4 Building Blocks for Modernizing Infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Our healthcare systems, businesses and daily lives have seen drastic changes. This global health crisis has only further highlighted our need for resilient infrastructure that keeps us safe, eliminates barriers to opportunity and boosts the economy. Our nation’s roadways, water systems and national security are essential to these goals.

Moving forward, civil engineers have the task and opportunity to reshape infrastructure to meet society’s needs and emerge stronger in a post-COVID world.

This week, Sept. 14-21, marks the eighth annual United for Infrastructure 2020. The event highlights the critical role infrastructure plays in our daily lives. This year’s program focuses on how we can #RebuildBetter.

Here are four building blocks for modernizing infrastructure:

Secure Critical Infrastructure

In today’s digital age, cybercrime is an increasing global threat. Large-scale data breaches and phishing scams frequently target companies and the public. But perhaps the most alarming cyberthreat is to a nation’s infrastructure.

A single cyberattack can take down an entire power grid. It’s exactly what happened in 2015 in Ukraine. The resulting blackout affected hundreds of thousands of people in over 100 cities. So, what can civil engineers do to secure our critical infrastructure?

Michael Chipley, cybersecurity expert and president of The PMC Group, discusses how to prepare infrastructure for cyberwar.


Expect the Unexpected

When you think of the future, what exactly comes to mind? Do you think of flying cars and artificial intelligence? For civil engineers, it’s not enough to simply imagine this world. They are the ones responsible for designing and building it. Civil engineers must expect the unexpected.

David Odeh, principal of Odeh Engineers, discusses ASCE’s Future World Vision program and how it helps civil engineers strategize for an uncertain future.


Build the Road to the Future

Roads, rails and bridges are essential components to the built environment. According to ASCE’s “2017 Infrastructure Report Card,” U.S. roads carried people and goods over 3 trillion miles in 2016. That’s more than 300 roundtrips between Earth and Pluto. As the global population grows, so does the need for pioneering solutions. Civil engineers have a unique opportunity to redefine transportation to meet society’s needs now and in the future.

Veronica O. Davis, P.E., a transportation engineer, co-founder of Black Women Bike, and co-owner and principal planning manager at Nspiregreen, discusses the future of transportation.


Promote Economic Inclusion

Civil engineering is a global profession, and its service to the public ranges from high-tech cities to underdeveloped communities. As such, civil engineers must recognize the critical importance of advocating for and sustaining diversity, equity and inclusion. By partnering with historically underutilized small, minority- and women-owned businesses for infrastructure projects, engineering companies and public agencies have the power to promote a culture of inclusion while supporting communities’ economic growth.

Gabriele Mack, vice president for business inclusion and supplier diversity at Jacobs, discusses how companies and communities can benefit from economic inclusion in developing infrastructure.

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