Moody’s: Port Automation May Not Always Deliver Results

I found this article via Gavin van Marle of Loadstar. It’s not a surprise that automation may not deliver the results its backers were touting.  So much depends on the external systems, such as the computer planning, the labor system, the users’ habits and preferences, and the timing and size of the workload presented.  If they’re not all considered and planned together, results will not be as good as they could be.

The labor arguments we see nowadays surrounding automation at ports are another fascinating aspect.  There hasn’t been any national conversation here in the US around the relation between automation and jobs.  The present political environment here in the US works against it.  This is probably true elsewhere as well.

Some jobs probably ought to be taken over by machines. Some probably shouldn’t. And what do we do for the displaced workers, or for workers who want to participate in the automation boom, but don’t have the skills yet?  there needs to be a broad conversation around automation and workers.

That’s how I read the Pier 400 controversy at the Port of Los Angeles. The recent turndown of the project by the commission asks for an extended conversation between unions and the port about just this man-machine question and how it should affect the workplaces.  It’s a good conversation to have. Intransigent positions aren’t going to help at all.

screenshot-Maritime Executive 2019-05-21  via Moody’s: Port Automation May Not Always Deliver Results


Checking for vitals: Inside the Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp supply chain breach

Apparently, healthcare is among the worst industries in terms of breaches of data security. And this is despite the dramatic increase of attention the HIPAA law has focused on their behavior with data.

In this case it was two diagnostic laboratories, Quest and LabCorp, whose data were allowed to be stolen. the data stolen consisted of financial information, such as credit card information, bank account information, and medically identifiable information such as social security numbers, as well as names, addresses dates of birth, dates of service, and balance information. No diagnostic results were stolen.  And why would anyone want them except for blackmail, a hard way to earn money.

Apparently the breach was due to both firms’ use of AMCA, a billing collector for both firms. Over 12 million customers were affected.  The breach of security went on for over 7 months in 2018 and 2019 before being spotted.

Health systems are often cobbled together using a variety of sources of software, and it isn’t a surprise that there might be chinks in the armor.  On average, healthcare systems thke 36 days to pass between intrusion and detection.  They take on average 10 days to contain the problem.  An analyst at Gartner said “I think this is a hopeless situation.”  A re-architecture of health care data is required that puts security first.  But then it will be much harder for us to find out our test results or status.

There’s a tradeoff between security and accessibility that is a major issue for supply chains, and whenever there is a need for cooperation, as between patient and her health care providers.  Computer scientists and information technologists have needed for 20 years to spend serious resources on developing a sound practice that meets both needs.

screenshot-CIO Dive 2019-06-06  via Checking for vitals: Inside the Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp supply chain breach | CIO Dive

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The danger of a $2 trillion infrastructure promise

Shalini Vajjhala has written a good article about the issues with current ways of thinking about infrastructure planning and the money spent.

She points out the game-theoretic nature of decision making the way things work now.  Local and regional transportation planners and funders won’t go forward until they know they can get federal money.  That means the p[lanning doesn’t start till the grants are there.  This is a perfectly rational strategy.

I know of only a few places that have avoided this trap.  I happen to live in an area, Sonoma County California, that built SMARTT, a passenger rail line connecting Marin County and Santa Rosa airport,  with its own tax money. It got some federal money later; but it was a local initiative, led by people like Steve Birtlebough, who campaigned for over 20 years for this passenger rail line.

It also shows the fallacy of the Trump cancellation of funds for California’s high-speed train project.  The money had been committed long in advance, and planning went forward. But upon its cancellation, the project fell into disarray, and is unlikely to generate the political will and statewide tax funding to continue.

You can argue whether the high-speed train is useful, since it connects two places that are not in major population centers.  But every large project has people on both sides of its viability.  And changing the balance without careful thought about the strategic implications makes everyone less eager to get started.

screenshot-www.brookings.edu 2018-01-25 13-18-03-392  via The danger of a $2 trillion infrastructure promise