Crumbling bridges and leaky levees. Buckling roadways. Unsafe water pipes. Inadequate public transit. The list of U.S. infrastructure failings is both broad and deep. The United States is paying only about half of its necessary infrastructure bill, and the total investment gap has grown from $2.1 trillion over 10 years, to a current figure of nearly $2.59 trillion over 10 years, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. As a result, local government leaders face staggering infrastructure requirements that local tax revenues cannot fulfill.
Fortunately, infrastructure is a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government agree that infrastructure across the country is in grave disrepair and must be addressed. In this spirit, White House and congressional leaders agreed on the compromise Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. The White House said the framework would provide:
- Millions of new jobs
- The largest investment in public transit in U.S. history
- The largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
- The largest Federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
- Historic investments in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure; clean energy transmission; and resilient physical and natural systems
Following the framework agreement, the Senate finalized the details in legislation. As the bill moves through Congress and likely to the president’s desk soon, state and local governments can evaluate their infrastructure deficiencies and improvement plans to identify existing projects that could be accelerated and projects that were shelved due to funding shortfalls.
The infrastructure plan provides momentum for digital transformation on a broad scale, continuing a trend jump-started by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digitizing engineering and construction workflows enables seamless collaboration across teams and organizations, and 3D modeling results in more accurate planning, fewer miscalculations, and fewer cost and time overruns.
For example, building information modeling (BIM) is a collaborative platform that leverages cloud computing to create seamless workflows across organizations and geographies. Many state agencies, such as transportation departments, have adopted BIM standards; some Federal agencies, such as the General Services Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have done so as well. Momentum is growing because of the efficiencies that BIM can provide, and the infrastructure plan provides further opportunity to embrace BIM.
State and local governments also need tools that integrate with geographic information system (GIS) software to provide a near real-time picture of current infrastructure and the ability to visualize future projects, as well as events such as severe weather that affect infrastructure operation.
In traditional design and construction projects, design data lives in a computer-assisted design program. It doesn’t extend to the jurisdiction’s GIS application. For example, when a water main fails, officials rely on the GIS application to pinpoint the problem area and inform affected businesses and residents. But when crews are working with outdated information, they can’t accurately identify the location of the problem or notify the right people. Integration of GIS data with design programs solves this problem, saving time and money.
Learn more about digital workflows and how state and local governments can realize the promises of the infrastructure plan.