May – June 2016 TRENDS
No Normal Is the New Normal
In KPMG’s annual Emerging Trends in Infrastructure report, all indications are for growing momentum in the infrastructure sector. The report points to new sources of capital, governments that are focused on the economic and social benefits of infrastructure investment and improved asset-management procedures that are providing a step change in the way owners and operators manage assets.
Although this development is positive, the report also points to political and regulatory uncertainty for infrastructure investors and the fact that “no normal” is the new normal. Among the drivers uncertainty are unpredictable election results, rising protectionist sentiments, disruptive technologies, and social and geopolitical upheaval.
KPMG suggests that investors will need to get comfortable with uncertainty as well as properly price for new and emerging risks. Read the full report online at bit.ly/24ZXPNk.
Drones for Infrastructure
The application of drones is creating new business and operating models in a diverse number of industries by offering high-quality data in a cost-effective manner or by providing turnkey solutions to answer operational questions. A new study by PwC pinpoints infrastructure as the leading commercial application for drone technology.
Drones have been effectively integrated into the ongoing supervision of infrastructure investments as well as the maintenance of existing infrastructure. The overall market for business services for drones is pegged at $127 billion, with infrastructure making up approximately $45 billion of that amount.
J.D. Power Releases Water Utility Satisfaction Survey
Global marketing information services company J.D. Power, best known for its automobile satisfaction and reliability studies, released an inaugural Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. The report measures customer satisfaction at 84 water utilities in four geographic regions on factors of delivery, price, billing, conservation communications and customer service.
Poorly maintained infrastructure resulting in delivery interruptions and/or water-quality problems such as bad taste and smell impacted satisfaction the most. Of those surveyed, 9 percent experienced problems with water taste, 6 percent experienced smell issues and more than 34 percent experienced some sort of water-delivery or quality issue within the last six months.
Communication about infrastructure investments and conservation efforts was instrumental in customer satisfaction. When customers are aware of a utility’s efforts to improve or replace infrastructure, their satisfaction level is at 734 out of 1,000 vs. 650 when not aware.
The study found that California Water Service, Illinois American Water, Miami-Dade County and Monroe County Water Authority ranked highest. In all cases, infrastructure investment was key to satisfaction.
Learn more about the research and download the report at bit.ly/25bcokN.
Transformational Technologies in Transportation
The Transportation Research Board recently released a circular that details the current status of multiple transformational technologies in the transportation sector, focusing on connected and automated vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UASs), the Internet of Things (including Smart Cities and concerns about cybersecurity), 3D printing and Big Data.
The combination of personal technology and connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) is thought to present the most-important advancement for transforming the U.S. ground-transportation system. This topic will have repercussions in private and public sectors as well as urban and rural geographies. CAVs also have relevance for all the aforementioned technologies, as they form the ecosystem that makes this sector interesting.
According to the report, “Disruptive start-up companies like Uber have excelled in providing consumer-oriented ride services accessed and paid for through personal devices. The success of these companies, along with other sharing models like car sharing and ride sharing, has led the long-established automakers to move into the world of mobility services. Recent examples from GM include a major investment in Lyft and launch of the car-sharing service Maven.”
CAV technologies are poised to consolidate data-driven ideas to make transportation safer, easier and more reliable. Access the Transportation Research Circular Number E-C208 at bit.ly/1W2YR9K.
Report Notes Benefits of Embedding Digital Technologies in Infrastructure
A new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) details the need to transform physical infrastructure into digital infrastructure to create the next wave of economic opportunities that will create jobs and improve quality of life.
The report outlines the many benefits the United States can derive from deploying robust digital infrastructure, including the following:
- Expanded capacity—through increased use of existing and new infrastructure
- Time savings and convenience—through reduced congestion, simplified operations and better decision-making capability
- Cost savings—through waste reduction, increased efficiency and more flexibility in providing key services
- Improved reliability—with greater predictability and fewer interruptions in key services
- Enhanced safety—through improved resiliency to threats and interruptions.
The report, released to coincide with Infrastructure Week, recommends several governmental actions to overcome barriers and speed deployment, including digital-friendly regulation, an increase in funding for digital infrastructure and addressing cybersecurity concerns early so they don’t slow deployment. Read the full report at bit.ly/1WEupmg.
- Big Data Moves Into Buildings
- Chicago’s New Vista Tower Will Be the City’s Third-Tallest Building
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Passes Legislation to Require Solar Power on New Buildings
- Concrete was Key in Engineering of 432 Park Avenue
- Preparing the Steel Industry for a Connected Future
- FLATIRON-AECOM Team Awarded C-470 Design-Build Project
- NCTech and Top Gear USA Capture the Rubicon Trail in 360 Degrees
- U.S. Department of Transportation Launches “Every Place Counts” Design Challenge
- Bechtel Team Breaks Ground on New P3 Light-Rail Project in Edmonton
- VDOT Named Transportation Owner of the Year by Design-Build Institute of America
- UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Chair Earns National Wetlands Award
- Denver City Council Passes Ordinance to Allow Graywater Use
- EPA Proposes Updated Rules for Stormwater Discharge from Construction Activities
- Concrete Spillway Completed on Calaveras Dam Replacement Project
- Fertilizer’s Legacy: Taking a Toll on Land and Water
Tools and Technology
- Researchers Develop Virtual City to Test Vehicles of the Future
- Mapping Water Use: Landsat and America’s Water Resources
- Autodesk Releases New 2017 Versions of Revit, Civil 3D and InfraWorks 360
- FARO Announces New HDR Laser Scanners and Instant Rendering Software for BIM-CIM and Public-Safety Customers
- Trimble Launches New Version of its Smart Water Management Software to Streamline Utility Field Operations