America’s infrastructure needs a software upgrade. Our crumbling and outdated infrastructure was designed and built in an analog era – long before we could integrate sensors into bridges to monitor safety, build more cost-effective infrastructure with 3D design software, or create GPS-guided precision construction equipment. Today, we have an enormous opportunity to harness the power of US innovation and ingenuity to transform and radically improve our roads, bridges, airports, and more – creating millions of jobs, boosting the economy, and advancing a more prosperous middle class.
The report highlights not only how software helps address the infrastructure problems of today, but also how it improves infrastructure throughout its lifecycle.
- Full Report: Infrastructure 4.0: Rebuilding America with Software
The test of strength for tomorrow’s infrastructure isn’t whether it is built with asphalt, concrete, or steel, but whether it is built with software, the cloud, and data.
For decades, our nation’s infrastructure has been the operating system that helped run our economy. Smoothly paved highways bridged the gaps between urban and rural areas; gleaming jets streamed in and out of modern airports to connect far-flung regions; and, amid it all, a network of wired links enabled ever-faster communications.
But today, in too many cases, our infrastructure is outdated and crumbling. Instead of being where we want to be, we are often stuck in traffic, backed up on potholed roads or outdated bridges, or waiting for overdue flights. And with more than 87 percent of the U.S. population expected to be living in cities by 2050, the demand for modern infrastructure will only grow.
Our analog era infrastructure undermines access to safe water, leads to power outages and safety concerns, and threatens our nation’s future growth and prosperity. This aging infrastructure costs the nation nearly $1 trillion a year in lost economic growth and hits the average family for about $3,400 a year in lost income.
It’s not just today’s infrastructure that is outdated —the approach to planning, design, and construction is out-of-date as well. What’s changing? Almost everything involved in the process of developing infrastructure, from the materials to the technology and the way that work is done on site.
But our lagging infrastructure also presents an enormous opportunity: the opportunity to once again harness American innovation and ingenuity to transform and radically improve our roads, bridges, airports, and more – creating millions of new jobs, boosting the economy, and advancing a more prosperous middle class.
Put most simply, our infrastructure needs a software upgrade.
What does that mean? The tools and techniques in use today were created in a time of fewer people, less urgency, and lower demands. Larger project sizes, increased complexity, and aging infrastructure in mature and growing emerging markets are driving the need to better simulate alternatives, reduce delivery schedules, maintain high quality, minimize cost, and ensure safety. It means using new computing tools to reduce costs and make projects more effective and forward-looking. It means ensuring that infrastructure projects include measures that expand broadband access so that all corners of the country can access those software tools and so that all corners of the country have access to software jobs. And it means that we invest in our most important asset – our workforce – by growing the pipeline of skilled technology workers.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight for policymakers how those fundamental steps can help upgrade our nation’s infrastructure in a cost-effective and forward-looking way.
40 percent of urban highways are now choked with traffic
200 million trips are made across structurally deficient bridges every day
Every two minutes a water main breaks, flooding streets and leaving taps dry
World War II era Air Traffic Control technology delays air travelers, wastes fuel and increases costs
Inadequate infrastructure costs every American family $3,400 a year in disposable income
34 million Americans lack high speed broadband as part of our digital infrastructure