Infrastructure

  • NORAD general warns wind turbines pose national security threat

    There is a new homeland security issue: wind turbines; turbines create a shadow that makes airplanes disappear from radar screens; the turbines also clutter the screens with the turbines’ “signature,” which changes as blades accelerate and slow with the wind; the U.S. military says that decision on wind farm locations should be carefully vetted to make sure home defense is not compromised

  • U.S. military warns of massive oil shortages by 2015

    A new study by the U.S. military warns of serious oil shortages by 2015: surplus oil production will disappear by 2012, and as early as 2015 the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day; the Joint Operating Environment report paints a bleak picture of what can happen on occasions when there is serious economic upheaval: “One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest,” it warns darkly

  • Flooding risks along the Mississippi River underestimated by Army Corps of Engineers

    Scientists argue that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in an effort to correct old data on water flows in the Mississippi, may have led to underestimates of the current risk of flooding on the Mississippi between the Ohio and Missouri Rivers, and to inadequate preparations by government agencies

  • Laptops to serve as roaming earthquake detectors

    Newer models of laptops contain accelerometers — motion sensors meant to detect whether the computer has been dropped; if the computer falls, the hard drive will automatically switch off to protect the user’s data; researchers say this motion sensing ability allows laptop to serve as roaming earthquake detectors — even though laptop accelerometers are not as sensitive as professional-grade seismometers, so they can only pick up tremors of about magnitude 4.0 and above

  • view counter
  • Cybersecurity incidents in industrial control systems on the rise

    The good news is that only about 10 percent of U.S. industrial control systems are actually connected to the Internet; the bad news is that even with minimal Internet access, malware and breaches are increasingly occurring in utility, process control systems; cybersecurity incidents in petroleum and petrochemical control systems have declined significantly over the past five years — down more than 80 percent — but water and wastewater have increased 300 percent, and power/utilities by 30 percent

  • Calls grow for federalizing government building security

    DHS’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) has a budget of about $1 billion, and employs 1,225 full-time workers and 15,000 contract security guards at more than 2,300 federal facilities nationwide; in fiscal 2009 the service obligated $659 million for guards, the single largest item in its budget; a GAO reports criticizes the work of many of the guards and the contracts which employ them, and lawmakers debate whether to federalize federal buildings security responsibilities

  • view counter
  • Critical surge barrier on New Orleans's eastern flank completed ahead of schedule

    A 7,490 ft.-long storm-surge protection wall that is the central part of a roughly two-mile long surge barrier in New Orleans is being completed several months ahead of schedule; the placement of a significant portion of the barrier, well ahead of the start of the 2010 hurricane season, adds a welcome level of defense on the city’s eastern flank

  • Louisiana officials to visit the Netherlands to learn Dutch flood protection methods

    The Dutch are widely hailed as having the best investment in flood protection in the world; much of the country’s densely populated areas are below sea level, and after a storm struck in 1953 and flooded 80 percent of the Netherlands, the Dutch became even more serious about flood protection

  • To avoid cyberwar and protect infrastructure -- fight cybercrime first

    Fighting cybercrime is the first step to avoiding cyberwar, protecting infrastructure; Christopher Painter, the White House’s senior director for cybersecurity: “There are a couple of things we need to do to harden [critical infrastructure] targets” — “But the other thing you need to do is reduce the threat. And the predominant threat we face is the criminal threat — the cybercrime threat in all of its varied aspects”

  • Fiber polymer replaces steel bars in major building projects

    UAE University researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative to demolishing damaged buildings and rebuilding them: using FRP (fiber reinforced polymer); FRP can be used in strengthening and repair instead of concrete or steel jacketing, which are labor intensive; moreover, concrete and steel jacketing systems are also often vulnerable to the same deterioration mechanism that caused the problem in the first place

  • Studies agree on a rise in sea levels of between 0.7 and 1.2 meters during the next 100 years

    A joint study by universities and research institutions from England, China, and Denmark finds that IPCC 2007 estimates that sea level would rise by less than half a meter in the next 100 years were too low; the researchers now estimate that sea levels will rise between 0.7 and 1.2 meters during the next 100 years; instead of using temperature to calculate the rise in sea levels, the researchers have used the radiation balance on Earth — taking into account both the warming effect of greenhouse gasses and the cooling effect from the sulfur clouds of large volcanic eruptions, which block radiation

  • Study: U.S. Northeast seeing more, fiercer rainstorms

    Rainstorms in the U.S. Northeast have become more frequent and fiercer over the last six decades; there is a debate whether or not this 60-year trend is an indication of, or is related to, global warming; what is more certain is the potential economic impact should the 60-year trend continue, requiring billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements to things in the region including roads, bridges, sewers, and culverts

  • Troubled bridges: remote monitoring of bridges' health nears

    As with people, bridges start getting sick long before they develop obvious symptoms; researchers develop remote-sensing technologies for monitoring the health of bridges; with on-site inspections occurring only once every two years, remote monitoring a bridge’s condition is the best way to assure the health of bridges

  • New software spots vulnerabilities in flood defenses

    Spanish researchers develop a computer system could provide more detailed flood-risk information; the system developed at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) identifies flood risks more quickly and effectively than satellite imagery, particularly in areas where there are dramatic changes in land over small spaces

  • India to build a hunter-killer UAV fleet; UAVs will come from Israel

    India is set to augment its fleet of reconnaissance UAVs with killer-hunter UAVs; the Indian military has been impressed with the effectiveness of the UAV campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and wants to adopt the same approach to India’s problem with Muslim terrorists; Israel, which sold India the intelligence-gathering drones, will be the source of the attack UAVs as well