We talk about infrastructure a lot on this humble blog, but conceptually, the word infrastructure encompasses so much more than just sewer pipes and bridges. Updated electric grids, high speed internet access for all, and other digital infrastructures are key to a prosperous future, and our current government clings to out-dated models and resists change.
The U.S. needs to embed digital technologies into existing infrastructure to take advantage of new economic opportunities, a tech industry think tank said Monday, but outdated regulations, security concerns, a lack of public funding and a small pool of tech-savvy workers may hinder progress.
More digital infrastructure, including “hybridized” infrastructure that involves some mix of physical and digital features, can ultimately cut costs, create jobs and improve overall quality of life, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said in a recent report. Smart water meters, for example, could be used to measure consumption and quality while using real-time data processing to help utilities detect leaks before they happen.
New technologies can also be applied to roads, planes, trains and other systems used to transport goods, people and information. Digital roadway infrastructure, including electronic toll collection and smart traffic lights, could help reduce congestion and fuel consumption and increase travel speeds, boosting overall productivity. It could also enable vehicle-to-infrastructure communications as driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles hit the road.
The foundation made a number of recommendations for policymakers, including:
- Policymakers should create ‘digital-friendly’ regulations. Current policies are often characterized by overlapping mandates and conflicting goals, ITIF said. And while deployment of some smart meters has increased, governments haven’t yet approved them to use dynamic pricing or other features. “There is a need to modernize existing regulations to reflect significant changes in technology advances and leading industry practices.”
- Each state and federal agency that influences infrastructure should create a strategy for speeding the transition to digital infrastructures.
- Increase funding. ITIF suggests Congress enact a “Cement & Chips” funding approach that directs no less than 5% – or about $2.5 billion — of the Highway Trust Fund allocated to states to be devoted to digital infrastructure projects. National governments also need to “take a proactive role in creating national data and software systems that can easily be used across the nation,” the report said.
- Privacy and security concerns shouldn’t slow deployments. “Rather government should work with the private sector to ensure that public policies support privacy and security in ways that enable innovation” and create value for society.
(click here to continue reading US Should Speed Digital Infrastructure Deployment, Think Tank Says – CIO Journal. – WSJ.)