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Steve Jennings


Recent Posts

Eyes on the Road: Help Chart the Future of Highway Automation

Oct 26, 2018 7:30:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Internet of Things, ITS, batteries, automation, National Dialogue on Highway Automation

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Years ago, a popular daily cartoon showed a noble knight riding into a joust, pennants flying, lance up and ready, but with a hand over his eyes. It was funny, but also a bit profound, as we too often take on noble aims without a clear view of the challenges ahead, sometimes with serious consequences.

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Power? Energy? Doesn’t My Battery Deliver Both?

Oct 11, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Power, batteries, power battery, energy battery, data centers

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Batteries are like tools: you must get the right one for the job. You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to drive a nail in a wall, for obvious reasons, and you wouldn't use a AAA battery when a D battery was required. Fortunately, most consumer devices are built so you can't insert the wrong battery, but in data center and other commercial situations, we are sometimes using the wrong batteries without even knowing it. One fundamental operating differentiator for industrial batteries is power versus energy. Every battery delivers both, but each type is better at delivering one or the other. The kind of battery you need depends on your application and, like a sledgehammer vs. a hammer, you get better results when you choose the right one.

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An Enlightened Approach to Dark Intersections

Sep 17, 2018 2:20:43 PM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Power, Internet of Things, batteries, vision zero

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Dark intersections can take an outsized toll on both drivers and services. Last year's Hurricane Irma exemplified the costs: with more than half the traffic lights in Miami-Dade County out, road crews scrambled to deploy limited numbers of generators; police and sheriffs departments were stretched thin trying to direct traffic manually and writing tickets to drivers mishandling the outages; and accidents were caused by confused drivers blowing through dark intersections. While a hurricane like Irma doesn't happen every day, any dark intersection is an accident waiting to happen, and two-thirds of those are injury accidents, according to a New York DOT study. For the sake of drivers, DOTs, and first responders, transportation departments need strategies to minimize the occurrence and duration of traffic signal outages.

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Portland, Oregon Measures Up on Vision Zero

Aug 30, 2018 7:30:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Power, Internet of Things, batteries, vision zero

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Knowledge is power, and the city of Portland, Oregon, is about to use the power of knowledge to save lives. As part of its Vision Zero Program, the city is deploying a network of smart sensors along its three most dangerous streets to gather data about the speed and flow of traffic. Traffic system designers will analyze data from the sensors to figure out what's not working and how to make those and other city streets safer for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

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Overpowering Power Problems: Refreshing Developments in UPS Technology

Aug 16, 2018 10:00:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Power, Internet of Things, batteries

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With all the exciting new developments in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), the subject of UPS technology and batteries may seem about as sexy as a pair of socks. But traffic system outages aren't sexy either, so backup power matters. And there have been new developments in UPS technology in recent years, giving ITS system designers more options for building systems with maximum uptime.

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Beat the Heat: Minimizing Overheating Issues in Traffic Cabinets

Aug 8, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Internet of Things, batteries

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The dog days of summer are upon us: High temperature records have already been broken, from southern California to New England, leaving power outages in their wake. Heat also puts a stress on the UPS and batteries in traffic cabinets, just when they are needed most to handle power brownouts or outages. While the ITS Cabinet Standard specifies operating ranges up to 74° C (165° F), the effect of summertime temperatures in excess of 100° F plus direct sunlight on the cabinet, plus the heat produced by the electrical components themselves can quickly turn a traffic cabinet into an oven, shortening the lives of components and, worst case, leading to system failure.

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Safeguarding the Road Ahead

Aug 1, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Steve Jennings posted in UPS, Internet of Things, batteries

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The Greek physician Hippocrates admonished would-be healers: "First, do no harm." Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are designed to heal a host of ills: traffic congestion, air pollution, traffic accidents, rising transportation costs, and more. And just as medicine has advanced rapidly in our digital age, ITS technologists are tapping into emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the "Internet of things" (IoT) to move people and goods more efficiently, safely, and sometimes profitably. But as we forge ahead, we would do well to remember Hippocrates and ensure that our systems can be trusted not to exacerbate the problems they were meant to solve.
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World’s Smartest Intersection

Jul 11, 2018 12:00:00 PM / by Steve Jennings posted in ITS, nickel-zinc, batteries, world's smartest intersections, ITS America

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The “World’s Smartest Intersection” debuted at that ITS America show in Detroit this past month. It’s the result of smart people creatively solving difficult mobility problems and it's worth checking out. They’re also hosting a webinar offering a more detailed overview on July 18th and you can register here.   It’s actually five smart intersections (but who’s counting) and it can make us all smarter. Traffic Operations for the City of Detroit, working with Miovision, started with simply tracking the real-time operational status of their traffic lights. Then, they all recognized that the technology could be leveraged across other departments including policand emergency services as well as improving freight priority, cyclist dilemma zone extensions and pedestrian safety analytics. This has changed the way their traffic engineering teams work and kudos to Detroit, a city that has been through some tough times, for leading the way.  At ZincFive, we talk about the “Always-On ITS World” we now live in and this project demonstrates how more of ITS becomes mission critical every day.

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Improving Battery Life in Signalized Intersections

Jul 2, 2018 1:00:00 PM / by Steve Jennings posted in ITS, nickel-zinc, batteries

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Here in the Pacific Northwest, there's a lot of talk about "the big one," the long overdue, massive earthquake off the West Coast that could cause widespread destruction. Since the New Yorker article that woke America to our impending upending, we've learned about not just building but maintaining an emergency kit: periodically replacing food and spare batteries, testing the emergency radio, etc. When friends gather, we sometimes compare notes about our emergency preparations, and, predictably, not everyone is prepared, even though the stakes are pretty high.
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