ASCE’s 2019 Convention looked a little different this year. Attendees are able to step inside a Floating City – the first installment in ASCE’s Future World Vision, which was officially unveiled at this year’s Convention. Outgoing ASCE President Robin A. Kemper opened the morning energizing the audience by sounding the alarm on infrastructure. In her farewell speech, she gave us a call to action. “Infrastructure isn’t politically polar; it’s bipartisan. We can use our collective power of influence to make infrastructure upgrades a priority in the upcoming election.” Explaining that infrastructure is the foundation for a strong economy that thrives with the ability and safety on our roads and bridges, she stressed the quality of our water resources, the stability of our electric grid, and the responsible treatment of waste, she emphasized that these necessities are essential for maintaining the quality of life we’ve come to expect.”
Kemper also gave ASCE’s Legislative Fly-In a shout-out, mentioning that our members made more than 360 Capitol Hill visits in one single day, but that we can actually create more change with 10 times the power. How? By engaging 3,000 members to send electronic communications to their legislators on March 9, 2020, to kick off the week of Fly-In. She pushed members to elevate the infrastructure discussion as ASCE has brought infrastructure into the mainstream conversation through the Infrastructure Report Card. It is time to take that effort to the next level by securing the funding to address the deficiencies our Report Card identified.
After all, 79 percent of Americans believe that infrastructure modernization MUST be a priority. She urged everyone in the room to participate by making their voice heard—just by taking five minutes to secure the must-needed investment in our infrastructure. This call to action starts with one single step – signing up to be a Key Contact. This will ensure you get notified on March 9 to send a message to your legislator with one collective voice, telling them to modernize our infrastructure NOW. You can also join in the conversion on social media by using #InfrastructureNow.
Alex McDowell, designer of this project also guided attendees through a “deep dive” into the design process and end user experience of the virtual city of the future, witnessing its evolution as it develops over a 50-year horizon. In his keynote, McDowell told us how this Floating City digital proof of concept highlights deeply considered systems, communities, economies, and economies, exploring the city from both a systems and human perspective.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez discussed how Miami is adapting to effects of climate change and increasing natural disasters. He stressed, “planning and engineering are going to be a significant part of that solution,” and while “the challenges before us is an existential challenge,” he said he has a lot of faith in engineering. “It is possible to live with water and convert water from an enemy to an asset,” Suarez exclaimed.
Throughout the day, attendees were able to experience the Floating City firsthand through a Virtual Reality set, or a touchscreen monitor at a booth that was open for the entirety of the convention, where they could navigate through time and space as the first of five future cities comes alive, evolving over 50 years.