Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2021 — Technology is poised to continue to play a fundamental role in the development of efficient and effective solutions to address varied and complex problems within different spaces, including healthcare, transportation, government services and emergency response planning. Carlos Duart, president of emergency management and engineering company CDR Maguire, spoke with Invest: and shared how tech is disrupting these different niches in Miami-Dade.
What successful measures has CDR Maguire implemented as a result of the pandemic?
Before the major shutdown started in April, we started to catch wind of what was going on. We do a lot of work in the Northeast and we were seeing that it was shutting down a lot faster than South Florida. Our transition from an office environment to a home environment required a well-thought-out strategy, especially from the engineering side. Doing engineering drawings requires a lot of computer power. That was probably one of our biggest successes and strategies. We converted early, before the shutdown. We had ample time to test the connection speeds. When the shutdown inevitably came, we had zero transition issues. In contrast, about 80% of the engineering companies had some sort of technical shutdown. Our transition plan helped us be able to work through the early parts of the pandemic.
What are the most pressing infrastructure needs in South Florida?
A lot of things are already in place, especially here in Miami-Dade. We probably have one of the best building codes in the country, not only related to vertical construction. Even the roads, when built, have to anticipate a 100-year flood plan. As we continue to build roads and higher infrastructure, there is an imperative on improving drainage to get more water out. In turn, that will also create water quality issues that we have to account for. That will be the top infrastructure challenge in South Florida for years to come. In parallel, we do a lot of work in California and other Western states and it’s getting dry out there. If you can’t provide water for people, they end up moving out. It does damage the economy quite a bit.
What accommodations does the city require to ensure responsible growth?
Our planning has to be better. From a transportation standpoint, there are only so many more highways we can build. Controlling traffic by deploying intelligent traffic and transportation systems is essential. That enables tying in systems together and opens the door to automated connectivity. It also allows projecting traffic operations onto the signaling and being able to flow traffic a lot better. Compared to other parts of the country, we don’t have a mass transit system. We’re too spread out to do something effectively. However, we’ve been talking about light rail in major areas like Coral Gables. We’ve been talking about extending light rail in Downtown Miami. As that population grows, being able to accommodate them from Midtown or Uptown to Downtown via light rail is going to be essential for the growth of Miami-Dade County. It also comes down to housing. If you lack affordable housing, that’s going to drive people away or keep them from coming here.
What role does technology play in your daily operations?
Technology is driving every single aspect of our business. It’s our top expenditure in terms of R&D dollars: the invention of technology, especially when it comes to government software or government platforms. When the COVID-19 vaccinations came out, for instance, we invested close to $8 million on the testing side to develop a scheduling and accreditation system. We tested that system not only in our own operations in the field but also tied it to the government’s computer systems. We had to translate data that got much more complicated because of the vaccination program workflows. We probably ended up investing $10 million on software to develop that system to track the vaccinations.
How did the use of technology help mitigate the impact of a stressed supply chain?
Being able to track those supplies in real time is essential. We use blockchain technology to manage our supplies, including life-saving ones—Regeneron and the COVID-19 vaccines, for instance. We have strict protocols on how long the vaccine can be opened up in the air, refrigeration and cold storage. Through that, we were able to efficiently manage the logistics, especially our critical supplies. Knowing when it was hitting one point or another and tracking every shipment from the labs was essential for our operations. One of our successes was not only being able to obtain lab results but to do so quicker than anyone else in the state. Once we automated the entire process, invested in the systems, we went from a four-day turnaround time to 24 hours.
What is your near-term outlook in Miami-Dade County?
Infrastructure will continue to play a role in how this country competes in a global economy. It’s not just about getting workers back to the office. The backbone of all transportation and logistics is either shipping or 18-wheelers.
From a company standpoint, we’re getting more into niche markets, such as solutions related to sea level rise. On the emergency management side, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and we now compete with national firms, so that continues to grow. We anticipate that segment growing 50 to 100% compounded every year just because of the size of projects and the floods and the fires that we’re seeing. Because of climate change, flooding, fires and hurricanes, that business is going to continue to grow.
The healthcare part of our system will also continue to grow because therapeutics is going to be a big part of dealing with COVID in the future. We will be focusing on rural and children’s healthcare to fill a prevalent gap in the state of Florida. We want to address socially vulnerable populations. We’re launching a huge telemedicine program, including COVID-19 testing and therapeutics. Telemedicine is going to be a big piece going forward in bringing medicine to those who can’t get to it.
For more information, visit: https://cdrmaguire.com/