems, Executive Advisor, Transportation Solutions
Map of national infrastructure by Chris Tucker, AGS.
Includes underground aquifers.
Issues? Not Technology. Leadership, funding, people, passion, evangelism.
If it weren't so easy to blame incompetence and neglect, I'd be inclined to say there's a giant conspiracy to destroy the US from the inside via crumbling infrastructure. >.>
5,500 structurally deficient bridges (functional, but poor condition)
Jack Dangerman is considered the father of GIS.
CAD and GIS are getting integrating.
ESRI, Future City, Bentley (privately owned companies, long-term thinkers)
Speaker gives heavy praise for these companies and their execs.

Connecticut department of transportation
Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Orgeon DOT

Need to do a better job of talking about what we're doing well. Yes
USA now does Design, Build. (don't have to plan every detail upfront in bid)
Doing construction in evenings is simple and effective. Gave lots of benefits, bonuses, plus quicker and safer.

Why have civil engineers fallen so far behind? Follow the money!
We're up to 32 states who have supplemented their funding form lack of congressional support
E.g. Texas has $70B dedicated over 10 years from oil wells. Don't mess with Texas!

US DOT Smart City Challenge
Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas city, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco
Great branding effort, but be careful about overuse of the word "Smart"

See short paper: McKinsey GoingDigital to Advance Infrastructure. All about the cloud.

Leadership role of Contractors doing heavy construction in development and demand from owners of 3D models automated machine guidance using GPS & laser technology.

Infrastructure Standards: OGC, Open GIS Consortium, Current RFI for Disasters Interoperability, Support from USGS, WHO, FGDC, International Foundation Class

We don't market/advertise ourselves well.
We're shrinking.

How many people don't own a car? 1 hand
Comment about Gen Y and Z not wanting one. 
I don't know about that. 
I get really annoyed when people talk about Gen Y and Z like these are people of a different species.
Everybody needs the same things, whether they realize it or not.
Does owning a car get us closer to that or further? It depends. Do your market analysis!


The Genius of Jesus

First, I am so grateful to have found Hillsong. I actually only learned about this place because a woman I met salsa dancing invited me. Go figure. Of all the places. Welcome to Phoenix, where one of the biggest leaders in the social dancing community, Lawrence Garcia, is a good Christian man. Also, as much as I love you Erwin/Mosaic, tuning in occasionally on YouTube is just not the same as being there in person. Gotta have an actual physical community of other human beings to see at least once a week, preferably more.

I'll be honest, shopping for a church has not been easy in Arizona. At least not for me. It was so hard when I got here. After visiting 6 churches, and striking out 6 times because of all the negativity, I got depressed and gave up looking for a while. Eventually I tried going to a church on my university campus, and was basically snubbed by some guy working there implying that I was only there to pickup on girls. Are you kidding me!? Then I thought I might have found a keeper a few miles away recommended to me by someone I met at a coffee shop, but after almost 2 months the pastor said some anti-gay people stuff, in explicit sincerity, and I couldn't go anymore.

If you've been around my blog much, you'll know that I had a rather challenging unconventional childhood, between being a lower-middle class 1st gen American of a Spanish war refugee, only child, skipped two grades in elementary school, mostly left in-front of the television as a kid, Dad got cancer when I was 14, died when I was 16, very socially awkward, most of my friends from K12 have some kind of rap sheet, have been in jail for DUIs, drugs, one's in prison for murder... IDK was my town that bad, or was it just that no one wanted to be friends with the weird immature kid? At least I had a few positive experiences between the Boy Scouts of America, the Masonic youth group DeMolay, and Olympic Marksmanship that he led me into. Anyway, my first day on campus in undergrad was my opportunity to redifine myself as "Dan," and not "that kid who was skipped two grades."On that day I made my first new friend at orientation, who was coincidentally gay, and black, and Jewish. All at the same time. You don't want to know what that guy's been though, and he still manages to be a decent human being. He was kind to me. And also has a great sense of humor. =) So, if you've got a problem with him, then you've got a problem with me, and you better pick your words carefully -- as is your responsibility when you hold the microphone.

I don't care how many more passages of the Bible someone has memorized, or how many more years of experience, or whatever, I'm not going to study how to be a better man under the leadership of someone who's more deaf to God's word than I am. He said, "God's voice is perfect, but all of our hearing is flawed." Then he said homosexuality is a sin. To which I respond, rape and incest are sins, and you need to get your priorities straight about what you're preaching about up there.

Rape and incest are not acceptable. Rape and incest are not acceptable ways of bringing new human life into this world. Jesus would not condone rape, and God's condemnation of incest is self-evident by the massive deformity/illness rate in people born of incest. Rape and incest are not acceptable ways of bringing new human life into this world.

If people can enjoy various forms of art and entertainment for pleasure, if they can get a massage all over 99% of their body for relaxation purposes, then what's the difference with the last few inches? That's the way they do things in the Netherlands, and people there seem to be just fine. Much better for your health than a lot of other generally accepted leisure activities. As long as it's between consenting adults, and done with a certain degree of temperance and humility -- please -- then I'm not going to pull out my proverbial yardstick and compare virtuosity/sinfulness with my neighbor for how they enjoy their leisure time. It's none of anyone else's business. Don't shove it in my face, and I won't go snooping through your belongings/data. If you think it's a sin, fine, don't do it! It's that's simple! In the meantime, pick something else to preach about because we've got bigger problems to deal with and you're making it worse by alienating people who aren't hurting anyone and would otherwise be supporting the community / cause -- of love and service and peace.

We had a guest speaker from Australia on March 18th who gave an excellent sermon about "brainless Christianity," taking risk in life, and reminded us that "You can care for someone without approving for their lifestyle." That God believes in life -- after birth. That no matter what, life has risk. To avoid being small minded and petty. Following Jesus is not safe, but it's the most rewarding place to be.

If you're familiar with my blog at all, and have made it this far into this post, then you can tell I take my logic extremely seriously. And when it comes to my personal/professional/spiritual/etc. development, I apply the same principles. 

I'll follow Jesus. I'll study the Bible with other men and women, combine the scriptures with all the other knowledge and experiences we've developed in the 2,000+ years since, and try to relate it to the world and circumstances we live in now in order to live in a more Christ-like manner and create a more heavenly world for ourselves and our neighbors.

I learned from epic super genius and cleantech/sustainability investor Andrew Chung, when he gave a presentation at the Cleantech Open almost a decade ago, how he reads a thousand business plans a day. Number not exact, but point being, as he said, he throws most of them away at the first sentence. Most of the rest after the first paragraph. And then only finishes about half a dozen before lunch. He doesn't waste his time reading things that don't make sense. And I don't waste my time listening to philosophers who don't make sense.

After about two months of really enjoying every sermon at Hillsong, I said okay, these people are geniuses. They know what they're doing. They know the word of God better than I do. They're engaging the community, they're creating a positive uplifting environment, and a more heavenly world. Sign me up. I want to be a part of this.

And what a coincidence, we just finished a series on "The Genius of Jesus" last weekend! My notes below. Hope you enjoy. 

  • Pastor opens with joke about life being re-arranged, after having a baby life was never going back to the way it was
  • Kids change us in the best and worst ways.
  • They will break you of selfishness.
  • Everything irreversibly altered when Jesus came to the world. God has called you to be an agent of change and build a better self:
    • 4 things
      • 1. The genius of Jesus is seen in his intentionality. Jesus lived a very intentional life, about:
        • Learning
        • ...
        • Lifting lives of people
        • Travel
        • Serving others
        • Forcing events that led to death
      • 2. The genius of Jesus is seen through his creativity.
        • Craftsman: Carpenter or stone Mason
        • Creative in his ministry, etc etc
        • Problem solving. We all solve problems.
        • 3. Unconventionality
        • Christianity is counter cultural and unconventional. Jesus built that up.
        • You are a counter cultural force for good. Stand up, stand out, for who you are and what you believe.
      • Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you...
    • 4. humility
      • Laid aside his divinity in order to live as a man.
      • People changing from humility is the greater power.
      • Humility places us in a position to depend of God, and then he shows up.
      • How could your life / career improve with more humility?
    • You already have the mind of Jesus.

  • Pastor jokes that he had to go to google to learn how to use emojis bc he was using them incorrectly and offending people when he began.
  • Baptism is an important part of God’s plan for your life
  • Jesus was Baptized as a sign of his humility and surrender.
  • He begins his journey in humility and ends it in humiliation
  • Common philosophy today about getting power as attacking
  • The only way you can get to God’s kingdom of heaven is to serve your way there
  • Humility is the new way, the new power.
  • Is it possible that i’m too full of myself? I’ve got too much good for God? Empty yourself...
  • God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.
  • Pride says, I don’t need you.
  • Water Baptism is how we go public with or faith.
  • We don’t practice infant baptism, or sprinklings because it’s not in the Bible. It’s okay, but we prefer to do it for people old enough to be aware of their sins, and their faith, and consciously intentionally put faith in Jesus.
  • Those who believed and accepted his message were baptized.
  • Jesus was without sin. He was sinless.
  • We aren’t made righteous through baptism, we’re made righteous by believing.
  • So many of you are trying to earn and maintain your own salvation. It is given to you simply for your faith.
  • His old life was cut off (as a carpenter) and he began his new life as a minister.
  • I have decided to follow Jesus and there is no going back. The old life is cut off.
  • I’ve seen people cut off from old habits, washed away from guilt and shame. It’s not the water. It’s the act of faith filled obedience.
  • We live new lives with the old cut off.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Dan Burillo and Lance Coddington, people smiling, people standing Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, water and outdoor

  • A lot of people miss the obvious
  • E.g. how many people think of Jesus and think of generosity?
  • Everything in his life radiated with generosity, inspiring others to rise up and contribute generosity
  • Proposes 2 definitions:
    • A) lavish, plentiful, liberal, abundance, above and beyond
    • B) that plus urgency, readiness to give at any moment
  • Parable of workers in vineyard. God loves people just as much who are late to the party.
  • We can see the generosity of Jesus in his: Teachings, works, ethics
  • Love your enemy
  • If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Zing!
  • Every generation finds their own excuses for not following parts of Jesus.
  • Why don’t more people live generously? You can give, but not be generous. E.g discipline, tax write off, etc etc.
  • 3 reasons:
  • 1) it’s counter intuitive (fear of scarcity) - one gives freely & grows richer; another withholds and suffers want.
  • 2) generosity is more than an action. It’s a way of seeing, thinking, and living.
  • 3) not something you do just once. I’m giving consistently, You position yourself to receive consistently.

  • How he brought us an unconventional kingdom
  • The most important message, Matthew ch5, and longest message
  • Some of you have been taught that God doesn't want you to be happy.
  • Constitution on Christianity
  • Everything is counter intuitive. 
    • Jesus: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, righteous, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, persecuted.
    • Ego: getting my own way, avoiding loss, fighting for my rights, making my own rules, intolerant of those not like me, looking good before other people, my feelings come first, celebrated/honored/appreciated. 
  • Jesus had a profound understanding of the human condition. Master communicator, teacher and listener.
  • Even if they don’t acknowledge him as savior, he is the greatest moral teacher of all times
  • Seeing in the crowds, he went up on the mountain.
  • Blessedness to happiness. Basically overcoming various challenges.
  • Q: what will it take to make you happy?
  • E.g. google will auto complete it for you
  • E.g. happy and you know it clap your hands.
  • Eg How many people you know who get money, fame, status, stuff, trips, married, kids, retired — and then are still not happy.
  • So many people think when I ____, then i’ll Be happy. What’s your ___?
  • E.g. psych today, survey most people relegated happiness to external circumstances.
  • Doesn’t think happiness and joy are separate things. God wants you to be happy and joyous. Going to talk about them interchangeably.
  • If you live with integrity, God will lift you up.
  • So why are so many of us not happy?
  • “Happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”
  • Pursuit of happiness lessons:
    • It’s in being rightly related to God.
    • E.g. victor frankl’s man quest for meaning. Realized they couldn’t take my attitude. The last of human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude.
    • No one can control the way you experience anything but you.
    • God’s definition of happiness is to ...
  • 1. Happiness is not the result of my circumstances.
  • 2. Happiness is not the result of my relationships.
  • Jokes about people looking for relationships, overly specified, over outcome dependent.
  • He doesn’t do counseling any more. Another joke about thinking things that he's not supposed to say as a pastor.
  • Nobody can take your happiness.
  • Your happiness is tied to God. This is so true.
  • Stop chasing the emotion. Stop looking for the emotion.
  • Just say i’m Going to be big enough to be responsible for my own soul.
  • 3. Happiness is not the result of my resources.
  • A lot of the happiest people live in the most devastated places.
  • Maybe for some of us, the biggest barrier to our happiness is our blessedness. We’re cranky if we don’t have our food in time, whereas other people around the world are just happy to have food.
  • This is the deception of Instagram. Our desire to have what we think we need.
  • 4. Happiness is not the result of being someone else.
  • We will never be happy trying to be someone else. You are who God has made you to be, and you are enough. Not saying you shouldn’t seek to grow and improve. But you are sufficient, you are adequate, you are enough.
  • Jesus on the mountain, said we couldn’t do what the first man on the mountain told us what to do (Moses), told us the next things

Practicing science communication at ASU's Second Knowledge Mobilization Awards


I started talking to Joe Doiron about his research, and decided to pull the camera back out. He does me the favor of a brief interview. Then Gregory Tucker crashes the party at the end, and talk about batteries. That man also had the overall winning video, nice job!

A few more conversations happened that I didn't catch on video, then the show started. We had a few opening remarks from event coordinators. Some folks repeated a lot of what I've already written about are problems in academia, namely that academia doesn't have a monopoly on information anymore, and that it needs to change the way it does things. So, it's nice to see ASU is trying with this event. A bit of a bumpy start as only the second time doing it, e.g. my video didn't get in, but no worries. Getting encouragement from anyone in academia to publish anything in any medium outside of the peer reviewed journals or conferences that the professors own is a big improvement. So, again, good job!

I took notes (my thoughts in blue) for our 
Keynote: Dr. Andrew Mayner
Title: Humility is not a 4-letter work

He started with an anecdote about some physicist getting flustered and defensive when being questioned about some planetary protection thing. Basically the Physicist said, you should just trust me bc I'm the scientist.

Our speaker then talked about concepts of hubris and humility.
"Hubris" and "Humility" are subjective terms. You want to talk about hubris, let's talk about Sheryl Sandberg trying to ban words. #banbossy, okay, how would you rather we describe people who behave:

Come on... I was with you on "Lean in", but what were you thinking with "Ban Bossy"? Seriously. That's pretty ironic. You should really consider hiring some better PR/communications strategy advisors your highness. ;-P

Speaker gives an anecdote about him creating a public inventory of nanomaterials, turns into headline:
"Leading scientist accuses manufacturers of using customers as guinea pigs"
He said he had a realization that he was stupid enough to think he could say whatever he liked.
I'm going to take that last one with a grain of salt. There are a lot of reporters with no morals. And they will twist people's words to whatever they want to suit their purposes, which is usually just to get ratings. But sometimes also to the highest bidders too who want to sway public opinion for whatever reason.

10 Lessons:
  1. Don't become a victim of excess humility. Scientists think they're not relevant, but even if you think you don't know that much, you do know things.
    I was joking with someone after the presentation that I feel like I'm a lead foot in this department. Either slamming on the gas or on the brakes. Finesse is an art that I am still working on. I'm not 35 yet, so I've still got time. ;-P
  2. Respect your audience. Remember when you're trying to transmit information, it's about the recipient. yes
  3. Always put your audience first. There's a tendency to think it's all about you, but its about the recipient. yes
  4. Always be prepared to learn from others and listen to others. yes
  5. Do not mansplain. He says he doesn't like the word, and that in academia it transcends genders i.e. women can mansplain too. Don't have this bad attitude about explaining things.
    Wait what? Did he even write this list that he's reading from?
    I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak here, but wow.
    Speaking of saying whatever you want and worrying about reporting, imagine the headline:

    "ASU professor encourages women to lead in mansplaining on university campus"

    "Anything men can do women can do better, and that includes mansplaining according to Prof ___"
    "Humble sustainability scientist risks career by saying that women can be condescending. Will feminists allow him to keep trying to save humanity?"

    IDK, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here that he's trying to pull some kind of crazy social Jiu Jitsu seed-planting move, but I think he could have just as well said, don't be condescending, without using the male gender as a negative pre-fix. That's beyond condescending.

  6. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  7. You will make mistakes. Fail forward, and fail fast.
  8. People don't have to listen to you, or pay attention to you. Start thinking about how do you engage people so that they want to listen to you? There we go, that helps. Maybe academia can take a bit of its own medicine.
  9. Engage with language that people want to hear. Whatever you do, don't communicate in a language that doesn't make sense to the other person. mansplaining?
  10. Be generous in your support of others. Help people, encourage people. Have the humility to help someone else. What does humility have to do with helping others? That's generosity, compassion, good will, love, responsibility, etc. Some of the most humble people I meet are some of the most selfish assholes who's sole goal in life appears to be to acquire power by any means necessary with no regard for other human life. Meanwhile some of the people with the highest sense of self-importance, take the most personal responsibility to help others.

Speaker made a cheeky remark at one point about the irony of him giving us a lecture on humility. I've still yet to meet a Brit who didn't have a good sense of humor. So, thanks for bringing this up. It's an important topic of conversation, and very timely given the current state of public discourse on science. 

And to close things out, here's a fun video, where I interview a social science researcher about her work on indigenous peoples in Taiwan.