When Bridges Collapse

August 9, 2007

It is interesting to watch/read/hear the response to the Minneapolis 35W bridge collapse. Most of the talk has been about the crumbling infrastructure and lack of funds for maintenance. A built-in assumption is that, because the 35W bridge was old, that it collapsed because of corrosion/decay/neglect.

The security camera video shown on CNN starts when the collapse is underway and it does not show one critical section of the collapse but I have a tough time jumping to any conclusions. Maybe it is because structural collapse is not normally caught on video (Tacoma Narrows Bridge and WTC Twin Towers being exceptions) but man I didn’t expect to see the middle span go like that.

Are the calls for action a type of prescient Wisdom of the Crowds or just a symptom of our impatience?

I feel like we need a Getting Things Done system for news/events that impact public safety/health/security. We need a collective WaitingFor item for the analysis of the failure. Once the final analysis is complete a TakeAction item may be needed but until then the discussion about the best response seems a bit speculative.

When politicians hold press conferences in the days following a shooting, calling for extra gun control or other speculative measures, I wonder about their motivation and whether they have information that I missed. Did the police release information about the gun/shooter/victim that may help understand/prevent future shootings? Maybe its just a tickler, an early reminder that we are WaitingFor details and we may need to TakeAction.

I dunno.