all posts tagged 'infrastructure'

A Stretch of Route 66 Will Play 'America the Beautiful' as You Drive to the Side

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Two years ago, the New Mexico Department of Transportation decided to spice up a particularly desolate stretch of Route 66 between Albuquerque and Tijeras by adding grooves in the road that will play music when you drive over them. If you drive the speed limit of 45 mph for the quarter-mile stretch, you can hear "America the Beautiful" play through the vibrations in your car's wheels.

Some delightful engineering here. I wonder what happens if you hit it at faster or slower speeds?

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Meta to build $800M data center in Rosemount, Minnesota

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced plans to build a new data center in Rosemount, Minnesota. The more than 700,000 square foot center will be located along County Road 42, just east of the Dakota County Technical College.

During an announcement Thursday, officials revealed the project had been under wraps for several years. They called the secret project "Project Bigfoot."

This will exist roughly a mile from my house.

It’s a lot of feelings, to be sure.

A quibble I have with this report is that I’m not entirely sure we can say with a straight face that Meta is a great representative of “emerging tech”. What does that phrase even mean?

But maybe I’m just being a NIMBY. A hundred jobs at this data center isn’t bad, Minnesota’s cold season1 is perfect for naturally cooling these systems, and the folks I know who work at the city are extremely capable and thorough; they would not let something like this go through if they didn’t do their diligence regarding impacts to our various shared infrastructure.

So I guess, uh, welcome, Meta? I hope y’all do, as our Iowan neighbors reportedly claim, “step up.”

  1. With the notable exception of this winter, which I’m trying to practice gratitude that I’ve been able to wear a t-shirt outdoors in February in an attempt to stave off my climate doomerism. 

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Déneigement Montreal: A Peek into Montreal's Mastery of Snow

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Montreal averages almost 210 cm (82 inches) of snow every winter. We get less sunlight, 20% more precipitation, and have winter temperatures that are on average 4° C (7° F) colder than Toronto. And yet soon after a moderate snowfall, Montreal is bustling: sidewalks, bike paths, and streets are all cleared in a snow removal effort (le déneigement, en français) that is choreographed and masterful.

Add another item to my bucket list: I’d love to see these pits where they drop the snow.

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Care at Scale

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Ursula Franklin wrote, “Central to any new technology is the concept of justice.”

We can commit to developing the technologies and building out new infrastructural systems that are flexible and sustainable, but we have the same urgency and unparalleled opportunity to transform our ultrastructure, the social systems that surround and shape them.

Every human being has a body with similar needs, embedded in the material world at a specific place in the landscape. This requires a different relationship with each other, one in which we acknowledge and act on how we are connected to each other through our bodies in the landscapes where we find ourselves.

We need to have a conception of infrastructural citizenship that includes a responsibility to look after each other, in perpetuity.

And with that, we can begin to transform our technological systems into systems of compassion, care, and resource-sharing at all scales, from the individual level, through the level of cities and nations, all the way up to the global.

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The Man in the MTA’s Money Room

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Nearby, chunky steel boxes, each about the size of a toaster oven, are lined up on long tables. They’re the currency vaults from the MetroCard machines, and they arrive from the stations locked. “When you pull them out of the machine, they self-seal, and the only key exists here.” A couple of clerks are methodically opening them up, stacking the bills into little plastic racks and then feeding them into a bank of huge bulk counting machines. “Eighty thousand notes per hour,” Putre says. “It’s going to authenticate, then count, then sort, then strap, all in one step. What four people can do in this room used to take 12 people before we had this machine. Before the pandemic, we’d run two, three machines every single day. Now we run a couple of days a week.” It’s satisfying to encounter the mechanical whir of it all, especially this year: bills and coins, paper and metal, notes and specie instead of ones and zeroes.

This was a delightful look at the operation required to count all the money that flows through New York’s public transit system.

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