This is your one-stop-shop for public policy analysis, news, fun facts, and more!
Aii's Virtual Classroom
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Welcome to the virtual classroom from Aii. Whether you are a student, teacher, parent, policymaker, public official or something in between, this resource will get you up to speed on a wide range of complex topics. You’ll walk away better informed, and more curious than you came.
This is your one-stop-shop for public policy analysis, news, fun facts, and more! Get started, and if you have questions or want our experts to cover a particular topic, let us know! And check back soon, because our team is updating this page regularly!
The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure is a virtual nonprofit made up of two educational organizations. The National Infrastructure Safety Foundation (NISF) and the Public Institute for Facility Safety (PIFS). The Alliance exists to identify public policy challenges and produces educational policy outreach materials to encourage public debate and conversation on issues affecting infrastructure safety. Aii seeks to improve safety and efficiency by promoting proven innovative technology and higher safety standards to achieve excellence nationwide.
Through this page and others across the site, our experts bring analysis, review, and insight on major issues facing the nation. To see who is behind the material, check out our Team.
What to Expect
Aii has brought together experts to help explain our 21st Century life. As the world becomes more interconnected, things are moving faster and more dynamically, and it is harder to keep up with how –and why– things work. We have created and compiled resources to help you understand our world, from public policy to the technical aspects of green technology and vehicle engines.
Our team of attorneys, analysts, professors, regulators, and veterans bring you the information you want to know, and even some you didn’t know you needed. Aii is nonpartisan and aims to bring you just the facts. Here, you’ll find resources on blockchain, climate change, drones, energy, environment, infrastructure, regulation, renewables, transportation, and so much more.
Click on the lessons below to learn more!
All around us, there are important signs and markers that we overlook. It is not hard to go about your day never seeing what someone else does, even if you walk the same path or visit the same park. Have you ever noticed the spray paint markings on the sidewalk, roadway, and grassy fields? How about the little colored flags that go along with them?
These flags and paint markings are there so construction crews and excavators do not accidentally strike one of the nearly 20 million miles of pipelines, cables, wires, and water systems underneath your feet every day in America.
Damage Prevention, sometimes called facility safety, is the practice of protecting underground utilities. Many of the things you rely on – drinking water, electricity, natural gas, phone and internet service, and more – are provided by the pipelines and cables under homes, businesses, sidewalks, parking lots, and yards. This is why you should never start digging without knowing what is below your feet!
Even for a backyard project like building a deck, planting a tree, or digging out deep-rooted weeds with a shovel, it is critical to call 811 and let them know three days before you want to dig. That will allow the one-call center to notify the power, internet, natural gas, and other companies with underground utilities in your area to mark the area above their utilities so you can dig safely!
The markings are color coded so we know exactly what the risk is before digging. Maybe a blue line would ruin your day by flooding that basement foundation you’re trying to dig. A red mark might mean electrocution or loss of power to the whole neighborhood! But be especially careful about yellow marks. These represent natural gas and petroleum pipelines, which can be explosive and deadly if damaged. On average, five people are hurt or even die from digging into these pipelines in America every month. It is always better to call 811 first, than have to call 911 after an accident!
Without x-ray vision, things under the ground will remain unseen. These colored markings are the best way to make them seen for a few days surrounding a digging project. Whether you are a parent, home owner, or construction professional, make sure to respect the color and keep children and the community safe.
Test your knowledge!
Regulations are all around us. From health codes at your favorite fast food joint to building standards that ensure your apartment can bear the weight of each additional floor, these are the rules of our society. There are wide-ranging views on the necessity and importance of regulations, with the extremes saying everything should have a rule or that individuals and businesses can self regulate, with consumers deciding on quality.
Federal regulation is largely a function of the executive branch – administrative state or the bureaucracy – rather than Congress, which writes laws. These administrative rules have the force of law nonetheless, but are made by specialized agencies acting on delegated authority from Congress. There are two major camps in the regulation debate. Rather than there should be more or fewer regulations, this debate is on the nature of those regulations.
The two sides are prescriptive regulation and performance regulation. The former sets up rules and guidelines for how things should work in order to bring about an outcome. This ensures safety and predictability in products, services, and processes. The latter sets a principle and outcome for how things should end up or perform.
Think about the difference between these two hypothetical rules for vehicle headlights: “the headlights must be within this size, shape, color, and brightness” versus “the headlights must effectively illuminate this area.“Which one is better? It depends on what you value and what you’re hoping to achieve. The first is a more traditional approach to regulation, what you might call prescriptive regulation. The second is a newer approach, what many label performance regulation. When it comes to predictability and public safety, we know the first will produce headlights that work. After all, that is what is already on the road. When it comes to innovation, the second opens almost unlimited potential to try new things. Along with that innovation may come cost savings, better material, or environmental advantages. The downside could be cutting corners that save costs but harm consumers. Both scenarios would result in headlights, which are still regulated. Changing regulatory methods would not eliminate oversight and safety expectations.
Do you think one way of regulating is better? We encourage you to dig deeper and learn more. Then you can join the debate and help improve best practices and safety – along with efficiency and innovation!
Test your knowledge!
Are you a student looking for more resources for a project or research paper? Just want to educate yourself on more topics? Click below and let Aii lead you to new discoveries. And check back, we are adding virtual lessons regularly.
Students and Classrooms
Are you a teacher or parent looking for a lesson plan to use in class or at home? Whether you are a substitute, teacher, instructor, or homeschooling parent, you can use this resource to lead students through critical topics they need to know about energy, environment, regulation, and the world around them. Click below to download our resources. And reach out to request full-length lesson plans for different age groups.
Are you an elected or appointed public official? This guidebook will help you get up to speed on a number of issues facing the public and potential solutions to pursue. We are passionate about educating policymakers on best practices. Reach out to Aii to request briefing on particular areas and check out our Publications for a deeper dive.
Primers and Refreshers
Are you an international learner? Maybe a student in need of a civics brush up? Check out our primer on American government, regulation, and public policy. This resource will show you how a problem leads to an idea that becomes a solution in law.
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Aii Fast Facts
• The U.S. currently hosts 8 percent of the world’s forests
• There are approximately 3.04 trillion trees in the world today
• More trees cover the earth today than 35 years ago!
• Humans harvest about 10 billion more trees than we plant annually
• Most net tree loss around the world occurs in developing countries
• Look for the hashtag #AiiFastFactFriday for more facts about the world around you
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What Are Your Questions?
We want to answer all of your questions! If you want to learn even more and give us suggestions on what to tackle a topic that we haven’t covered yet, let us know. Be sure to visit Ask the Expert and give us your thoughts.