Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
New report offers 6-point plan to address the U.S. infrastructure of the future
July 7th, 2014 by Susan Smith
In a conversation with Terry Bennett, senior industry strategist for infrastructure, Autodesk, about the recent announcement at the National Press Club, of a new report released that outlines innovative new ways that the federal government, industry and other stakeholders can work together to solve the crisis of the failing state of U.S. infrastructure.
The new report, entitled “Making The Grade,” is the result of input from experts from 45 different organizations, including corporations, professional organizations, think tanks, financial advisors and academic institutions. This report offers a six-point plan to address what to do differently about the infrastructure of the future and get the U.S. leadership back into infrastructure.
“We hear about bad infrastructure, and lots of things that need to get fixed and not enough dollars to fix them,” said Bennett. “What we need is some serious long term vision to build a platform to address this holistically.”
The next 100 years is critical for what can happen with an infrastructure inherited from the early 1950s and before in the U.S.
“We need to come up with a comprehensive approach to rethink how we deliver infrastructure,” said Bennett. “One of the challenges we need for people to understand, is we always tend to take infrastructure and break it into a bunch of components. Bridge, road, water system, etc. — how do we fix each? The challenge is that infrastructure is a system with a bunch of integrated components. Infrastructure in the U.S. has a huge impact on the economic engine, and it can be a drag or accelerator.”
The approach encompasses the input of 45 organizations: planning, engineering, construction and technology firms that represent the scope of the infrastructure industry, as well as local, state and federal governments, professional organizations, financial advisors, academics, and even policy making institutions.
“We asked, what are the best practices, metrics and frameworks that we can develop?,” said Bennett. “So that if we start to implement them, they can take us away from emotionally deciding about infrastructure when there is a crisis to quantitatively approaching it as a long term asset which it is . Then we can put together an approach that works regardless of the infrastructure type and regardless of the location. This has never taken place before.”
These organizations we were able to come up with six areas they’ve agreed are key linchpins to drive forward new thinking. The underpinning of those six areas are what drove this report.
According to Bennett, the U.S. is number 14 in the world in terms of state of infrastructure. It is time to renew America’s historic sense of pride in large public works projects that do public good. “First class jobs come from first class infrastructure and first class societies can’t operate without first class infrastructure so it’s all intertwined.”
The report’s six-point recommendations include: 1) Making infrastructure a cabinet-level priority; 2) Forming U.S. infrastructure regions; 3) Establishing a national infrastructure bank; 4) Selling “opportunity” bonds; 5) Creating a national infrastructure index and 6) Engaging the American people to build support for the importance of infrastructure policy.
Collectively, these recommendations apply modern tools, technologies, approaches and fresh thinking to offer a new vision and path forward for the way U.S. infrastructure should be planned, financed, designed and built.