Saturday, December 18, 2010

Management - Case study: Nortel

Having spent a portion of my career with Nortel, it is always interesting to read what others have to say about the challenges the company faced.

Recently, the Financial Times did a case study on Nortel (FT.com / Management - Case study: Nortel) and came up with certain conclusions. Among others, reasons such as Nortel management's  “irrational exuberance” through customer financing and push towards a “software-centred telecom product company” were given for it's demise.

Do you agree with them?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

References & Articles on the coroner's report for Lea Guilbeault tragic death (Montreal) - Références & commentaires

Références
Reference material

Open letter from Lea Guilbeault's parents
The Gazette

Les commentaires de Hani Beitinjaneh sur le rapport du coroner sur la tragédie de Léa Guilbeault
Texte Integral

Hani Beitinjaneh's commentary on the coroner's report
Full Text

Décès de Mme Léa Guilbeault - PRÉVENIR LES DANGERS LIÉS AU VIEILLISSEMENT DES IMMEUBLES DE GRANDE HAUTEURS
rapport d'investigation du coroner - Sommaire
Coroner's Press Release (in French)


Des articles et commentaires
Here are some articles and commentaries on the topic


Revenez souvent pour lire des mises à jour. Veuillez me laisser savoir s'il y a d'autres @ nabilbeit@gmail.com

I will be updating this section with new articles regularly. Please come back. If you see any articles you would like me to add, please let me know @ nabilbeit@gmail.com

Parents devastated by loss of daughter (Lea Guilbeault) killed by concrete.
The Gazette

La famille (de Lea Guilbeault) dénonce la négligence
Journal de Montréal

Widower wants stricter Que. building inspections
CBC.ca

Projet de loi 122 sur l'inspection des bâtiments - LE GOUVERNEMENT DU QUÉBEC CHOISIT LA MAUVAISE APPROCHE, ESTIME LA CORPIQ 
CNW

Tuée par un panneau de béton - Mort de Léa Guilbault : le rapport du coroner tombe
Canoe - Info - Sociéte

Family speaks out as coroner reports on woman killed by falling concrete
Vancouver Sun

City to have 'at risk' buildings inspected
The Gazette

Investigation sur le décès de Mme Léa Guilbeault - L'Ordre des architectes du Québec appuie sans réserve les recommandations du coroner
Newswire.ca

Effondrement sur la rue Peel: le manque d'entretien pointé du doigt - Matin - Montréal
Branchez-vous Matin

Victim's husband raises concerns in letter
The Gazette

Horrific accident prompts Quebec building-code reform
The Globe and Mail

Tuée par un bloc de béton - Le conjoint de la défunte réagit
LCN
 
Coroner's report: death from concrete slab 'entirely preventable'
CTV Montreal - CTV News

Institute high-rise inspections, coroner says
The Gazette

Hani Beitinjaneh commente sur le rapport du coroner sur la tragédie de Léa Guilbeault

Le rapport du coroner http://bit.ly/cPUSXO sur la tragédie de Léa Guilbeault a été déposé le 16 novembre 2010.

Voici le texte intégral de Hani Beitinjaneh comme commentaire sur ce rapport.


---

Seize mois sont maintenant passés depuis la violente tragédie qui a coûté la vie à mon épouse adorée, Léa Guilbeault. Cette tragédie brutale ne se limite pas seulement à la défaillance de points d’ancrage et à la chute d’une dalle de béton. Cette tragédie a beaucoup plus rapport aux nombreuses lacunes qui ont causé cette grande perte pour nous tous. Il s’agit aussi de parents qui ont perdu leur seule enfant, d’un époux qui a perdu sa conjointe, de membres de sa famille et d’amis qui ont perdu sa présence dans leur vie et de notre société qui a perdu son potentiel. Nous avons tous dû composer avec la douleur de cette perte et avec l’incompréhension des causes à l’origine d’une telle tragédie dans notre ville tant aimée.


Nous nous attendions à ce que le rapport du coroner émis le 16 novembre nous apporte une certaine résolution face à ce deuil. Malheureusement, ce rapport a généré plus de questions qu’il n’en a résolues. Ces questions outrepassent cette tragédie et touchent les fondements de nos vies de citoyens dans notre société, comment nos organismes publics chargés d’assurer notre sécurité assurent leur régie et comment les entreprises réalisent leurs activités parmi nous. Nous avons conservé le silence avec dignité pour que les enquêteurs puissent terminer leur travail, que toutes les parties concernées puissent fournir tous les faits pertinents, et ultimement, que des recommandations fiables soient émises et des plans mis en œuvre afin d’éviter à d’autres de telles tragédies.

Le dépôt du projet de loi 122 constitue un aspect positif de ce rapport. Le fait d’attribuer des mandats périodiques pour l’inspection des édifices et la conservation des dossiers est louable. Nous appuyons les efforts de la ministre du Travail, Mme Lise Thériault, pour que ce projet de loi soit adopté et nous invitons nos concitoyens à exprimer leur soutien et faire pression sur l’Assemblée nationale en ce sens.

Nous avons constaté que le texte du projet de loi 122 est plutôt vague et ne présente pas la transparence et la direction nécessaires pour tenir les propriétaires d’entreprises et les inspecteurs d’édifices responsables de futures tragédies. Nous appuyons la volonté du législateur telle qu’il l’a exprimée, toutefois nous aimerions obtenir des détails additionnels.

À Montréal, un laps de temps important est nécessaire avant que les expériences notées dans d’autres villes semblables à la nôtre soient mises à contribution lorsqu’il s’agit d’adopter des ordonnances et des règlements. Qu’en est-il de nos fonctionnaires de la sécurité publique et de nos législateurs? Nous sommes de l’avis que les personnes nommées pour nous protéger ont fait preuve d’un sérieux manque de jugement. Sont-ils uniquement incités à agir lorsque des tragédies et des décès surviennent?

Maintenant, passons aux éléments qui nous préoccupent :

Le fait d’attribuer le blâme à l’entreprise en construction d’origine est une dérobade puisque cet édifice est passé entre les mains de plusieurs propriétaires qui ont tous eu l’occasion d’inspecter l’édifice et sa structure avant d’en prendre possession. Par exemple, nous voulons savoir comment le propriétaire de l’édifice a réglé le problème de calfeutrage signalé lors de l’inspection de 2006. Le rapport du coroner est silencieux sur ce point. Pourquoi ne pouvons-nous pas avoir accès aux rapports d’inspection?

À propos des blocs de béton

Ces immenses blocs de béton auraient dû être examinés sous tous les angles et faire l’objet d’une vérification structurelle parce qu’il s’agit d’éléments indépendants à la structure de l’édifice qui sont fixés à celle-ci à titre décoratif. Ces blocs de béton subissent des tensions constantes à la verticale et à l’horizontale causées par l’oscillation de la tour et de nombreux autres facteurs, comme les mouvements de la circulation, les éléments météorologiques tels le froid et la chaleur ou même l’effet de faibles séismes. Toute fragilisation des charnières peut compromettre l’intégrité structurelle des blocs de béton et créer des risques de dommages. De plus, toute vérification de l’édifice aurait dû commencer par les points de contact de l’édifice (soit les côtés et le dessus de l’édifice).

Lorsque la façade de l’édifice a fait l’objet de travaux de ré-ancrage bloc par bloc, est-ce que d’autres blocs ont été touchés? Est-ce que des problèmes ont été notés?

À propos de vérification diligente

Pourquoi les sociétés d’Halifax et du Texas n’ont-elles pas effectué une vérification diligente de la structure complète de l’édifice? Comment l’examen visuel a-t-il été réalisé? Le coroner a émis l’hypothèse que cet examen a été effectué depuis le sol à l’aide de jumelles. Cette hypothèse a-t-elle été confirmée par les propriétaires? Par ailleurs, le rapport mentionne l’absence de tout « défaut majeur ». Y avaient-ils des défauts mineurs qui auraient pu indiquer un problème? Lorsque la question du calfeutrage a été signalée en 2006, quelles démarches ont été entreprises pour régler le problème? Voilà d’autres éléments qui ne sont pas mentionnés dans le rapport du coroner.

De nombreuses autres questions nous viennent à l’esprit à propos de l’entretien périodique de la structure extérieure de l’édifice. L’absence de renseignements tangibles sur les origines / les antécédents / les plans relatifs à l’édifice aurait dû préoccuper sérieusement les propriétaires successifs de l’édifice. On pourrait penser qu’un examen diligent approfondi aurait été effectué puisque le risque était plus important pour la sécurité du public. Est-ce que la Ville ou un autre organisme gouvernemental a exigé des propriétaires de l’édifice d’entreprendre quelques démarches que ce soient ou de préciser ces risques?

En raison de la participation d’entreprises transfrontalières et internationales dans l’achat et la gestion de l’édifice, il est important de savoir s’il s’agissait d’une décision délibérée de la part des gestionnaires d’omettre certains éléments sur leur liste de vérification diligente quant à l’intégrité structurelle d’immeubles de grande hauteur simplement parce que les lois du Québec ne l’exigent pas. Autrement dit, ces entreprises se conforment-elles strictement aux lois du pays, même si celles-ci appliquent des normes moins élevées que celles dans leur pays d’origine ou d’autres endroits où elles ont des activités? De quels autres éléments qui n’ont pas été divulgué ont-elles connaissance?

Existait-il un conflit d’intérêts possible lorsque le propriétaire initial gérant les travaux de construction a créé l’entreprise qui a effectivement effectué les travaux? Le fait qu’il n’est pas clairement établi qu’un professionnel ait inspecté l’édifice aurait dû susciter l’intérêt de l’Ordre des ingénieurs et de l’Ordre des architectes. Pourquoi n’ont-ils pas participé à l’étude menée sur la sécurité du public? Nous sommes de l’avis que ces organismes et autres entités ont failli à leur mission de protéger le public.

Nous nous demandons combien d’autres édifices à Montréal présentent de telles lacunes. À la lecture de la rubrique de Martin Croteau dans La Presse du 12 novembre, nous trouvons inquiétant, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire, que seulement vingt-cinq pour cent parmi 63 propriétaires d’édifices ont fourni à la Ville un rapport produit par des ingénieurs confirmant l’intégrité de leurs structures. Les propriétaires de l’édifice qui nous concerne se trouvaient-ils sur cette liste?

Le problème ne date pas de quarante ans. La question, c’est comment nous sommes parvenus aujourd’hui sans qu’aucune attention ne soit portée au problème pendant quarante ans. Cette tragédie a révélé une défaillance généralisée monumentale et un manque de leadership à plusieurs niveaux.

Ils parlent de leadership…

Ils auraient fait preuve de leadership s’ils avaient tenu compte de l’expérience de villes semblables et adopté de nouvelles lois et des mesures plus strictes pour atténuer les risques avant qu’une tragédie ne survienne.

Les propriétaires de l’édifice auraient fait preuve de leadership s’ils avaient appliqué les mesures les plus rigoureuses qu’ils connaissent et effectué les examens appropriés afin de préserver la sécurité du public, sans attendre d’y être forcés par la loi.

Ils auraient fait preuve de leadership s’ils avaient révélé au public l’état de nos plus importantes structures et les risques possibles que courent les citoyens. De ce fait, les citoyens et organismes (publics, privés et non gouvernementaux) auraient pu participer au processus de prise de décisions et à l’établissement des priorités.

Les organismes chargés d’assurer la sécurité du public auraient fait preuve de leadership en se montrant à la hauteur et en effectuant un examen approfondi pour identifier les causes fondamentales du problème et qui en est à l’origine.

Nous espérons que nos questions et préoccupations amèneront nos concitoyens à se rallier pour faire face à ces problèmes qui nous concernent tous et qui nous ont été révélés à la suite du cauchemar qui a débuté pour nous l’après-midi du 16 juillet 2009. C’est par amour pour Montréal et par conviction de la bonne volonté de tous que nous exprimons nos doutes et mettons en question toutes les parties prenantes dans l’espoir d’éviter une tragédie semblable à d’autres.

Le projet de loi 122 représente un pas dans la bonne direction en imposant la tenue d’inspections périodiques et la conservation de tous les documents pour les générations successives. De plus, nous recommandons, à titre de famille concernée, qu’un faible pourcentage des nouveaux frais d’inspection soit versé dans une fondation qui serait destinée à aider les personnes touchées par de futurs événements similaires. Léa aurait voulu que nous partagions ce que nous avons appris de la tragédie qui nous a touchée et que nous nous assurions que la ville qu’elle aimait demeure une ville dont nous pouvons tous être fiers.

Je vous remercie de votre soutien.

Hani

Hani Beitinjaneh's commentary on the coroner's report for Lea Guilbeault

Below you will find the full letter (in English) of Hani Beitinjaneh's commentary on the coroner's report (http://bit.ly/cPUSXO)  issued on November 16th 2010, This report is relative to the July 16th, 2009 death of Lea Guilbeault which happened on Peel Street in Montreal.

 ---
It has been 16 months since a violent tragedy extinguished the life of my beloved wife Lea Guilbeault. This violent tragedy is not just about anchor points failing and a slab of concrete falling. It is more about the many failings that led to this tremendous loss to all of us. From her family who lost their only child, to her husband who lost his spouse, to her relatives and her friends who lost her presence and to our society who lost out on her potential. We have all experienced the pain of her loss and the bewilderment of how could such a tragedy happen in our beloved city.


We were expecting closure with the coroner’s report issued on the 16th of November. Unfortunately, it opened more questions that those that were closed. These questions go beyond the tragedy to the core to how we as citizens live in society, how our public organizations that tasked with our security regulate and how corporations operate in our midst. We have maintained a dignified silence to allow the investigations to complete and for all who may have be involved to provide all the facts allowing solid recommendations to be made and plans in place to spare others from similar tragedies.

Proposing Bill 122 to be adopted as law is one of the positive aspects of the report. Mandating regular inspections of buildings and retaining the records is commended. We support the Minister of Labor, Mme. Lise Thériault, in her efforts to get the bill adopted and recommend to our fellow citizens to provide their support through pressuring the National Assembly to adopt the bill.

What we read of Bill 122 is very vague and does not provide the necessary transparency and leadership to hold the owners of corporations and those who inspect the buildings accountable for future tragedies. We support the intent as announced yet would like to get further details.

In Montreal, there was a significant delay in learning from the experiences of other similar cities to ours on their adoption of rules and regulations. Where were our public security officials and our professional organizations and our lawmakers? We consider this a serious lapse in judgement by those who are appointed to protect us. Are they only moved to action based on tragedies and loss of life?



Now, for what concerned us:

Putting the blame on the original construction firm is a cop-out as many successive owners had the opportunity to inspect the building and its structures before taking possession. For example, we would like to know how the building owner dealt with the caulking issue raised during the 2006 inspection. This was not provided to the coroner according to his report. Why can’t we see the inspection reports?

On the blocks

These huge cement blocks should have been thoroughly examined and structurally investigated because they are independently designed structures attached to the building as decoration. These blocks are subjected to constant stress in both the vertical and horizontal directions due to the high rise building oscillation and the effect of many factors such as the movement of traffic, effect of the elements such as freezing and heat or even the effect of minor earthquakes. Any weakening of the hinges could compromise the block’s structural integrity with the potential for damage. In addition, the first place to start an audit would have been the interface points (side of the building and top of the building).

When the building façade was re-anchored block by block, were any other blocks changed? Were any issues identified?

On due diligence

How come the Halifax and the Texas companies did not do a complete due diligence on the structure of the building? How was the visual inspection done? The coroner’s hypothesis is that it was done visually using binoculars from the ground level. Was it confirmed by the owners? Additionally, there is a point about no “defaut majeur”. Were there any defaut mineurs that could have raised flags? In 2006 when the caulking issue was raised, what steps were done to resolve it? These steps were not provided in the coroner’s report.

Many more questions come to mind with respect to the regular maintenance done to the outside structure of the building. Not knowing the origins / history / plans of the building should have been a serious point of concern to the successive owners of the building. One would expect that extra due diligence would have been done as the risk would be higher for public safety. Did the city or any other public entity ask the building owners to do anything or highlight these risk issues?

With the involvement of several trans-border and global companies in the purchase and operation of the building, it is important to know if there was a conscious decision by their management to bypass certain items on their due diligence check list which are related to the structural integrity of high rises just because the law does not require it in Quebec. In other words, do companies only follow the law of the land even if it is below its own standards in their country of origin or other locations they operate in? What else do they know and did not share?

Was there a potential conflict of interest by having the original owner manage the construction work by creating the company that did the work? The fact that it was not clear if a professional inspected the building should have been a concern for the Order of Engineers (OIQ) and that of the Order of Architects (OAQ). How come they were not involved in this study which involves the security of the public? We view this as a failure for these organizations and others that have as mission protecting the public.

We wonder how many other buildings in Montreal have similar deficiencies. Reading Martin Croteau’s LaPresse commentary published on the 12th of November, that only 25% of 63 building owners provided the city with an Engineering report that certifies the soundness of their structures is disturbing to say the least. Were they on that list?

This is not a 40 year old problem. This problem is of how we got here and did not deal with it for 40 years. This tragedy exposed to us to a systemic failure of epic proportions and to a lack of leadership at many levels.

They speak of Leadership,

Leadership would have been to learn from the experience of similar cities and adopt new laws and strong measures to mitigate risks before tragedy hit us all.

Leadership would have been for building owners to use the most stringent measures they are aware of and do the appropriate tests to ensure that the public is safe without having to wait for laws to be passed.

Leadership would have been to put in the public domain the current state of our largest structures and the potential risks we face as citizens. This would help citizens and other organizations (public, private or non-governmental) participate in the prioritization and decision making process.

Leadership would have been for the organizations that are tasked with public protection to rise to the occasion and do a more thorough investigation to determine the true root causes of the problem and who was involved since the beginning.

We hope that our questions and concerns rally our co-citizens around the issues we all face and which were brought to the forefront because of a nightmare which started for us in the afternoon of July 16th 2009. It is out of our love for Montreal and our belief in the good will of all that we question and challenge all the groups hoping we can avert a similar tragedy for others.

Bill 122 seems to put us in the right direction by insisting on regular inspections and the storing of all documentation for successive generations. Additionally, we recommend, as a family, that a small percentage of the new inspection fees be put into a foundation that would be dedicated to help those who are impacted by future similar events. Lea would have wanted us to share what we learned from our tragedy and to ensure the city she loved so much remains as a city we could all be proud of.

Thank you for your support.

Hani

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Freedom of Religion - a viewpoint

Recent events such as the "Ground Zero Muslim Community Center" debate and the "International Burn a Koran" day moved the muse in me to write an article on religious freedom.

Faith is an intensely personal matter for me and I never thought that I would weigh in on the topic in a new dialogue and debate forum called islamcomment.com.

A paragraph from the article follows

In the 18th century, the town of Sür (Tyre in Lebanon) did not have a single Christian living in it. Jirjis Mishaqa (a Greek Catholic businessman - and one of my ancestors (NB)) was persuaded by its two ruling Mutawäli sheikhs to move to the area with his family. When the Christians there had grown in numbers, work was begun on the church of St. Thomas the Apostle.


Noting that there was no mosque for the local Shi’ite Muslim community, Jirjis Mishaqa thought it would be a good thing to build a mosque for the Muslims with his own funds. It was begun simultaneously with the building of the church. When he was called in by the Vizier of Sayda he said:


“I see Muslims coming to Sür, merchants, transients and wandering dervishes, for whom there is no place of shelter or gathering for prayer. Indeed the lack of a mosque in the city is a matter that attracts criticism of its inhabitants abroad. The Creator does not permit such negligence”

The vizier was delighted with the response and asked Jirjis to share in the good work by leaving the minaret to be built from his own money.

For the rest of the article, please go to my page on the site.

For a series of articles with different viewpoints on the topic of building houses of worship - please go to the site directly. While there, check the newsfeed.

Feedback and rating on my article and the other ones are welcome!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What happened 1.600 years ago on 24 August 410?

The first hint is the word "Visigoth" 

The second hint is something to do with Rome

The solution is the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths (a western group of Goths) who were led by Alaric I.

For further information see the documentary The Dark Ages: The Sacking of Rome. I started watching it and learned about this historic event.

Maybe it is time to watch Rome - the complete series. The younger generation keeps telling me how awesome it is.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Mathland in Alice in Wonderland

Last week I attended Alice in Wonderland (3D version) with my children and father. Despite my reasonable grasp of English, I was left wondering at times if I fully understood the dialogue. Given comments made when I was younger about a link to drugs (the caterpillar and the hookah) and the Mad Hatter being mad because of the glue fumes, I put aside my misgivings but left with many questions.

Further research pointed out that a subplot of the author Lewis Caroll (a mathematician) is a satire on the new forms of mathematics that were coming out at the end of the 19th century. See NPR's The Mad Hatter's Secret Ingredient: Math. A more detailed article on the mathematical issues embedded in the book was issued in New Scientist Alice's adventures in algebra: Wonderland solved through a disseration written by Melanie Bayley.

Interesting to see how some individuals dealt with the changes to the traditional ways of thinking (Euclidean geometry had been around for 2000 years). Even more interesting is the fact that it took more than a century to find many of the allusions in the original text given that the text is very popular.

For those who would like to listen to Alice in Wonderland in Audio format, I found this wonderful site that provides books in mp3 (IPod and ITune ready).

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

An Olympic pool from Damascus to Ankara (or Damascus' 2009 water deficit and the 830 km long pool)



To conceptualize the deficit of 41.5 million cubic meters of drinking water Damascus faced in 2009 (see SyriaStep's article written on 27 Feb 2010), one could think in terms of an Olympic swimming pool with length of 830 kilometres, width of 25 meters and depth of 2 meters . This pool would go from Damascus to Ankara (a distance of 778 km according to Wolfram│Alpha the source of the map).
This pool would cover 2,075 hectares and would take a person nearly 20 days to walk from start to end if the person covers the equivalent of a marathon (42 km) every day.
As a point of comparison, it would have more 1,660 times more water that the largest swimming pool acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records which covers 8 hectares has a length of 1,013 meters and a capacity for 25 million litres of water. This lagoon is located in the resort of San Alfonso del Mar in Chile and has the capacity equivalent of 10 Olympic pools.
This deficit (20% of the overall need for drinking water) is 15,400 litres per person (assuming a population of 2.688 million for metropolitan Damascus – again from the sme Wolfram│Alpha search) which would take up half a 20 foot shipping container per person. If we are to take an unofficial statistic of 6 million, the volume is still staggering (a container for each 4 person family).

Uploaded on April 26, 2006 by Telstar Logistics  (Flickr)

My final thoughts, let's hope:
  • that the article is wrong (please provide links)
  • I made some calculation errors (my assumptions are included below).
  • Damascus gets lots more rain (the trend is good according to a Syrian official in Syria-news on the 28th of February relative to building a new dam)
  • serious efforts are put in place to conserve drinking water given the population growth. Is 20% a good target?
----------------- 
Post scriptum:
1) These are the numbers I used to do the calculations:
  • 1 Hectare equals 10,000 square meters
  • Olympic pool dimensions are 50 meters length by 25 meters wide by 2 meters deep according to section 3 of the FINA website). As such, we can find 50 x 25 x 2 = 2,500 cubic meters of water in an Olympic size pool.
  • 1 cubic meter of water equals 1,000 litres
  • 41,500,000 cubic meters divided by 2,500 meters gives 16,600 equivalent pools. If put one pool after another (50 meters length) we get 830,000 meters (or 83 kilometres)
  • A 20 foot container is approximately 33 cubic meters (5.919 length x 2.340 width x 2.380 height = 32.96 cubic meters) as per WikiAnswer
2) I would love to have the numbers corrolated between both articles (SyriaSteps and Syria-news). For example, the official stated a requirement for 150 litres per person per day. Does it match the required amount? Note that the dam would have a capacity of 60 million cubic meters.