How smarter planning is helping build resilient infrastructure for the future
BY: Brian Wienke, Product Marketing Director
Governments around the globe are putting together post-pandemic recovery plans to reinvigorate economies, secure future prosperity, and protect the planet.
President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative outlines a framework for creating better-paying jobs, fixing or building roads, providing broadband access to underserved areas, and meeting climate goals that protect the environment.
Employing infrastructure programs to spur the economy is not a new tactic, and there is little doubt that aging roads, rail, water, and wastewater networks desperately need updating.
Reliable public infrastructure is a necessity for quality of life, economic development, public health and safety, and the security of communities.
Transportation and utility infrastructure
People depend on transportation and utility infrastructure to be there when and where they need it—whether it’s electricity, water from the tap, online access for learning or cultural enrichment, or transit and roads for commuting.
In some parts of the world, international roadway projects are already underway creating construction jobs.
Those roads will help transport goods and revitalize the region’s economy upon completion.
Rail projects are also planned or being built that will help commuters get to and from work. And solar and wind farm projects are being erected to provide sustainable energy.
Public organizations are starting to envision where to best invest in their communities, whether funded by federal grants, bond measures, customer fares or tolls.
There is no shortage of potential projects, so choosing the right projects—and the right way to build them—is critical to long-term viability of the assets. But these decisions are hard, made harder by the uncertainty of what we now know as the new normal.
Start with a strategic plan
Starting with a strategic plan and project scoring criteria is the first step. Public agencies must determine if solar and wind projects should be scored higher than roads or bridges, or which funding sources may only be used for certain types of projects.
Is a high-speed rail project an effective way to reduce carbon emissions if the workforce commuters shift to working from home? These and many other scenarios need to be evaluated and weighed during the planning phases.
Increasing transparency with technology
Technology can increase transparency by helping track and report financial governance and traceability of where the funds are being spent. Can the vast amount of project data public agencies have collected through the years help them analyze and improve decision-making on multi-year, large budget programs?
The short answer is yes.
The path to realizing a future with resilient and smart infrastructure will require investments in smart technologies that use AI and machine learning to help make sense of all the data. But not all technologies are the same.
Properly and equitably evaluating, scoring, prioritizing, and selecting which programs and projects to do requires moving past antiquated spreadsheets and workbooks.
Centralized, smart construction platforms that can correlate asset information with artificial intelligence and machine learning are already within striking distance. The Internet of Things (IoT) sensors transmit events to a workflow system that routes the information, generates a work order, or adds a task in the schedule.
Oracle Construction and Engineering has recognized the intersections of these technologies and is well on the path to delivering solutions.
Solving these issues begins with the planning stage, even in an uncertain environment. Coastal cities who hadn’t planned for the effects of sea-level rise are now evaluating and adapting their multi-year capital programs to ensure their investments aren’t washed away.
Scenario planning provides the ability to review multiple options for various possibilities.
A recent McKinsey report on climate resilience stated that “according to the Institute for Building Sciences, every dollar invested proactively in building resilient infrastructure saves US $6 in future repair costs.”
Investing in infrastructure is particularly important since obtaining funding again may not be an option.
Efficient planning now is crucial for public agencies hoping to build for the future.
An open, centralized, and intelligent platform that covers the planning, building, and operating of the world’s critical infrastructure—with a single source of budgets, funding sources, and actuals—meets the public agency needs, and the transparency constituents deserve.
For more on the tool and technology to help improve your capital planning process, check out the “Optimize Public Capital Budgets” webcast on demand.