Aging Technology and Infrastructure a Threat for Cities

More than 750 traffic signals in Montgomery County, Maryland, were crippled last week after the failure of a piece of electrical equipment that was 37 years old. The old technology and the repercussions are being called a warning to other cities.
November 10, 2009, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"The coincidence of twin mini-disasters for commuters last week might foreshadow scores of problems as cash-strapped governments stagger into the 21st century burdened by creaking 20th-century technology. Unlike businesses, which have had to keep pace with technological advances to stay competitive, government and public agencies facing budget woes more readily can postpone spending to replace old but still functional equipment.

'This is a wake-up to all municipalities across the nation and the area and underscores the dangers -- the ticking time bombs -- buried in our aging traffic engineering infrastructure,' said John B. Townsend II, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. 'We are playing catch-up, because lawmakers have been unwilling to fund upgrades.'"

The aging infrastructure that caused the problem was already a known risk, but the local government had few resources to replace it with newer technologies.

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Published on Monday, November 9, 2009 in The Washington Post
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