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THE COVER Midnight in Sweden: Casale Wins the 2022 Engineering Drone Video of the Year Competition – story on page 10 CHANNELS ENVIRONMENTAL + SUSTAINABILITY 12 Tackling the U.S. Waste Infrastructure with Supercritical Water Oxidation STRUCTURES + BUILDINGS 13 Courthouse upgrades are evolving as highpriority targets for infrastructure funding TRANSPORTATION + INFRASTRUCTURE 15 How AI & Machine Learning Are Now Reshaping the Way Transit Systems Move Traffic Patterns 16 Funding and Permitting 18 Revitalizing American Infrastructure: Bridge Inspection and Testing BUSINESS NEWS 19 Elevating the Industry to New Heights–The 2022 Yearbook of Engineering Achievement 20 Accountability and the Digital Future: HxGN Live Global SOFTWARE + TECH 21 Digitalization Will Engineer the Future of Built Spaces 22 Reduce Construction Costs with Better Planning Enabled by Digital Technologies UNPILOTED SYSTEMS 25 Drones automate vertical inspections, increase employee safety 27 UAVs and the New Autonomous Reality 29 Harnessing Drone Technology in El Segundo
departments 8 Events 30 Reader Index
Columns 5 Industry insights: Thinking Strategically to Prevent Burnout Andy Chavez, CM&AA 6 Looking Back, Moving Forward: The Desire for New Heights Luke Carothers
VOLUME 8 ISSUE 7 csengineermag.com
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Thinking Strategically to Prevent Burnout Andy Chavez, CM&AA
What can drones tell us about preventing burnout in the AEC industry? Drone and UAV technology has come a long way in the last few years. New developments allow drones to fly fasters, longer, and higher than ever before. Not only has battery technology improved, but so too has our strategic deployment of these resources. Field and home docking stations allow drones to recharge their batteries, upload data, and rest until needed again. This strategic deployment helps maintain the continuity of crucial data streams and prevents the physical loss of drones. It is easy to think of drones in these terms, but the same isn’t necessarily true for us as human beings. And it’s true, we are not drones. We need much more to sustain our daily tasks beyond being shut off and charged. The human brain is complex, but, by thinking strategically about how we deploy our resources, we can prevent burnout in ourselves and those who work with us. Firm owners and employees all agree that burnout should be avoided, but I think that today’s work environment is vastly different from that of several years ago and deserves an updated and refreshed set of approaches to solve the issue. Here are some actionable solutions for both owners and employees alike to promote the longevity of high performers in the workplace: 1. Take a real lunch break. While working from home, many of us find ourselves eating in front of our computers while trying to crunch out one of our tasks for the day. When we work through lunch, we deprive ourselves of the following benefits: - Increased productivity. Taking breaks might sound counterintuitive when it comes to boosting productivity, but it’s one of the best ways to do so. -Improved mental well-being. Our brains need time to recharge. Taking some time away from the desk to go for a quick walk or unplug from your devices has a way of reducing stress and improving mental well-being. In Peace in Every Step , Thich Nhat Hanh expands on the benefits of ensuring that you find a consistent time to disconnect from your devices (amongst other things) every day. -Creativity boost. Taking a break can give you a fresh perspective on challenging projects. 2. For employers: Create immediate rewards for positive behavior. While we don’t have a full grasp on the complexity of the human mind, we know we can create positive habits via positive reinforcement (rewards). The most common and well known, tangible form of positive reinforce - ment in the workplace is merit-based bonuses. From an employee’s perspective, this is always appreciated, but I don’t think it’s effective at com - bating burnout. In Atomic Habits , James Clear explains that the more time there is between a reward and an action, the less effective our brains are at associating the two together to create a habit. Long-term rewards require more conscious thought and decision making from the employee to hold on to that motivation and put in the extra time necessary to claim the reward at the end of the period. Long-term rewards require more discipline and willpower. Supplement your long-term reward with a short-term reward that offers more frequent positive reinforcement of the behavior that the employee is displaying. My suggestion: if your employee is working late into the evening, allow them to order and expense dinner. To the brain, the thought of working additional hours until the end of your bonus period is a much more daunting endeavor than working until your Chipotle arrives in an hour or two. Our brains are complex but creating and fostering productive habits can be simple. 3. Utilize locational cues if working from home. In Atomic Habits , Clear also explains that our brains use locations as “cues” that are to be followed by an action. In other words, our brains naturally associate certain locations with certain actions and/ or habits. Since Covid, the lines have been blurred and many are struggling to find and maintain a balance between work and life that is sustainable. For some, they may have found issues remaining productive at home with all of the distractions. For others, they may have been too successful in bringing their work home and now have issues finding time to unwind, causing them to feel more stressed and burned out than ever. Clear’s suggestion: create more precise locational cues within your home. This requires a bit of discipline, but it’s effective if you’re persistent and intentional. This method of separating work from relaxation when working from home requires a fair amount of discipline and an almost comically strict implementation of the ground rules (yes, you have to stand up and walk to your couch to scroll through Instagram). However, it becomes more habitual over time and has been an effective way for me to find a healthy work-life balance that promotes longevity and prevents burnout. Compared to a human brain, drones are not a particular complex technology. Our understanding of the different pieces of unpiloted flight have improved in recent years, leading to more effective uses of the technology. Likewise, our understanding of the human brain and what it takes to prevent burnout is growing every year. By using this understanding to guide successful business practices, we can work towards eliminating burnout in the AEC industry.
looking back, moving forward The Desire
The 2022 Engineering Drone Video of the Year (EDVY) Competition is in its sixth year of existence, and, much like the drone/UAV industry and its technology, the competition looks vastly different than it did when it was imagined. Different concepts of drones and other unpiloted systems have existed for centuries at this point, but our modern concept of these systems was developed and popularized in the general public through the military sector. By the 1980s, aerial photography had become ubiquitous in many industries thanks to developments in flight and photographic technology. However, the military sector’s development of UAV and drone tech - nology around this time would have a significant impact on the future of aerial mapping and photography. It wasn’t until 2006 that drones and UAVs were deployed in civilian spaces. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, drones were used to survey the damage and search for trapped survivors. Around this time, the interest in drones for use in civilian sectors was beginning to grow, but the technology hadn’t yet made them practical for many uses. For example, the drones used in the wake of Hurricane Ka - trina had to be manually launched and controlled using multiple trained crew to ensure its safe piloting and return. Such a system was not feasible for many commercial uses, but the interest in the technology was strong enough that the commercial market continued to grow. By 2010, drone technology had developed to where a drone could be safely controlled by an operator using a smartphone. In addition, these new drones were much less cumbersome and relied on a quadcopter design for take off and control. Some of the first adopters of drone technology were amatuer enthusiasts who viewed the burgeoning tech - nology as a place of creative freedom. Photographers, filmmakers, and artists saw drones as a way to view the world as it had never been seen before. Soon other professionals began to pick drone flying as a hobby, and oftentimes, amatuer drone enthusiasts saw applications in their professional lives. Just five years later in 2015, the drone/UAV market had grown immensely, and the technology had become common in many different industries. In the AEC industry in particular, the need for drone/UAV technol - ogy was immediately evident, although adoption has not quite matched pace. As the designers of the world around us, the AEC industry is responsible for large, complex endeavors that often have an immediate impact on people living in communities across the globe. Drones provided a valuable and accessible point of view–checking and tracking the progression of a project, inspecting and detailing aspects of projects that would otherwise be dangerous for workers. Other enthusiasts saw the potential for a new point of view and began deploying drones around buildings and structures–old, new, and under construction. By the time Civil+Structural Engineer Media held the first EDVY competition in 2017, drones were begin - ning to catch on in the AEC industry. Many of the entries, while excellent content, were produced with little to no budget. In addition, these early videos were often produced outside of the firms, which made it harder to provide context that wasn’t visually evident. Even with a lack of resources, these early EDVY videos managed to capture our audience’s attention, speaking to the power drones and UAVs have to attract people to our industry. As the years and competitions progressed, more and more videos were being produced by the firms themselves, adding an element of production and context to the videos which had previously been inferred visually. However, that spirit of individualism has never left the competition, and each year the field is driven by new innovations and risks taken by experienced drone operators. The 2021 EDVY winner was a high school student who impressed our panel of judges so much that he was unanimously selected as the competition’s winner. While each of this year’s top ten videos were produced by firms themselves, this shows the progress of the technology into the AEC industry. That hunger for a new point of view pulled drones into the sphere of the AEC industry. Now, this year’s entries into the EDVY competition demonstrate that the desire for a new point of view has not been extinguished, but, rather, it has been transformed into a tool that can both tell us more about the environment–built and natural–and draw new perspectives into the industry.
for New Heights
LUKE CAROTHERS is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Esri User Conference july 11-15– San Diego, CA
Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals August 11-12 – New Orleans, la
Learn, reconnect, and discover the latest advances in geographic information system (GIS) technology when the Esri User Conference returns to San Diego. Join thousands of users from around the globe and discover how they’re leveraging GIS capabilities to solve problems, create shared understanding, and map common ground. https://www.esri.com/en-us/about/events/uc/registration Additive manufacturing, 5G networks, augmented reality and more – a wide range of novel technologies are finally maturing and finding vital applications in the most cutting-edge and productive factories. As manufacturers navigate challenges including chip shortages and supply chain disruption, engineers need expert knowledge of new approaches to efficiency and innovation. https://www.crowdcast.io/e/advanced-manufacturing/register Advanced Manufacturing july 18– Virtual The International Bridge Conference® (IBC) is the pre-eminent arena for the bridge industry in North & South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. Presented by the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania, the IBC annually attracts over 1,000 bridge owners and engineers, senior policy makers, government officials, bridge designers, construction executives, and suppliers from throughout the United States and abroad. The IBC is planned by an all-volunteer group and provides continuing education and networking opportunities to members of all facets of the bridge industry. https://eswp.com/bridge/bridge-home/ Join owners and key principals from premier engineering and service provider firms throughout the Deep Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, located in Miramar Beach, Florida. This year's convention and exhibitor trade show will be held on July 21-23, 2022. Annually, this convention proves to be one of the best events of the year. We have planned insightful programs and seminars (final agenda to be posted soon!) and important networking opportunities, at a fantastic family- friendly venue . Feel a little competitive? Why not join your ACEC and industry colleagues for our annual Deep South Golf Tournament or Deep South Fishing Tournament? Which state MO will bring home the traveling trophy this year? Gather with new friends and old ones for this year’s social activities planned for everyone to enjoy. This year's convention is shaping up to be one of the best yet! https://www.acec.org/acec-of-louisiana/events/deep-south- convention-2022/ International Bridge Conference® july 19– Pittsburgh, PA ACEC Deep South Convention july 21-23– Pittsburgh, PA
Practical leadership skills are vital to the health and success of every company in any industry. Effective leaders motivate their teams to achieve exceptional results, inspire others to be better than they thought possible, and create an environment where their team is focused and working towards a common vision. Zweig Group’s team of management experts – who have extensive experience working with AEC firms providing solutions to the challenges facing AEC firms today – deliver practical solutions that technical professionals can put to work immediately to lead their firms to success. https://zweiggroup.com/products/leadership-skills-for-aec- professionals-2022 september 2022 Commercial UAV Expo Americas is the definitive event for professionals integrating or operating commercial UAS. With top-notch education, thousands of attendees, and more exhibitors than any other commercial drone event, it’s the best opportunity of the year for anyone who needs to keep up with commercial UAS technology, trends, and developments. https://www.expouav.com/ Commercial UAV expo september 6-8 – las vegas, nv The 2022 ElevateAEC Conference and Awards Gala registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Las Vegas, September 14-16. Celebrate the iconic black-tie awards gala 2022 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards. Register now for the AEC industry’s top IN-PERSON learning and networking event of the year. https://zweiggroup.com/pages/annual-in-person-elevate-leadership-summit Built for SketchUppers by SketchUppers, 3D Basecamp is where modelers of all levels come to learn and share their 3D skills. During 3D Basecamp, the best of the best share their tips, workflows and extensions. Whether you are just getting started or polishing your skills, the learning sessions at 3D Basecamp are jam-packed with knowledge that will enhance your workflow and get you modeling better in no time. Without a doubt, you'll walk away with something new. Sessions and training cover a variety of industries, topics and skill levels. We attract the best trainers and experts to be your SketchUp sherpas at 3D Basecamp. Discover what is possible when you are surrounded by people who inspire you. https://3dbasecamp.sketchup.com ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala september 14-16– las vegas, nv SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2022 september 26-30– Vancouver, BC
sessions, major networking events, forums, roundtables and ACEC/ PAC fundraising events. https://www.acec.org/conferences/fall-conference1/ Chief Executive Summit for the Architecture, Engineering, COnsulting Industry October 25-27 – Scottsdale, AZ We anticipate a full schedule of events including a data presentation on the latest trends, opportunities, and challenges in the AEC industry, keynote speakers, and panel discussions with CEOs to discuss KPI performance, M&A, internal ownership transition, leadership, diversity, technology, ESG, and the "new normal." https://aec-advisors.regfox.com/2022-chief-executive-summit This crossover event brings together users from across infrastructure sectors, creating a rich and valuable learning environment for organizations to move their location intelligence forward with GIS. Join professionals specializing in infrastructure management from several interconnected industries—water; electric and gas; district heating and cooling; pipeline; telecom; transportation; and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC). https://www.esri.com/en-us/about/events/imgis/overview November 2022 The Design-Build Conference & Expo comes at a critical time in our nation’s history. As Owners work to deliver infrastructure investment projects across all sectors and regions, they’re looking for qualified design-build teams. This event provides a unique opportunity for industry and Owners to come together with the shared goal of delivering the nation’s most collaborative, innovative and efficient projects. https://dbia.org/design-build-conference-expo/ Esri Infrastructure Management & GIS Conference October 31-November 2 – Palm Springs, CA DESIGN-BUILD CONFERENCE & EXPO November 2-4 – Las Vegas, NV Dimensions is going beyond what you’ve seen before. We’re taking things to a new level, bringing the digital and physical worlds together like never before. We’re going from Dimensions to Dimensions+. Trimble Dimensions+ is more than a conference. It's about making better connections. Sharing knowledge through planned and unexpected interactions. Meeting with old and new friends from your industry and beyond. https://www.trimble.com/en/our-company/news-and-events/ dimensions/overview Trimble Dimensions+ November 7-9 – Las Vegas, NV
Autodesk University september 27-29– New Orleans, LA
AU 2022 is your opportunity to learn and connect with industry experts who are progressing architecture, engineering, construction, design, manufacturing, and media and entertainment. This year, we’re covering key topics to help improve your business—from driving digital transformation to building resilience through sustainability and cloud-based solutions. https://www.autodesk.com/autodesk-university/conference/overview October 2022 Following a record-breaking UAS Summit & Expo in 2021, we are ready to build off last year’s excitement in the Sili-Drone valley,” said Dayna Bastian, program coordinator for UAS Magazine and the UAS Summit & Expo. “Drone usage is increasing rapidly, and we are looking to showcase presentations reflecting a variety of sectors including counter-drone, emergency management, agriculture, military operations, government and commercial usage and operations, research UAS Summit & Expo October 4-5 – Grand Forks, ND CMAA's Annual Conference, CMAA2022, is CMAA's flagship event which includes a comprehensive exhibit hall, plenary and breakout sessions, and the annual Industry Recognition Awards where our annual Project Achievement Awards, Person of the Year, and other individual honors are presented. Join CMAA in San Diego for three days of education, collaboration, and celebration for CMAA2022. This year’s event, a celebration of CMAA’s 40th Anniversary, will feature unmatched educational programming, solution and technology providers, invaluable connections and networking, and recognition of the projects and people that help define the construction management industry. https://www.cmaanet.org/cmaa2022 Chicago Build 2022 features 2 unmissable days of content (300+ Speakers and Workshops); an Expo; Networking; Women in Construction; Meet the Buyer and a Festival of Construction. Conference topics include: Government Contracts & Policy, Sustainability, Real Estate, Architecture, BIM & Digital Construction, Health & Safety, Future Construction, and Skills Hub, as well as AIA CES Workshops. https://www.chicagobuildexpo.com/welcome and development, and more. www.TheUASsummit.com CMAA Annual Conference October 9-11 – San Diego, Ca Chicago Build Expo October 13-14 – Chicago, IL
ACEC Fall Conference October 16-19 – Colorado Springs, CO
ACEC Fall Conferences occurs every fall across the United States, Caribbean and Canada. Over 1000 attendees attend educational
Midnight in Sweden: Casale Wins the 2022 Engineering Drone Video of the Year Competition By Luke Carothers
2022 has been a year of new horizons for the Engineering Drone Video of the Year (EDVY) Competition. When the inaugural EDVY Compe - tition launched in 2017, UAVs and drones held a much different posi - tion in the AEC industry. Over half a decade ago, these first EDVY videos had a DIY-quality, often coming as a result of an intrepid drone pilot asking for permission to film a construction site. This is a com - mon refrain amongst those who have been in the drone industry since that time and far before: that, ironically, convincing the AEC industry to adopt drones as a tool required quite a bit of leg work. Quite rapidly, UAVs and drones have been adopted into the daily practices of many major AEC firms, becoming indispensable tools for a variety of tasks in the design, construction, inspection, and maintenance of projects and structures. Just as the efforts of these early drones industry pioneers benefitted the current state of the AEC industry, so too has the EDVY Compe - tition grown in tandem. Drones are more than just a camera in the sky or method of generating new marketing content, although in the case of the latter it is evidently useful. This year’s competition was evidence of this development, providing viewers with stunning drone videography, but also context on how drone technology had an impact on a particular project. In much the same way our 2021 winner, Reid Hu, used aesthetics to convey information about the project, this trend was also present in this year’s field of competitors. Production choices such as color shifting and digital overlays made this year’s competition stronger than ever. Drones and UAVs are now influencing budgets, workflows, and safety procedures on projects across the globe. When it comes to Building Information Modeling(BIM) and 3D Modeling, drones have become an indispensable tool for engineering and construction projects. De - velopments in drone technology are continually allowing drones to fly higher, faster, and for a longer time. This has made them the ideal tool for capturing the necessary data for buildings and other large scale projects. The ability to accurately model a project at its different stages helps improve things like workflow. Drones have also drastically im - proved the safety of workers building the world around us. This was proven true in May 2021 when traffic was abruptly halted on the Her - nando de Soto bridge in Memphis, Tennessee. Engineers inspecting the bridge identified a fracture in the tie girder of the arch over the primary navigation channel. After traffic was halted, engineers deployed drones to assess the full extent of the fracture, a job that would have otherwise required workers to navigate a potentially compromised structure.
EDVY has benefited tremendously from this blossoming of drone and UAV technology. To accommodate for the complexity of these videos and the time and effort it took to produce them, we decided to shift the judging process slightly from previous years. In the past, our audience first voted on which video they thought was the best during the online voting period. The top vote-earners from this round were then evalu - ated by our panel of judges. This year’s competition was inverted, with our panel of judges watching and scoring the first group of entries. The top ten videos from this round of judging were then voted on by our audience over a 14-day period. This change resulted in the most electrifying round of voting in the history of the competition. Early in the first day of voting, HDR’s “A Childlike View” jumped out in front of the competition, garnering over 100 votes on the first day. Framed from the perspective of a drone op - erator’s child, HDR’s entry not only demonstrated the broad spectrum of drone applications in the AEC industry, but also called to their larger capacity to inspire the next generation and recruit more people into the industry. Using a child’s perspective to explain how drones support technologies like BIM, this not only explains why drones are helpful in the AEC industry to a general audience, but also does so in a way that will recruit the younger generation to the profession. At the same time HDR’s entry was rising, so too was RS&H’s “Wekiva Parkway- Section 6 Design-Build”, which used a combination of drone imagery of both the local flora and fauna and their infrastructure project in Sor - rento, Florida. This juxtaposition of imagery, combined with narration that serves the same purpose–listing the numbers of water crossings (3), road crossings (6), and wildlife crossings(9). The result is a video that contextualizes the project in its natural space. In the same way that HDR’s entry has the potential to draw new people to the industry, RS&H’s entry shows the environmental considerations that take place on a project of that scale. At the end of the first day, two videos rose to the top: Freese & Nich - ols’ “2022 Bois d’Arc Lake Drones Project” and Casale’s “Nitric Acid Plant.” Freese & Nichols has become a perennial contender for the top spot in the EDVY competition. After finishing in the finals in the 2021 competition, Freese and Nichols again returned with an exciting look at the construction of the Bois d’Arc Lake Dam in Texas, the state’s first major reservoir in 30 years. The video’s long sweeping shots–filled with both space and the movement of construction–pair with contextual information at the bottom of the screen and a switch to color as the project is completed. This effectively moves the viewer
from the shots of construction into a fully realized understanding of the project’s completion, aesthetically and contextually speaking to the project’s positive environmental impact. When the second day of voting began, both Casale’s and Freese & Nichols’ entries were surging to break 200 votes with the lead chang - ing several times throughout the day. This same pattern continued throughout the next several days of voting as these top two entries soared past 1,000 votes, exchanging first and second place no less than six times in the span of five days. As the final day of voting continued, Casale’s entry persevered the gauntlet and emerged with a strong lead. At the conclusion of the voting period, Casale’s entry received exactly 800 votes more than Freese & Nichols’. After battling through a field of contenders stronger than ever before, Casale’s “Nitric Acid Plant” emerged as the clear champion of the 2022 competition. This is the first time the EDVY winner is located outside of the United States, speaking to the massive development of the drone/UAV industry around the world, but particularly within Eu - rope. And this video, and its production as well as the plant itself, are a testament to the use of the technology in Europe and its prevalence in the AEC industry. The winning video was entered by Casale, a Swiss chemical engineer - ing company headquartered in Lugano. The project featured in their video was a recently completed nitric acid plant located in Köping, Sweden. The video was shot by Andrea Perotti who is a Senior IT Sys - tem Administrator at Casale. Perotti is both a professional and private drone operator, having once set a world record with 73 individually- assembled drones being piloted by 8-15 year olds. In his professional work, Perotti uses drones for marketing purposes, creating videos and taking photos, and also to create 3D scans of projects. According to Perotti, the winning video took about a week to capture enough footage for their submission. Working with at least one other person at all times, Perotti and his crew filmed twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. They also took advantage of the local envi - ronment, which allowed for a midnight shooting because there is never 2022 EDVY Top Ten 1. Nitric Acid Plant - Köping, Sweden (CASALE) 2. Bois d'Arc Lake (Freese & Nichols) 3. Wekiva Parkway Section 6 Design-Build, Sorrento, FL (RS&H) 4. Drone Technology: A Childlike View (HDR) 5. Red Wing Regional Airport- Red Wing, MN (SEH) 6. Eric'sons Dura Trench Gas Stations / Fueling Stations (Eric’sons) 7. Trenchless Technology using HDD installation of Fusible PVC Pipe (Underground Solutions) 8. 18 History Making Days at The Colorado Convention Center - Temporary COVID Alternative Care Facility (ECC) 9. Relocation of Historic Vautravers Building- Chicago, IL (Wolfe) 10. The Bower Apartments (Westwood)
total darkness during June in Sweden. The video makes ample use of this footage, using the low light as a softly glowing background to the plant’s vibrant lighting and complex design. Perotti and his team also had to consider their system as it related to an active nitric acid plant. Any issue that could potentially lead to engine failure and the drone falling had to be avoided at all costs. A drone falling and damaging the plant’s systems would have significant potential to disturb or release nitric acid, which is under pressure in the plant below. To avoid potential safety issues, Perotti and his team used a hexacop - ter drone, which ensured the possibility of landing rather than falling in the event of an engine problem. Furthermore, the team identified places that had to be avoided such as cooling zones or other critical areas. With the plant’s capability of producing up to 685 metric tons of nitric acid per day, plant project manager Marco Lonetti stressed the importance of ensuring these zones were identified and monitored for avoidance. After identifying these spaces, Perotti piloted the drone and the other crew member monitored the location of the drone and the footage, ensuring it would not enter one of these areas. Lonetti also notes that, while Casale also uses drones to produce scans on projects still being constructed, the challenge of ensuring a safe flight over an active production facility was a unique experience. The result of their planning and safety precautions was a stunning example of how drones provide a unique perspective on our view of projects. Beginning with vertical shots looking directly down as the drones fly over the length of the plant, the audience is immediately introduced to the complexity of the structure which is highlighted by the plant’s sectioned lighting. This is followed by a more horizontal shot of the plant moving towards the ground, which again emphasizes the complexity of the subject structure. This horizontal view is again shifted even lower, allowing the viewer to peer between pipes and down hallways. These movements mirror Lonetti’s sentiments about the plant’s importance and the complexity of the nitric acid itself. Lonetti points out that, while the potential for an explosion is always present when handling nitric acid, its production is essential to a wide array of industries and products, being used for fertilizer, plastics, dyes, and a host of other staples of the modern world. The final result of this blending of vertical and horizontal footage is a video that allows its audience an intimate view and better understand - ing of an industry that is fundamental to both the economy and the built environment. In this way, Casale’s winning video demonstrates the core values of the contest itself. By using drones footage in a way that uses its technical capabilities to both ensure the safety of the project and to give the viewer a unique view on its subject matter, Casale’s “Nitric Acid Plant” represents the best of the best when it comes to drone and UAV utilization.
LUKE CAROTHERS is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at email@example.com.
July 2022 csengineermag.com
benefits made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law when al - located to advance circular economy objectives. PFAS Crisis One way in which updating wastewater facilities and treatment plans en - hances sustainability is by managing PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” PFAS are a group of non-biodegradable chemicals that contaminates the envi - ronment and the human body. It is difficult to eliminate, primarily because of how pervasive it is. PFAS are used to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water, and can be found in consumer goods ranging from non-stick cookware, waterproof clothes, to cosmetics. Despite their use for decades, the impact of PFAS on the environment and the human body has not been fully addressed. It continues to be studied in the risks they pose to health. In fact, a recent review from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a wealth of health effects associated with PFAS exposure. This includes cancer and liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. Consequently, municipalities are beginning to turn to innovative wastewater treatment solutions to protect public health. One particular approach to treating PFAS involves reevaluating existing systems for wastewater treatments and exploring new technologies that will treat sludge, biosolids, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and chemical wastes more effectively. “SCWOification” Supercritical water oxidation, commonly referred to as SCWO, is a physical-thermal process powered by water above its critical point and air that create a highly effective oxidation reaction. Through this process, waste is converted to clean water, energy, and minerals, while completely eliminating organic emerging contaminants of concern like PFAS. This effect strongly distinguishes SCWO from traditional means of waste management often utilized by municipalities. These other treatment methods include landfilling, anaerobic digestion, and incineration, which do not successfully contain or eliminate PFAS. Technologies employing supercritical water oxidation serve as a trans - formative tool for cities looking to better pursue a circular economy. Although stringent regulations against the use of PFAS have been implemented, it may take an extensive period of time to see the ef - fects due to PFAS’ ubiquity. Therefore, a more viable solution can be the treatment and elimination of PFAS through wastewater treatment and supercritical water oxidation. By reducing the amount of PFAS in wastewater, SCWO enables cities to achieve their sustainability goals and protect public health, as well as the environment. Dare to Transform In all, the nation is at a precipice to dramatically transform the ways in which our infrastructure supports environmental goals. As part of their efforts, cities should commit as leaders in sustainability to minimize the potential damage caused to the environment and our health, highlighted by the current PFAS crisis. Thus, progress can be accomplished towards a zero-waste world and the ultimate goal of a true circular economy.
Tackling the U.S. Waste Infrastructure with Supercritical Water Oxidation By Kobe Nagar
Future Cities With cities projected to accommodate nearly 70 percent of the world’s population by 2050, local and state officials are working to implement more sustainable and resilient sanitation practices and infrastructure. This is primarily for the purpose of maximizing the protection of natural resources and providing a healthier environment for citizens. These ef - forts will become increasingly important, especially considering that cit- ies account for 60-80 percent of global energy consumption and at least 70 percent of carbon emissions despite only occupying 3 percent of land. Resource Management One concept gaining prominence as a guide for cities to limit carbon- emissions and regenerate nature is the notion of a circular economy. According to the United Nations, a circular economy is one in which products and materials are “designed in such a way that they can be reused, remanufactured, recycled or recovered and thus maintained in the economy for as long as possible.” The benefits of establishing a circular economy are substantial; by promoting reuse and recycling, cities can save money, reduce pollution, and encourage innovation. Clean Water Act In the United States, a great deal of environmentally-conscious legisla - tion has accumulated making now the opportune time for the pursuit of a truly circular economy. The Clean Water Act, enacted 50 years ago, provided the first comprehensive basis for wastewater standards. The Clean Water Act dictated that wastewater must be treated so at least 85 percent of certain pollutants are removed before it can be discharged. The Act significantly decreased pollution concentrations in water, which can partially be attributed to the federal grants that were given Today, new legislation provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has further expanded the opportunity to replace outdated infrastructure with better tools to promote a circular economy. The law provides the EPA upwards of $50 billion to improve the nation’s drinking water infrastructure, including wastewater treatment. For example, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the EPA was recently able to award a $221 Million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to New Jersey for water infrastructure upgrades. As a result, local proj - ects will be funded to improve treatment capacity and provide more efficient treatment at wastewater facilities. This loan exemplifies the to municipal wastewater treatment plants. Investing in Smart Infrastructure
KOBE NAGAR is CEO of 374Water.
Courthouse upgrades are evolving as high- priority targets for infrastructure funding By Mary Scott Nabers
Officials in Ohio’s Geauga County will spend $15 million to renovate the Chardon Square courthouse which is held in high esteem as a local community icon. The weathered courthouse has historical significance for the county and the nearby city of Cardon, and in December, efforts will begin to upgrade the building while maintaining its beauty and stature. City leaders in Toledo are planning an $18 million capital improvement project for the city’s municipal court building. The facility is the largest and busiest city-owned building, but it carries the stress of 20 years of deferred mainte - nance. The funding will support a redesign of the courthouse facade as well as upgrades to the facility’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, escalators, elevators, and roof. Design work is scheduled to begin this summer. The Thurston County Courthouse in the state of Washington is scheduled for a massive upgrade at a projected cost of $45 million. The facility will gain expanded meeting space for other county departments, and both safety and accessibility regulations will be addressed. Located in the city of Hackensack, New Jersey, the Bergen County Courthouse has been targeted for massive restoration work. The county will spend $80 million to restore the 111-year- old courthouse, a distinctive community icon. Because the courthouse sits in the middle of a redevelopment zone, the renova - tion project will be programmed for work to coordinate with other community redevelopment projects. Although some projects are focused on maintaining the heritage of courthous - es, other projects are reframing local governance altogether. In many cases, funding is being used to create facilities designed to streamline government services and operations. In Hoboken, New Jersey, city leaders are considering a proposed municipal complex to house public safety services, administrative offices, recreational facilities, and other community service departments under one roof. The proj - ect budget is estimated at $115 million, but that amount could escalate based on other amenities under consideration for the complex. Multi-use municipal compounds are becoming somewhat common. A first-of- its-kind project already in development in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a good example of this approach. City and county leaders are working together on plans for an intergovernmental complex to service the region. Currently, the plan carries an estimated cost of $52.3 million. This new infrastructure funding will launch projects of every size and type throughout the country, and it is evident that many aging public assets are part of the momentum. Historic courthouses which have long been treasured public assets have obviously captured the attention of many public officials who wish to see them renovated and preserved.
New federal infrastructure funding is beginning to reach local officials, and while the revenue will be spent in many ways, some commonalities are obvious. Many public officials will allocate the funding to refurbish roads or upgrade water systems. Others will use it for public transit or to expand airport facilities. Numerous plans have been announced for projects to construct solar farms, increase broadband, build affordable housing, and/or enhance public safety and first responder facilities. It appears, however, that many local leaders also plan to appropriate infrastruc - ture funds to preserve public assets such as courthouses. As centers of public and commercial activity, these older courthouses were usually located in the heart of the community, and although most of the old buildings are histori - cally and architecturally beautiful, they almost all suffer from years of delayed maintenance and much-needed upgrades. The appeal of older courthouses is especially true in Texas, where 21 of the state’s historic courthouses have been used as settings for major film produc - tions. State lawmakers will allocate $25 million for the Texas Historic Court - house Preservation Program for renovations and upgrades on between 10 to 20 preservation projects. The courthouses chosen for upgrades have yet to be named, and some will potentially have additional funding contributed from other sources. Selected sites will be announced later this summer. The state of Virginia will be home to several courthouse preservation efforts. Proj - ects such as the one scheduled in Arlington County will be launched soon. The Arlington project has been granted $16.7 million to add a new floor to the facility and renovate three other existing floors. While increasing space for offices and activities, it will also include upgrades to basic infrastructure inside the building. In Oregon’s Deschutes County, a $40 million facility upgrade is planned to the delight of the local judiciary. This funding will support the preliminary design and planning stages of an initiative that will significantly expand the commu - nity’s state circuit court facility. Construction and renovation will begin in 2023. Another large courthouse renovation is planned in Baltimore. A $65 million project has been announced for the Maryland District Court facility. Reno - vation of the historic Shillman Building will address structural disrepair and improve safety while also increasing the courtroom space. The facility is no longer able to accommodate the current volume of court cases. Another courthouse project in Maryland is completely different because the Harford County courthouse has been deemed to be beyond the point of pres - ervation and repair. Officials will instead spend $69.3 million for an entirely new courthouse. The new facility will include space for four courtrooms and support agencies while leaving additional space for future expansions. The site for this new building has not yet been determined.
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-pri- vate partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.
July 2022 csengineermag.com
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How AI & Machine Learning Are Now Reshaping the Way Transit Systems Move Traffic Patterns
(VTA) in partnership with the City of San José́ has been piloting a cloud-based, AI-powered transit signal priority (TSP) system that uti - lizes pre-existing bus-fleet tracking sensors and city communication networks to dynamically adjust the phase and timing of traffic signals to provide sufficient green clearance time to buses while minimally impacting cross traffic. Because the new platform leverages pre-existing infrastructure, it re - quired no additional hardware installations inside traffic signal cabinets or buses. And unlike traditional, location-based check-in and check-out TSP solutions, the platform processes live bus location information through machine learning models and makes priority calls based on estimated times of arrival. The platform has so far improved travel times on VTA’s route 77 by 18 percent to 20 percent overall, equating to a five- to six-minute reduction in signal delay. The cloud-based transit signal priority system combines asset manage - ment and automation to produce a system capable of providing services to an entire region. Unlike hardware-based systems, this platform uses pre- existing equipment and leverages cloud technology to facilitate operations. This removes the need for vehicle detection hardware at the intersection because vehicle location is known through the CAD/AVL system. This enables both priority calls from greater distances away from signals and priority calls coordinated among a group of signals. Furthermore, the system provides real-time insights on which buses are currently receiving priority along with daily reports of performance metrics. The advanced transit signal priority systems available today consist of two parts, a unit in the traffic cabinet and another unit placed on the ve - hicle. The transit priority logic is the same, regardless of the detection and communication medium. When a vehicle is within predetermined boundaries, the system places a request to the signal controller for prioritization. Since the original systems used fixed detection points, signal controllers were configured with static estimated travel times. Since travel times are dependent on several environmental factors, the industry implemented GPS based, wireless communication systems. With this method, vehicles found within detection zones replace the static detection points and the vehicle’s speed is used to determine ar - rival time. The platform allows cities to build upon current investments in infra - structure to deploy city-wide TSP. To enable safe and secure connec - tions with traffic signals, each city requires just one device for use that is a computer that resides at the "edge" and serves as the protective link between city traffic signals and the platform. It is designed to securely manage the information exchange between traffic lights and the cloud platform. It is the only additional hardware necessary, and depending on the existing city network configuration, the platform may receive ve - hicular data directly or via the city’s network using secure connections. Sophisticated Process for Prioritizing Traffic The system’s method of placing priority calls to traffic signals is more sophisticated and is not constrained to fixed-point locations. Unlike the current state-of-the-art of placing priority calls from the detection of buses at specific locations that starts a pre-programmed time of arrival,
By Timothy Menard
Of the many ways artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are poised to improve modern life, the promise of impacting mass transit is significant. The world is much different compared with the early days of the pandemic, and people around the world are again leveraging mobility and transit systems for work, leisure, and more. Across the U.S., traditional mass transit systems including buses, sub - ways, and personal vehicles have returned to struggling through grid - lock, rider levels, and congestion. However, advanced AI and machine learning solutions built on cloud-based platforms are being deployed to reduce these frustrations. Transportation Presents Exciting Opportunities With AI Transportation is one of the most important areas where modern AI provides a significant advantage over conventional algorithms used in traditional transit system technology. AI promises to streamline traffic flow and reduce congestion for many of today’s busiest roadways and thoroughfares. Smart traffic light systems and the cloud technology platforms they operate on are now designed to manage and predict traffic more efficiently, which can save a lot of money and create more efficiencies not only for the cities them - selves, but for individuals also. AI and machine learning today can process highly complex data and traffic trends and suggest optimum routing for drivers in real-time based on specific traffic conditions. As a result of drastically improved processing power, transit system technologies are now used in various IoT (Internet of Things) devices to achieve real-time image recognition and prediction that took place in legacy data centers during the last half century. This new decentralized- focused architecture helps increase the implementation of machine learning and AI. Today’s recognition algorithms offer enhanced insight on the mix of density, traffic, and overall rate of flow. Furthermore, these optimized algorithms can leverage data points by region resulting in a streamline pattern to reduce traffic problems while redistributing flow more optimally. Municipal transit systems can then make better decision-making power, and the control system has a much higher degree of failure tolerance as was previously demonstrated in legacy hub-and-spoke systems. AI Is Already Impacting Transit Systems These technologies are already being deployed around the country. As one example, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
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