This week, ASCE participated in a series of panels highlighting the increasing interconnectivity of technology and infrastructure.
The Hill’s Digitalizing Infrastructure
“Digitalizing Infrastructure” examined how new technology is transforming investments in everything from energy to transportation infrastructure. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation discussed the U.S.’ digital divide and suggested that her state can remain competitive by investing in smart infrastructure, including broadband. Representative Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) also spoke to The Hill audience, highlighting her home region’s economic grid opportunities and challenges. The U.S. Virgin Islands is second only to New York City in broadband capacity, but the exorbitant cost of electricity drives away business. Microgrids and other innovations in energy infrastructure can help increase the economic competitiveness on the island, as can bundling assets to attract private equity.
After the two lawmakers spoke, a panel on future technologies convened. Brian Pallasch, ASCE’s Managing Director, Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives was joined by Franco Amalfi, Director of Strategic Government Programs at Oracle Public Sector North America; Bob Bennett, Chief Innovation Officer in Kansas City, Missouri; and David Wilson, Chief Innovation Officer at Bechtel. The four panelists explored technological advancements like sensors for smart blocks in cities, that allow places like Kansas City the ability to monitor traffic and pedestrian patterns and feed data into an analysis platform that better synchronizes city operations. Brian emphasized that the $2 trillion investment gap identified by ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card cannot be filled by funding and financing alone. Innovations in technology can and must help close the gap.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2017 Corporate Citizenship Conference.
ASCE also participated in the 2017 Corporate Citizenship Conference, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Brian spoke on an “Engineering Continuity” panel, focused on how businesses can better prepare for disasters. The session also featured Reed Bundy, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Suffolk; Stephen Cauffman, Research Engineer in the Community Resilience Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Taylor Marshall, Director of Sustainable Programs at the Restore Earth Foundation; and Patty Riddlebarger, Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Entergy Corporation. Participants explored how building resilient infrastructure is earning companies a competitive advantage with clients and emphasized that a holistic approach to planning is needed to attract business and build thriving, attractive, and livable communities. Digital infrastructure must be a part of any city’s overall strategy. Those places that are forward-thinking and are investing strategically, such as Kansas City, Missouri, are finding it easier to recruit and retain employers and prepare themselves for the future.