Industry News

WSP Completes Acquisition of BG Consulting Engineers, Reinforcing Its Presence and Service Offer in Europe

WSP Global announced that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Lausanne-based BG Bonnard & Gardel, one of Switzerland’s leading engineering consulting firms, following the unanimous approval of BG’s shareholders.

With some 700 professionals based primarily in Switzerland and France, as well as a minor presence in Portugal and Italy, BG offers consulting, engineering, and project management services in the infrastructure, building, water, environment, and energy sectors. In line with WSP’s Global Strategic Action Plan, the acquisition of BG reinforces WSP’s foothold in Europe while increasing its Swiss workforce fourfold to over 600 professionals and almost doubling its staff in France.

“We are thrilled to begin 2023 by welcoming BG’s highly skilled professionals to the WSP family. Together, we have a great opportunity to further strengthen our European business, thanks to our increased presence in Switzerland and France and our enhanced offering to clients in our core markets, as well as in key fast-growing sectors, including Environment, Renewable Energy, and Water,” said Alexandre L’Heureux, WSP’s President and CEO. “I am also very pleased to welcome Pierre Epars, BG’s current CEO, as WSP’s new CEO for the Western European region.”

“It is an exciting time for BG’s professionals to join WSP’s growing European business,” said Mark Naysmith, WSP’s CEO for the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “Our goal will be to create strong, long-lasting relationships with our clients by providing the best mix of value and services as their number-one choice.”

“We are delighted to officially join WSP and to continue our work as part of a larger organization dedicated to serving people and the environment,” said Pierre Epars, BG’s CEO. “As I take up my new role, I am honored to have this opportunity to help grow WSP’s business in Western Europe. I am convinced we will accomplish great things by joining forces.”

Industry News

USDOT Announces $1.7 Million in Available Funding for Small Business Innovation Research Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is now accepting proposals for funding from its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR Program awards contracts to small businesses across the country to spur research and commercialization of innovative transportation technologies in select research areas. The current SBIR Solicitation provides funding ranging from $150,000 to $200,000 for ten Phase I research topics.

“Small businesses are essential to our economy, and this program plays an important role in advancing America’s economic competitiveness by supporting domestic small businesses while stimulating technological innovation that can improve our transportation systems and lead to further economic growth,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Dr. Robert C. Hampshire.  

The SBIR program supports investments in transportation that improve the safety, sustainability, and resilience of the Nation’s transportation assets, and provides opportunities for small businesses to explore innovative technologies.

The research topics selected for this year’s SBIR Solicitation address a variety of needs regarding advanced materials and structures; behavioral safety; and the safe transport of materials. Awards will be funded for projects in the following research areas:

Federal Highway Administration

  • Addressing Stormwater Runoff with a Self-Contained Portable Treatment System 
  • Traffic Monitoring and In Situ Information Processing

Federal Railroad Administration

  • Concrete Crosstie Inspection Technology 
  • Novel Design for Passenger Railcar Glazing Securement 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • Child Presence Detection CO2 Release Test Device 
  • Immersive Virtual Reality Training on Impaired Driving for Law Enforcement

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

  • Bioremediation for Hazardous Material Spills
  • Integrated RFID Trackers and Sensors for Hazardous Material Communication in Transportation
  • Portable State-of-Charge Sensor for Lithium Batteries
  • Wearable PPE-integrated Sensors for First Responders

A full list of past years’ awardees is available here.  A pre-offer webinar for small business concerns (SBCs) interested in applying to the DOT SBIR FY 2023 solicitation will be held on Thursday, February 9, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET. Registration information for the webinar and more program information can be found on the DOT SBIR website.

Industry News

Dassault Systèmes Developed a New Data Science Solution to Allow Renault Group to Optimize Vehicle Costs

Dassault Systèmes announced that Renault Group is leveraging the data science capabilities of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to understand the increase of raw material prices and model the most relevant optimization scenarios to reduce the impact on vehicle production costs. 

The deployment of a cost intelligence solution extends Renault Group’s use of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud from design and engineering to the strategic business functions of costing and purchasing, enabling these new users to contribute to the car manufacturer’s technological and digital transformation. Access to data-driven, actionable insights that are projected on the virtual twin of a vehicle offers them innovative ways to balance vehicle design with business.

Competitive automotive manufacturers must balance sustainability with regulatory requirements as well as inflation. Highly volatile raw material prices due to armed conflicts, health crises, climate change, consumer demands and other global factors make it difficult to ensure a return on investment when aligning the price of a vehicle with the cost of its parts.

In this challenging economic context, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides Renault Group with a unique combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, collaborative business processes and an enriched single 3D data model of the vehicle to better manage the business impacts of market volatility. Renault Group can aggregate equipment designs, configurations, historical data and forecasts, and test different design scenarios in a virtual twin to understand, anticipate, quantify and optimize vehicle price and cost, as well as improve equipment purchasing negotiations by sharing these insights with other stakeholders.  

“In a previous announcement, we talked about the virtual twin of the car and the entreprise to support the ‘Renaulution’ plan,” said Laurence Montanari, vice president, Transportation & Mobility Industry, Dassault Systèmes.  “Our cost intelligence solution with NETVIBES artificial intelligence has allowed Renault to connect its data across the entreprise in less than six months. Now, we are extending the virtual twin from the vehicle to the supply chain. During this uncertain time, our solutions have given companies the ability to simulate and anticipate impacts due to supply chain shortages or raw material price increases. This project extends the platform’s usage to new business audiences at Renault Group to tackle the new challenges of our decade such as inflation, volatility and regulatory requirements.”   

Renault Group is using the “Global Modular Architecture” industry solution experience based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which integrates the cost intelligence solution. The cost intelligence solution is also available to companies in other industries that Dassault Systèmes serves.

Industry News

Evolv Technology Works To Set Standards for Sensitive Information in the Physical Security Industry

Evolv Technology recently surveyed security professionals at Evolv’s customers’ organizations on the topic of transparency and sensitive security information and reports that 96% of the two dozen respondents believe that such information should not be made available to the general public.

The need to provide transparency without helping potential attackers is a fundamental paradox of the security industry. While aviation security has clear specifications classified by the Transportation Security Administration in the US and European Civil Aviation Conference in the EU, other venues for which advanced security screening is being used have not yet formalized set standards around transparency.

Evolv is working to set that standard. The company discloses sensitive information only to trusted security partners to prevent the exposure of potential vulnerabilities and compromising customers’ security plans. The Company recently underwent NCS⁴’s operational exercise with its Express® system and earned an overall composite score of 2.84 out of 3 and chose not to make the full report public as part of the Evolv transparency statement. It is a position agreed to by leading security experts as methods of advanced screening continue to be used in more venues around the world.

“The less that is shared with the general public the better chance we all have at someone not finding a weak point in any security posture,” said one of the survey respondents.

“People who say that absolute transparency is best simply don’t understand the security business,” said John Pistole, former administrator of the United States TSA and a former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “They apparently don’t have an informed perspective or insight into just how determined bad actors are in their efforts to harm individuals, countries, and companies.”

“Security professionals do not want anyone to release information that helps attackers defeat their systems,” said Randy Smith, western region director, Security Detection. “Fans, students, concertgoers, and healthcare workers have a right to their safety. To release sensitive security information is irresponsible and potentially life threatening.”

“Similar to cybersecurity and counterterrorism, protecting the methods and means, and sharing them only with trusted security partners is critical to preventing the exposure of potential vulnerabilities. All systems have weaknesses. In aviation, it’s illegal for the people who know all the details to share them publicly,” said Mike Ellenbogen, cofounder and chief innovation officer at Evolv. “Established security experts understand the basic requirement to keep detailed sensitive information away from anybody who might use the information to exploit or attempt to penetrate a physical security system, and that includes the general public. Those who are saying otherwise truly do not understand the industry and are putting the public at risk. Evolv’s mission is to make everywhere safer. Public disclosure of sensitive security information objectively makes people less safe.”

Evolv is committed to working with customers, partners, and other trusted security professionals to develop best practices on sharing sensitive security information to the general public. Keeping the public safe requires an important balance of sharing sensitive information with trusted security partners while also keeping it out of the hands of adversaries in an ever-changing threat landscape.

Industry News

Genetec Cautions Public Sector to Harden Physical Security Systems Against Digital Threats in Light of Rising Cyberattacks

Following a pandemic-exacerbated rise in data breaches and ransomware attacks, Genetec is recommending public sector organizations beef up reduce cyber vulnerabilities of physical security systems that are often overlooked.

IP security cameras and other security devices were put in place to protect people, assets, and environments. But the same network connectivity that enables organizations to monitor operations and update software remotely presents a path into the network for cyber criminals. If they are not sufficiently modern or properly shielded, they can pose significant risk to cybersecurity. An attack that originates in a camera or door controller can find its way through the network to block access to critical applications, lock files for ransom, and steal personal data.

Justin Himelberger, Enterprise Systems business development manager for US Federal and DOD at Genetec Inc., said, “Because these systems – video surveillance, access control, alarms, communications, and more – are increasingly connected to networks and IT infrastructure, they can be quite vulnerable. With the number of cyberattacks increasing around the world, it is becoming clear that government organizations must be more stringent than ever about cybersecurity in their own organizations and throughout their supply chains.”

A step organizations can take immediately is making sure each device, as well as the servers used for storing data and hosting monitoring consoles, has the latest version of firmware and software recommended by the manufacturer. Changing default passwords and establishing a process to change them frequently is a critical practice. Improving network design to segment older devices can also help reduce the potential for crossover attack.

Assessing and Preventing Vulnerabilities                                                                                         

To determine the risk of physical security systems, Genetec recommends organizations conduct a posture assessment, creating and maintaining an inventory of all network-connected devices and their connectivity, firmware version and configuration. As part of the assessment, they must identify models and manufacturers of concern, such as those listed by the U.S. Government under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as presenting a high level of cyber risk. They should also document all users with knowledge of security devices and systems.

The review can pinpoint devices and systems that should be replaced. When developing a replacement program, prioritize strategies that support modernization. One effective approach is to unify physical and cybersecurity devices and software on a single, open architecture platform with centralized management tools and views.

Additionally, while physical security and IT have been approached as separate efforts historically, the risk of cyberattacks through physical security technology is driving change. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommends joining IT and physical security into a single team, so they can develop a comprehensive security program based on a common understanding of risk, responsibilities, strategies, and practices. 

In the US, Federal funding may be available to help cover costs associated with replacement programs. The 2021 Investment and Jobs Act includes $1billion earmarked to help state and local governments modernize their cybersecurity. 

Industry News

Mask Mandate Extended in U. S.

The mask mandate for travelers aboard planes, trains and buses in the United States has been extended to May 3, 2022. This is an additional two weeks as the mandate was scheduled to expire on May 3. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said it was keeping its mask recommendations in place and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it was extending for an additional 15 days.

The joint statement from the CDC and TSA:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation remind the traveling public that at this time if you travel, you are still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. 

 CDC guidance is clear that fully vaccinated people are safe to travel and can resume travel.”

Industry News

30 U. S. Transportation Union Leaders Outline 2022 Legislative Agenda

Leaders from 30 transportation labor organizations gathered in Washington, D.C. yesterday to outline a robust legislative and regulatory agenda for the year. The unions are affiliates of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest transportation labor coalition.

At the bi-annual legislative summit, transportation labor leaders formally called on Congress and the Biden Administration to continue enacting policies to improve the domestic supply chain, increase safety, and uplift working people.

Specifically, the coalition’s legislative agenda calls for:

  • Congress and the Biden Administration to implement a domestic maritime strategy for a more resilient supply chain.
  • the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Labor (DOL), and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to address abusive railroad attendance policies harming workers and the supply chain.
  • the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to change course on permitting remote aircraft dispatching.
  • Congress to pass the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act to impose safety standards at facilities in foreign countries where U.S. planes undergo maintenance, and the FAA to promulgate long overdue regulatory requirements.
  • Congress to swiftly enact legislation to make self-defense training mandatory for all flight crew members, and expand basic security training programs to all-cargo operations.
  • the DOT to pursue ambitious regulatory action and a comprehensive regulatory review.

Transportation labor leaders discussed these and other priorities, including equity and good jobs initiatives, with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).

“Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our heroic transportation and transit workers have kept our economy moving,” said President Shuler. “The legislative priorities laid out during yesterday’s conference represent the most fundamental needs that must be addressed in order to ensure the health and safety of our members and improve our supply chain. During the course of this conference, we outlined our priorities, and we will continue to advocate for these critical reforms at the federal level.”

“The President has made the commitment to be one of the most pro-union administrations in the history of our nation. To that end, we plan to keep a close eye on supporting and creating prevailing wages, apprenticeships, high labor standards, and good union jobs,” said Landrieu. “We’re going to put millions of people to work while increasing gender and racial diversity in these jobs so that no one gets left behind. That’s how we can win economic competition in the 21st century.”

The coalition also honored Senator Brown with the inaugural Larry Willis Leadership Award, in recognition of his demonstrated commitment to improving the safety, working conditions, and livelihoods of transportation workers.

“America’s transportation workers power this country. And we know our businesses and our transportation networks do best when the workers who make them successful have a voice through the labor movement,” said Senator Brown. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will mean more good, union jobs and more opportunity for workers across the country. And as we work to speed up supply chains and make more in America, the talent and ingenuity of American workers will be one of our greatest assets.”

Industry News

Smuggler Shoves Migrants out of Moving Vehicle

Three Points Station Border Patrol agents rendered first aid to three migrants pushed out of a vehicle by a smuggler Sunday afternoon near Sells, Arizona.

Agents attempted to stop a black Dodge truck traveling northbound on Federal Route 19 for an immigration inspection. The driver failed to yield, however, and raced north at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour. As the truck suddenly slowed, agents witnessed three people appear to be forced out of it.

Agents immediately stopped pursuit of the truck to assist the individuals: The three Guatemalans, ages 16, 25 and 28, were transported to a local hospital by Sells Emergency Medical Services with serious injuries.

The Tucson Sector Border Patrol requested assistance from the Tohono O’odham Police Department with the fleeing vehicle. It was found abandoned near the village of Ali-Chuckson on State Route 86 with a loaded 9 mm pistol, fentanyl pills and personal use amounts of cocaine and marijuana found inside. The driver was not located despite an extensive search.

Tucson Sector continues to see smugglers treat migrants cruelly by robbing them, forcing them to walk through inhospitable areas of the desert and abandoning them without regard for their safety. Smugglers do not care about a person’s life, only about monetary gain.

Industry News

Philippines Upset by Chinese Ship’s ‘Close Distance Maneuvering’ in South China Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported an incident of “close distance maneuvering” by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel in the disputed South China Sea. The CCG said the ship “constrained” the movement of a Philippine ship sailing nearby.

The incident occurred during a Philippine maritime patrol operation around the are known as Bajo de Masinloc, the PCG said in a news release. It was yet unclear whether the Philippines had lodged a diplomatic protest for the incident. The PCG said it had to wait for the approval from the country’s National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea before making the incident public — it happened March 2, 2022.

The PCG said the incident was “a clear violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).” The Phillipines said this was the fourth such incident in less than a year.

Industry News

Free2move Acquires Opel Rent

Free2move has just announced the acquisition of Opel Rent, previously owned by Techno Einkauf and Verband deutscher Opelhändler (VDOH) Wirtschaftsdienst GmbH. The company says this move accelerates the Free2move growth while expanding the fleet and the range of services offered in Germany and Austria.

Adding Opel Rent to its network is a way for Free2move to expand service access and offer smart mobility solutions to its customers in more than 1000 agencies across Germany and Austria. Free2move is bringing Mobility Hubs across Europe and the U.S.A., with fleets of vehicles available by the minute, by the week or by the month. Free2move vehicles are accessed through the Free2move app and with each individual customer account – no additional paperwork is required. The ease of use and flexible vehicle access options have made Free2move Mobility Hubs strategic solutions for urban cities all over the world. 

Opel Rent has a network established in Germany and is known for its diverse fleets which include electric vehicles. Transforming from a rental service to a mobility group is at the heart of its current strategy. Opel Rent team is looking forward to transitioning to a complete vehicle access service provider under the umbrella of Free2move, in line with the “move with your time” brand signature.

“We are looking forward to serving the customers in these markets, with flexible vehicle options that cater to its individual needs. Opel Rent’s team with its expertise and skills will help us achieve both of those objectives” Alexander Momm head of Germany & Austria operations.

Free2move says acquiring Opel Rent is an important move to help establish a greater presence in Germany and Austria, as well as an increase in electric vehicles as part of their fleets, supporting the contribution of Free2move in Stellantis Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan.