Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure package, which will fund a variety of “hard” infrastructure improvements ranging from bridges and roads to the nation’s broadband, water and energy systems. Most experts agree that the investment is sorely needed to ensure safe travel and the efficient transport of people, goods and produce across the U.S.
The following ASU experts can address specific features of the national infrastructure system and how it will be improved upon due to the new bill.
Expert in: Environmental engineering, sustainable engineering, Earth systems engineering and management, emerging technologies
“Funding infrastructure is a significant problem in part because we’ve let deficiencies accumulate over time. We spend only when we have to fix something. Of course, that is a very expensive way to manage infrastructure. It means that we’re always tackling significant problems, whether it’s roads that become essentially impassable because of potholes or fragmentation of the power grid. We continually ‘fix’ our infrastructure systems, but we don’t invest to bring them up to necessary standards. That needs to change.”
Expert in: Air quality, energy conservation, heat-mitigating technologies, renewable energy
“Solutions to urban heat exist: Infrastructure can be designed to mitigate urban heat, improve thermal comfort and improve the resilience of engineered systems.”
Mikhail (Mike) Chester
Expert in: Energy infrastructure, power grid, innovation and infrastructure, energy and environmental policy
“We must reimagine what infrastructure is and what it does for the future, rethinking technologies and governance for the increasingly complex challenges of the Anthropocene.”
Expert in: Cybersecurity, privacy, defense, security
“Each device on the internet is connected to every other device on the internet, even if those connections are indirect. So, we need to think about cybersecurity holistically, across the different infrastructure domains listed in the President’s plan and beyond.”
Expert in: Data security, cybersecurity, cybercrime, computer hacking
“Our military, our financial systems, our power grids, all run on software systems. Any impact on them could significantly disrupt lives.”
Expert in: Cyber and information security, computer science, national security
“A lot of the entities that manage our nation’s critical infrastructure, government entities or private companies, don’t necessarily think of themselves as being in the cyber business. But they are, or at least need to be to some extent. The ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial pipeline is a clear example of this – physical infrastructure was shot down because of an attack on their digital networks. Investing in cybersecurity is now just a part of the cost of doing business.”
Expert in: Transportation infrastructure planning and economics, travel demand analysis and management
“Connected and automated vehicles, zero-emission urban air-mobility and drone-based delivery, and infrastructure monitoring systems constitute rapidly evolving technologies that will revolutionize transportation in the future. The nation needs to invest heavily in research and development activities to help accelerate the development and deployment of these technologies in the real world.”
Expert in: Roads and bridges; waterways, ports and ferry systems; housing; buried infrastructure
“Waterways, ports and ferries are major components of transportation infrastructure, but are often overlooked for funding inclusion.”
Expert in: Stormwater management and flood control infrastructure, water conveyance infrastructure
“Stormwater infrastructure is facing the combined challenge of aging infrastructure and changing precipitation patterns. In some regions of the country precipitation intensity is projected to increase. Investing in ways to increase capacity in these regions will limit impacts. However, projected changes are uncertain so there is also a great value in flexible approaches that can increase capacity over time such as green infrastructure. Additionally, new monitoring technologies and active control systems can increase the performance of stormwater infrastructure while limiting required cost and space.”
Samuel Ariaratnam Expert in: Pipes and underground infrastructure, infrastructure management and rehabilitation, urban infrastructure renewal
“We need to adopt novel technologies for assessing the present condition of our pipes and employ predictive models to forecast and prioritize those requiring attention. For example, Xylem/Pure Technologies have a range of in-line leak detection and pipeline assessment tools for gaining a snapshot of current condition of water and wastewater pipes.”
Expert in: Structural engineering for materials, processes and systems for buildings and infrastructure; concrete materials
“The fact that infrastructural issues are not going to go away in the near term, the U.S. government should consider a central agency, distinct from the scope of individual agencies, to coordinate national infrastructure priorities.”
Mounir Al Asmar
Expert in: Innovation and infrastructure, energy efficiency and conservation, collaborative decision making
“Thinking about the administration’s infrastructure bill, it will be crucial to consider innovative methods to deliver that amount of infrastructure fast, under budget, with high quality and considering diverse input from key stakeholders.
An expanding roster of ASU infrastructure experts is available online: https://news.asu.edu/infrastructure.