Commentary

At less than 4%, the unemployment rate in San Francisco is at an almost unprecedented low. As I walk to my office from the transit station each morning, I pass hordes of enthusiastic, mostly young "techies" streaming into the headquarters of Uber, Square and Twitter. These magnet employers offer excellent compensation, stock options, free snacks and meals (including wine and beer on tap), and on-site amenities like dry cleaning. Some even allow workers to bring their dogs to the office. As if that's not enough to attract the best employees, these companies are world-renowned, offering exciting opportunities in the forefront of new technology. How is a relatively staid public employer, grinding along in a highly-regulated civil service environment, to compete for top talent? Read more...

Across Canada there are thousands of undeveloped properties left vacant due to health, safety and environmental concerns. Many of these properties are former industrial sites occupying highly desirable land. The redevelopment of these sites could be extraordinarily valuable for municipalities, and thus they are looking for the guidance and resources to proceed with redevelopment. Read more...

On April 24th leaders from the Arctic nations met in Nunavut to mark the official transfer of the two year Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada to the United States. While Canada's Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq used the opportunity to admonish Russia's aggression in the Ukraine, scientists and world leaders condemned Canada for drawing focus away from climate change mitigation in the Arctic, at the event but also over the course of Canada's entire Arctic Council Chairmanship. At the meeting in Nunavut, Minister Aglukkaq had the following to say in reference to Canada's accomplishments as Chair of the Arctic Council, "As a Canadian, born and raised in Canada's Arctic, I am proud Canada has advocated putting northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council agenda." To be fair, Canada has rightfully put northerners at the forefront of Arctic policy development. But whether Canada was also able to bring focus to the daunting challenge of climate change mitigation in the Arctic is a hotly contested point. What is clear is that the United States will be making climate change its number one priority as Chair of the Arctic Council. With Secretary of State John Kerry leading the initiative, a well-respected authority on climate change matters, the US hopes to make headway on issues like black carbon emissions reduction in the next two years. Read more...

Featured Research Articles

In the engineering and public works professions, it has long been known that it is better to maintain an infrastructure asset in a proper condition than it is to let it deteriorate to the point of failure and then have to address expensive repairs or unplanned replacement. For example, pavement managers know that it is less costly to resurface a road before the pavement has deteriorated to the point where a simple resurfacing is no longer a valid option. Similarly, professionals in charge of maintaining public buildings know that the right time to fix a roof is before it fails, not after a leaky roof has damaged other building systems. Read more...

It has been said that "data is the new oil." However, unlike oil, data will not eventually run out and has a history of being made available at no cost to end users. Perhaps a better analogy is that "data is the new carbon atom" – something that is truly abundant and can be refined further to create even more value. Like the carbon atom, the real value of data comes not just from its generation, but from its manipulation and analysis. By doing so, policymakers and commercial organizations can uncover insights that improve outcomes and yield financial benefits. Recognizing this, across the economy, both the public sector and businesses are increasingly investing in processes and technologies to maximize the value of the data they are collecting and generating. Read more...