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Workflow: Computing, Notes and References Organization

A long while back, I posted an article on my more-analog-than-digital workflow. Compared to then, I now spend a lot more time on producing my own research rather than on hyper-absorption of information necessary for quals and orals preparation and research area definition in the first and second years of my PhD program. My research now incorporates both statistical and physical-simulation based hydrological modeling. While I had done a lot of work in statistical and econometric modeling in my first and second years, the physical simulation modeling requires a lot more computing power. Specifically, I am applying a 3D, variably saturated overland-subsurface coupled, high-resolution model that takes advantage of parallel computing resources. My workflow has therefore evolved to incorporate multiple operating systems and organization of a lot more information and data.

Hyphenated areas of inquiry

Often, taking a wider, multidisciplinary perspective on urban problems can lead to criticism of being a so-called “jack of all trades master of none” .  We must reject this notion if we truly believe the urban problems are not only multifaceted, but require integrated, multidisciplinary approaches to define. The solutions must not just be combinations of the economist’s solution, the engineer’s solution, and a sociologist’s solution, just as definition of the problem cannot just come from one field. Solutions must be a synthesis, and we must believe that together, these viewpoints are more than the sum of their parts. There are great thinkers who have done this. They have successfully defined hyphenated areas of inquiry.

Social Media for Civic Projects

One key to more widespread adoption instead should be to promote citizen buy-in to the other benefits of green infrastructure: beautification, subsidized landscaping upgrades, and appeals to individuals’ social  pressure to “do the right thing.” The goal should be to promote the idea that “everyone is doing it.” Social media could be a great way of getting people to talk about the availability of stormwater management programs and making them more visible.

EPA rejecting Green Infrastructure in CSO LTCP?

The article “Akron files federal motion to reopen agreement addressing overflowing sewers” caught my attention this morning. Requests to amend or change existing consent decrees filed with the EPA are not unheard of, especially in cities who adopted their Long Term Control Plans relatively early, after the 1994 CSO Control Policy was passed, which required all cities with combined sewer systems to put together plans to characterize and reduce and sewer overflows due to wet weather events. In this article however, the author states that Akron’s effort for an Integrated Plan incorporating more green infrastructure components has been twice rejected by the EPA.

City and Regional Planning, foundations, NGOs, and INFRASTRUCTURE

On Jan 8th, I attended a one-day workshop organized by the nonprofit NJ Future, the NJ DEP and the US EPA in Newark, NJ called “Reinvesting in Urban Water Infrastructure through Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plans.” Contrary to how technical and engineering-heavy as the name of the workshop might seem to imply, the experience highlighted a major trend in infrastructure planning, function, and operation and management: decentralization. Gone are the days of the heroic engineer-city planners, yielding the Promethean control of nature, and as a result, over other people. This workshop was a representative of the parties that need to be involved in the research, reinvestment, and implementation of water infrastructure upgrades all over the United States. 

Exciting Developments in NJ Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plans

New Jersey is at a very special crossroads with respect to its response to the EPA’s National Combined Sewer Overflow Strategy (1987) and the CSO Control Policy (1994). While larger cities such as New York City and Washington DC are well underway, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is in the midst of issuing new permits for the 21 communities in NJ with combined sewer overflows. This is an exciting time for NJ, because despite being somewhat behind other cities in the implementation of the CSO Control Policy, it has the opportunity to utilize the lessons learned from other communities’ implementation, and to do so in a proactive, collaborative way.

PhD Workflow: Mobile Reference Management

As of a couple months ago, the Green Cities Lab of UPenn’s Dept of City and Regional Planning, finally has our own dedicated space, fully equipped with our own workstations! This not only means that I now have better access to computing power for running analyses, but I also now have the luxury of leaving my laptop at home and working exclusively on my workstation while I am on campus. (More on how I’ve set up file syncing and data back up systems at a later time) In this post, I’d like to talk about how I am now managing my references between computers using Zotero and FirefoxPortable.

Building Collective Efficacy and Resiliency in Cities

In the July 3rd episode of The Urbanist podcast, the host Andrew Tuck explores the hot-topic issue of resilience in urban areas. As he points out, especially with respect to increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather events, academics, designers, foundations, politicians and activists are all looking for the solutions that will allow cities to bounce back, adapt, or evolve after natural or man-made disaster strikes. This post explores the importance of non-physical, community building roles in resilience planning and relates this importance to the concept of “collective efficacy” often used in criminology research.

Infrastructural Ecology’s Value In Conceptual Design

As I mention in a previous post, there is much appeal to utilizing ecological models and frameworks to understand phenomenon that one might not immediately associate with the field of biological ecology. In this article I outline how the framework of infrastructural ecology can help the analysis and conceptual design for site sustainability and resilience.