Infrastructure

  • West Virginia mulls releasing crude oil shipment information to the public

    In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation(DOT) ordered railroads operating trains carrying more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil to notify state emergency officials in states through which oil-carrying trains travel of the expected movement of such trains. The order came to allow first responders to be better prepared should an accident occur. CSX Corporation agreed to share shipping information with West Virginia officials, but refused to release the information to the public citing concerns about terrorism. DOT made it clear that citing terrorism concerns does not exempt crude oil shipment information from being released to the public.

  • Rural towns lose to urban centers in competition for coastal protection funding

    Infrastructure protection planners say there are only three ways coastal communities can defend themselves against rising sea levels: defend the shoreline with both natural and man-made barriers; raise key infrastructure such as buildings and roads; or retreat from the shoreline. Each of these options costs a fortune to follow. Smaller, more rural coastal communities in many states are finding that they are having a hard time competing with more powerful interests in coastal urban cities over funding for protection against sea-level rise.

  • People living near “fracking” sites report more health symptoms

    Little is known about the environmental and public health impact of certain natural gas extraction techniques — including hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking” — that occur near residential areas. A Yale-led study has found a greater prevalence of health symptoms reported among residents living close to natural gas wells, including those drilled by hydraulic fracturing.

  • Cheap, easy-to-install water purifying system for remote communities

    About 1.5 million people — and 90 percent of them children — die every year from consuming untreated or contaminated water. University of Adelaide mechanical engineering students and staff have designed a low-cost and easily made drinking water treatment system suitable for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) — using foil chip packets and some glass tubing.

  • Virtually every agency of the U.S. government has been hacked: Experts

    DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) has so far responded to more than 600,000 cyber incidents this fiscal year; has issued more than 10,000 alerts to recipients to help secure their systems; and in seventy-eight cases deployed DHS experts to provide technical assistance.Robert Anderson, the executive assistant director for the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services branch, told lawmakers that virtually all agencies of the U.S. government have in some way been hacked.

  • Not all Oakland buildings are equally seismically vulnerable

    A mobile app which allows Oakland resident to check on whether their buildings are seismically vulnerable reveals that there is a vast inequality between safe and vulnerable homes in the city, as residents living in less-affluent, older multi-unit buildings would suffer the most in a major quake. Oakland is home to hundreds of those vulnerable buildings that may collapse in a major earthquake, and there is no law mandating property owners to retrofit buildings to safer standards.

  • Colorado recovering as it marks one year anniversary of devastating flood

    On 29 September 2013 Colorado experienced the most severe natural disaster that had ever befallen the state. Within three days much of the state had experienced a rainfall equivalent to its total for the entire year. In the end, nine people died, nearly 1,000 were evacuated by helicopter, and 1,800 homes were destroyed. The total cost of the damage reached $2.9 billion. Now, a year later, Colorado is finally coming back.

  • Moving cybersecurity technologies from the lab to the real world more expeditiously

    Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program, cybersecurity technologies developed at Sandia National Laboratories — and at other federal labs — now stand a better chance of finding their way into the real world. The TTP program, spearheaded by DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), helps move federally funded cybersecurity technologies into broader use. Getting research discoveries and new technologies over the so-called “valley of death” — the gap between early, promising research on one side and technology that’s in use on the other — is a pressing need in the national lab community.

  • Day of commercially available quantum encryption nears

    If implemented on a wide scale, quantum key distribution technology could ensure truly secure commerce, banking, communications, and data transfer. Los Alamos National Laboratory signs the largest information technology agreement in the lab’s history which aims to bring quantum encryption to the marketplace after nearly twenty years of development at the national-security science laboratory.

  • Sea level rise affecting the infrastructure, psychology of key mid-Atlantic towns

    Scientific research and flooding trends have led many to speculate that the Atlantic coast of the United States is already sinking. Mid-Atlantic towns on the coast stretching from Virginia to South Carolina have been experiencing increased flooding and receiving reports and satellite findings from government agencies, leading many of those living on the mid-Atlantic coast to wonder whether their hometowns are doomed.

  • Inexpensive, home-made quake early-warning system can be a life saver

    UC Berkeley astrophysics professor Josh Bloom has developed an earthquake early-warning (EEW) device meant for the home or office. Resembling a home fire alarm or carbon monoxide sensor, the device was built using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer, an SD card, wired power speaker, and mini Wi-Fi adapter — costing roughly $110 in parts.

  • Florida Keys preparing for rising sea levels

    The Florida Keys rank third among East Coast communities at risk of “population displacement” due to higher seas which will flood nearby land. Scientists say that if sea levels continue to rise at the current rate, high waters which drowned the Keys during 2005’s Hurricane Wilma could become a normal part of living in Monroe County by 2060. Officials in Monroe County, Florida are putting together a GreenKeys Sustainability Action Plan which will help residents of the Florida Keys maintain a sustainable lifestyle while under threat of sea-level rise due to climate change.

  • Sun-powered desalination for villages in India

    Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water — and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. MIT researchers show that a different desalination technology called electrodialysis, powered by solar panels, could provide enough clean, palatable drinking water to supply the needs of a typical village.

  • NYC bridges need better protection against terrorists: Experts

    New York City’s bridges have long been the target of terrorist attacks. In 1993, for example, officials discovered a plot by Omar Abdel-Rahman to target the George Washington Bridge and other sites. Recent security breaches on both the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge have heightened concerns as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks near. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that his office would soon offer better ways to secure the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • No Fukushima radiation found in California’s coastal areas

    Following the 11 March 2011 Fukushima disaster, researches wanted to see whether radioactivity could be found in Bay Area precipitation. They collected weeks’ worth of rainwater around UC Berkeley Campus to find out. The results: low levels of a number of different radioactive nuclei produced by the fission of uranium-235 including, cesium-134, cesium-137, and iodine-131. “The levels we saw were detectable, but low and not a health hazard to anyone,” said UC Berkeley’s nuclear engineering professor Eric Norman.