Gameday 1: England at the Euros

Gameday 1 of the English involvement at the Euros saw them square off with Russia at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, France. A lot had been written (as usual) about the team’s chances and one would feel gutted (with a tinge of optimism, still) as an England fan as to how things have turned out tonight.

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[Source: The Guardian]

Roy Hodgson’s decision to go with a 4-3-3 leaving out Jamie Vardy did not really disappoint in terms of personnel on the field, but there were some very England-like errors during the game. Right after taking the lead, Roy took off Wayne Rooney. Now Wayne Rooney is the most polarizing English footballer there ever has been. In his new role at the center of the midfield, Rooney did not really disappoint, you know! He was conducting the play, pinging in some glorious passes into his much quick-footed forwards and getting the odd chance to go inside the opposition box himself.

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Wayne Rooney – vs Russia, Euro 2016. Not bad reading. [Source: Squawka]

And with Rooney, you’d always get that extra bit when the team needs some sorting out in its defense as well. Moments when you have a precarious 1-0 lead, you simply do not find the sense in substituting the second best performer of the day (after the England goal scorer, Eric Dier). And fatigue wasn’t really an issue from what it looked to the naked eye. Anyway, that happened. And England put in Jack Wilshere in his place. There was an expectation that with the game becoming more and more open, England would being in Jamie Vardy to apply the brake on the renewed optimism that Russia seemed to have obtained from nowhere (seriously, they were diabolical for most parts of the game!)

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Russia attacking to the RHS in the 2nd half. Marked difference from their approach in the first (where they attacked to the left), going by their heat map. [Source: Squawka]

What followed however was one more defensive substitution that took the sting out of this English team going forward. In came James Milner for Raheem Sterling, and Vardy – the toast of the Premier League – was still on the bench. What then followed close to the end of play was 10 seconds of madness at the end of which Leonid Slutsky‘s Russia had got what they wanted out of the game – an equalizing goal and a crucial one point. Considering how the Welsh have fared against Slovakia and the other result in Gameday 2 for England’s group, we may still not be completely immune from an embarrassing exit by Wednesday. This shouldn’t have happened. This England team, although having started much better than in their previous major tournaments is still win-less from the opening game of a European Championship. For a team that are touted by the bookmakers to be the fourth favorites to triumph in France (although there’s an interesting side-track to that), today’s 1 point might not please their chances of ending a 50 year drought one bit (although, as most of the English fans would like to think by now, their team was meant to bottle this one too). Let’s just hope things get better against Bale & Co.  

PS: A strong word of disappointment and anguish towards what happened inside the stadium post-match between the two sets of fans. While some of it is the fault of the English fans themselves (we are no saints either), questions really need to be asked about a few other aspects – France’s preparedness in terms of security, the Russian ultras (no need to say anything more!) and the World Cup of 2018 to be held in Russia. We surely don’t want to see incidents like these. And I hope everyone values their life over a game of football.

Reinventing the wheel…the smarter way

Designing Tomorrowland

This very interesting illustration on WaPo caught my attention today. Seven U.S. cities are vying for a $40 million start-up prize from USDOT in order to find solutions to problems that they have by a perfect marriage of automation, climate change, and inequality. Most cities in the world find these elements to be a constantly engaging thorn in their vision for the future. And most of these cities, for no fault of theirs look at tackling these issues on a one-on-one basis. Combining these issues together seems to be something that the DOT is passionate about and these 7 cities have emerged from a bigger list of cities, with a fighting chance to provide innovative solutions to tackle their problems.

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The R1 tram – set to ferry passengers during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. [Source: Daily Mail UK]
I went through all seen of them. Interesting concepts, of course very relevant to their own setting. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who had to pick the winner from these. Although the parameters considered are mentioned in this article on Geekwire:

The proposals will be judged by how well they mesh with the elements of DOT’s Smart City vision, including urban automation, connected vehicles and sensor-based infrastructure. Other factors could touch on user-focused mobility and shared-transportation services, such as Uber, Lyft and Car2Go.

Tampa’s problems somewhat mirror that of Kansas City, presented in the said illustration. HART does not cover much of the Hillsborough county, has issues with reliability and suffers from less than 2% market share. I am really curious to see an accessibility explorer for the Tampa Bay-St.Pete-Clearwater MSA – something on the lines of this in order to get a better grasp or what folks are actually missing here. Light rail has been vehemently opposed earlier, as we know. TBARTA outlines a host of projects in their Vision 2040. We have been a hotbed for failed transportation plans and one wonders what it might mean to get something like this on board in the car-frenzied counties of this MSA. Inspiration is very much around the corner at least.

A note on TRB 2015 and Washington DC

So yes, TRB 2015 was pretty awesome I thought. The efforts to hold the gargantuan conference in one venue (technically two, if you discount the tunnel between the Marriott and the Convention Center) paid off and I am happy to say that I did not miss out on any of my planned sessions (unlike last time). The Automated Vehicle (AV) sessions were well attended – so much so that I could not get into one of the sessions and had to be standing out on guard duty. But I’d imagine it is pretty great that a lot of attention has been focussed on something that is upon us, if not tomorrow, in a few years’ time.

My main idea of hitting DC this time was to attend the AV sessions and gauge what was going on with the rest of the AV research folk. A secondary interest was to catch up with people – old and new. On the research front, abunch of interesting AV sessions. My favourites works on AVs were focussed around the consumer perception and anticipated travel behaviour aspects of AVs – a study from Germany on travel time valuation, a few of the UT Austin works on shared AVs and a few of the posters (especially this one on social media and mode choice from UC Davis), which I thought were  brilliant. Apart from the sessions and meetings, it was nice to meet most of my old professors and colleagues from Portugal and a couple of very good friends from back home (NIT Calicut).

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Experimenting Eritrean cuisine – that went well.

While the sessions took shape, it snowed a bit in DC as well – my first active snowfall experience. It didn’t snow this time, last year though. And since I had been to most places around town, I didn’t bother much to go sightseeing either (the cold didn’t help too, I must say). Despite the cold weather, I must confess that I quite like Washington DC. It has the airs of this big city with life moving at a comfortable pace. I have been told that the same can’t be said about New York City, where people always seem to be in a rush. DC from my experience, proved to a hybrid of Madras and Bombay. Add to that, the excellent accessibility guaranteed by the largely efficient, yet ill-maintained transit system and it does it for me. Coming from Florida, this is a welcome sight. The whole idea of not having to drive by your own volition excites me and I would totally see myself living and working there.

Loews Madison, Washington DC
Loews Madison, Washington DC

We found a pretty nice (some may say fancy) place to stay close to the White House. I came back to Tampa last Thursday and still haven’t kicked out of the vacation mood. 2015 is the year of opportunities and one idea of heading off to such conferences is also to come back inspired to peg on and achieve more than last time. My dream of being at peace with a book in hand while commuting (I know!!) seems to be getting closer and closer to reality.

The Biggest Transportation Breakthroughs of 2014

Eric Jaffe and CityLab have come up with an interesting list of the top transportation breakthroughs of the year 2014. The positives have more long term implications on urban mobility than the few odd negatives that came up during this year. My favourites were the emergence of self-driving cars (biased maybe, haha), some European cities banning cars in the city centre, the rise on on-demand transit in Helsinki, Finland and the possibility of high speed rail entering America, in that order.

What about yours?

A note on the grading system

Maybe it’s just calling for a bit more care or maybe it was just sheer misfortune, but my uploads on a particular assignment failed (I didn’t notice it when it failed the second time) and it cost me a couple of letter grades in Optimization. GPA wise, a dip of 0.6 in one shot. Wow.

Note to self: Perhaps I should start believing my students more often when they say the upload onto the university LMS failed, leading to no-submissions. Haha.