Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 54

The payback window for converting streetlights to LED bulbs
typically ranges between three and five years, making the move an
attractive step for cities. LEDs do decrease energy costs, but Clanton
explains that most of the overall savings is achieved through reduced
maintenance. Clanton says that resiliency efforts, such as distributed
power initiatives, are another move with a potentially quick return
on investment, as they can prevent huge productivity losses during
major storms.
While LED bulbs may not be as glamorous as autonomous
vehicles, it makes sense that communities want to invest resources
in projects with immediate benefits. Clanton also says that cities
are already finding new ways to improve civic life with the IPconnected lighting. In San Jose, for example, the city dims the lights
after a certain hour, and then brightens them again after bars close,
to encourage people to clear off the streets and sidewalks. "The
police departments love it," she says.
THE ROLE OF ENGINEERING

Paul Doherty, president and chief executive officer of the digit
group, inc., says that engineering firms are playing an integral role
in helping cities to sift through lofty vendor claims and find workable solutions. Far from being a pessimist about smart solutions,
Doherty is involved with several smart city projects around the
globe, and he predicts the data generated by smart developments
will one day be more valuable than the physical real estate itself-a
claim that sometimes generates a skeptical silence when he makes it
at conferences.
"The problem is, vendors are so good and convincing about
what they can do with the internet of things, and they create these
beautiful scenarios about how I'll get up in the morning and my
toast is already done, and then I'll get into my autonomous vehicle,"
he says. "Then they get these contracts and say, 'We know nothing
about infrastructure, we know nothing about buildings.'"
"Guidance is going to be huge," Doherty adds. "It's about getting
down to brass tacks and delivery."
VHB first dipped its toe into "smart" waters in 2015 when it
helped the city of Orlando, Florida, apply for a federal smart cities grant. The city didn't win the award, but VHB is continuing
to advise Orlando as it updates its sustainability program. Late last
year, the firm formalized its own smart cities practice by bringing
together different disciplines such as transportation, infrastructure
and environmental sustainability. VHB is also working on land
development for the Union Point smart city project outside of Boston, which will incorporate solar arrays and high-tech traffic sensors.
"The gap between talk and action is getting closer," says David
Mulholland, southeast regional manager for VHB. "People are moving toward wanting to have resilient cities with more communications, efficiency and connectivity, whether that's broadband, the use
of LED lights or smart parking areas and highways with motion
detection. It's all evolving, and people are still trying to figure out
what can be done. But it's actually increasing faster even in the last
year than it was in the previous five years."
One way engineering firms can lead the way is to help communities gather information and then make sense of it, according to
Mulholland. His firm has been collecting third-party traffic data for
several years and has found that even high-ranking state transportation officials are often unaware of basic findings, such as the most
54

ENGINEERING INC.

MAY / JUNE 2018

SMART USA
Cities across the country are using data in innovative ways to
improve services. Here are some examples:
Boston-Through a competition called "Boston's Safest
Driver," Boston used a smartphone app to track participants'
safety metrics. The program resulted in a 47 percent reduction in phone use while driving and a 35 percent reduction in
speeding for the top quartile of users.
Chicago-The city developed an algorithm that processes 11
different variables to prioritize restaurants for health inspections, resulting in a 15 percent increase in the number of critical violations found.
New Orleans-By looking at Census Bureau data, officials
identified the city blocks most likely to contain homes without smoke detectors, then targeted those areas for its smoke
detector distribution program.
Kansas City, Missouri-Along a 2.2-mile light-rail line, sensors gather data about traffic and available street parking,
which residents can access to gain real-time information
about traffic volume and open parking spots.
Kansas City, Missouri's
2.2-mile light-rail line.

congested areas on highways. As a result, VHB has been able to
suggest projects that alleviate problems states didn't even know they
had.
"Data is the new gold," Mulholland says.
Beehler says the ability to evolve and adapt will be essential
as engineering firms wade into an exciting but uncertain future.
"There are lots of opportunities out there, and a business needs to
make a lot of small bets," he says. "You make lots of small bets, and
you count on one or two of them being something that's going to
carry the company forward in the years to come."
"We don't know when all these things are going to happen, but
we do know that they are going to happen," Beehler adds. "We
need to position for them and be ready." ■
Calvin Hennick is a business, technology and travel writer based in
Milton, Massachusetts.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc - May/June 2018

Engineering Inc - May/june 2018
Contents
From Acec to You
Market Watch
Legislative Action
2018 Annual Convention Recap
Acec 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards
Smart City Solutions
Mastering Business Communications
Powering Up Puerto Rico
Personal Philanthropy
Mergers and Acquisitions
Members in the News
Business Insights
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Intro
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Engineering Inc - May/june 2018
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover2
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Contents
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 2
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 3
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - From Acec to You
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 5
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Market Watch
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 7
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Legislative Action
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 9
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 2018 Annual Convention Recap
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 11
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 12
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 13
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 14
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 15
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Acec 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 17
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 18
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 19
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 20
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 21
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 22
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 23
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 24
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 25
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 26
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 27
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 28
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Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 36
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 37
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Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 40
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 41
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 42
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 43
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Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 45
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 46
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 47
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 48
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 49
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Smart City Solutions
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 51
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 52
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 53
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 54
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 55
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Mastering Business Communications
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 57
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 58
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 59
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 60
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 61
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Powering Up Puerto Rico
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 63
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 64
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 65
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Personal Philanthropy
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 67
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 68
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 69
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Mergers and Acquisitions
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 71
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 72
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Members in the News
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 74
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - 75
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Business Insights
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover3
Engineering Inc - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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