CBP's Human Factor

R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE | July 5, 2016

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It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

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Gemeente Dalfsen

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COVID-19: How do we get out of this quagmire?

Article | July 14, 2020

The COVID-19 virus (C19) pandemic is turning out to be the event of the century. Even World War seems timid in comparison. We are in the 4th month of the virus (in non-China countries) and have gone past the lockdown in many places. Isn’t it time we re-think the approach? What if there is another wave of C19 coming soon? What if C19 is the first of many such events in the future? Before we get into analysis and solution design, summarizing the C19 quirks: While a large section of the affected population is asymptomatic, for some it can be lethal There isn’t clarity on all the ways C19 spreads It’s known to affect the lungs, heart, and kidneys in patients with weak immunity It has been hard to identify a definitive pattern of the virus. Some observations in managing the C19 situation are: With no vaccine in sight, the end of this epidemic looks months or years away Health care personnel in hospitals need additional protection to treat patients Lockdowns lead to severe economic hardship and its repeated application can be damaging Quarantining people has an economic cost, especially in the weaker sections of society If one takes a step back to re-think about this, we are primarily solving 2 problems: Minimise deaths: Minimise the death of C19 and non-C19 patients in this period Maximise economic growth: The GDP output/growth should equal or higher than pre-C19 levels One needs to achieve the 2 goals in an environment of rising number of C19 cases. Minimise deaths An approach that can be applied to achieve this is: Data driven health care capacity planning Build a health repository of all the citizens with details like pre-existing diseases, comorbidity, health status, etc. The repository needs to be updated quarterly to account for patient data changes This health repository data is combined with the C19 profile (disease susceptibility) and/or other seasonal diseases to determine the healthcare capacity (medicines, doctors, etc.) needed The healthcare capacity deficit/excess needs to be analysed in categories (beds, equipment, medicine, personnel, etc.) and regions (city, state, etc.) and actions taken accordingly Regular capacity management will ensure patients aren’t deprived of timely treatment. In addition, such planning helps in the equitable distribution of healthcare across regions and optimising health care costs. Healthcare sector is better prepared to scale-up/down their operations Based on the analysis citizens can be informed about their probability of needing hospitalisation on contracting C19. Citizens with a higher health risk on C19 infection should be personally trained on prevention and tips to manage the disease on occurrence The diagram below explains the process Mechanism to increase hospital capacity without cost escalation Due to the nature of C19, health personnel are prone to infection and their safety is a big issue. There is also a shortage of hospitable beds available. Even non-C19 patients aren’t getting the required treatment because health personnel seek it as a risk. This resulted in, healthcare costs going up and availability reducing. To mitigate such issues, hospital layouts may need to be altered (as shown in the diagram below). The altered layout improves hospital capacity and availability of health care personnel. It also reduces the need for the arduous C19 protection procedures. Such procedures reduce the patient treatment capacity and puts a toll on hospital management. Over a period, the number of recovered C19 persons are going to increase significantly. We need to start tapping into their services to reduce the burden on the system. The hospitals need to be divided into 3 zones. The hospital zoning illustration shown below explains how this could be done. In the diagram, patients are shown in green and health care personnel are in light red. **Assumption: Infected and recovered C19 patients are immune to the disease. This is not clearly established Better enforcement of social factors The other reason for high number of infections in countries like India is a glaring disregard in following C19 rules in public places and the laxity in enforcement. Enforcement covers 2 parts, tracking incidents of violation and penalising the behaviour. Government should use modern mechanisms like crowd sourcing to track incidents and ride on the growing public fear to ensure penalty enforcement succeeds. The C19 pandemic has exposed governance limitations in not just following C19 rules, but also in other areas of public safety like road travel, sanitation, dietary habits, etc. Maximise economic growth The earlier lockdown has strained the economy. Adequate measures need to be taken to get the economy back on track. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are: One needs to evaluate the development needs of the country in different categories like growth impetus factors (e.g. building roads, electricity capacity increase), social factors (e.g. waste water treatment plants, health care capacity), and environmental factors (e.g. solar energy generation, EV charging stations). Governments need to accelerate funding in such projects so that that large numbers of unemployed people are hired and trained. Besides giving an immediate boost to the ailing economy such projects have a future payback. The governments should not get bogged down by the huge fiscal deficit such measures can create. Such a mechanism to get money out in the economy is far than better measures like QE (Quantitative Easing) or free money transfer into people’s bank accounts Certain items like smartphone, internet, masks, etc. have become critical (for work, education, critical government announcements). It’s essential to subsidise or reduce taxes so that these items are affordable and accessible to everyone without a financial impact The government shouldn’t put too many C19 related controls on service offerings (e.g. shops, schools, restaurants, cabs). Putting many controls increases the cost of the service which neither the seller not buyer is willing or able to pay. Where controls are put, the Govt should bear the costs or reduce taxes or figure out a mechanism so that the cost can be absorbed. An event like the C19 pandemic is a great opportunity to rationalise development imbalances in the country. Government funding should be channelized more to under-developed regions. This drives growth in regions that need it most. It also prevents excess migration that has resulted in uncontrolled and bad urbanisation that has made C19 management hard (guidelines like social distance are impossible to follow) Post-C19 lockdown, the business environment (need for sanitizers, masks, home furniture) has changed. To make people employable in new flourishing businesses there could be a need to re-skill people. Such an initiative can be taken up by the public/private sector The number of C19 infected asymptomatic patients is going to keep increasing. Building an economy around them (existing, recovered C19 patients) may not be a far-fetched idea. E.g. jobs for C19 infected daily wage earners, C19 infected taxi drivers to transport C19 patients, etc. In the last 100 years, mankind has conquered the destructive aspects of many a disease and natural mishap (hurricanes, floods, etc.). Human lives lost in such events has dramatically dropped over the years and our preparedness has never been this good. Nature seems to have caught up with mankind’s big strides in science and technology. C19 has been hard to reign in with no breakthrough yet. The C19 pandemic is here to stay for the near future. The more we accept this reality and change ourselves to live with it amidst us, the faster we can return to a new normal. A quote from Edward Jenner (inventor of Small Pox) seems apt in the situation – “The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases”.

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Cities, counties launching projects to reach sustainability goals

Article | September 4, 2020

Motorists and automobile lovers are already noticing rather rapid change. Sustainability goals adopted by elected officials at cities and counties are continuing to promote projects that support walking, biking, and using public transportation. Housing density, walkable communities, technology enhancement and convenient public transportation are the goals. Parking options are being reduced. Automobiles are being banned on many community streets, and cities are adding parks, entertainment venues, affordable housing, and more retail. Mixed use development, biking lanes, and convenient transportation options for non-motorized travel are the goal. The arguments for such changes are that people will be healthier and safer, the air will be cleaner, and there will be more options for people with disabilities. The trend is called ‘livable and walkable communities,’ and as it sweeps through the country, it opens up thousands of partnering opportunities between public entities and private sector contractors. Indiana The city of Indianapolis plans to add more sidewalks throughout the city and has commissioned an inventory to determine how many and which streets don’t have a sidewalk. The results of that study will be published by the end of 2020. The city, which covers 360 square miles, has approximately 8,400 lane miles of streets. Indiana’s Department of Transportation maintains about one-third of the state’s sidewalks, and the cities are responsible for the rest. The study is part of the Indy Moves plan, a long-range planning document that combines walking, biking, and public transportation goals. More than 400 projects are outlined that include building new roads, developing greenways, upgrading existing roads with sidewalks, and constructing more bike lanes. Adding sidewalks to every street without them could cost more than $1 billion. The sidewalks, however, appear to be a high priority because city officials have pledged net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and that requires fewer automobiles in the city. Texas In August, the city of Houston approved a plan that is built around walkable places and transit-oriented programs that encourage pedestrian-friendly spaces. The city, like many others throughout the country, will work to promote mixed-use development designed for walkability. For three years, the city has studied ways to make neighborhoods more walkable. Its new plan lists Midtown, Emancipation Avenue, and the Northside as the first places of high focus. Ordinances will be effective beginning October 1. Some of the first initiatives include the construction of facades closer to the road, expansion of sidewalks and relocation of parking lots to the side or rear of buildings. Additionally, the ordinances call for additional bike parking standards in areas that are within a half-mile walking distance from Metro transit station platforms. New Hampshire The Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission recently unveiled its Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plan. The document outlines projects that include constructing streets and paths that encourage walking and biking. It calls for developing safer intersections and compact and well-signed city blocks. The city of Manchester has applied for a $25 million federal grant to will help fund a pedestrian bridge and the addition of a new street to help alleviate traffic congestion around the Southern New Hampshire University parking garage. City leaders hope to know by November if their grant request has been approved. If so, projects related to improving connectivity and walkability will be launched. The plan calls for an approximate $125 million investment, but the projects could unlock $600 million more in anticipated development. The new developments are expected to include a facility for 1,802 residential units, a hotel with 154 rooms, 785,000 square feet of office space, and 198,000 square feet of retail space. Illinois The city of Chicago has announced an initiative called INVEST South/West. This plan commits $750 million of public funds for projects in 12 commercial corridors in 10 neighborhoods. The objective of this plan is to improve streetscapes and public and also strengthening transportation networks and repurposing vacant lots for public amenities and affordable housing. Currently, three solicitation documents have been released for one neighborhood but numerous others will be released in coming months for projects in other neighborhoods. The initial solicitation documents call for proposals by November 24 with construction to begin by the end of 2020. Projects outlined for the various neighborhoods were developed through a months-long community-engagement process, and the developers and contractors will be expected to begin work quickly. California The city of Modesto has approved a 20-year plan that calls for bicycle lanes as well as widening and enhancing of sidewalks. Other projects are also planned with the overall objective of making neighborhoods more convenient for non-drivers and encouraging foot traffic and bicycles. City leaders point out that the downtown area has strong office, restaurant, and entertainment sectors, but there is a desire to reduce automobile traffic. Denser housing options and the encouragement of transportation options that include walking and biking are the goal. Construction of new home sites, retail, and other uses will be left to developers. City leaders plan to replace the Stanislaus County Courthouse and adjacent jail to make that property available for new, denser home sites. A pedestrian-friendly route would lead to the Tuolumne River. Georgia Clayton County and the cities of Sandy Springs, Savannah, and Valdosta were selected for funding in Georgia Tech's 2020 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge. Each region will receive $100,000 in grant funding to be used for planning purposes. The Clayton County Smart Pedestrian Planning project outlines plans to promote mobility, equity, and the identification of smart technologies to support walkability in communities. Sidewalk data will be collected, and the county will oversee the selection of pilot projects in locations that represent different neighborhood typologies. The first projects will be studied for future development of additional regions. Cities and counties throughout the country are rushing to meet sustainability goals and these efforts are resulting in an abundance of contracting opportunities for developers, engineering firms, construction companies, landscape firms, and technology providers. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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TOP 5 REAL-LIFE MACHINE LEARNING EXAMPLES

Article | May 7, 2020

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that can be found almost anywhere. Believe it or not, even coffee roasters are beginning to employ machine learning algorithms to better understand when coffee lovers will crave their next cup of joe. The ability to innovate is one of the most highly prized qualities in today’s tech-driven world, which has led to a stunning range of machine learning applications across multiple industries. Here are the top five real-world examples.

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Could the next infrastructure bill include funding for public technology systems?

Article | June 19, 2020

The House of Representatives laid out an infrastructure plan on June 18 – an expensive one with a price tag of approximately $1.5 trillion. It will not, of course, pass Congress in its current state, but it promises to start the critical and overdue conversation in Washington about infrastructure. But, there’s an omission that hopefully will be addressed and debated in Congress. The new plan makes little mention of funding for America’s outdated public technology infrastructure. Yet, the nation’s technology is a critical component of its infrastructure. Some leaders hope to make Congress aware of the challenges public officials face as they try to manage with old legacy technology systems that should have been replaced a decade ago. Broadband will likely be addressed, but all kinds of other technology assets need attention as well. When taxpayers think about what infrastructure should include, there is not a consensus. Roads and bridges are certainly considered as public assets and will be included in every discussion of infrastructure. Water, power, schools, health care, and even the Postal Service are named in the new plan that passed the House of Representatives. But, the new bill, which is called the Moving Forward Act, does not mention government’s basic technology infrastructure. One definition of infrastructure is “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Surely, technology falls into that category. There’s no argument that America’s global economic future depends on its technology infrastructure as well as its transportation infrastructure. But, public officials in governmental entities throughout the country attempt to provide services on old legacy systems that are decades past replacement stages. Public databases and networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks. The technology found in cities, counties, school districts, and governmental agencies is more than old and inadequate it is simply unreliable and in some instances could be considered dangerous. In a world of ‘big data’, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, apps, the Internet of Things (IoT), and extreme security requirements, government technology assets lag too far behind in America. Public officials don’t have funding to replace the antiquated technology systems. As Congress debates infrastructure reform, technology should be a part of the conversation. Those in agreement that the national debt does not need another $1.5 trillion hit may advocate for ways to encourage private sector funding for the many needs of infrastructure. Collaborative initiatives could be structured in the final infrastructure bill so that there are incentives for alternative funding and private sector expertise, as well as guidelines to protect taxpayers and public agencies. The inclusion of technology needs in any infrastructure discussion is, at the very least, worthy of discussion. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Spotlight

Gemeente Dalfsen

Dalfsen is een organisatie die bewust tijd en aandacht besteed aan de wisselwerking tussen gemeente en burgers in de vorm van inspraak, communicatie over thema's die spelen en werken met klankbordgroepen. Er is sprake van een goede mix van maatschappelijke betrokkenheid en een professionele dienstverlening.

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