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2006 Trendsetters

2006 Trendsetters

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    Katie Curry's efforts to encourage others to recycle have made her a local hero. Plus, she gets to sit on her own hard-earned benches when she needs to take a break from bicycling around town with family. Photo: Mary Ann Carter/Black Star

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    Andres Duany

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    John Duncan Jr.

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    Al Gore

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    Interstate Highway System

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    Tim Pawlenty

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    Rich Giani (seated, second from left), water-quality manager at Washington, D.C.'s Water and Sewer Authority, headed a research team that revealed how chloramines affect the leaching of lead into drinking water. Photo: DC WASA

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    Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association president Kathleen Holst is more concerned about road-related issues than she is about her status as the association's first female leader. Photo: IRTBA

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    Bruce Logan is using bacteria in wastewater to create electricity. Photo: Shaoan Cheng

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    Raymond Seed worked without pay to discover why New Orleans's flood control system failed during Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Jenni Spinner

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    At 35, Kris Riemann is the youngest public works director Gulfport, Miss., has had. Thanks to careful planning, the city was the first to restore services after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Pat Sullivan

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    Diane Linderman asked Congress to allocate homeland security funds directly to public works as well as police and fire agencies. Photo: APWA

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    Joe Haworth (middle) urges public agencies to partner with each other to educate their customers about what they do. “Much of the public wants to help; they just need to be told what to do.” Photo: LACSD

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    Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

For the complete list, click here.

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Can you hear me now?

Diane Linderman, director, Urban Infrastructure & Development Services, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.

Technology's great—when it works. When it doesn't—like when a natural disaster destroys cell phone towers and power lines—people slip each other handwritten notes and e-mail back and forth on wireless devices like BlackBerries. (This actually happened during Hurricane Katrina.)

Even if communication infrastructure isn't destroyed, fire, police, and public works personnel can't talk to each other during disasters because they're literally on different wavelengths: Many public safety departments use digital equipment, while public works uses older analog technology.

Resolving this breakdown in communications has become Linderman's mission, spawned by hurricane cleanups she oversaw as former public works director for the city of Richmond, Va. First, working with the leaders of two neighboring counties, she developed policy and operational disaster-response protocol that maintains the autonomy of each municipality while outlining their specific roles. Then, the city spent $20 million to integrate the communication infrastructure of first responders.

This year, as the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, loomed, Linderman took her cause to the federal level. In February, she asked the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology to give radio communications grants specifically to public works. Department of Homeland Security grants don't always trickle down to cities and, when they do, it's never enough to support a department-wide technological upgrade.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working hard to improve coordination between all levels of government, but they're not where they'd like to be five years after Sept. 11,” says Linderman. “We need to get the right people together at the same table. And it can be done.”

— Stephanie Johnston