Smart infrastructure will play a significant role in addressing resource constraints and enhancing the nation’s liveability, productivity and resilience
The public debate over government investment in infrastructure usually conjures up images of new highways, high speed rail and refurbished airports. Yet the more pressing issue is the global infrastructure crisis, as funding fails to meet the maintenance requirements for our existing infrastructure. There are substantial benefits from spending more on preventative maintenance, as prevention is cheaper than a repetitive and ever-increasing cycle of routine maintenance. Current repetitive practices are simply deferring the burden to the next generation.
“We need to develop more affordable, sustainable, and resilient systems. A resilience based approach to infrastructure is vital so we can better adapt to change and reduce our exposure to risk. Decisions taken today, particularly those related to the redesign and retrofitting of existing infrastructure, will affect how well our network is able to adapt to change into the future. Focusing on the problem now will help avoid costly future investments and disruptions to operations” MRWA
Population growth, increasing safety requirements and the rising cost of carbon intensive resources are placing increasing pressure on infrastructure and services, further driving the need for innovation and reform. Resilience also encapsulates the ability to respond effectively to situations and changing circumstances, such as emergency services responses, clean up following natural disasters, requiring more dynamic infrastructure networks.
Larry Summers, a Harvard economics professor and former Secretary of the Treasury USA, called the case for spending more on infrastructure maintenance “overwhelming.” Summers argued for spending “substantially more” on maintenance. “It’s hard for me to believe,” he said, “that there wouldn’t be a pretty compelling case for spending half a percent of GDP more each year on maintenance, at least for the next decade, as we worked off a backlog.”
The future is here …
Smart innovation is transforming the infrastructure landscape
Our communities, cities, regions and nations need to become smarter and more innovative with existing resources and assets. Infrastructure investment, intelligent planning and robust policies are critical to achieving sustainability. In the short-term, smart technology has been identified as an effective measure to preserve existing assets and improve efficiency. In the longer-term, it substantially improves service delivery standards and decreases the need for investment in maintenance.
Construction of new infrastructure will become more easy for governments to finance following the elimination of capital and resource-intensive methods. By applying smart solutions on new asset construction and renewal projects, substantially reduces costs and risks, whilst improving efficiency.
These Smart technologies materially improve the resilience of, and reduce the downstream maintenance costs for road-side and urban infrastructure assets, improving service performance through relatively low cost capital works that augments existing infrastructure.
1 Improving the standard and delivery of critical services
2 Reducing capital and maintenance expenditure
3 Improving effectiveness of existing infrastructure
4 Improving resilience of existing infrastructure
5 Improving the financial sustainability of maintenance activities
6 Improving the environmental sustainability of maintenance
Improving the standard and delivery of critical services
Using Smart technologies substantially improves the ability of state and local government authorities to maintain our roads and streetscapes efficiently, at a fraction of the cost of current methods. By implementing these Smart preventative techniques, the money usually spent on maintenance can be spent on further improvements, so instead of gradually declining, these Smart developments grow increasingly efficient.
Improving effectiveness of existing infrastructure
Instead of being static, infrastructure becomes dynamic, able to be transformed at a moment’s notice for events, maintenance, upgrades, or simply to meet changing needs throughout the day, week or decade.
Improving resilience of existing infrastructure
Instead of static items (subject to constant decay) infrastructure becomes impact resistant, removable, re-usable and even re-locatable.
Improving the financial sustainability of maintenance activities
The only cost for maintenance is labour.
Budgeting for installing and maintaining infrastructure using current methods is complicated by the large range of variables involved. Using these repetitive methods, it is almost impossible to determine future infrastructure maintenance requirements and damaging an underground cable can ruin any well-planned construction budget. Studies show that the problem with construction cost overruns is part of a worldwide phenomenon, with a whopping 90% of projects going over budget.
The problem can be attributed to circumstances such as late changes to specifications, unexpected price increases, complex site conditions, contractor problems, workplace injury, damage to underground services, poor communication between departments, harsh weather, or delays caused by work stoppages. The solution to this problem is to create conditions so that on-time and on-budget project delivery becomes the norm. Smart Infrastructure eradicates the variables, enabling projects to be completed on-time, on-budget every time.
Improving the environmental sustainability of maintenance
Globally, governments are struggling to get more from their infrastructure investment with competing demands for scarce resources growing rapidly. Resource management and efficiency are key tenets of environment protection policy. Smart Infrastructure eradicates the need for on-going consumption of carbon intensive resources and the resulting carbon intensive landfill, protecting the development from damage and substantially reducing the environmental impact of maintenance activities