25 May 2017
Stakeholders in North American infrastructure must take decisive actions to reform the policies and practices that helped to create its decline over the past quarter century. This is the focus of our new research paper - Infrastructure Management: Current Practices and Future Trends - focused in North America.
This research paper, which was launched during a panel at our Summit of the Americas: Chicago 2017, looks at five themes connected to infrastructure:
21st century infrastructure challenges
One of the challenges that rose to the forefront is the need to educate stakeholders including taxpayers and politicians about infrastructure, its importance, approaches, and challenges.
The research paper examined the Canadian Public-Private Partnership (P3) model for infrastructure delivery. Strong clients are an essential part of the success of the Canadian P3 model. Clear practices and the development of long term relationships are two additional key components.
The result is a successful model, partly based on the fact that the public and private partners can allocate risk based on the party that is best able to handle the risk. The US model of P3s, however, is splintered and disjointed. Currently only 33 of 50 states have P3 authorization legislation, and each state has a unique practice.
The operations and maintenance (O&M) phase of infrastructure often represents the greatest area to add value to infrastructure projects.
One of the challenges is the need to find ways to have infrastructure operators provide greater input during the design phase. The US has a much discussed infrastructure deferred maintenance backlog. Panellists emphasized the need to approach this backlog in a rational manner. Maintenance should be prioritized by usage and risk.
The current budgetary environment, with its stops and starts, prevents stable, long-term relationships with service providers, adding cost – more money does not add more value; having money available at the right time does.
Technology, data and automation
Panellists pointed to a number of exciting new technologies that will impact infrastructure.
Geotagging, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data all have the capacity to revolutionize infrastructure asset management and the infrastructure sector more broadly. At the same time, though, the panel emphasized the need to be successful with the fundamental elements first.
One of the challenges facing infrastructure is a constricted labor supply. One panellist noted that it was challenging to maintain their firm’s existing workforce, let alone try to expand it.
One way to alleviate this is to expand the diversity and inclusion efforts. Women continue to be underrepresented in the infrastructure field and represent an untapped source of labor. Panellists emphasized two areas of skills development – lifelong learning and soft skills.
- Douglas E. Ellsworth, US Army Corp of Engineers
- Amanda Clack FRICS, President RICS and Partner at EY
- Tina Paek, U.S. Government Accountability Office
- Ralph Collins, Public Works and Government Services Canada
- Marie Foley, BTY Group
- Chris Guthkelch FRICS, Skanksa Infrastructure Development
- Lawrence Melton FRICS, The Building People (moderator)
For additional information, please contact Michael Zuriff.
Only Registered Members and Registered site users can comment on our content.
Please use the log in button to sign in and leave your comment.
Read the next page in this section