Tag Archives: Rust Belt

Navigating

Oh, a storm is threat’ning/ My very life today/ If I don’t get some shelter/Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away/

–“Gimme Shelter” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The site has two central parts:

I. The theme

II. Digressions (anything not related directly to the theme; for the purpose of the site my daughters Joanna and Amelia [you may ask “You really regard your family as a digression?), my stories, essays, career achievements, poems, and other flights of fancy and whimsy are off message.

Now and then being a nerd, as I am, can get in the way or as the Tibetan Book of the Dead notes sometimes you (by which I mean I) become so intense that the intensity becomes “intense pride, and the pride turns into an ice-cold environment which reinforced by self –satisfaction begins to get into the system. It does not allow us to dance or smile or hear the music.” At the risk of not hearing the music, I will leave you, dear reader, to find order in Diversions as you will. Right now, the task at hand is the order the theme.

++++

Navigating the theme: No shelter from the storm

  1. Where do I want to go?

To a neighborhood which must be developed to serve as a global model for providing independent living so elderly and disabled individuals can age in place.

  1. What would the neighborhood consist of?

a)      It would consist of an experimental residence for an individual or an individual family. The example of the Blueroof Experimental Cottage in McKeesport, PA is a good example. The cottage consists of a one story residence built on inexpensive land in a downtown burned out section of town where rotting buildings could be razed and a community developed.

b)      The individual residence could be built out of factory housing (the fashionable term for mobile home) where sensors and other off-the-shelf technology can be embedded in the walls to monitor and protect the resident. Including building the foundation, each residence can be constructed in three days.

c)      Technology in the residence would include:

  • Security system to protect elderly and disabled residents in high-crime areas such as exist throughout the Rust Belt of Pennsylvania—where the neighborhood would gradually change to a family friendly area attracting economic growth.
  • Motion detectors to monitor falls throughout the residence, especially high risk areas such as the shower.
  • Computer voice simulation which combined with a wireless communication system can have, in effect, the walls of the building calling family or other emergency services for help.
  • Monitoring devices to detect, for example, whether the refrigerator has been opened and to call for help after an adjusted period of time. Example of a computer generated call, “Hello, your grandmother has not opened her refrigerator in over 24 hours. You might want to look in on her.”
  • Remote medical monitoring, including taking blood pressure and other health measurements and transmitting the results automatically to a physician’s office.
Blueroof”s trial pill dispenser which monitors whether the resident has taken each required pill and after computer simulated warnings, reports failure to do so.
  • Computer terminals and other equipment to provide the resident with job training (one is never too old to learn) and work opportunities from home.

d)      A research facility at a major university, such as Penn State, where the Immersive Construction (ICon) lab develops a 3-D model of the experimental model so stakeholders can suggest design changes.

 

Stakeholders would include:

  • Prospective residents of future neighborhood (or elsewhere) housing
  • Members of the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) community
  • Caregivers

The research facility would also be able to process data collected at the experimental facility, such as remote medical monitoring and activities of daily living (ADL) so future construction can benefit.

e)      Creation of an inter-generational accessible community with shopping, recreation, and other services which make a community a community.

Stay tuned for further navigational aids which link posts on this site to the issues raised here and which answers the question: Why is creation of a new kind of neighborhood (with a variety of other options to be presented) so critical to dealing with the housing shortage throughout the world as the largest generation in history begins to retire in an environment where a previous generation of elderly and disabled individuals (including, of course, veterans) are so poorly served at a great expense to society and at a loss of dignity among people whose talents are not being developed adequately.]

++++

I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away/ It’s just a kiss away….

–“Gimme Shelter” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nU4aiqvyt4&feature=watch_response

Congressman Mike Doyle represents McKeesport Home of Blueroof Technologies

Mike Doyle, a Democrat in his ninth term, represents the 14th District of Pennsylvania which includes Blueroof Technologies in McKeesport.

Blueroof has developed a monitoring system for patients with autism, a subject of special concern to Rep. Doyle who is he founder and co-chair of the Congressional Autism Caucus, also known as the Coalition for Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.).

Doyle has a special interest in high-speed Internet. High-speed Internet provides elderly and disabled residents of Blueroof housing the technology that establishes security protection in high crime areas as well as establishing, for example, communications and monitoring so that falls go detected and residents are able to work at home and receive remote medical attention.

The following portrait is from The Almanac of American Politics 2012 by Michael Baron and Chuck McCutcheon well worth ordering from: http://www.amazon.com/Almanac-American-Politics-2012/dp/0226038084/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327557118&sr=1-1

“Doyle rarely seeks attention, nor has he caused much of a ruckus. He has worked to reduce foreign imports, and he pushed a bill to create a national historic site at the former U.S. Steel facilities along the Mon River. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, his focus has been on high-tech initiatives, including increased availability of broadband services in underserved areas. He has been a leading advocate of the “Do Not Call” restrictions on telephone marketers, and won passage in 2008 of a bill to make the national list permanent. During the debate over so-called cap-and-trade legislation, which would cap harmful carbon emissions but allow companies to trade on the right to pollute, he vigorously advocated the interests of steel and other Rust Belt industries, even as he sought to work out a compromise with environmentalists. When Republicans in 2011 voted to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate emissions, Doyle accused the GOP of “scaring American people” into wrongly believing that failure to curb EPA’s authority would cause gasoline prices to rise further.”

Doyle is a graduate of Penn State in University Park, PA.

State Offices

Pittsburgh, 412-390-1499.

DC Office

401 CHOB, 20515, 202-225-2135

Fax

202-225-3084

Web site

http://doyle.house.gov

John Bertoty co-founder of Blueroof

John Bertoty (right) is Executive Director of Blueroof Technologies, Inc. This is a position John has held for the past 10 years when he founded Blueroof with Robert Walters (left). Listen to one of the sounds you might hear after you enter the front door.

burgularalarmon

In 2002, John was Academic Principal, McKeesport Area High School, McKeesport, Pennsylvania. John writes that he was “responsible for all aspects of the academic program (1500 Students).”

This following is a photograph of McKeesport Area High School as it is today:

The website All About McKeesport Area High School and Technology Center notes:

“The high school became a Grade 9-12 building with the start of the 2000-2001 school year. In 2003-2004, new additions to the high school building provided room for the five remaining vocational/technical classes that were housed at North Hall. Culinary Arts, Cosmetology, Building Construction, Auto Body, and Auto Mechanics are now all a part of the comprehensive high school that offers its entire academic and vocational/technical curriculum under one roof.” http://www.mckasd.com/MAHS/general_information.php#matc

At the same time John was Principal, he also served as Acting Director of Vocational Education with full responsibility for the 700 student vocational/technical center. Indeed, it was John’s passion for vocational educational that led him to join with Robert Walters, a professor of engineering at the local Penn State campus, to create Blueroof.  As Blueroof noted in its initial website: “Blueroof will use innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship to develop state-of-the-art living facilities that will keep senior citizens safer, healthier, and living independently at home as long as possible.”

kitchen_window_up

John Bertoty‘s Facebook picture

John’s perspective focused on the fact that the school system was training workers for technical jobs which required, in Rust-Belt-devastated McKeesport, that the young people leave the area to obtain work. One goal of Blueroof was to keep young, skilled workers in McKeesport constructing badly needed housing for the elderly and disabled who have been left behind by the exodus.

In 1940, McKeesport had a population of 55,000 residents. According to the 2010 Census, McKeesport’s population is 19,731. McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh at the junction of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers, was steel country.

The largest employer, National Tube Works, once employed 10,000 workers. Now the factory—which graced the cover of postcards—is out of business. At its height, Tube City, as McKeesport was called, took pride in the fact that it was the largest supplier of tubing without seams in the world.

Site of U.S. Steel Tube Works, McKeesport

Tube City established a reputation for innovation which, according to Bob Walters, meant that in the 1950s, McKeesport had more patent attorneys than Pittsburgh. Penn State, the largest university in Pennsylvania established a campus at McKeesport which bore the city’s name, but when the city’s reputation became unsavory, the University changed the campus name to Greater Allegheny.

John Bertoty co-authored a scholarly paper on the program he helped found writing, “In 2005, Blueroof Technologies completed construction and dedication of its model Smart Cottage [shown in the photograph above], located at 400 Spring Street in the Third Ward of McKeesport.

“The model Smart Cottage was built to demonstrate and test the monitoring technology features and functions.  In addition, Blueroof used the Smart Cottage to guide the development of a floor plan that utilized universal design concepts; this enables it to be adapted to the ever-changing and unique personal needs of each individual owner in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“A modular home is a structure designed and built for residential use; constructed in one or more three-dimensional modules in a factory, and transported to the home site for final assembly and completion on a permanent foundation.

“Using modular home construction techniques, the Smart Cottage is easily replicated for new construction at a cost of approximately $150,000, excluding land cost.  About $10,000 (6.7%) of this $150,000 cost is associated with the technology add-ons (materials and labor) to facilitate aging in place.  The basic information technology infrastructure (wiring, controller, basic sensors) adds ~$2,000.  Internet connectivity, a computer server and an enhanced sensor array add ~$3,000.  Networked cameras and a more advanced sensor array add ~$5,000.”

***

As the first invited guest to spend the night at the Experimental Cottage, it is difficult to describe the feeling of exhilaration I felt sleeping in an apartment designed to meet my specific needs as a person who cannot walk. For about two years, I have been working at Penn State’s Immersive Construction (ICON) Lab working with graduate assistant and 3-D modeller Sonali Kumar to develop a virtual reality demonstration of how residences for elderly and disabled people, such as myself, should be built. The model is based on the reality of the cottage in which I was sleeping and living for two days, using, for example, an expertly designed roll-in shower where I did not fear about falling because the grab bars and shower seat fit so comfortably. I had served as Sonali’s model for the avatar in virtual reality and there were moments when I half expected to bump into myself going into the shower.

avatar in shower

If you go to this link at 9 am, (you do not need to log in, but you may have to wait because only one user can use the remote camera at a time), http://75.149.30.169:60001/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0 you will see John Bertoty sipping his one deeply cherished mug of coffee for the day, talking with Bob Walters and Rich Knapick, who designs the remote sensing equipment, and the rest of the crew, planning the day.

My first day of my two night stay, John had me drive my POV [Power Operated Vehicle] scooter to his car and I transferred to the passenger seat and took the tour. We seemed to go everywhere and everywhere we went, everyone knew John Bertoty.

“Sometimes,” John later told me, “I will see someone who was a student I expelled, and he will come up to me and apologize for having behaved so poorly 15 years ago.” John is the kind of guy, a respected former principal who has been in the area for generations, everyone likes. He is well-equipped to coordinate the area’s human and other resources into creating the kind of housing that will revolutionize the construction of residences for the elderly and disabled. All he needs are the right tools.