Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Emergence: The True Value of Bustling Sidewalks

A critical passage from Stephen Johnson's Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, as he parses Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of the Great American City, while pointing out the common misinterpretations of her seminal work (which seems to have spawned the entire field of complexity science -- cities informed mathematics which informed natural sciences which informed computer sciences which now, full circle, inform study of cities), that unfortunately so many people make:
"...sidewalks are important not because they provide an environmentally sound alternative to freeways (though that is also the case) nor because walking is better exercise than driving (though that too is the case) nor because there's something quaintly old-fashioned about pedestrian-centered towns (that is more a matter of fashion than empirical evidence).  In fact, there's nothing about the physical existence of sidewalks that matters to Jacobs.  What matters is that they are the primary conduit for the flow of information between residents."
Which brings to mind Tom Vanderbilt's theory in Traffic, that we behave better when traffic signals are out, and in turn the intersection is safer when the engineering device malfunctions, because we are forced to make eye contact, to exchange information that is otherwise not going to happen because the red light green light is the only information exchange and we're following the orders of a robot.  We're not cooperating.

I think it goes without saying that body language and eye contact are a critical component of information exchange.  And when you apply that to our city streets you see the importance of pedestrian-friendly societies and their contribution to civilization.  The amount of information exchanged between countless pedestrians on a busy sidewalk is infinitely greater than the amount of information exchanged between drivers (who you may not even notice as you stare at the bumper of the car immediately in front of you, gleaning only what the personalized license plate and god-awful bumper stickers have to express) on a busy road or highway.

Information exchange.  Don't leave home without it.

What To Do With $30 Million

Forgive that this is a piece of dated news, but the USDOT found an extra $473 million or so that it didn't know what to do with, so it returned it proportionally to the states based on what those states contributed.  In the case of Texas, that number was about $30 million.  In other words, not really that much when it comes to TxDOT projects, a drop in the bucket.

For example:

$30 million will buy Texas...
  • 0.2 miles of the 28-mile I-30 widening through Denton County...
  • 0.2 miles of the proposed Trinity Toll Road, and to be fair...
  • 1/2 mile of DART track, or...
  • A shade over 1 mile in modern streetcar track...
  • Or more towards my biases, half the cost of a one-mile section of highway tear-out...
And because it is a drop in the bucket, it likely means it can only go to one project in one city.  Or...

It could be spread throughout the state for a few dozen road diets, restripings, and bike lanes.  Imagine public money going towards public safety while decreasing the demand and therefore stress on our already overstretched and brittle infrastructure.  Oh, and the economic development associated w/ road diets and bike lanes.  Everybody wins.  Bang for the buck.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parking in Dallas, TX USA

I had a late lunch yesterday.  I ended up writing yesterday's blog post during the period of time I should have been eating.  So around five PM I found myself in a bar/restaurant, sitting in a storefront window, observing the comings and goings of the street beyond, tweeting:

A cop in a cruiser just backed up at red light for better view of cleavage. "one true dictatorship in America" 

But more specifically, the on-street parallel parking space immediately to the other side of the pane of glass:

Dominos delivery man, parks beater outside. Sleeping bag in back seat. Puts change in the meter that's now free.

I'd guess he was in his 50's and life hadn't been kind too him for some time.  He may even have been much older.  The poor guy certainly seemed to be living out of his early 90's oldsmobile, paint rusting away.  His shaking and withered, apparently sun or wind burned hands struggled to put the change in the meter, which had been free for 15 minutes, and presumably Domino's wasn't covering it.  And then...

Woman parks pristine range rover. Guy greets as she opens back door. Puts on makeup for 25 mins. Checks self in tinted windows 1 last time

I could or should add what I couldn't fit in 140 characters, how helpless the guy looked as he waited. Then she brushed her hair for another 5 minutes.  I couldn't tell a difference in the before and after.   I sensed an entire story of Dallas and maybe even the US could be told observing little more than a parking spot for a day.  And that was only in a 30 minute span.  I wonder what an entire day might've revealed about the human condition of 2012.

Or maybe I should write a book or new blog entitled, "The Wire Explains the World."  For as one of the writers of the Wire once said, though not a direct quote, "God is no second rate novelist."  To which I prefer, "real life is no second rate novelist."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dendritic vs. Reticulated: A Study in Market Forces of Transportation Networks

In a recent post regarding modern transportation planning versus, say, natural, organic city building, I wrote that the dendritic networks planned and built exert a diametrically opposite force on the real estate market than does a more interconnected grid.  The first question is, what is dendritic?

Below is a diagram of a dendritic system, often used to describe watersheds.  With regards to street networks it is a convenient way to categorize a hierarchy of streets in a branching out pattern.  Local roads feed Connectors which feed Arterials which then in turn feed highways, the central "trunks" of the system, so to speak.

As you can notice by the diagram above pick any two various points and they won't be as well interconnected as say, a true grid:

But the fascinating thing about these two separate ways of building the "bones" of a city for which land use provides the flesh, is the diametrically opposite force exerted upon the real estate market.  The transpo network, the connectivity, is the first order system applied to a place.  The "body" or the physical city of uses and buildings is the emergent second order network that is entirely dependent upon the degree of connectivity at the order below.

The rigidly hierarchical dendritic pattern is indicative of a flat or spread out "market."  No place is really any more or less interconnected than other places (thus why studies like intersection density and space syntax are valuable -- they measure interconnectedness).  In cities, the degree to which you are connected to persons, places, and things determines the value of that particular site.  The higher the value, the greater the demand, opportunity, and therefore density.  Because the hierarchical 1st order system produces little hierarchy in the 2nd order system, it suggests an outward or centrifugal force, or outward pressure, on the real estate market.  All places are equitable.  Evenly and poorly interconnected.  And the result is sprawl.  Demand smeared evenly across the entire landscape.

The grid, though it seems "democratic" in that all blocks are treated differently has its own built in hierarchy, which is functionally "nested" within the grid.  Think of the black lines above being streets and blocks, with buildings within.  The usable spaces become increasingly private as you move further inward within those blocks, from street to building entry to corridor to room, etc., each nested further within it.  These is a common characteristic within all complex systems.

Side note: the grid can be more complex or radial, as long as it is highly interconnected, ie "reticulated," in that there are multiple routes between various points.

Because the hierarchy inherent in reticulated systems only appears at the next level of complexity and order, it can be said that reticulated grids exert centripetal force on the real estate market or convergent.  There is greater value at intersections and hubs of networks because they are more interconnected.  How we value the availability and amount of the possible interconnections between people, places, and things drives city form by driving demand, and in turn density.  Inward.

Let's examine it mathematically...

The reason is because (and this is before we get into the local/global hierarchy, which amplifies certain locations, ie hubs within hubs into infinitely complex networks upon networks) different parts of the grid are more interconnected than other parts.

If we take the basic grid for time/simplicity's sake, and put a semi-transparent (10%) circle upon every intersection (call it a neighborhood), we get the following diagram.  Each neighborhood would consist of the same amount of people, places, and things.  Each is equal.  Yet as you can see when overlaid to the entire system, another level of order appears, a gradient with the greatest "density" at the center.

But that assumes all neighborhoods are equal.  Are they?  

Below you can see the individual circles overlaid at different points on the grid.  The number within is a measure of the intersections within, ie how interconnected is each "neighborhood" in relation to its place within the grid:

Below are the numbers (degree of interconnection) factored across the entire grid:

Which then suggests the neighborhoods aren't created equal, but that location does matter.  So I tweaked the transparency levels (density) from a flat 10% to integer relevant to degree of integration, ranging from 8% to 25%.  As you can see, that further distorts the gradient emergent centripetal force.  The greatest value is at the most interconnected places.  On the other hand, disconnect (with hierarchical dendritic networks) begets disintegration begets disinvestment and finally decay.

As you can see, it is both darker at the center and lighter at the edges than the previous every-neighborhood-is-considered-equal model.  On the other hand, where dendritic systems have been overlaid upon cities creates a higher order system where all places have the same degree of interconnection, let's call it '1'.  However, since land is more expensive (say 1.5) toward the center (see above) and cheaper on the edge (.5), it is not profitable to build inward. The pressure is therefore continually outward if all places have the same interconnected value within a gradient of land prices.

This entire course of study emerged from discussions regarding the flaws within transportation modelling, how big should roads be based on proposed development.  The problem is this runs counter to actual city building and what we call organic growth (edited for blog consumption):

With that said, [traffic modelling) is...needless... if not outright pernicious.  Roads rarely need to be widened.  Picture a historic grid.  When a street gets overwhelmed, the demand load spills outward.  Rather than widening roads (b/c only popes and kings and Robert Moses could take private land and knock down buildings for road widening/straightening), the grid expanded and because the historic streets were too crowded, it was evident to investors and developers that demand was significant enough to add floor space and expand the city.  The roads followed.  It was organic.  It was rational.  The grid may have grown outward, but there was still inward, dare I say attractive, pressure on the market.  

Today it is wholly irrational, unnatural, and illogical.  Broken.  Anti-city.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Post-it Notes: The HDL and LDL of Traffic Congestion

In an email discussion, regarding potential blowback from the IH-345 tear-out proposal, I started fleshing out the rhetoric to defuse worries that it puts too much traffic on East Dallas streets.  Now first thing's first.  Much of East Dallas is desolate.  It has roads way over-scaled and under-capacity.  Relatedly, these become areas of disinvestment when you apply modern, dendritic traffic planning principals and the inevitable endless expansion to reticulated grid networks.  Dendritic networks exert centrifugal force, reticulated ones instill a centralizing or centripetal force, on people, opportunity, and investment towards hubs, intersections, and convergence points.  These areas NEED more traffic.  

As I've said before, I love East Dallas.  Well, it's potential anyway. Love. It.  It is the largest contiguous area of uninterrupted historic grid that I know of in Texas.  From Deep Ellum, to Downtown, to the M Streets, to Lakewood, and White Rock Lake.  What's not to love?  Oh, right.  It's current condition.  

Preserving elements, like Swiss Avenue in a glass case is not the way to enhance living, breathing places.  And Swiss Avenue is worthy of celebration.  But it could be much, much better.  Places either get better or get worse.  There is no staying the same despite the efforts to invest in it within a climate of surrounding disinvestment.  Fighting traffic off East Dallas streets in the name of "preserving" East Dallas is preserving only the process of disinvestment and decay.

With that said, here is the remainder of my email:

I'm guessing the strategy is somewhere along these lines: the goal is to move MORE traffic on Ross, Live Oak, and Gaston.   They're the roads built to move people, to be improved, walkable centers of gravity and commerce.  However, they're way under capacity for a variety of reasons.   Car only transportation strategies inevitably lead to one of two negative conditions: invaded or abandoned (centrifugal forces at work).  And by being undercapacity they lack amenity, services, safety, and attraction in the area.  

Champs Elysee moves between 80-100K vehicles per day past certain intersections, but it moves 500,000 pedestrians and cyclists as well. In sum, with cars (and not counting how many are moved via bus above the street and rail below the street), it moves many more people than our busiest road 635, and it does so in less space, in a more desirable, safe, and attractive manner.  In other words, like cholesterol, there is good traffic and bad traffic.  We want the good traffic.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Overwhelming Over-Infrastructure of South Dallas

Since I went to this effort, I thought I'd post it.

I've been discussing the proposed SM Wright Freeway to Boulevard with some interested advocates around the city.  There is significant debate between the community who want a 4-lane road and TxDOT and various political leaders who want 6-lanes, because...well, of course they do.  TxDOT uses their utterly flawed and completely useless yet sacrosanct traffic modeling formulae to state that 6-lanes is necessary to move the projected capacity.  So I decided to look at how under capacity the areas arterial grid currently is.  The results follow in the informal email I'm about to quote verbatim:

"I just did a quick study of how under capacity the major parallel routes to 175 are.  First, if 175 (SM Wright) carries at its highest 78K vehicles per day, and a 4-lane boulevard could handle 31K, that leaves 47K we have to find a home for (nevermind the principle of induced demand and real world data suggesting up to 25% just disappears to other forms of transportation).  Adding up how far under capacity I-45, Lamar, RB Cullum, Malcolm X, 2nd Ave equals a shortage of 132,000 cars per day in relation to capacity or 281% more than we need (if we calculate the 25% of reduced demand, that's 374% more than we need).  In other words, you could say South Dallas is vastly "over-infrastructured" and there is plenty of room for the excess theoretical vehicles to find other routes.  

And I'm not counting all of the perpendicular routes like Grand, MLK, Pennsy, Metropolitan, Pine, or Hatcher.  Throw those into the mix and that's another 161,000 of empty capacity, 293,000 in total that the area's arterial grid is able to absorb."

So that puts us up net +258,000 vehicles per day, still not being utilized in South Dallas after we take SM Wright down to 4 lanes.  Of the map above (I forgot to show Pine), that's roughly 32 excess lanes more than we need. That means every single one of the eleven roads used in this study could afford to have two lanes removed (one in each direction).  Time to get dieting.

Disintegration = Disinvestment = the plite of South Dallas


Have you ever noticed that virtually everything about traffic planning is counter-intuitive?  Mostly, that is because the real world works opposite the way traffic engineering operates.

Here is a pretty fascinating study by the HSIS (Highway Safety Information System) looking at road diets from Iowa specifically (15 sites) as well as around the country (30 sites in addition to the 15 in Iowa). Predictably, "accidents" (shall we say collisions) dropped on average from 23.74 to 12.19 yearly accidents per mile averaged from the Iowa sites and 28.57 to 24.07 on the nationwide HSIS sites. Though the information isn't provided regarding average speeds before or after, we can hypothesize that the severity of the accidents diminished as well.

More interestingly however, is that average daily traffic counts actually INCREASED when reducing the amount of lanes on a road.  On the dieted Iowa roads, traffic (vehicular only) increased from 7,987 to 9,212 cars per day.  On the 30 HSIS dieted roads, traffic increased from 11,928 to 12,790.  More traffic, slower roads, safer.

The question is why?  The key to answering that question is a simple understanding of human psychology and how it influences urbanism.  Lots of pavement and fast moving cars (potential danger - not to mention exhaust fumes, noise, etc.) are repulsive.  They are sociofugal spaces.  People want to get away from them as quickly as possible.  However, safer, more attractive places attract more people, even if they have to drive to get there.

More traffic = more value*.  (*Disclaimer:  provided that said traffic is not fast moving and entirely automobile-based.)

Investors look at traffic counts.  Nobody wants to put their business at place nobody sees or wants to go.  The dirty little secret of traffic planning and engineering is that roads that get an A grade are well below capacity.  In the traffic engineering world, that is a good thing.  Cars are free to drive as fast as they want without pesky other people getting in the way.  Because in the traffic engineering world, roads are designed for the optimal condition of one singular person on the road.  In the real world, we give these roads Fs.

Because of dendritic nature of modern traffic planning, funneling traffic towards larger and larger roads, we end up with a condition where certain roads are terribly congested.  But for every one congested road there are 100 roads that are nearly abandoned.  Six lane roads with a capacity of 44,000 vehicles a day carrying 5- or 10,000 cars per day (I'm looking at you Hatcher St in South Dallas).

Nearby Metropolitan Ave has a capacity of 31,000 but carries 3,000 cars per day.  MLK Blvd is a six lane road, but at its current traffic counts could handle being a 2-lane road.  Between Fair Park and the Trinity River, that's 12 acres of unnecessary pavement (And we wonder why cities are broke. Thank a traffic planner). But, they get an A grade.  Counter-intuitive indeed.

The sacrosanct formulae we mindlessly obey from traffic engineering leads to two and only two types of environments, invaded places and abandoned ones.  Neither is attractive.  To people nor investment.  Hence, the slow, inevitable decline of areas where widenings occur.  Disintegration = disinvestment.  This hasn't been deemed a Law of Urban Dynamics, but you might as well chalk it up as one.  Nay, write it in ink.  Because it is fact.

We're by nature a social species, searching for other people.  Where are people going to meet?  At safe, attractive places.  Sociopetal places.  Convergence points in the human network.  Therefore, highly integrated, interconnected places should ideally have the highest level of design and cultivation as anthropocentric places.

If Mayor Rawlings wants to grow South Dallas, he'll start by reducing the size of all the roads and increasing the interconnectivity of the disintegrated grid.

This concludes your daily evisceration of an entire profession.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Livability, For Mass Consumption

There are a few groups out there that individually publish their own global livability rankings.  One is Monocle.  Another is the Economist, through their EIU, or Economist Intelligence Unit.  Each has their own variable metrics, which spit out differing, but similar answers.  The same cities generally comprise the top ten.  Some tend to be more anglo-centric, or at least accused of it, however their results turn out.  For example, the EIU tends to favor Australian and Canadian cities a little more than Monocle.  That might be worth throwing out their results altogether.  However, they both like Zurich and Vancouver.

Like anything it's up to you to choose.  Sort of like in highly livable places.  There is much subjectivity built-in to the metrics and methodology.  That frightens people.  They like hard, scientific answers.  Unfortunately, cities tend to escape simple definition and horticultural explanation.  They exist as complex organisms at a higher plane than can be realistically studied and measured and then reinterpreted to tell the whole story.  To understand livability rankings you have to understand what livability means.  It may differ from your preferences or preconceived biases.  That's not the point.

Livability, and the study of it, is more like an election.  It isn't about garnering ALL the support, but rather the greatest majority.  And in the case of livability rankings, it means finding the cities that accommodate the needs of the most without impinging overtly on others in a way that is deleterious to the whole.  Essentially, where is the greatest percentage of the population empowered, because they tend to be very specific to avoid biases towards nanny statehood.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympics and Transcendant, Lasting Memories

I'm not talking about any actual athletic feats nor ostentatious ceremonies.  Rather, I want to pull out a few emblematic venues of what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful Olympics.  Understood, of course, that there are various fine lines and gray areas as to what constitutes "successful."

With that, the run up to the Olympics, the very British self-effacing cynicism, and the warning signs from Beijing and Athens venues left strewn about, vacant, and wanting for some life more than stray dogs, leaves the question of what might the next steps be for London?

Where Athens shines for wanton profligacy emblematic of pre- and post-Euro crash, and Beijing for, well, the words that come to mind are "overwhelming" and "oppressive," the Olympics (particularly the Summer - though Vancouver can't escape blame either for building an Olympic Village that a certain prominent urbanist/environmentalist argued to me would be the "example for future affordable housing."  The city is $1 billion in debt on it.) have developed a reputation of Keynesianism on performance enhancing drugs.

The Olympics are, not just a way, but THE WAY for cities to boast and show off and exemplify themselves, meanwhile completely rebuilding certain parts of the city in a very globalist way, with international architects littering the world with their own very subjective visions.  It's all very ironic.  Cities attempting to present their viewpoint of a positive world captured at a certain moment in time, that is hardly ever truly indicative of the people.  Or is it?

As we just pointed out, both Athens and Beijing perfectly embodied and thus predicted the plights of their nations (as China's story continues to play out).  Sydney was largely forgettable in the way an entire Olympics could be set amongst "sprawl but better!"  Atlanta and LA were rigorously bottom-lined and as bland as the cities themselves.  However, on the other hand, two stand out for me, one of which is London, which apparently learned the lessons of recent Olympiads by promising to break down the majority of the venues and scatter them amongst various schools and public programs for event spaces at junior levels across the country.  Basically, nothing will be without purpose beyond the games, a life-span ensured longer than a short fortnight of summer (though London did go well over budget).

The other is Barcelona, a city that at the time of the '92 games had recently awoken from a Franco-induced slumber and was eager to burst out in an explosion of color, life, and opportunity, befitting of all the natural and built resources of the city's setting.  And along these lines (and again moreso than any singular athletic performance) a singular venue at each of these games embodied the spirit of the city that embraced them.

The diving venue on Montjuic in Barcelona:


And the Horse Guards Parade for beach volleyball in London, the Eye peering out over from the background:

Neither was about some architects arbitrary and abstract regurgitation of self (I'm looking at you Bird's Nest) or impressionistic futurism applied in a way to obstruct proper viewing and utility (Hadid's aquatic center in London with its sloped seating on only two sides allowing a predominance of poor, distant views, emphasizing the class divide between those who could afford good seats and everybody else...which itself is a very cynical modern expression of London.  But, I'm bored by architectural cynicism and self-expression.), but rather they celebrate the entirety of the city:  the buildings, the history, the people, and the implied future.  A connection from past to present and beyond.  A reminder of what is truly important and worth celebrating Olympic cities (which also happens to be the defining feature of Olympic cities - places even worth celebrating in the first place), and that is humanities single greatest technological achievement: cities themselves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back from Vacation Linkages

As I ease back into the swing of things after a trip to Denver and Boulder, I gradually shed the ennui and inevitable malaise after visiting places that, at least on the surface, seem to be more headed in a uniform and purposeful direction into the future.  I'll post some stuff on my visit when I have the time, for this one must be kept short as I'm still catching up with work after taking a few days off.

First up, Frack it.  Frack it good.  Dallas city council debated fracking regulations proposed by the taskforce.  Sides were clear and predetermined, most likely by amount of donations accepted from the drilling lobby.  Certainly, we'll arrive at some awful and arbitrary compromise while suggesting compromise is actually a good thing in this case.  Often yes, compromise is necessary to set policy, advance change, adapt to ever-altering circumstance, whilst mitigating overly radical and potentially dislocative adjustment.  Evolution happens slowly.

However, in this case I'd rather it come down firmly in one side or the other.  Why?  Because if we're to continue the course of Detroit and fully hollow out the core despite the wave of pent-up demand pressure to move towards the city core, might as well accelerate the die off process.  Make it as unlivable as possible and just be done with it mercifully (and profitably!).  It's the focus strictly on the short-term and the antiquated, like mayor of Toronto Rob Ford's vision of a waterfront replete with monorails, a megamall, and a ferris wheel.  Drill in the Trinity.  Drill in city hall plaza. Drill Main Street and Belo Gardens.  Let's just go full bore 19th century industrial city that was the jumping off point for 20th century suburban flight.

There's that.  Or, there is the other option.  One that follows some actual vision for the city and understanding of future challenges (do we want to potentially contaminate water, the most important resource of the 21st century?)  Let the exurbs fight for raison d'etre.  As cities repurpose themselves as places of amenity and desirability, placing wells all over the place is counter-intuitive.  The land is too valuable.  Ensure its long-term livability and you won't have to go chasing every little short-term money grab.
A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that (surprise!) SA, Houston, and Dallas are the most segregated cities by income.  Furthermore, those three cities have had the greatest delta over the last 30 years towards increased disparity.  These things tend to feed on themselves and snowball, particularly as the high income areas become exceedingly disinterested in paying the necessary offsetting costs via taxes for this segregation (for opportunities like education).  The issue at hand is far more tangible than the flowery, plannerly ideal that different people should interact with each other.  Those interactions will happen inevitably within the right framework.

However, with the wrong framework, planners often try to force it (and even if they don't, agenda 21 types assume it).  It also isn't an amenity in the completely out-of-touch manner which Forbes cool city index (which is dreadful -- when your metrics spit out terrible results it's time to revisit your metrics), which approaches "access to ethnic interaction" as if it's some kind of zoo exhibit.  No, the real issue and detriment of income segregation is part and parcel of its very cause, that the wealthy like services nearby (amenities), and that often requires working poor to be employed there.  But if there are no opportunities for the poor to live nearby, they are coerced into crippling transportation costs via car ownership or utterly beaten down by long mass transit commutes (if they're even available).  Thus, furthering the divide, then reinforced by zoning which restricts the type and quantity of housing in certain areas.  It takes massive leadership to reverse this course.  Do we have it?
Lastly, Atlanta's regional voters shot down a proposed tax which would pay for $7.2 billion in transportation investments including considerable mass transit options.  Planners everywhere had a sad as odd bedfellows, the Sierra Club and the Tea Party both opposed it (though for differing reasons).  Not me.  Why?  Because the majority of these dollars go to massive regional initiatives and it's those same regional interconnectivities allowing sprawl and the spreading out of people to unsustainable and destructively fragile degrees.  We need less regional infrastructure.  Yet, because it is clogged and the mass transit that exists is flagging, we assume we need more of it.  These are the kinds of investments that cost a lot and yield little when we need to be strengthening local interconnectivity (and global, but Hartsfield is already massive my outsider guess is that isn't the issue) which is lost via all of the regionally-focused infrastructure.  Adding more merely keeps the zombie ambling along, looking to feed on whatever little signs of life it finds.  Instead, cities should focus on strengthening individual neighborhoods, their walkability, quality of life, strengthening opportunities, and the kind of low cost, big return investments that make those previous characteristics a reality.