MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXIV No. 2
November / December 2011
Long-Term Planning for MIT's Future
MIT 2030: Concerns for the Future
MIT 2030: The Education Part
Twenty to Thirty Questions About MIT 2030
A Brief History of MIT's
Land Acquisition Policies
New Retirement Program for Faculty and
Staff Hired On or After July 2, 2012
The Future of Learning Management at MIT
Improving Graduate Admissions Processes
at MIT
Review Committee on Orientation
American Infrastructure Deficiencies
A Tribute to Bob Silbey
The Alumni Class Funds Seeks Proposals for
Teaching and Education Enhancement
Is there a conflict between diversity and excellence at MIT?
MIT Campus 2011
MIT 2030 Vision
Printable Version

American Infrastructure Deficiencies

Ernst G. Frankel

It is shameful that a small snowstorm in October can disrupt essential power and telephone services for hundreds of thousands of people for weeks.

America is the only advanced, rich, developed country that still uses wooden pole supports hanging electric, power, and telephone lines in densely populated urban areas, even though gas, water, and now cable are all buried underground. The cost of burying these distributed services could easily be recouped in just a few years by the savings in costs of emergency repair and outages, which a study in Brookline clearly showed.

It is outrageous that we allow this to continue and not only expose our population to gross inconvenience and added costs, but quite often to threats to life and health. There is no excuse to delay these actions, particularly now when there are large numbers of workers readily available to perform this work and a public which would more than welcome such a development. The contention by the power companies that it would cost trillions of dollars to do this statewide is not credible, as the investments by cable and other providers clearly show.

There is also an urgent need by lawmakers to enforce cooperation by distributed services providers (telephone, electricity, gas, water, cable, etc.) to ensure close cooperation and coordination in planning, maintaining, updating, etc. of these distributed services under the threat of government takeover, as done in many countries. It is unacceptable to expose the public to the inconvenience and dangers of lengthy service interruptions, which we experience more and more frequently now. Similarly, these systems should also be modernized to assure instant remote fault detection and have rerouting or bypass facilities, which exist now in many countries.

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