Emergency Management Event in Illinois

This week the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) is hosting its annual conference in Bloomington/Normal, Ill., from April 30 through May 2.  According to the association's website, "the annual conference brings together local emergency managers from throughout the State of Illinois for various training opportunities, as well as to conduct the business of the Association. Additionally, statewide mutual aid partners, public safety vendors, emergency management college students and other interested individuals also attend the conference giving them the opportunity to interact and network with the local emergency managers." 

Based on the agenda, staff from FEMA and IEMA will be presenting several sessions. There will also be exhibitors and vendors showcasing their products.


Follow us to WATERCON 2013

The Illinois Section American Water Works Association and the Illinois Water Environment Association are hosting this year's WATERCON in Springfield, Ill., from March 18-21. And if you're involved with water or wastewater at all, you'll want to be there! Every year, the conference offers many interesting and informative educational sessions. And every year I have gone, I've found the exhibit hall to be so busy with vendors and other professionals that I can barely make my way through in only one day.

As great as all that is, this year WATERCON will be ramping up even more to share information and reach out to the community. It's definitely a place you'll want to be with all possible exhibit space already sold out and over 1200 people registered to attend. Below are a few more items of greatness you'll want to know about WATERCON2013:

New this year!

  • Exhibit hall opens at 1pm on Monday
  • Water Art Show Monday
  • Potable water technical sessions begin Monday 2pm
  • Career fair Tuesday
  • Field trips – Green Technology and Small Systems
  • Water Operator Challenge
  • Mission Impossible Challenge

Online Engagement!

This year the sponsors of WATERCON are encouraging everyone to share their conference experience through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They are even hosting a Tweeting Contest – you can find out more about it here: WATERCON Tweeting Contest.

Abby Crisostomo (@abbyMPC) and I (@publicworks) will be roaming the exhibit floor, attending sessions, and posting online directly from WATERCON. So if you want a few social media pointers to get started or if you want to share your experiences, knowledge, or product or service information, make sure to stop us and say hi – we'll be wearing special "Follow me" shirts so we should be easy to find. You can also sign up for a free webinar we'll be giving on March 12th to get some pointers for Tweeting from a conference:

HelloTweety! Always wanted to learn how to tweet?
Join us for this FREE, how-to tweet at WATERCON2013 webinar
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 – 2:00pm CST via GoToWebinar


Pre-conference Program and Registration

You can check out all the glorious details in the WATERCON 2013 Pre-conference Program and Registration Booklet below.

Can't Make the Conference?

I am sorry to hear you can't make it to this year's conference, because each person who attends makes it that much better. But working for government, I totally understand. Even so, we're not going to let that be water over the bridge. This year, you can just follow what is going on, and it will be almost like you're there!  Here are some ways you can still participate:

Follow the #WATERCON hashtag on Twitter – by using an online tool to "follow" the #WATERCON hashtag, you can still keep up with what is going on at the conference. Although this can be done by going to the Twitter website and typing #WATERCON into the search window at the top of the screen, you can also use other tools like Twitterfall.

Follow a live blog of the sessions – if you can't make the conference but have a specific session you really want to know more about, send me the session title and when it will be held. I can attend that one and live blog the session – I'll let you know the site where the live blog will be posted so you can follow it and even have the opportunity to ask questions during the session.

Send us your questions – everyone seems to have some question or product they want to find out more about. If you can't make it to the conference, but have a need to find an answer to a problem you're having or if you want some information from a particular vendor, just send us your request. Abby and I can check it out for you and post the answers online. And if you have the ability to chat live, we can set up some face time between you and a vendor or industry expert!

Use the form below to send us your requests!

Disclaimer: I have received a complimentary registration for the conference from ISAWWA because I will be working to promote the conference.



A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 32 and 33

Day 32 & 33

I decided to combine yesterday's post with today's because wow – have I been busy! On Thursday I tried to finalize a few outstanding items before taking off a few days to attend conferences. I finalized a cost estimate for resurfacing a major roadway in the city. Then sent out the approval letter for the last review on a development. They are now cleared to send in their Letter of Credit for the project. Once we get that, they will receive final engineering approval and can get started on the site work.

Later in the morning, a few of us attended a pre-construction meeting with the Park District and their engineer and contractor. We are all working together to build a community garden. It will be located in the northwest corner of our city on land owned by the Forest Preserve who is also a partner. Our water department will be working with the contractor installing water lines and will later install yard hydrants.

We also had a staff meeting in the afternoon. Because we have so much going on and so many projects, it seems like our staff meetings take longer. It was almost the end of the day when we finished. We also finished out the day by placing a culvert lining project out to bid.

Illinois Association of  Highway Engineers

Then today, I attended the Ilinois Association of Highway Engineers conference in Normal, Illinois. It was a very well run event which is impressive because it's all put together by volunteers who work for IDOT. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to give one of the presentations and had a great time. (Technically I wasn't working because I had to take a vacation day to attend – we are only allowed time off to attend two conferences a year.)

Warm Mix Asphalt

One of the other presentations was on warm mix asphalt. It was given by someone who is involved in researching testing of asphalt. I could have predicted what he was going to tell us based on the performance of asphalt we have been seeing in the field. Ever since they cut back on the percentage of asphalt content and increased the amount of RAP (recycled asphalt pavement), we've noticed roads don't last as long as they used to. Sometimes we are seeing failures in the first five years. His testing seemed to indicate that using a warm mix improves the performance. The warm mix asphalt is actually a mix design produced at temperatures below that of a traditional mix. The use of this "colder" mix is possible because of the use of additives. I don't think the speaker mentioned this, but warm mix asphalt is one of the innovation components of Every Day Counts. So you can learn more about it here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/everydaycounts/technology/asphalt/

Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

We also listened to an interesting talk by someone involved with the construction of the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. He was either one of the engineers or worked for the contractor. The speaker started at the beginning of the project and walked through how it was constructed using a lot of photos taken at each stage. It was incredible to see how they had to construct a whole cable system in order to just get people and materials out to the areas where they were working. 

My presentation: Social Media and Its Use in Transportation Projects

So here is the presentation I gave – I wish I had the audio because I usually put so little on the slide and then talk to convey the story behind the slide. But I don't think they were taping the presentations.



First Day of World of Warcraft Science Conference

I could not pass up the chance to attend the first science conference held in a game so a few weeks ago I set up a World of Warcraft account and became a blood elf paladin on the side of the Horde in the Earthen Ring realm. Today I am sitting on the side of a dirt hill in Bladefist Bay listening to the first presentation of this conference.

Some may think attending such an event is crazy – however, looking at the list of attendees, most seem very serious about the endeavor. The group is made up of professionals and educators from various science-related fields. So why would about 250 serious-minded folks attend a conference in a game?
First Day of World of Warcraft Science Conference
After spending a significant amount of time within a virtual world environment, even one that is “game-based”, most people can begin to see the future emerging. As more people become comfortable interacting online, many of our “real life” activities will begin to take place in a virtual setting. Serious business will begin to be conducted in these new worlds on a more frequent basis. And as the discussion continues at this presentation, I begin to wonder if someday our real world battles will be held virtually.

So we are here, sitting on a hill in avatar form, participating in a historic event and trying to learn what brought us to this point, where we are going, and how we are trying to find our way through this emerging technology, and hopefully, not get left behind.

As the conference unfolds over the next few days, I will try to continue to update the blog. Oh, and by the way, tomorrow the presentation is being held in a sewer. Now that should be interesting!


Control the Snow – Part 2

Continuing on with a synopsis of a few of the sessions I recently attended at the APWA Snow Show held in April of this year in Louisville, Kentucky:

One of the great benefits of attending a conference is the chance to find out what is new in our industry from others who are already using these tools and products. For me, some of the products I discovered at the show were the APWA training DVDs covering snow control and removal. Although I had previously seen these discs at past shows, I never really knew much about the product. A disc sitting on a shelf does little to convey the content within, and I had never really seen anything offering more information about the DVDs.

Fortunately one of the sessions I attended presented in detail how the training videos were developed, showed examples of the content, and then demonstrated the ease of use and interactive interface.

Mark DeVries from McHenry County Division of Transportation and Steve Gannon with GanTek Multimedia discussed how an APWA snow and ice committee met in January 2006 to help develop the products with funding from Clear Roads. AASHTO is managing the computer based training project.

The Winter Maintenance CBT Suite is made up of the following topics:
– Equipment Maintenance (released July 2007)
– Proper Plowing Techniques (released Sept. 2007)
– Deicing (soon to be released)
– Blowing Snow Mitigation (released March 2008)
– Winter Maintenance Management (scheduled for release in June 2008)

Each DVD covers one topic and can be set up by an organization to be available for their entire staff to use at their own pace. After finishing each DVD and successfully passing, each member of the staff receives a certificate of completion.

Without having seen the demo given at the session, I would have never realized how professionally done, interactive, and easy to use these training DVDs really were. Training is important for our industry as older and more experienced workers retire and more regulations and rules add to the knowledge base required for us to perform our job. And now in today’s world, the need to conserve energy and decrease trips adds to the benefit of CBT products. It definitely is a product that my department can make good use of.

More information about the training videos can be found by clicking here.


Science Conference to be Held in World of Warcraft

In May of this year the World of Warcraft (WoW) will host its first Scientific Conference. Although I am a frequent visitor to the virtual world of Second Life and have even ventured into a few other virtual worlds, I have yet to visit WoW. However, after hearing about this conference, my curiosity was stirred enough to prompt me to find out more about WoW. So I consulted the only WoW expert I know: my 14-year-old son, known in WoW as Poisen Arrow.
World of Warcraft Screenshot from Conference Web site
After he advised me about which race and which character to choose, he instructed me on how to install the software and sign up for an account. I also found out that I can become an engineer in WoW through an apprenticeship. So if it all works out, I hope to soon become a Blood Elf Paladin with engineering aspirations and begin my journey into WoW so I can try to attend the Scientific Conference from May 9-11.

In case you are interested in taking part in this, you can get more information by visiting the related Web site at: http://mysite.verizon.net/wsbainbridge/convergence.htm