Engineering Inc. - July/August 2015 - (Page 40)

Guest Column BY T E R RY D. B E N N E T T Which Comes First-Growth or Infrastructure Investment? An Economic Chicken or Egg Transportation- Case in Point Let's use a well-recognized infrastructure example to highlight the connection between infrastructure and economic growth- transportation. Beyond water and housing (the top priorities for infrastructure in any country), a solid transportation system (roads, highways, bridges, mixed modal transit) is critical to economic development, especially in developing countries. As we see today in many areas, it is difficult if not impossible to feed inhabitants in a city if food from agricultural areas cannot reach the consumers in the cities in a timely fashion to avoid spoilage. Without developed transportation systems, fuel, construction materials, medicine and all other commodities are often delayed due to the time it takes to move them over unpaved roads. Other basic infrastructure that relies on transportation and roads to construct, such as utility and telephone networks, cell towers and Internet services, may cause a region or country to fall behind the globalization process. As cities grow and evolve, their infrastructure spending, focus and needs do as well. While the connection between infrastruc40 ENGINEERING INC. JULY / AUGUST 2015 ture and economic growth remains, the priority of spending and what is required to keep that growth going changes. As economies mature, people are less concerned with the basic transport of goods than a focus on transportation that supports business opportunities and innovation. The shift moves from basic roads and highways to mass transit within urban areas, or easy connections to air, rail and sea for business continuity. Cities also rethink living configurations, green space and the environment and use these as drivers of transportation configuration. This is a challenge facing many developed cities today. While lack of quality infrastructure can limit economic growth in developing countries because it doesn't exist, it can also limit growth in developed countries if it is not kept in good working order and repair. The Virtuous Cycle of Infrastructure Investment and Growth With the established connection between infrastructure and economic growth, how do we approach the planning, design and operations of it? The first step is understanding the external drivers that are affecting the global infrastructure industries today. These include: Resiliency and recovery of infrastructure assets becoming more critical due to the rise of weatherand nature-related events Business shift from lowest life-cycle cost to highest life-cycle return Smart infrastructure (sensor data), crowdsourcing of asset issues/events, and the use of LIDAR and other reality-capture techniques to collect infrastructure asset data in near real time and assess their condition Technology that is breaking down barriers between disparate data sources (i.e., CAD/ BIM and GIS) and providing access to realtime Big Data The cloud as a means to effectively filter and make sense of the Big Data These trends are leading us to the understanding that in the global infrastructure market: Innovation is no longer optional in the planning, design and construction of infrastructure The fundamental methods of planning, design and construction are radically changing l l l l l l l TONIVAVER/THINKSTOCK F or local, regional or national economies to grow requires investment in infrastructure- transportation, water, communications, energy, even housing. This is especially true today as cities compete to become hubs for innovation, models of community development, and providers of economic and social prosperity. Cities striving to attract businesses and citizens (read: taxpayers) must also meet rising expectations for mobility, services and connectivity. And yet, when growth is stagnant, funding for infrastructure is often first on the chopping block. So which comes first-growth or investment?

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2015

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2015
From ACEC to You
Market Watch
Legislative Action
Secrets of the Centenarians
State of the Industry
Reshaping Cities
2015 Professional Liability Insurance Survey of Member Firms
Girl Empower
2015 Fall Conference
Guest Column
Guest Column
Guest Column
Business Insights
Members in the News
Mergers and Acquisitions

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2015