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Mayors share strategies for ending violence at ASU roundtable

Mayors gather at ASU building to collaborate on violence-prevention strategies.
June 10, 2022

McCain Institute hosts city leaders as they collaborate on best practices

Mayors from some of the region’s largest cities met at Arizona State University on Wednesday to collaborate on strategies for violence prevention.

The roundtable event, held at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles, was co-hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department of Los Angeles, the Strong Cities Network, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU, and the Violence, Inequality and Power Lab at the University of San Diego.

The event included mayors from Bogotá, Colombia; Villa Nueva, Guatemala; and Moravia, Costa Rica, who were in Los Angeles to attend the weeklong Summit of the Americas event.

MORE: ASU Cronkite School hosts 1st Media Summit of the Americas | US secretary of state emphasizes value of a free press at ASU-hosted event 

Garcetti said that violence is one of the tragic things that unites mayors from across the Americas.

“We can’t say for sure that that young man or young woman is alive because of our work, but we know in our bones that the work we do saves lives,” he said.

“We can see it statistically from year to year when we invest in the right models of policing, when we invest in prevention and intervention, and when we invest in human development in a way that brings these pieces together — gender equity, the importance of education, after-school programs and violence interruption from a trauma-informed perspective.”

Garcetti said that Los Angeles has already borrowed best practices from other cities, such as a participatory budgeting program from Brazil and violence-interruption strategies from Central America.

He said the best ideas often come from tragedy.

“We see mothers and fathers who have lost their children become the most powerful advocates to interrupt gun violence, interrupt gang membership and to interrupt of the cycle of youth going in and out of prison,” he said.

Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council created the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department last year, known as LA Civil Rights.

The department recently launched the largest hate-crime prevention campaign in the city’s history, with messaging in 18 languages, said Capri Maddox, LA Civil Rights executive director.

“So much of what we do at LA Civil Rights — from addressing hate to expanding equity — is violence prevention,” she said.

Uzra Zeya, the U.S. Department of State undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, told the mayors that the Biden administration supports a public health approach to fighting violence.

“Evidence indicates that urban violence tends to be often concentrated on particular street corners and is often committed by a small number of individuals, especially young men. It’s associated with high-risk behaviors, such as carrying guns, substance abuse and joining gangs.

“In most major cities, only 0.5% of the population is responsible for 75% of the homicides.”

A public health approach treats violence as a disease, with diagnosis of those affected, targeted intervention and preventive measures. This includes pushing back against hate crimes and ethnically motivated violence. Data collection can help with “hot spot mapping” and assessing risk levels.

Police must be strengthened, she said, but not without acknowledging abuses committed by security forces.

“A lack of trust between the community and police is one of the main impediments to improved security,” she said.

Zeya said the Biden administration is proposing spending $5 billion in the U.S. and $4 billion in Central America to address the root cases of migration, including violence.

Bogotá Mayor Claudia López said her city is addressing violence by guaranteeing victims full access to justice so that impunity is avoided.

“We are providing opportunities,” she said.

“Employment, care and a decent life are the best tools to prevent violence.”

Top image: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses mayors from the Americas at a roundtable event held at the ASU California Center on Wednesday. At left is Brette Steele, senior director for preventing targeted violence at the McCain Center for International Leadership at ASU. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Building stronger, more cost-efficient roads

June 10, 2022

ASU initiative connects faculty and students with industry and agency partners to transform infrastructure costs

The roads we drive on are made up of crushed and screened aggregates of gravel and sand mixed with a petroleum-based asphalt binder that is a byproduct of the oil refining process.

The asphalt binder, which acts as a glue, is only 5% to 6% of the mixture but is the biggest determining factor of the cost per ton, says Hasan Ozer, an associate professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

“Drastic changes in oil prices due to supply and demand interruptions from COVID, electrification of the transportation industry or wars like the one in Ukraine can have a direct impact on the cost of roadway construction,” says Ozer, who teaches in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

In addition to rising costs, Ozer says roads have a limited lifetime before they need repair or replacement — and the dry and hot Arizona climate greatly reduces that lifetime.

“We often use premium products to resist the extremes of the desert climate in the Valley and at higher elevations like in Flagstaff,” Ozer says. “Premium products are often more expensive and require special care during production and construction. All of these factors have been putting more pressure on Arizona’s pavement infrastructure and result in faster-than-usual deterioration of our roads.”

Motivated to make a difference, Ozer led the creation of the Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative, a pavement research and education alliance headquartered at the Fulton Schools’ Pavements Analysis Laboratory. The initiative brings university students and faculty together with industry and agency partners with the goal of creating stronger, more cost-efficient roadways.

“Our nation’s highway infrastructure is aging, under stress and having to withstand extreme events of ever-increasing intensity and frequency,” says Ram Pendyala, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “Dr. Ozer’s visionary leadership in establishing the Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative is commendable and will help engineer more sustainable and durable pavements of the future.”

Projects taken on by the initiative follow a three-step process. First, researchers and industry partners identify a problem. Second, faculty members guide research conducted by students to address the problem before they present the results to partners so that it can be used in the real world.

“The dynamic and collaborative environment fostered by the initiative has already started having a direct impact on students’ learning and research experience,” Ozer says. “There have been many opportunities for active involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in the initiative while interacting with industry and government agency partners.”

Photograph of Hasan Ozer in front of a pavement testing chamber

Associate Professor Hasan Ozer is leading the Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative at ASU to connect research faculty and students with industry and agency partners to create the nation’s roadways of the future. Photo by Monica Williams/ASU

A new type of road

Ozer says student energy has allowed the Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative — first launched in the summer of 2021 — to make great strides toward its mission of building stronger, more cost-efficient roads.

For its first project, the initiative is researching what is known as balanced mix design and evaluating the baseline cracking and permanent deformation characteristics of mixes heavily used by the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, the city of Phoenix and the city of Mesa. After testing more than 10 pavement mixes commonly used in Arizona, the research team started to tailor some of those to provide optimum resistance to loading and thermal fluctuations. Based on the findings, researchers developed new mixes including one known as stone matrix asphalt, or SMA.

“The pavement structures built with SMA types of mixes are touted as the strongest pavements,” Ozer says. “This is the first time an SMA mix was developed in Arizona since its use in an experimental project in late 1990s.”

In the coming months, he says the initiative will be able to “provide some crucial guidance to the transportation agencies and industry to optimize their mixes for better performance and expand their mixture portfolio with new mixes such as SMA.”

Ozer says this means Arizona roads could get a much needed update.

Photograph of Hasan Ozer working with a graduate student at a computer. They are discussing the pavement model that was created using specific software.

Associate Professor Hasan Ozer discusses pavement models with Masih Beheshti, a graduate student studying airfield pavement cracking simulations using Finite Element Models. Photo by Monica Williams/ASU

Building roads for autonomous vehicles

The second major area of research for the Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative is looking to the future — specifically connected and autonomous vehicles, or CAV.

“The way we move from point A to point B or transport goods and services will be seeing transformative changes,” Ozer says. “Transportation infrastructure — roadways and bridges — is not immune to those changes and will be affected by this transformation.”

He says the initiative is focused on an immediate, short-term question regarding the use of CAV technology in the trucking industry. A system called platooning, or connecting trucks to move like a train, has already been developed and tested by equipment manufacturers such as ScaniaVolvoMercedes and others, and could be on the road in a few years.

“The major question for pavements is whether our infrastructure is capable of sustaining the loads from those trucks traveling in platoons,” Ozer says. “In our research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Center at the University of Michigan Center for Connected and Automated Transportation, we have been studying deformation resistance of different structures and mixes under different loading configurations associated with  truck platoons.”

He says the research will help determine if there is a need to change any existing practices for the design and selection of materials where platooning will take place.

Photo of Hasan Ozer and his graduate pavement research students.

ASU Associate Professor Hasan Ozer (center front) is seen with his pavement research students. (Back row, from left) Saed Aker, Samuel Castro Brockman, Ashraf Alrajhi, Masih Beheshti, Sai Suchendhra Eravathri and Morshed Washif Hasan, and (front row, from left) Hasna Elmagri, Hasan Ozer and Nafiur Rahman. Photo by Monica Williams/ASU

An atmosphere of innovation

“The Southwest Pavement Technology Initiative is not only bringing excitement to the local engineering community, but I can also see it is energizing government agencies, industry and academia to work together on new initiatives and innovative ideas,” says Kamil Kaloush, a professor of civil engineering and fellow pavement researcher at ASU.

“Dr. Ozer has a robust record of experience and the necessary intellect to connect research results with practice. He has been very successful already in doing so.”

Ozer has been recognized for his innovation in the pavement field, winning the 2022 Wilbur Smith Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Transportation & Development Institute.

He joined ASU in the summer of 2019 and says he quickly got to work setting the foundation for this initiative.

“I was emboldened to dream big here with ASU’s resources and enthusiastic pavement community around me,” Ozer says. “I am very thankful to our director, Ram Pendyala, for fostering a very healthy and peacefully functioning academic environment and Professor Kamil Kaloush for his endless support for even my crazy ideas.”

He says he also owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Al-Qadi at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for introducing him to the ASCE and T&DI community and his support along the way.

Top photo: Doctoral student Nafiur Rahman mixes an aggregate blend with a petroleum-based asphalt in a process that must be performed while a specific temperature is maintained for all ingredients and tools. The blend will then be formed into a compacted cylindrical specimen for testing. Photo by Monica Williams/ASU

Monica Williams

Communications Specialist , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering