Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus Time to Replan and Redesign Our Cities

Everyone is talking about when we  get back to normal. The answer is never. We should not be considering getting back to normal. Normal is what caused the spread of the coronavirus in the first place, we need to change our behaviour and part of that also requires changing the planning and design of our cities.

As I mentioned in the previous post, ancient cities were fortress and walled cities. One thing about a walled city is that it is easier to keep people prisoner in the city than keep the enemy out. From which can surmise, and expand to the concept that it is easier to lock a population in than to lock them out, and thus for border control will always have problem of infiltration. Still in tackling the spread of a contagion like coronavirus, locking a population in, would be beneficial on condition that the population has access to appropriate goods and services with in its own walls. Our towns and cities don't. I've written previously about how bridges wreck the economies of cities, how an optional need for a bridge is transformed into a dependency on the bridge, as business redistributes either side of the bridge. I've argued how we need to directly protect diversity, not protect competition. That economy of scale has benefits, but we also need to avoid concentration of pollutants and dependency on single supplier. We need to known when to boost production to saturate basic need then to scale back and provide more diversity. Henry Ford was right that customer can have any colour they want as long as its black: that is the requirement to supply the basic need in the first instance. Once the basic need satisfied, then can start to get particular.

Any case as mentioned the governments want to increase population density as a consequence of their perspective on urban sprawl. Part of their perspective is that urban sprawl is a consequence of the car, I believe that whilst this is partially so, it is mostly nonsense. Business and architects have been building massive facilities, with reach stretching for kilometres. An office building in the city has people travelling 25 km daily, some even 100 km daily. I read one National Geographic article where a person was spending 4 hours or more each day travelling to some distant location to work. Basically houses affordable one end of country and work available at the other. It equates to poor city and national planning.

Sure part of the problem is workers themselves wanting dormitory suburbs devoid of industry, or at least devoid of the noise and pollution created by industry. But if there is no business of any kind in the suburbs, then the next generation has to travel a significant distance to search for employment: and that generally requires they have a car. How are school leavers going to afford a car? The people of the world aren't the kids in American high school movies, owning cars. Typical families cannot afford to buy cars for their kids, and jobs for kids to work after school hours or on weekends are very few. It is part of the pressure that have to do well in school and get a degree to get a good job.

It would be preferable if we restricted the geographical reach of business facilities, and also the market share of business. As I mentioned in an earlier post, political parties should be restricted to no more than 20% of the seats, so that we can get back to due and proper representation of the people , instead of political parties hijacking our government and contending they have mandates. Afterwards I then extended this to business, restricting them to no more than 20% of the market, where market is defined on multiple levels. So whilst a supermarket may have less than 20% of the national market, when looked at locally it may hold 80% of the market, and so in a local market it may have to adjust.

In the metro areas supermarkets and/or small shopping centres tend to be at 1 km to 2 km centres, and so are in easy walking distance. Though few people walk to them, and that is largely because here in South Australia footpaths are rare. Where there are footpaths there is a chance that the footpath suddenly comes to an end. People thus tend to spend a lot of their time in their cars, wasting fuel and time driving in circles until they can get a carpark as close as possible to a building. To make our cities walkable we first have to make our suburbs walkable. Things are already potentially in walking distance: it's just not convenient to do so.

After my heart attack, I looked on google earth at places I lived when I was a kid, and the places I walked to, to get an idea of how far I could walk, and thus how far I still expect to be able to walk. When looking at places in England, it was apparent, that the construction of motorways, now made it next to impossible to walk the paths I once did. Civil engineers seem more interested in constructing mega-structures, bridges over bridges, than coming up with livable spaces. Here in South Australia, they seem bent on creating the same kind of mess. We may be able to halt that.

The towns and suburbs should be capable of being isolated. No point in referring to the city of Elizabeth or city of Tea Tree Gully (TTG), if all the suburbs making up these cities are otherwise identified as suburbs of Adelaide. Not the least of which is Elizabeth was supposed to be a satellite city: so by definition it should have remained isolated from Adelaide. Gawler is a rural town and it should also remain isolated from Adelaide. That is the grid of urban sprawl, of dormitory suburbs should not spread across the lad between the city centres. There should be clear boundaries between one local government (LG) area and the next.

The network of roads for cars should be more like the network of rails for trains, we should have more intermodal systems, with the ultimate part of the system being on foot and walking. I'm not suggesting get rid of vehicles being able to reach buildings for delivery. However not all buildings need access to large mechanised vehicles. Secondly the majority of items in a building have to be able to pass through a 900 mm wide door way or smaller. So tricycles and smaller mechanised vehicles can be used for transporting most things.

So we can gate of roads for large vehicles, and only allowing access to small personal transporters. The large vehicles have to stop at the gates and be granted access. So for example in Adelaide, we could place carparks around the periphery of the parklands, and only allow human powered vehicles and small electric vehicles into the city. These carparks will also be where the buses also stop unless the buses are electric vehicles. The buses can have electronic passes so they can automatically open access gates.

So in developing the means of limiting vehicle access we are also providing the means of locking the city or suburb up. The road network should provide clearly identifiable corridors between clearly identifiable towns: there should be no grid of roads spread out between the towns.

Increasing the population density of the capital cities is not the requirement. Clearly high population density increases the potential for the spread of a contagion like coronavirus, and it also increases the potential problems when confronted by other attacks by nature: bushfires, earthquakes, hurricanes (tropical cyclones {don't drop the word tropical the entire weather system is dependent on cyclones and anticyclones}).

A capital city is primarily expected to be a cultural, and administrative centre, not a place with a high resident population: but a place which is visited and likely infrequently. Population is preferably concentrated around those hubs which provide needed goods and services with in walking distance of homes.

Schools should be such that all housing within 1 km radius is restricted access and rent only, likewise housing around hospitals. The housing around large industrial facilities or commercial centres should also be rent only and access restricted to those working in the facilities. People are buying housing further and further a drift from their workplaces because they wish to, they are mostly doing so because they have no choice.

Rent only restrictions, moves people in and out of the areas. For example by restricting access to housing in the vicinity of schools, the entire street network around the schools can be made walkable and cars have limited to no access to the area. Children can then walk to school, and otherwise have an environment which includes the school grounds for play outside school hours. The youngest children are placed closest to the school, and the oldest furthest from the school. In this way we don't have to keep building new schools. We only build new schools if we build a new village, town or city. A suburban block, should be built around a hub, either industrial, commercial, cultural, educational, or health focused. These suburban blocks should then be built around an administrative and retail hub.

For example we can define a village as 1 km in diameter, a town as 5 km to 10 km in diameter, and a city as 100 km in diameter. A suburban block likely to be the size of a village (say 1 km x l km square), the central hub can be around 500 m square. In thus block can place around 5000 single storey dwellings.  Each dwelling suitable for one person is suitable for two people and a small child. Thus the population can be extended to 15,000. If add second storey to the houses, then houses suitable for 2 adults and 2 children, so population can expand to 20,000. The highest population densities around the world are around 100, 000 person/sq.km. So with multi-storey buildings the population of the areas can be increased still further. Though I suggest we should put more effort into controlling population growth, not pushing the ideas of economic growth requiring larger populations.

Cities are machines. To function and provide certain goods and services a certain population is needed (the cogs which make the machine function). This does not mean that world population needs to grow, rather it requires the current world population to be in the right place. I've previously mentioned that if the land mass was to be divided into cells 5 km in diameter, then the world population could distribute 1000 people per cell. Those 1000 people need less than a 1 km square for housing. For simplicity assuming a 5 km square grid, it would put a 4 km ring between each village. That ring could be a nature reserve or agricultural land. Now I'm not suggesting we distribute the world population in such manner. Not the least of which is we can house a lot more people in each 5 km cell than 1000 people.

What I am suggesting though is that a lot of facilities can be placed in a 500 m x 500 m hub, that activity can be made more local, and that localities can be isolated, yet connected. That the connections can be blocked, can be severed.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the corinavirus should not have spread further than 1 km radius of the discrete entry points to each nation. When the epidemic was reported in China, then each nation should have responded to prevent a pandemic. When pandemic was declared then each nation needs respond to prevent a epidemic in their nation. Just because their is a pandemic does not mean there is a epidemic in your nation. For certain the horse had already bolted when the gate was closed. However as I said, we still have passenger lists to track returned locals, and the suburbs they returned to. Plus we have rough idea of tourist destinations. So using a geographical information system (GIS) we could track the local government (LG) areas which these returning individuals likely visited. We can lock down these LG areas.

But assuming its got out off hand and its spread into the cities. We know its spread into the cities because the hospitals are dealing with cases. The hospitals have a radial reach. Their patients are arriving from known suburbs. Those suburbs have shopping centres and other public places. Each of these public places has a roughly known radial reach. So once again using a GIS we can map out the region most likely affected. Without any other information, we can assume various radial reaches for each facility. So we can mark a 1 km zone, a 5 km zone, and a 25 km zone. Each zone we give a hazard level, the closest to the point of origin has the highest hazard level, the most distant the lowest hazard level. As we identify people in the 1 km zone, we change from a point of origin to a path, and define the radial zones about this path. The path notionally defines a direction of travel, and the localities where resources need to be committed.

At the moment we have a response which says its an epidemic: but its not all over the country, there is a good chance it will be if we handle it as if it already is spread far and wide. We did not need to shut down the national economy, to shutdown all public gatherings and all public businesses. They needed shutting down where the contagion was and is. We don't know where that is! Really! For certain there are people out there who maybe spreading the contagion without knowing it, but there also millions of people out there not spreading anything. But clearly its being spread where people are known to be infected. Is that your neighbourhood, chances are the answer is no. Does this mean you can ignore safeguards? No it doesn't! When restrictions are lifted does this mean you can go back to normal? No it doesn't! Normal got you into this situation in the first place, normal needs to change.

Places are too crowded, and they are crowded because business is permitted to construct facilities to cater for large uncontrolled crowds of people from distant locations. For example there is no real need for people to shop in Adelaide, and there shouldn't be permitted to encourage people to chop in Adelaide. Forget about the never ending arguing about shopping hours every year, the reach of Rundle mall business should be restrained. People don't need to travel into the city, they should shop locally. If they shop locally it will reduce traffic congestion into the city, it will strengthen local community, and also reduce the potential spread of any future contagion beyond the city hub. Local shopping precincts need to be restored and enhanced, and should be within walking distance. Planning regulations should permit doing so.

Planning regulations also need to be modified to better encourage home business. Currently most of South Australia's development plans restrict home business to an area of 30 sq.m. Which is an area of 5 m x 6m, which is approximately 2 x 6m shipping containers side by side. Which seems like plenty of space, but I suggest it may be preferable to define limitations based on area of land: which takes into consideration required parking areas for residents, employees and customers. Whilst parking areas shouldn't be based on area used by business but on predicted traffic levels. For most home business probably looking at no more than 1 customer vehicle per hour: maximum. For many probably in the range of 1 vehicle per month: with most activity occurring by post, fax, phone, email, or web site.

There have already been complaints that local bricks and mortar business are loosing business to online business. The lock down for the cornavirus will result in increased use of online sales, which will likely increase demand for couriers. Noting that local business can use couriers to supply faster than Australia post. When the lock down is over, will there really be need to fill the offices and retail stores? If people can work from home, why not have them work from home all the time, and only meet up in person occasionally? That way only need to rent large office space for a meeting possibly once a month.

Taking note that don't have to pay people by the hour, because really business is not buying time. Traditionally people got paid wages, if work was intermittent such as daily or weekly. People got paid salaries because, what they needed to do, and when it needed to be done was uncertain, so they got paid by the year. How many hours the workers work is largely irrelevant, what the workers accomplish is more relevant. If a worker completes their workload in half the time working from home, you don't pay them half the pay. Completing the work faster should be worth more, so the workers should get paid more for the work completed. Or otherwise spend less time working and get the same pay. Also if people working from home are more productive, then they can be fed more work. Though they are unlikely to want to maintain the same pace and effort throughout the year: so may experience a short term spike in productivity followed by a return to more sustainable production levels.

Any case an increased use of the internet and online sales and online business, will see a reduced need for commercial/industrial building space, and an increase in residential renovations to create home business and work space. This will reduce traffic congestion, at the traditional peak times of the day. However there should be an upsurge in the need for couriers and small delivery vans taking goods to houses, and between houses. This should use far less fuel than all the commuters travelling back and forth to distant work places. Even though people may place orders at different times and different days, the suppliers can still optimise their delivery times and days and travel routes, so that delivering to the same street as few times ass possible. (We used to have bread and milk delivered to the door stop. so its not that difficult).

Most of our modern world is highly wasteful and inefficient. Cars and mobile phones mostly promote poor planning, incompetence and inefficiency. The supply of simple goods and services does not require human interaction, if you have to use a telephone to get information and complete a transaction then the suppliers supply systems are inefficient. If have to meet face to face, or in person, then highly inefficient. Human interaction maybe sociable, but its not efficient. How important is sociable to the supply, versus efficiency of supply? If efficiency of supplier is more important and should have higher priority, then should aim to eliminate people from the transaction process.


... to be continued ...


Related Posts

Revisions:
[31/03/2020] : Original

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: Unnecessary Panic and Shutdown

Whilst coronavirus (COVID-19) can result in death, most people recover. More importantly the point of origin of the virus is purported to be China. The only way it can get to a neighbourhood near you is via a discrete point of entry to your country. That is it has to cross the border or coastline and whilst these are continuous the legal entry to a country is at discrete points, these being border crossings, airports and (sea)ports. At these controlled entry points, entry involves, passports, visa's, tickets and passenger lists. If everything is working well I don't expect anything to get beyond 1 km radius of such entry point. I expect it is possible to quarantine and shut everything down within 1 km radius of such entry point, and that systems exist and are already in place to be able to do so: part of the forward planning and management of borders.

Now occasionally something may get through the border controls, due to it either being not detectable or otherwise not being checked for in the first instance. In which case time passes and the gate is closed after the event. From the control documents for persons entering, we should know the point of destination for locals returning. We don't need to know who they are, all we need to know is the suburb they are returning to. From the suburb we get the local government authority district (LGAD) or council area, that the suburb is located. We only need shut down the local council area, not the nation, and not the state.

Further more from the point of entry, we know the path to get to the suburbs where the returning locals reside. Each public facility along that path also has a certain reach. For example supermarkets are typically at 1 km too 2 km centres: so they have a rough reach of 0.5 km to 1 km. Some larger facilities have a reach of 5 km, and the large shopping malls, plaza's and precincts have reach of 25 km or so. The state capital cities have reach across the state, but not every day of the week.

So using a geographical information system (GIS) it should be possible to map out, a zone where the infection is likely to spread, and lock that region down. That is lock down local council areas, not the entire city, not the entire state and not the entire nation. To shutdown the entire nation, the national economy and cause national panic is irresponsible.

With  a local council area locked down, people within that council area can go about business as usual. Deliveries of goods and services can be made into the area, but not from the area, unless it supplies something not available from elsewhere. People living in the area, but working outside the area are confined to the area, and therefore cannot go to work, unless the job does not pose an issue. More over the local council areas in the infected zone which is locked down, will be neighbouring, so as long as can travel to work place with in the locked down zones, can travel between council areas.

It is inconsiderate of people in the Adelaide metropolitan area to be traveling 100 km's or more into the remote rural towns and emptying the supermarket shelves. To start with the metro supermarkets must have incompetent management if they cannot keep the shelves full. The rural towns typically have low demand, and are typically unable to supply all the needs of the local population on a regular basis. It is somewhat akin to living on an island, with the ship coming in once a year, and stock up when the ship arrives. So city dwellers coming up and emptying our shelves is not appreciated. 

Secondly, the point of origin of the infection, for the state is the metropolitan area. Some 2/3rd's of  the Australian population is in the state capitals, and around 1/3rd of the population in the remote regions. The remote regions thus have the potential to keep on with business as usual and avoid infection, if infection is locked down in the metro areas. So the city dwellers shouldn't be spreading the infection into the rural towns.

It is also to be noted that one theory is that 60% of the population needs to be infected for herd immunity to kick in. The 2/3rd's population in the cities is near enough the 60%, so locking the cities down and restricting traffic to the remote and rural regions seems like a reasonable imposition.

It is lunacy that people 150 km or more from the nearest infected region have to comply with national restrictions, and social distancing. It is an unnecessary imposition and inconvenience, and excessive impact on the economy. The government should act to shut the panic down, not shut the economy or nation down.

If we lock a suburb down, then the first issue will notice, is that most suburbs are worthless dormitory regions with no local services. If shut a local council area down, then will notice that there is also a lack of local services. So the question is why is there a lack of services? What kind of development and planning approval is taking place that large regions are devoid of local services.

Take the Yorke Peninsula for example, this is split into two major council areas: the Copper Coast (CC) council district (area: 773 sq.km, pop:14,139), and Yorke Peninsula (YP) council district (area: 5834 sq.km, pop:11,056). The largest commercial town in the area would be Kadina in the CC area, with a population of 4,857. So people in the YP area have to travel out of the area into the CC area for major shopping. Towns in the region are some 25 km apart with less than 1000 people, typically around 100 to 200 people. People expect to travel 25 km to 100 km to get their shopping done, as local stores don't have the local population to sustain stores with large variety of goods.

Whilst in the metro area there are supermarkets approximately every 1 km, servicing populations measured in 1000's. Major wholesale warehouses are in the metro area, most factories are in the metro areas, and the airports and seaports where imported goods arrive are part of the metro area. So why are metro supermarkets running out of goods?

Sure there maybe a 24 hour to 48 hour delay if panic buying empties the shelves? But that should not generate an incentive for people in the metropolitan area to travel over 100 km to do grocery shopping when usually only travel 1 km to 5 km. Why panic buying in any case, and what's the great demand for toilet paper?

Shouldn't be any panic buying. Admittedly once upon a time my parents got paid monthly, so got used to monthly shopping. Have pantry and fridge and freezer. Generally have a months supply of groceries in any case. Even so, there are still some things which have to buy weekly or fortnightly, very little if anything which need to buy daily. The fridge and freezer and cupboards have limited space. But there are only a few things which are perishable and do not last long even if kept in a refrigerator. Most of such perishable things you do not necessarily need. You wouldn't take perishable food stuffs on an expedition. You would take long life food stuffs: canned food, powdered and dried food stuffs. Food stuffs which do not require a fridge or freezer.

No need to buy in bulk, nor a need to spend extra money if you can't afford to. Just change what you usually buy, buy fewer perishables and get some extra canned foods. Also no need to buy in bulk, just get an extra can or pack during each ordinary shopping day, and build up reserves slowly. That way industry can also slowly build up production, and both manufacturing, wholesale and retailers can keep stock in supply. Noting that some businesses are shutting down, as a consequence of unnecessary panic. Sure if know going into quarantine, may need to buy extra. Then again there are all those people who get in a panic when have long weekends, a mere extra day, so the prospect of a fortnight or month in quarantine, definitely not going to cope.

As for the northern hemisphere, what's all this rubbish about isolation and keeping kids occupied? What do you normally do every single year during the winter months? As I recollect being a kid in England, walked to school in the wind, rain and snow: but during the school break trapped in doors. So travelling in bad weather accepted, but playing out in it, less acceptable. Point is being trapped in the house for days, weeks, or a few months is part of every year life: so shouldn't be an issue. Secondly hasn't everyone been complaining for years that kids spend too much time in doors, first complaints about reading, then watching TV, and these days playing video games or using social networking websites? So doubly, shouldn't be an issue.

As for social distancing I would contend that people get too close to one another in public spaces in the first place, and that shaking hands is a relatively dumb trait (mainly because I don't overly appreciate getting my hand crushed by halfwits who have read some junk pop psychology. Fools who will find out the hard way how wrong the psychology is.)

-o0o-

So consider that our towns are poorly designed, as a consequence of becoming reliant on privately owned mechanised transport. There are calls to increase population density. The architects seem to have taken this as a need for more grandiose multi-storey buildings: which I contend is a mistake. As I have mentioned before urban sprawl is not created by the car, but by architects and their multi-storey buildings and other large facilities. These facilities draw a workforce from distant locations and supply to distant locations. That is these buildings have an unacceptable radial reach. It is a planning issue, to restrict the size of buildings in an area, and also to restrict their reach and catchment areas (hinterlands).

As far as I know part of the incentive for building codes stemmed from two major events: the great fire of London (1666) and the great plague of London (1665 to 1666), along with cholera out break of 1854. In both cases the primary problem was a lack of isolation and circulation between buildings. In the one case the problem was access to and around buildings to fight fires, in the other there was a lack of ventilation and air circulation. On the other hand the circulation and movement of people otherwise contributed to the spread of disease. Though any significant building code didn't eventuate until the  London Building Act 1844 : in other words slow to respond. (Not quite:Rebuilding  of London Act 1666, and Rebuilding of London Act 1670 ).

Any case our historical fortress cities, and rural villages could for the most part be isolated and locked down, whilst modern sprawling suburbs are more difficult to lock down, and remote rural villages are a few hours drive away, not several days walk.

I've mentioned before that whilst South Australia has many council regions, some of which are referred to has cities, the suburbs of these regions are all listed as suburbs of Adelaide. Our development act shouldn't just place limits on separation distances between buildings, it should also separate and keep separated the cities, the towns and the villages. There wasn't any point in building the satellite City of Elizabeth and then allow urban sprawl to join it to the Adelaide metropolitan area, nor for the rural town of Gawler to become increasingly connected into the metropolitan area. In all this urban sprawl market gardens have disappeared under housing. Agriculture seems to keep moving north, closer and closer to the Goyder's Line. It doesn't seem sensible.

If we kept nature strips between villages, towns and cities, and minimised the number of connector roads between. Then they can be isolated more readily than sprawling suburban grids. More importantly each community has more localised facilities and is not dependent on modern technology. The car isn't entirely necessary. Trains can shift cargo, as can small trucks and vans.

People are considered able to walk at about 5 km/hr and cycling considered to be about 4 times faster, so around 20 km/h. People already spend around 1 hour stuck in cars to travel less than 20 km. Whilst my contention is that an industrial city state should be 100 km diameter, a town 5 km to 10 km diameter, a village 1 km diameter, and estates 100 m diameter. All of which get isolated by nature strips. Assuming can travel for 5 hours each day, then can walk 25 km/day, or cycle 100 km/day. Travelling from the perimeter to the hub of a 5 km diameter town would thus be a 30 minute walk, and at the hub most of the needs can be bought. I find it strange that as a kid we used to walk 2 km to 4 km to do the weekly shopping using a shopping trolley, no car needed: whilst monthly shopping was a car trip to a distant supermarket to buy bulk items.

If we restricted the reach of buildings, as far as it is practical to do so, then local communities would be stronger, and more resilient, and service quality would improve. Not the least of which the customer you upset lives at the end of your street, or at least in your local neighbourhood, not out of town.

If we strengthen local business and protect diversity rather than competition, unemployment should reduce, and energy usage should also drop.

It should also be noted that the response to a pandemic and epidemic is no different for a nation. About the only difference it makes is if the nation is dependent on imports for its survival, in which case it may have difficulty getting what it needs.

Now what we have with urban sprawl is increased potential for contact and transmission of contaminants of all kinds. With isolated communities, say villages within towns, and towns within cities, then have increased potential to isolated, and otherwise continue business as usual.

The layout of our cities is a mater of defence and security. The current response to a pandemic/epidemic has demonstrated a lack of security: bio-weapons can easily bring the worlds nations to their knees. The response is some what pathetic given that the majority of people infected with COVID-19 have recovered and will recover.

As it is, here in SA we could put a barrier across Port Wakefield road, and prevent those from the Adelaide metropolitan area travelling to the North West of the state. For that matter it is a major failing that infection has already spread to the Barossa Valley approximately 75.4 km from Adelaide, no way should it have been permitted for the virus to transmit more than 25 km from the centre of Adelaide. Whilst there are some long back ways to some places, for the most part there is one and only one way to get to most of the remote towns.

Locals returning from overseas, we should have been able to track their destinations. Tourists, shouldn't have been able to leave the proximity of airports and (sea)ports. For certain we have the problem of those people who left and dispersed before we knew we needed to track. But tourists mostly visit tourist destinations. So once again we have a few places we can lock down and isolate.

There is no need to shut businesses down or pubic events. As I said we are some 150 km away from where the infected are. The doctors, dentists have gone into isolation. The local gym has shutdown.

I understand why I just had an appointment with cardiologist over the telephone, instead of the appointment I originally had for face to face in Kadina. Normally the cardiologist travels from Adelaide all the way to Kadina, and I likewise have to travel around 50 km to up the Yorke Peninsula to Kadina. Adelaide is where the infections are, so we don't want people from Adelaide potentially spreading the infection to the north. But since we haven't got infections, I don't see why local dentists, gym and other facilities need close.

Not the least of which the gym is used by rehab patients, recovering from various conditions: heart attack, COPD, cancer, etc... Apparently my heart ejection fraction hasn't improved after 12 months at the gym, but neither has it deteriorated. The doctor wants to put me on more medication, and now I've got to find some other way to get exercise (I'm a problem as I don't fit the text book solution: no high blood pressure, never smoked, don't drink, and as for being over weight everyone says BMI meaningless. Primarily thin as are most people in the rehab group, more a concern if we lost weight.). Going to the gym, was only reason not to be at home, and not to be working at computer. It is unnecessary to be closing specific types of business across the entire nation.  Yet I am meant to go to the chemist and get the new medication (prescription being posted out), and then with in a or week go to local doctors to get blood tests.

Sure we don't know where the virus maybe, but we do know where it is, and where it can spread from. So unless it arrives in a neighbourhood near you, there is nothing to panic about, and even if it does arrive, and you get the thing, you are more likely to recover than die.

As mentioned above rural towns are small, typically with one road through, if you blink whilst travelling then you might not notice the towns. These towns can be shut off, but there is no need to, because the infection has not reached that far, and it shouldn't because the metro area in the vicinity of the airport should be shut off.

So there maybe people out there who do not yet know they have the virus, but once they do know, we shut off their neighbourhood. That could be a suburban block or a single street. From any individual we can identify friends and relatives they may have been in contact with, and so have additional neighbourhoods to monitor and/or shutdown. It maybe slow but it doesn't throw the population into turmoil and wreak havoc on the economy. We simply identify, trap and isolate the contamination and stop it spreading from a source. If there ain't no source, it ain't gonna spread.

Therefore there should be no need to shutdown where there is no existing source of infection.

{I was interrupted 3 times and lost my track. The basic gist, is that the way our towns and cities are designed impacts on our capacity to isolate locally. The building blocks are too big, we should have smaller villages, within towns, and towns within cities.}


Additional Reading: (the stuff you ought to read)

  1. WHO COVID-19 dashboard
  2. Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports
  3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers
  4. Government response to the COVID-19 outbreak | Australian Government Department of Health
  5. The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne
  6. Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
  7. What is herd immunity?
  8. Will warming spring temperatures slow the coronavirus outbreak?
  9. View from The Hill: Entertainment venues closed in draconian measures to fight the virus
Architecture, Population Density, Housing and Climate
  1. Density by stealth: A house for Gen Y
  2. Housing Diversity: Adapting 1.0 Infrastructure for 3.0 Lives
  3. What Would Boyd Do? A Small Homes Service for Today
  4. Infrastructure priorities in the face of bushfires, floods and droughts
  5. Ethical and scientifically sound architectural solutions to the climate crisis
  6. Public spaces bind cities together. What happens when coronavirus forces us apart?
  7. Outbreaks like coronavirus start in and spread from the edges of cities

Related Posts

Revisions:
[26/03/2020] : Original

Friday, March 13, 2020

Secure Identity using myGovID Flawed

This seems like an extremely flawed and insecure system. First there is the arrogant view that it would be irresponsible not to update phone to new purported more secure system. But if security is an issue, then the requirement for the irresponsible behaviour of  scanning identity documents and uploading them to be stored on some organisations servers, voids the benefit of the improved phone security. The system is not acceptable.

In the traditional approach people took their identity documents to an agency and an officer viewed the real documents. The identity documents are typically on non-standard paper sizes, in colour and are embossed or have water marks. The documents were photocopied in black and white, typically producing a copy surrounded by waste paper, or a document split onto two sheets of paper. The copy was stamped with a red stamp with the word "COPY", it was signed and dated by the officer witnessing the real documents. The copy was in no way a substitute for the original, but it was token evidence that such original documents had been presented to an officer of the agency.

With the introduction of colour photocopiers with memory store, it became increasingly viable to produce a replica document which could be used as a substitute for the original if not closely scrutinised. With scanners, wireless networking and roll form printers, preventing the creation of a substitute document became less and less viable. All the witnessing organisation requires is token evidence of having viewed the real documents: no colour photocopy/scan of the whole document is needed.

The system we have here with myGovID, is that a substitute document is used as proof of identity, and that is definitely not acceptable. Just needs someone to steal the substitute documents from say Paypal servers and upload to the ATO servers.  Not a problem right, its secure. These systems are so secure that we have to upgrade our phones on a regular basis, because the secure systems are not as secure as they are purported to be. The systems are perfectly secure until the suppliers wish to sell the next piece of electronic junk.

From memory the Australian population opposed the introduction of national identity number and photographic identity card, and the drivers license is only supposed to be used for traffic management.  Same population goes out buys mobile phone (personal identity number), with GPS tracking and camera, plasters their identity all over the internet, and complains about privacy and theft of identity. So maybe the government could assume the population is naive and gullible. However, one phone one identity is not valid, as some families just have the one mobile phone. The phone is carried by who ever is away from home, so they can contact home.

To get the phone need to provide name and address, at the very minimum so that can be billed for regular use. I don't recollect any need to provide proof of identity to buy. However suppose  impose one phone one identity, then the proof of identity needs to occur at the point of sale. Sales people and retailers become responsible for verifying identities: seems an onerous imposition.

If the MyGovID uses a scanned file uploaded to their servers, then just need to identify where the file is taken from and push the appropriate file into the transfer system. That is hacker steals identity documents from say Paypal, and pushes them to the ATO servers.  However, supposing when scan an identity document  with a mobile phone that no file is created on the phone and a data stream is sent direct to the ATO servers, where a file is created. So now the phones camera/scanner has to receive a document. Still don't need the original documents, only need the substitute documents which are seen at the other end of the communication channel. And if every naive organisation is requesting upload of identity documents then there is going to be plenty of servers to hack, from which to retrieve substitute documents. And identity is thus not secured.

I don't have an issue with Australia Post offices which issue passports checking identity documents, but once again they should not be permitted to scan and retain substitute documents. Putting the word "COPY" on the scanned document is also not acceptable, as no means of knowing if that is simply a screen display or actual change to a file. Even if it is a change to a file, it can be applied in a way that is easy to remove. Even if part of a bitmap, it may obliterate the underlying text, but it is still viable to develop an algorithm which finds the word COPY and removes, then other algorithms can attempt to fill in the missing image. Whilst probably not good enough to restore the document, such would depend on where the word "COPY" is written. If placed over standard stuff then relatively easy to restore, if over signatures then less viable to restore: But if signatures are obscured then the copy possibly of limited use.

So basically need to have witnessed the full original document, but only be permitted to partially scan the document, such as the signature strip. But then the signature strip could be easily used to create a new set of documents. So no copies or scanning permitted. Scanning is probably not necessary anyway as most of the documents have registration numbers of some description. So witness the original documents and record the relevant details. If make an error in some of the registration numbers then the documents won't reconcile with official records and relevant agency can request to check the original documents again. For certain can have the numbers without having the original documents. The issue however is having enough numbers from enough documents, that the identity is demonstrated to have been used consistently for a long time by the same person.

So not a secure system and requires releasing documents which place identity at even greater risk of being stolen. To not have an alternative system in place seems unreasonable.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[13/03/2020] : Original

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Even Engineers don't know what engineers do!

Those persons calling themselves engineers don't know what "engineers" are meant to do!

The education defined by the Washington Accord which essentially defines a modern engineer does not have anything to do with the role engineers typically occupy.

Engineers have spent decades defining a body of knowledge (BoK) to aid in the design, of now established technologies, to be fit-for-function. Whilst these technologies maybe considered to be "engineered" they do not need "engineers" to design them. The only time engineers are required to design specific adaptations and instances of such technology is when silly out dated legislation is in place, such as the licensing system in the USA and registration system in Queensland (Australia).

From the beginning engineers were the ingenious contrivers of the engines of war: not the replicators. The simplest way I have described the occupations is:

  1. Engineers Originate
  2. Technologists Adapt
  3. Technicians Apply
The education provided by the 4 year B.Eng is not about established technology nor how to design such technology. The education is concerned with science and mathematics, with notional reference to established technologies. If a study programme does provide extensive coverage of design of established technologies then it is not a compliant B.Eng.

The education provided by the compliant B.Eng is meant to enable a person to tackle problems where there is no established BoK concerned with a technology. It is for tackling problems at the frontiers of science and technology. Graduates should be able to derive new design theory where no theory currently exists, to be able to question existing theory and identify flaws and limitations and provide theory which over comes those limitations. {On the job tasks which are equivalent of completing a masters research degree; except don't get awarded a scrap of paper, instead awarded the solution of a real world problem.}

When it comes to established technologies then Australia's traditionally educated 2 year qualified engineering associates should be capable of assessing fitness-for-function using an established BoK. The established BoK is typically embodied in text books, industry manuals, design guides, codes of practice and national standards.

The WFEO Sydney accord defines an occupation they call engineering technologist, and an education typically provided by a minimum of a 3 year bachelor degree. This degree may still have the title B.Eng or it may have the title B.Tech, irrespective of the degree name, it may still often be 4 years in duration. To be suitable for the occupation of "engineer" however the degree needs to meet the requirements of the Washington accord, not simply have the defined 4 year duration. Similarly just because a degree is 3 years duration doesn't result in educating an engineering technologist unless it meets the criteria of the Sydney accord.

So we have a defined occupation which requires an extra year beyond that actually required for the task at hand. Whilst the WFEO Dublin accord defines a 2 year education for technicians, the 2 year education is not compatible with the skill set of traditional engineering associates. {To be clear the IEAust  and the unions (APESMA...) have spent some 30 years diminishing the skills of engineering associates. My interest is to reinstate that skill set both in terms of education and in terms of experience and training gained on the job.}

As a consequence I proposed the new title and occupation of Associate Technologist, not the least of which is to remove reference to engineering in the occupational titles and job activities.

The education for Associate Technologists should provide an individual who is highly conversant with the established technology and the established BoK required to adapt and implement such technology for specific purposes.

The development path is basically as follows. The engineer introduces new technology or is requested to review new technology, they then develop the BoK needed to assess the fitness-for-function of that technology. The BoK can then be used to assess variants of the technology for specific purposes. Technologists take guardianship of the BoK and expand and develop it as they implement multiple instances of the technology and identify the limitations of the BoK and the technology. As  the BoK becomes refined it moves from being in-house reports and published research papers, into being published and widely available industry manuals. At such point the persons familiar with the BoK is significant, and the BoK is established and validated knowledge, and design can now pass to Associate Technologists.

The Associate Technologists can then take the development further and develop simplified prescriptive solutions for a wide variety of common uses. Design technicians can then take these prescriptive solutions and develop still simpler prescriptive solutions for use by trade technicians and trades people.

To clarify with simple example, an Associate Technologist can design any beam from first principles. A design technician can design a beam using published beam formulae and load capacity tables or design capacity tables. A trade technician can select a specific beam type from suitable span tables, as can a trades person. The difference between a trade technician and trades person is the amount of qualitative and quantitative science involved in their activities: with trades people having least involvement. An electrician works with relatively simple electrical systems, whilst an electrical technician works with vastly more complex electrical systems. An auto mechanic works with cars/trucks whilst a mechanical technician works with anything mechanical. This is with respect to the skills imparted by formal education and  training, it does not consider the natural abilities of the individual before or after such training.

The important issue to note is that which was engineering in the beginning is not engineering today, and will not be engineering tomorrow. So someone may be an engineer at the start of their career, but if they spend 40 to 50 years just designing variants of the same thing, then they are not doing engineering. They are not doing engineering, because some 5 years after introducing the technology, society could start training Associate Technologists to design the technology. These Associate Technologists do not have to figure out what to do, they simply have to get on with doing it (with regard to science and mathematics).

I short the world is wasting global resources to educate people who do not actually have the capability to ever do a thing called "engineering" and if they do, they will never have the opportunity to do a thing called "engineering". They will have the opportunity to apply and adapt established technologies to be fit for some specific purpose, and use technical science and technical mathematics to assess such fitness-for-function: but this activity is not engineering.

Engineering only occurs when cross the frontier of science and technology. Once the frontier is crossed, the boundary is shifted and the engineering is over. So the technologies are engineered, but engineers are not required to design variants of the generic technology to suit a specific need and purpose.

To create legislation which requires an engineer for such established technologies is extremely wasteful, inefficient and unproductive. The education provided to the WFEO Engineer is not relevant to the task at hand,and they need to spend some 5 to 10 years becoming conversant with the technology and the associated technical science. Whilst the education given to the WFEO "Engineering" Technologist is meant to cover the specific category of generic technology and its associated technical science.

All the recent failures:

  1. Lacrosse Tower
  2. Grenfell Tower
  3. Opal Tower
  4. Mascot Tower
  5. Tullamarine Freeway Sign Collapse
In all cases  either the design-process was defective, or the fabrication and construction processes were defective. For the most part there was lack of control over converting the design-intent into the finished article. Requiring "the thing" that the IEAust calls an "engineer" will not fix this problem. Proper quality assurance programmes need implementing in design and construction. All the quality systems I have seen on the side of consultants are based on simply renaming contract document management systems to QA systems.

Tracking communications between designer and contractor is irrelevant if the information being generated by the designers is defective and the designers do not have adequate checks on the design. 

At present there are regulatory controls on design specification and documentation with respect to the performance of the finished "building". The original assumption was that with out controls people would just build what ever they wanted: therefore assumed they were able to build the thing. Since traditionally design and builder were one and the same entity, not a problem. But with the passage of time things have become split. Designer and builder are two or more separate entities, and over-the-wall-design is practised.

That which is designed may theoretically have the required performance if it can be built, but chances are it cannot be built as intended. Materials properties changed by manufacturing processes is one obstacle to achieving the required end-product. It is therefore important that design-for-manufacture (DFM), and design-for-assembly (DFA) and design-for-construction (DFC) take place: where construction is taken to refer to on-site and manufacture refers to off-site activities. Or where in manufacture the wok piece is taken to the tools, and construction the tools are taken to the work piece. The point is that there is an extra stage of design which has to be conducted after get the detailed design of the finished object. Sure there should be concurrent design taking place in an attempt to specify something which is buildable in the first place. But until the fabricator is selected and there resources are known, the practicality of buildability is just wishful thinking. Production processes need to be designed along with complementary tooling.

When implementing the established technologies, there is expectation of certainty in achievement. The frontiers of science and technology are to be avoided. The only frontier is that haven't pursued this specific project before. Whilst there is uncertainty and potential variability, they are all otherwise expected deviations. For example until start exploring the ground and the soil, rock and water below the required footings cannot be finalised. But whatever is encountered there is an expectation that suitable footings can be designed. That what ever may be encountered the basic techniques and technologies which can be adopted, adapted and applied, they exist already, and any special tooling required can be designed. On condition that the people involved are adequately conversant with both the established technologies and associated technical science (BoK). 

My contention is that we are not educating and training the right people and that professional cults are impeding the ability of humans to adapt to the task at hand. These cults should not be granted more power by implementing poorly design legislation. Legislation built around a distorted description of the task at hand.

Yes! To legislators and the public at large it may seem like advanced science and mathematics, but to those with the appropriate 2 year qualifications it is not complex, it is not advanced, it is routine. Many engineering calculations are no more complex than grade 9 algebra or grade 12 calculus: whilst only a few people may have completed grade 12, and fewer still grade 12 calculus, everyone should have completed grade 9 algebra.

Higher education needs to keep up with that which we are now able to teach in the basic 10 years of compulsory education: else those with a bachelor degree will be less capable than the next generation which completes grade 10.

So at the very minimum, it is not 4 year qualified "engineers" we need, it is 2 year qualified Associate technologists, which need to be required to do the work. No need for registration or licenses: they have formal educational awards. Whilst they can be faked they can also be checked, as can the license.

The issue isn't whether the person as a degree or not. The issue is here is a job that needs doing, is this person able to do the job? How do you know? How have you checked their work? Who is checking their work, and how do you check their work? It is an issue of succession planning and sustaining an established body of knowledge.

Of course they get it wrong if they didn't know how to do it in the first place? But who said they know how? Probably the IEAust, indicated the person was appropriately competent through grossly inappropriate assessment processes for chartered status. Professional cults impeding proper assessment of required competencies.

So if there is to be legislation there should be some basic legislation for learned societies. such as:
  1. They have a published body of knowledge (BoK) for each occupational category
  2. They demonstrate competence as guardian or the BoK
  3. They demonstrate an ability to share and disseminate the BoK
  4. They have the following grades: cadet, associate, member, fellow
  5. The grades are stepping stones, and all have to start at the bottom (cadets includes, students, graduates and all others who have neither the minimum education or experience to be an associate)
  6. Minimum entry point is associate: Minimum of 5 years experience at the level of cadet completing appropriate graduate development programme. Minimum requirement for member is 5 years experience at Associate pursing an appropriate development programme. Minimum requirement for Fellow is 10 years at level of Member pursuing an appropriate development programme. Typical expected distribution is 20% cadets, 60% associates, 15% members, and 5% fellows. If there are higher percentages in the higher grades then the requirements for progressing are not hard enough.
  7. Minimum Education one or more associate degrees (AQF-6).
  8. They comply with the Australian qualification framework (AQF). Movement from one level to the next implies increase in depth of knowledge, increased personal responsibility and increased independent thought. Qualifications have to be defined starting at AQF-1. The qualifications have to be properly articulated to enhance occupational mobility.
  9. The organisation to represent an hierarchy of occupations, which are typically expected to work as part of a team. (eg. trades, drafters, designers, technical scientists. Whilst members having a trade are likely to exceed those having science qualifications, the expectation is that only those tradespeople interested in progressing to associate or work very closely with associates will be interested.  Trades will typically have a different body of knowledge, and likely have different organisations involving artists.)
  10. The organisation is not permitted to hold more than 20% of the people in a given occupation or broad area of practice. (eg. practitioners should have at least 5 organisations to choose from to protect diversity and provide alternative perspectives. So can have an organisation which represents generalists engineering, and more specific ones representing mechanical, civil, structural, electrical. Or put another way the IEAust has to loose its national monopoly: its colleges become separate institutions. Not a major imposition given more than one nation which speaks English, and which have various more worth while learned societies: so more productive to create local branch of a more international organisation.)
  11. Legislation will require a minimum of Associate to practice without supervision.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[(10/11/2019)] : Original

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Action on Environmental Change Rather Than Climate Change

Life draws resources from the environment and exhausts waste back to the environment, in doing so the environment is changed. The environment of tomorrow can never be the same as the environment of yesterday.
Want action on climate change, well in principle its relatively simple. Simply shutdown, turn off and stop.

It's admirable that kids are seeking action on climate change. So here's a short list of actions to take.

Sorry you're walking to school from now on. No car, no bus, and no bicycle. No computer, no TV, and no internet. No electrical appliances, and no battery operated electronic junk, so no mobile phones. No video games, no social networks, no cloud. No electricity, full stop. No hot water, no oven, no refrigerator, no washing machine, no clothes iron, no vacuum cleaner. Forget about solar panels and wind turbines, the materials of construction are out. Certainly no aluminium support frames, and the mining of most of the other materials out.

No bicycle, as steel and synthetic polymers (plastics) are out. Steel is out because it requires coal, and coal is out. Coal is one material the activists are vocal about, and explicitly demand we stop using. You want, you got it, its out. Though, interestingly coal saved us from one environmental crisis back in the 1800's. The woodlands which provided wood for heating and cooking, were being stripped bare to coke steel. Then it was discovered coal could be used for steel production. It could also be used to heat our homes, and for cooking.

Polymers are out because these are typically derived from coal, natural gas or oil. So no nylon, acrylic, polyethylene, PVC. So no fake fur for teddy bears, so teddy bears and many other toys are out. No synthetic fibres for clothing, will have to use cotton, wool and other natural fibres. Though cotton uses large amounts of water, and the global potable water supply is unstable and insecure: so maybe cotton's out as well.

uPVC is typically used for water supply pipes, sanitary drainage pipes (sewers) and storm water drainage pipes. So these are out. Some pipes are Copper, and that is also out. All metals, and anything which requires forging and , casting or firing is out. So ceramics and fired bricks are out.

With no metals, cutting tools are largely out. So no tools to work timber or stone. Cold-working of metals is out, as requires electricity to provide the drawing power. So could make bamboo bike, if could cut the bamboo, but that's probably out to.

Public transport typically designed around walking speeds of 5km/hr or a slightly slower 80 m/min. Allowing 5 hours/day, that is 25 km/day. Anything more than a 25 km away is out, all resources have to be local. The multi-storey buildings being promoted to create walkable cities, and reduce urban sprawl they have to go. As the sprawl is not caused by the car, it is caused by over sized buildings which have to be supported by large populations. Large populations which cannot afford to live in close proximity to the offices and other facilities, because of high land values. High land values which apparently favour making tall buildings. There is a lack of local centres.

With mechanical transport out, back to human and animal power. A hand cart however requires timber and possibly metal treads. With no cutting tools potentially no means of making a cart, so limited to backpacks and similar.

Though cattle and pigs are out. Can have wool, but no leather or pigskin. Though depending on the requirements for cleaning wool, it may also have to go. Rubber comes from too distant a location so that is also out. Which all severely limits the materials suitable for shoes, so likely walking barefoot.

Fibres will have to be spun by hand and also weaved by hand looms. As powered looms are out, though return to water wheels maybe viable. Though without metals, the working of timber is a problem: so both traditional water wheels and wind mills have limited potential.

Without power, broad acre agriculture is out. Most of the production of modern agriculture will not be able to be delivered to the people. The massive industrial cities draw resources from all over the world to support populations over 10 million, will grind to a halt. The populations will have to move, on foot, to where the food is produced. They will also have to move closer to water supplies, because pumped storage systems will not function. If water cannot flow by gravity to where it is needed and water is pumped into elevated tanks, then those water supplies will be shut down.

All up with power shut off, and most materials removed from production, there will be little work, so there won't really be much need to continue with school. Only thing left will be to sit and chant and contemplate the nature of the universe. But won't be able to do that for long, because there won't be enough food for everyone, and it won't becoming to a neighbourhood near you any time soon. So will need an entirely different culture.

The stone age will look awesome by comparison.

Now that's the easy part: deciding what we don't want and its direct consequences and some of its run on consequences.

Now complex decisions are not based on what we like and don't like, or what we want and don't want. Decisions need to be based on the benefits we seek, the consequential and unavoidable side effects that we are willing to accept and tolerate. A greater benefit may have more destructive side effects and thus to avoid those unwanted side effects we have to settle for a lesser benefit.

Now for the kids in school, you still have opportunity to study, 12 years of grade school and possibly 3 years at university or trade school. Are you going to make a choice based on highest paid future job, or on the knowledge required to solve the problems humanity faces?  What knowledge do you need? Do you understand the problems faced? Is compulsory education going to provide the knowledge and tools needed to tackle the future?

It is important to understand that our ancestors did not go to school and acquire knowledge, they took an interest in the world and created knowledge. If they had not done that, then there would be no knowledge to present in the schools. The current generation of school students have libraries full of books and an internet full of knowledge. You shouldn't study to get a job, you should study to understand your place in the world, you're impact on the environment, and determine that which is necessary to survive.To learn how to adapt to the changes, that your very presence and existence generates.

(Money doesn't attract talent, it attracts those who need to fuel their own greed)

The problem. What knowledge is valid? What can be believed? How can we test the validity of what we read? Never take something has valid because some appointed authority says it is so? Science is not religion? Science is not a democracy? School yard nonsense such as I have more peers backing my work than you have: is not science. Question everything and seek understanding, not knowledge? A brain dead unimaginative block of silicon can mindlessly recite knowledge, the skills to have are understanding, reasoning, and the ability to otherwise put knowledge to work.

The fundamental task of rational scientific planning, design and management is:

To maximise the benefit from the available but otherwise limited resources.

It is highly unlikely that we can undo that which has been done and revert to some earlier state of the environment, and then move forward from there without changing the environment at all. Further more, apparently at some point the sun will burn hotter as it burns out, the atmosphere will be lost along with all water. Life will be fried and baked. Then everything left will freeze. But this is apparently millions of years away. The point is, thus far, we only have one planet, we have no space colonies and no other place to live. Eventually humanity will perish from this earth, and from the universe unless we can find a way to travel the stars.

Assuming currently have 6 billion years left, then we have 2 billion years to go and explore, 2 billion years to return and indicate where new planet is and 2 billion years to get the rest of humanity there. All of which indicates we don't need a planet, just a space ship and access to planets to get needed resources.

There are too many people on this planet already. Not so much due to limited resources, but mostly due to the limitations of our cultures and societies. We need a new way of life. New activities. We need to move away from entirely market driven economies: the market is not sociable it doesn't care about the planet nor humanity.

Action is not, absolutely not, required to stop climate change. It is done, and cannot be undone. Our task is to adapt to the changes in the environment: and understand every action we take changes the environment. Understand that diversity is important, to reduce dependence and minimise local concentration of pollutants and other damage.

Rivers do not flow along the same paths indefinitely and they do not flow forever. Rivers erode their banks. Oceans erode coastlines. This is not climate change. These are just natural changes which are consequence of a dynamic environment. They maybe happening faster than we would like, and faster than maybe previously predicted. But they are happening, and were going to happen in any case. The geology and archaeology indicates much of the land masses were once under water. We cannot expect that the land masses will stay above water forever.

We can build ships, floating platforms and elevated buildings. We can move inland and into the hills. We can build cities on the ocean floor. We even have the potential to build cities on the moon and orbiting, floating space colonies. This all requires energy: fuel.

The task is to investigate the industrial food chain. Identify dependencies and inefficiency and better integrate relate industries and activities to cut waste. To remove the need for pointless unnecessary upgrades. Mostly they are not upgrades they are different products with different functionality, often diminished over the previous product: so certainly no justification to call an upgrade.

We need to understand action and reaction, and the dynamic adaptive behaviour of the systems we rely on and otherwise have an impact on.

The task ahead is far more complicated,  than reducing environment to climate, and abbreviating carbon dioxide to carbon, and talking nonsense about what is and is not green or environmentally friendly. None of it is environmentally friendly. Life changes the environment, full stop. The issue is whether or not the change forms part of a restorative cycle. If not part of a restorative cycle, then how long till the system grinds to a halt? Are we willing to tolerate such, do we have a plan to change to another resource when we run out.

Irrespective of climate change our civilisation was expected to grind to a halt. The architects,civil engineers and politicians failed to design cities which are sustainable. They were built based on power sources which potentially had limited life spans, and otherwise encouraged population growth in these cities with no thought to the future. Millions of people trapped in cities with no access to land to grow food, and no means of getting food into the cities.

We need to know the minimum population required to meet all the necessary and wanted services of modern civilisation. Such population levels need to be sustained to maintain the benefits provided by an industrial society. If such populations are exceeded then more towns would be needed. How many towns can we build? {I have previously mentioned industrial city states 100km in diameter with maximum population of 10 million, with maximum sustainable population assumed to be 10 billion, 1000 such cities are required. I otherwise looked at cells 5 km in diameter, with current world population, the estimate was 1000 people per cell. }

There are social, political, historical, environmental and technical aspects of the problems to be considered. The task has always been there, and will always be there: it is life.


Further Reading (in the News):


  1. Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive Friday climate strike
  2. Are the Kids Alright in the Era of Climate Change?
  3. No future, no children: Teens refusing to have kids until there's action on climate change
  4. When teaching kids about climate change, don’t be a downer
  5. Greta Thunberg and 15 other children filed a complaint against five countries over the climate crisis
  6. 'We've listened to the science, we are not brainwashed kids': school strikers
  7. Ever wondered what our curriculum teaches kids about climate change? The answer is ‘not much’
  8. In defence of having children in the face of climate change
  9. Indian 'anti-natalist' Raphael Samuel taking legal action against his own parents for having him
  10. How did CEO pay get to 500 times the wages of ordinary workers?
  11. Why Greta Thunberg triggers the troglodytes among us
  12. Students say adults have not learnt childhood lessons in sharing Murray-Darling water


Related Posts

Revisions:
[28/09/2019] : Original

Monday, March 25, 2019

Australia No Shortage of Engineers

Following on from politics of professions, and defining engineering, it should be clear that Australia does not have a shortage of engineers hindering the launch of potential mining and construction boom.

The construction is associated with the mining, it is the dependent infrastructure required by the mining activity. It includes bridges, roads and railways, and ports and harbours, and associated stormwater drainage and water resources management.There may also be need for storage and processing buildings along with offices. All established technologies with an established body of scientific knowledge concerned with planning, design, analysis, evaluation and management.

The mining is either open cut, underground. Underground mines seem to more typically have sloping access shafts than vertical shafts. The sloping shafts make it viable for vehicles to access the mine: thus trucks can be loaded in the mine. The alternative is a need for rail carts to be loaded or vertically raised skips. When these get to the surface they have to be unloaded, possibly onto belt conveyors and transferred to storage or loaded onto road vehicles for transport elsewhere. Thus extra handling compared to loading road vehicles in the mine. Though not all mines suitable for sloping access shafts. Any case the point is relatively ancient and established set of technologies, no "engineering" required.

Now it has been indicated in recent article I read, that there is increased use of the industrial internet of things (IIoT). New technology maybe, but not exactly as demanding as programming CNC machines, or programming PLC's. It is mostly plug and play technology, hooked up to the internet and controlled by software as a service. And it's not really new as sensors were added to remote belt conveyors some 20 years ago to monitor wear. Whilst factories, industrial plant and mechanical handling systems have been getting increasingly automated for decades. So once again no "engineering".

Just to be clear: Engineering takes place at the frontiers of science and technology.

Roads, Railways and Traffic Controls

Who as a member of the public believes it takes 4 years to learn how to design a road properly? If it takes 4 years to learn how to design a road, would you expect your local streets and roads to be the hazard they are?

Hopefully you agree it doesn't take 4 years, and if they do take 4 years then the roads should be better designed than they are. It does not take four years to learn the technical aspects of road design, the social, cultural, political and psychological aspects of road design may require further study but such are not covered. Since these latter subjects are not covered we have hazardous road network. In the current discussion however not concerned with demolishing the existing network and improving the network, just concerned with getting more of what we already have. Furthermore the roads concerned with are remote area roads, with heavy vehicular traffic and few users. Roads which once the resource is mined out will likely cease to be of any value.

Sure there are some roads in populated areas in the vicinity of ports and harbours. These roads may need widening to allow increased traffic flows, they may also need strengthening to carry higher loads. There will also be a need for modification and improvement to traffic control systems.

There will be need to assess the relative merits of road transport over rail transport. Railway locomotives can typically haul longer trains with heavier loads. Not aware of 1 km long road train. Once again road and railway technologies are established technologies with no need for "engineering".

For certain there is need for project specific drawings to be produced, and there are the so called "numbers" which need doing. But we as a society know what numbers, need doing. We don't have to survey learned journals to find new scientific theory, we don't have to devise a scientific hypothesis and conduct experiments to verify. The theory is established, and how it shall be applied to the established technologies is also established. Just have to look in the appropriate industry manuals, review regulations, and national codes of practice.

The people required are technicians, people conversant with the relevant tools and techniques for designing, analysing and evaluating proposed adaptations and implementations of the established technologies. If you don't like the generic meaning of technician, and prefer occupational classifications and refinement of words: then the people we need are Technologists, Associate Technologists, and Applied Scientists, Design Technicians and Trade Technicians, absolutely NOT Engineers.

Sure an engineer maybe able to do the job, but to be able to do so, they need a large amount of on the job training to become conversant with the established technology for which they will be held responsible. The point and purpose of educating and training the other occupations is that they are already conversant with the technology and how the science shall be applied to the design of such technology. Their education is not inferior to that of engineers, it is different, and better matched to the task at hand.

To reiterate my other essays. The 4 year B.Eng (AQF-8) typically consists of a common first year concerned with science and mathematics, leaving 3 years to cover some 2 to 5 major areas of practice. So that is 3/5ths to 1.5 years to cover each area of practice. So a programme in a specific area of practice can be designed to be a 2 year (AQF-6) or 3 years (AQF-7) programme. Such programmes if anything being superior to the 4 year B.Eng, because they provide greater coverage of the area of practice, more knowledge of the specific technologies. With all programmes having the same first year, an AQF-5 qualification in science and mathematics. Having the same foundation, it becomes easier to articulate to another area of practice.

Back to the roads and railways, these ribbons of impermeable surface pose a stormwater management problem. On the one hand stormwater needs to be managed around the roads and railways to prevent from getting inundated with water, which will hinder vehicle movement. On the other hand the road surface drains water to places it didn't previously flow.

So there are earthworks to be designed and managed during construction. There are materials to be provided to remote regions as well as people required for all the work: there are thus logistics problems to be solved. In a consulting organisation most of these tasks are carried out by different people, not by one person, but by teams of people. That is after graduation, someone with a B.Eng gets locked into a specific area of practice and specialises, and are typically hindered from moving to another area of practice: so a large part of their degree ceases to be of value. So industry not willing to retrain them in another area of practice and technology, and lack of appropriate study and qualification programmes to extend their knowledge themselves.

Thus there will be specialists in:

  1. Roads
  2. Railways
  3. Traffic Management and Controls
  4. Stormwater Drainage
  5. Earthworks & Geotechnology
  6. Bridges
  7. Construction
  8. Logistics
All of which are established areas of technology, with established bodies of science. For all of which it should be possible to design a 2 year programme to educate and train a suitably qualified Associate Technologist. This isn't entirely new, Australia's Engineering Associates were already so capable, until the 1980's, when Engineers Australia elitist objectives scuttled them. If really want an "engineer" to be in charge, then we have enough available already: as the majority are not doing anything remotely worthy of the description engineering.


With appropriate AQF-5 qualification in science and mathematics, the capabilities of many drafters, planners and other technical officers can be increased. With AQF-6 qualifications in specific areas of practice and technologies, then the capabilities of many practicing engineers can be improved, whilst an army of people with appropriate skills can be educated in the first instance. Those with the B.Eng will be able to fast track through the AQF-6 programmes as they will only need to study the those subjects extending the area of practice and covering the specific technology. Those with the AQF-5 will only require one year of extra study to articulate to a specific area of practice.

Consideration of Required Numbers

I have previously suggested the world land area be divided into cells 5 km in diameter, of which I get 7,585,452 such cells. The world population is approximately 7.53 billion, so would get around 993 persons per cell. {Though when looking at in detail cells should be hexagonal not circular}

For Australia there are 391,752 cells, most of these cells are not populated, but at least one park ranger and/or environmental scientist could be appointed to each cell. With population of 24,234,900 people, we could assign 62 people per cell.

I believe membership of Engineers Australia is around 100,000 members, and top heavy, biased towards B.Eng. I also believe it only represents about 30% of those who graduated in engineering. So there seems potential to appoint one civil engineer to each cell. On the other hand there is probably less than one third of the cells requiring any significant development over the period of 40 to 50 year career. Whilst the hub of a city may require more than one technical specialist, it does require not more than one engineer.

By comparison compare India: 167,419 cells, and population of 1,409,517,397, enabling 8,419 persons assigned to each cell. Plus it reportedly graduates 1 million engineers each year, so it definitely has the potential to assign 1 civil engineer to each cell in India and for that matter also each cell in Australia.

These people however don't need to be engineers, and need to work as part of a team. There appears to be around 2.8 million people between the age of 15 and 24 in Australia. So around 13.7% should  be studying:
  1. Surveying
  2. Cartography
  3. Environmental Science
  4. Agricultural Science
  5. Geotech
  6. Civil Infrastructure
Not sure how current system works. But those in grade 12 used to study either all arts and humanities subjects with one science subject, or all science subjects with one arts and humanities subject. My arts and humanities subject was geography, my science subjects were: maths 1&2 (otherwise known as double maths), physics and chemistry.

So my proposed AQF-5 would expand on grade 12 science and mathematics in one year, then a further year to AQF-6, would have people capable of contributing to the above areas of practice. Furthermore, such AQF-6 level academic programmes are also more appropriate to foreign students who are supported by their respective governments to go get an education and return to help develop the nation. 

Getting Side Tracked with Other Issues

Mapping and charting the continent of Australia and its resources: sure we have such data already, but individual development projects require more detailed information. Development requires identifying location for new roads and railways, water catchments and flood mitigation technologies, along with farming and mining activities. The whole environment needs zoning and developing accordingly. For example why has agriculture been permitted to go beyond the Goyder line and become dependent on pumped irrigation? How do we sustain food production dependent on fossil fuels, both for fuel and feedstock for agrochemicals? Choices of individuals in the market does not lead to collectively sensible behaviour. Rather the results are not in the best interests of the population at large nor are they ultimately of benefit to the individual.

We have land, coastline and coastal waters to both manage, develop and otherwise look after.

Note that I didn't include mining in the list. This is because the priorty is to identify resources and zone the environment. Then get infrastructure to access the regions for agriculture and mining. For example passenger trains travelling at 200 km/h to 300 km/h are important to getting people to the remote interior. Whilst civil aircraft may have cruise speeds from 300 km/h to 900 km/h, it is railways and roads which open up the country not isolated airports. Australia can basically be enveloped by a rectangle E/W: 4000 km by N/S: 3860 km (includes Tasmania). So the interior is around 2000 km from the coast line. Typical rural road speed 100 km/h, so the interior is around 20 hours away. By rail, at 200 km/h it is reduced to 10 hours, and air at 900 km/h down to 2.2 hours. However we are not typically travelling that far into the interior for farming and mining, a lot closer to 500 km to 1000 km from the coast. Whilst the remote central interior is 500 km to 1000 km radius of Alice Springs.

Put simply to make it more attractive for people to work in the remote mining and rural tends we have to make them less remote: by developing the infrastructure which connects them to the more populated coastal regions: and they have to be connected, so that goods can be delivered from these regions to the coastal regions. Once we have supportive infrastructure in place, secured our water supply and food production, then we can consider new mines and expanding existing.

We already have 1,687,893 people educated to AQF-5 and AQF-6, and 2,882,838 people educated to AQF-7. The primary problem is they don't have the necessary experience and expertise in the established technologies. With 1,675,632 people in engineering and related technologies, and 634,774 in architecture and building, and 222,831 people in Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies.

So it seems if anything there is a shortage of people in agriculture. Farmers have been advising there is a shortage and a lack of interest, with concerns where the next generation of farmers will come from. The problem with farming is that it is now mostly a one person activity, with lots of machinery. So assuming a 40 to 50 year career, the next generation have a long time to wait, for their parents to retire. They want jobs now, and the lifestyle the big cities promise. Hence the largest area being Management and Commerce with 2,149,808 persons.

Though statistics outside of education, indicate the largest areas of employment are: education, health care and retail. Mining and agricultural collectively account for less than 5% of the population. However these industries have flow on effects, as in mining needs infrastructure so there's a flow on construction boom. Whilst mining and agricultural materials need processing, so there's a potential increase in local manufacturing.

Any how, we may have a small population, and if they were busy doing the right work, there wouldn't be any shortages of people. The apparent shortfall of people in agriculture just means that there are fewer people looking after the potential tracts of land, plus the populated coastal cells more in need of architects and civil "engineers" than agriculture and environmental science: thus no shortfall.

If we were to increase the workforce by 1 million people we could assign at least two people to each of the planning cells. That is one environmental scientist, and either a agricultural "engineer", a mining "engineer", or a civil "engineer". That is we could employ one years production of engineers from India. But what we going to get them to do?

Got a block of land 5 km in diameter in the middle of nowhere and in less than one year of surveying to identify its of no consequence, and just needs a park ranger assigned responsibility.

Have a block of land in the middle of a cattle or sheep station. Is it a matter for environmental science or agricultural science? Once all the land is zoned, it then primarily becomes the responsibility for park rangers, and environmental scientists.

Our coastal waters are the responsibility of environmental scientists and civil/coastal "engineers". Our farm land the responsibility of environmental scientists, agricultural scientists along with agricultural "engineers". Our mining lands the responsibility of environmental scientists, and mining "engineers". We operate in the natural environment, we draw resources from the environment, we exhaust waste to the environment. We need to understand and monitor the environment. First and foremost we need an army of environmental technicians and scientists.

These people will either hinder development of land for: farming, mining, cities and industrial plant, or they will significantly boost the ability to implement. At present there is public opposition to increased mining, wind farms and various farming operations. It isn't decreased monitoring activity we need it is increased activity which is required.

For example we have protests which suggest we should stop mining coal. This is naive and suggests we only use coal as a fossil fuel. Coal however is an important source of carbon (not an abbreviation for carbon dioxide) based materials. Similarly oil and gas are also feedstock for material production including agrichemicals. So we cannot just stop the mining, we still need the raw materials. Amongst the raw materials are polymers used for insulation, required for energy efficient buildings. We have to better understand the industrial food chain, not simply halt production.

We need better monitoring of our rivers and the use of water for irrigation, and better stormwater management and water resource management. Much of the work required could be provided by Certificate IV (AQF-4) qualifications. Some monitoring could be provided by appropriate sensors and the industrial internet of things (IIoT): but such need installing under the supervision and operating by some one at least at AQF-4 level. The IIoT reduces the number of people required to run around taking remote measurements.

So remote cells can be monitored by remote controlled cameras atop tall towers, alternatively remote controlled flying drones can provide the means of monitoring. The land becomes occupied and under surveillance. One person could then potentially survey more than one cell in a day, or if not necessary to survey each day, they can survey several cells each year: and then cycle round again each year.

We have the population to occupy and survey the land. More to the point there are 798,400 Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander, so they can occupy the land with at least two people per cell.

Whilst there are 673,100 unemployed persons, who can occupy the land with at least one person to each cell, with two to some cells. Assuming these people want to work, then we have the required army to train to Certificate IV (AQF-4) and Associate Degree (AQF-6) level. So why haven't we? Partly because wasting national resources educating people, supposedly to AQF-8  over 4 years, and then scrapping half that education once they have found employment. Better to spend 2 years educating people to AQF-6 in the areas of practice we actually need skills. In 12 months we have planners, drafters and trade technicians. In 2 years we have the designers we need.

It should also be noted that whilst some of the AQF-4 qualifications take 4 years, these programmes are outside the classroom and on the job doing work. It isn't 4 years of academic study, it is mostly on the job training, developing proficiency in the work. So we can get the trades people for getting on with the work in short time. The people required to supervise takes slightly longer, and the people required to determine the work which needs doing, will take longer still, but should not take more than 2 years.

Now the cells are just for a planning exercise: to declare the land can be occupied and that at least one person is responsible for each block of land. I can however plan a square kilometre with a 500 x 500 m hub, to have more than 5000 single storey sole occupancy units. The maximum densities so far recorded around the world are 100,000 people for each square kilometre. These people are clearly not mining or farming as they are not occupying suitable land. And as they are already occupying buildings they don't need buildings.

Given 5000 single storey dwellings are suitable for couples with a baby, and extending the dwelling to two storey would make suitable for 2 adults and 2 children, and so increase population to 20,000. It seems relatively easy to increase the population to 100,000 by increasing the buildings to 10 storeys (5x2). But what are the 100,000 going to do with their time? What are they doing? Focused on education, health care and retail doesn't seem very productive. But if we do have such educational capability, then we definitely shouldn't and wouldn't have a shortage of suitably qualified persons.

Now whilst we can increase the population density of our cities who would want to live in such cities? More importantly from where do we get the water supply, we already have water rationing. So we have more work to do before we go increasing the population to get more workers to do the work.

The fundamental task is to maximise the benefit from the available but otherwise limited resources. The people we have in charge don't appear to have such ability.

So the numbers are available. We, just couldn't manage a booze up in a brewery.

Anyway the point is that a single agricultural or civil "engineer" should be able to develop a cell 5 km in diameter over a 40 year career. If we want it developed faster then we need more than one "engineer" involved with planning and design.

Just to note that is 5000 single storey or 10 storey dwellings designed once, and implemented 5000 times. Our building and construction industry in South Australia, oscillates between 5000 and 15,000 dwellings each year. So it would take less than one year to build a town. Does a mining town need more than 5,000 people or 100,000 people? Roxby Downs population 4500, Broken Hill population 17,814. Or take Leigh Creek (SA) population reduced from 2500 to 245. Mining towns are short lived. Some are unlikely to last for more than one generation: children are unlikely to follow in their parents footsteps and go work for the mining company.

Humans have legs, they are meant to be mobile. So not just about mobility across occupations it is also mobility across the planet. No one wants to buy a house in a place it will get abandoned, and no one else will want to buy. The houses cannot be permanently anchored to the earth's surface, the houses need to be transportable. So the road network as to permit transport of houses into the region and out off the region. So people are mostly going to want to live close to the developing cities, and the services they offer. Thus it is important to improve transportation infrastructure between the coastal cities and the interior rural and mining towns. If want to get people to live and work there, and do so for a reasonable duration, then access needs to improve. The towns need an adequate supply line bringing goods into town. Then they need personnel to provide all the appropriate services.

Also say it takes a team of about 5 people 90 days to build a house, then in 1 year they can build 365/90= 4 houses. So 5000/4 = 1250 years, or over a 50 year career, 50x4=200 houses. But want the houses built in 1 year, so need 5 people/team x 1250 teams=6,250 people. Thus needs more people than in the town. On the other hand in the detail the 5 people are not working continuously for 90 days. The plumber and electrician certainly aren't, they contribute at most about 2 days each. So they can each do 365/2=182.5 houses each year. So 5000/182.5=27.3, so would need about 28 plumbers and 28 electricians. For one years worth of work and then stop. If we shift the work into a factory we cut down on travel between sites, and the work can be reduced to a few hours. In short if we build a temporary factory at the destination, then the 5000 people are more than enough people to build their own houses in one year. The trip from factory to site also reduced. So trucks supply materials to the one factory rather than multiple sites.

Apparently in Australia there are approximately 105,000 homeless people. Thus 105,000/5000, so around 21 small towns, which if they are provided with resources and opportunity they can build themselves in one year. The 500m x 500m hub of the town I described is where retail stores and services are located. So the town would have own schools and hospital.

The most likely system implemented though is multistorey building, or infill housing, making use of existing stores, maintaining if not increasing unemployment.

There is a problem concerning getting the job done, and dragging the job out because don't have other work to go to. But there is plenty of work to do, obviously because they are declaring occupational shortages. More work just requires imagination, backed by resources and opportunities.

Most of the problems in this country and the world can be solved if we just got to work implementing the known solutions. Apparently 150 million world wide homeless, and 1.6 billion lacking adequate housing. So governments need to provide license to occupy and use land, and the resources and opportunity, and all can build their own homes. Furthermore the problem of shelter resolved in one year: technically. Socially and politically is another issue.

I mean what's the problem with implementing the millennium development goals in one year, of 7.53 billion only 1.6 billion people need shelter and there is enough for them to set about building their own homes. It's not even as if the development goals were about eliminating problems, they were half baked. Even the new sustainable development goals are half baked. Like end extreme global poverty by 2030. First redefine extreme poverty, so there isn't much of it, so it is then easy to eliminate over an excessively long period.

The primary problem is logistics, getting goods and services to and from the locations. Developing supply and distribution networks. How do we mobilise the world population and get them going to where the work is?

How many plumbers does Africa need? I have already indicated requirement to get houses built. But once the houses are built how many need to be retained? One rough statistic is in any given year around 5% of households will need some kind of maintenance service. So 5% of the 5000, so that is 250 each year. Most of the activity will take less than one day. Assume 50 productive weeks in one year, and 5 days per week, then have 250 productive days per year. So one plumber for every 5000 dwellings on condition that all demands do not occur on the same day. The more plumbers we have to cater for the multiple emergencies in the one day, and the less work any individual plumber does in a given year.

So with less guess work and more robust data sources than I have, it should be possible to map out a good estimate of how many plumbers the world needs and where they need be located, and do likewise for other occupations. There is no shortage of people. Though they may need training, such training should not take long.


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Revisions:
[25/03/2019] : Original
[05/05/2019] : Minor Edits and Added Formatting