30 November 2012

Transcontinental Motor Convoy

I ran into Frank Popper the other day and he told me about an old article in American Heritage called Through Darkest America. The article, definitely worth the read, tells the story of a young, bored Army Capt. D. D. Eisenhower who led an Army convoy across the US. Along the way they broke and repaired dozens of bridges. Eisenhower, recognizing that they were on mostly dirt roads from Illinois to Nevada, realized how hard the Army would be to mobilize if the continental US were attacked. The article describes this as simulated was:
This convoy was no small undertaking, for it was to operate under “wartime conditions” and assumed that “railroad facilities, bridges, tunnels, etc., had been damaged or destroyed by agents of an Asiatic enemy.”
The above photo from the Eisenhower Library collection captures how easily these relatively new Army vehicles could easily damage the nation's fragile infrastructure. But the "wartime" conditions with troops reliant on their supply train were undermined by locals who tried to fatten up the troops, as seen in this old photo from the National Archives. In Ohio, Harvey Firestone treated the troops to a picnic.

In the end it sounds like a successful convoy. "Despite all the hazards, the convoy lost only two vehicles to accidents, and one that rolled down a mountain beyond reach, in the thirty-two-hundred-mile trek."

It is fascinating to think how responsible this little excursion is for today's Interstate highways and the sprawl that they enabled.

(h/t The Frank Popper)

20 November 2012

Hikers alert: Marble Hill

Regular readers will know that Places and Spaces is closely linked with the annual tip-to-tip hike of Manhattan. Even if you don't join us for that pointless spectacle, you can check out the unsung neighborhood where we start: Marble Hill. But today, Marble Hill is a little less unsung, as it has been featured in the NY Times Metro section and gotten a Times slideshow.

19 November 2012

Rutgers schedule reminder

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 – follow Thursday class schedule Wednesday, November 21, 2012 – follow Friday class schedule

Jail the planners?

Ed Blakely suggests that it is time to think about jailing the planners who have facilitated the recklessly dangerous development that Sandy ripped through. But he also aims directly for the planners elsewhere who have contributed to climate change, which will continue to threaten the coast. Most importantly, this expert on Hurricane Katrina offers concrete steps that communities should take to more towards responsible resiliency.

13 November 2012

09 November 2012

Step up and volunteer!

If you saw my earlier post on Wansoo Im's IMSOCIO group mapping gas, you already know that the HS students' hard work has become important to both drivers and agencies.
But now that their school has reopened, they need volunteers to fill the gaps so these guys can study a bit more. I know Central NJ seems to be better, but Long Island and the Shore still have major problems.

Here is Dr. Im's request for volunteers:
The Mappler Team by IMSOCIO has been updating our http://www.mappler.net/gasstation site to provide invaluable information to people who are in need and to government agencies during the response to Hurricane Sandy.

It is about time that IMSOCIO members (high school students in Franklin Township,NJ) refocus their energy on their studies. They built a foundation for the volunteer system on this project. While we have more volunteers from Rutgers University, and other universities and colleges, we are still short on volunteers to update gas station status data. We are trying to launch “Adopt a Gas Station”; each individual adopts a gas station and updates a status report via web or smart phone. It would take maximum 3-4 phone calls per day, and we will have a complete database with your help. Clear instruction will be provided. Anyone interested? With 4-5 minutes of your time daily for next week, we can make a difference together. Please share this and click like button. Instruction will be provided via http://www.facebook.com/groups/findgasstations site. Thanks.

Please email if you have any questions.
This photo show the DOE Gas Station Information Collection Call Center. And what is that on the screen? The IM SOCIO map.

06 November 2012

More of Sandy's wrath

Hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

 – Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

03 November 2012

More Sandy

A few more Sandy links...

IM Socio response

This summer I got the chance to meet the students in IM Socio, a high school group at Franklin High School. We walked the High Line and mapped it for their interactive map exploring design. It was an energetic group that was equipped for community mapping and just needed the right problem. Here it is: gas lines.

I just got back from IM Socio's emergency project: headquarters. Fielding calls from around NJ and NY, the students are creating an actively changing database of gas stations that have gas and others that don't. There isn't enough space for them to work, so they are sprawled out all over the floor.

Their web site, Got Gas? is getting lots of well-deserved attention from HuffPo, and NBC4. FEMA has converted their data into a Hurricane Sandy ArcGIS map. Oh, and they've been getting kudos from the White House.
View Larger Map

It is a great example of how quickly community mapping can be mobilized. But there is more to it. Dr. Wansoo Im has been preparing this group for months, he just didn't know that this is what he was preparing them for. For much of the data, the students are making calls instead of relying heavily on the public to collect the data with Mappler Mobile. Fortunately, Dr. Im has some software, space and equipment that has served as the infrastructure, but this emergency response requires some of that infrastructure. But it thrives on IM Socio's youthful energy (and pizza).

01 November 2012

Catching up

Got a few minutes of Internet and here's what I can offer:
You can find pictures of devastation on your own.