Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments aims to secure federal funding for construction

By Riley SimpsonJune 09, 2021

The Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments is asking Congress to adopt or incentivize proven digital technologies to help maintain and build infrastructure

The U.S. needs advocacy for infrastructure more than ever now – with bills such as the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (SRTA) and the American Jobs Plan taking center stage in Washington, D.C. – and a new proponent has emerged: the Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments (CSII).

Formed by Bentley Systems, Greenroads International, HaulHub Technologies, HeadLight and Mott MacDonald – leaders across the infrastructure technology industry – the CSII stated in a release that it’s asking Congress to adopt or incentivize proven digital technologies to help build and maintain the country’s infrastructure more efficiently, more sustainably and in a timelier fashion.

The first-of-its-kind coalition is advocating for systems that automate workflows, produce 5D modeling and optimize resources.

“We’re thrilled that Washington is finally focused on infrastructure and increasing much needed investment levels,” said Si Katara, co-founder and president of HeadLight. “With increased funding, it’s more important than ever to modernize how we design, build and manage infrastructure so that each dollar we invest goes further.”

According to the CSII, infrastructure demands have grown more complex, yet the processes for designing and managing the industry’s projects have remained unchanged for decades, with many firms and public agencies still relying on paper-and-pen systems.

The result is a situation defined by overrun schedules and costs; large projects across asset classes are taking approximately 20% longer than scheduled to finish, and some projects are as much as 80% over budget, according to a McKinsey analysis of the HIS Herold Global Projects Database.

“It would be crazy to pump hundreds of billions into new infrastructure projects while still relying on design and management systems that look like they are out of the 1930s,” said David McKenney, vice president of Bentley Systems. “America ranks only 13th in the world for infrastructure – we need to invest more to compete, but we also need to invest in a smarter way. Technology and data can help us do that.”

The CSII said that digital technologies can reduce outdated processes, modernize legacy systems and increase productivity.

The coalition cited a Louisiana Department of Transportation study that found inspector productivity increased by 28% after adopting a singular digital technology; in another case, the Michigan Department of Transportation reached a net benefit of over 6% in cost savings by reducing construction bids and change orders after implementing 3D modeling technology.

Equity and environmental mitigation are increasingly important parts of the infrastructure debate, CSII said, and better adoption of infrastructure technology can give policymakers the data and projects they need to make better decisions.

More efficient infrastructure design and delivery would reduce emissions, and the new technologies would improve natural disaster resilience while measuring and mitigating a project’s impact on low-income communities.

“Infrastructure is unique in that it defines our commitment to societal betterment,” said Joe Spinelli, founder and CEO of HaulHub Technologies. “The road to a greener, more equitable future is through technological improvements that can make infrastructure work for all communities.”

The CSII is currently lobbying in Congress to promote the inclusion of infrastructure technologies in the American Jobs Plan, SRTA and the Water Resources Development Act.

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