September 10, 2011

Rising From The Ashes of 9/11

From the smoldering wreckage of the 9/11 attacks, now rises the new World Trade Center (WTC) complex.

According to the Wall Street Journal (10-11 Sept. 2011), the damage from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 resulted in the collapse or partial collapse of 7 buildings including: WTC North Tower, South Tower, and Four, Fix, Six, and Seven WTCs as well the Marriott Hotel. In addition, 11 other surrounding building had major damage including 1, 2, and 3 World Financial Centers and the N.Y.P.D. Command Center.

A decade later, $11 billion has been invested in the reconstruction of the 16 acre site, including $3 billion for One WTC (at 104 stories and 1,776 feet tall)--"making it the most expensive office tower in the U.S.

The cost is being driven upward by enhanced security measures to thwart other potential attacks, and according to Fast Company (Sept. 2011) and the buildings website these include:

1) Safety Materials - Advanced safety materials include dense fireproofing and biochemical filters to protect occupants from spreading threats.

2) Structural Redundancy - Load-bearing structures are being replicated so if there is a failure, "these skyscrapers have steel connections capable of redirecting the path of the upper floors load downward through other structural members." Additionally, the sprinkler system has "two interconnected standpipes, so that if one should fail, the other can compensate."

3) Protected Core - The sprinklers and safety systems (including the buildings communications antennae and ventilation) are being located in a protected inner building concrete core to prevent their being severed or disabled.
4) Escapability - Multiple exits and backups on emergency lighting, wider staircases for escape, separate stairs for first responders, and "lifeboats"--which are elevator escape pods from protected refuge areas on specific floors take evacuees to ground level safety.

I think it is important to recognize and applaud these safety and security enhancements; together, with improvements to our counterterrorism, intelligence, and homeland security operations, we have come a long way.
However, we cannot afford to stop and get complacent with our progress--as we see with the latest security alert, this time for the 10th year anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

In protecting our homeland, we have to get it right every single time, but those who seek to attack us and our way of life, only need to "get it right" once in order to hurt and kill many innocent people.

For 9/11/11, it is a good time to reflect on where we've come, the progress to date, and recommit ourselves to "fight the good fight".

One way to do this, I believe, is through continuing investment and advancement in our technology, science, and engineering platforms. These will help us to strengthen our economy and through innovation and it's application stay ahead or leapfrog those who seek to come against us.
Stronger, safer builders are important (and should of course, be pursued), but we cannot win a war of terror by bunkering down.

Technology and innovation are our offensive weapons that will enable us to keep the enemy on the run--afraid of what we've got up our sleeves next.

(Source Photo: here)


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