Article | August 4, 2021
In amongst the chatter about how we can 'do' infrastructure better, there's now a growing consensus that we need to improve the way we design our interventions - 'design' in the broader sense of the word, rather than the narrow sense we tend to use as engineers.
My front-end principles for better infrastructure
Over the course of my career, the following front-end principles have served well to ensure we think through, before we rush in where angels fear to tread.
Be clear about the purpose and the expected outcomes, and engage communities in decision-making through an effective communication strategy.
Prioritise the user, aiming to offer services that are modern, effective and affordable.
Seek to improve people's quality of life and support the transition to a more sustainable future, while also facilitating the functioning of the economy, enhancing productivity and accommodating growth (to the extent possible, given other competing objectives).
Extract greatest value from existing infrastructure through timely maintenance, repurposing, renewal and upgrading. Seek to remove constraints and bottlenecks.
Aim to make best use of data, automation, innovation and technology (including for future asset management), recognising the complexity and risks this may introduce.
Recognise, analyse, mitigate and manage technical, environmental and climate risks, and complete any surveys necessary to support this.
Improve governance, with robust, timely and transparent decision-making, supported by strong evidence-based planning, clear prioritisation, and best practice technical design and delivery.
Seek an appropriate funding balance between 'user pays' and general taxation which incentivises behaviours in the best long-term social, economic and environmental interests.
Complete well-evidenced business cases and risk assessments of proposed initiatives before embarking on projects, including financing proposals. Aim to allocate the risks identified to those best able to carry them.
Facilitate collaboration between the government and business to promote delivery of the broader social, economic and environmental benefits.
Clearly, there are many other issues to consider as a project develops, and the above principles may seem obvious to some, and a counsel of perfection to others, but it's surprising how many are overlooked in the rush to build.
Article | June 8, 2021
This week’s World of Concrete in Las Vegas is the first major trade show in the United States since the COVID pandemic changed the face of the convention and meeting business. For many, this is yet another sign of life slowly returning to normal for the construction industry.
If you’ve made the trek to this year’s WOC, you’re looking forward to it all—new products, cutting-edge tech, interactive workshops, hands-on training, and no doubt—the Bricklayer 500! This one-hour competition tests the speed and stamina to name the world’s greatest mason.
Whether you’re there in person or too busy in the field to attend, we join you in celebrating all things concrete this week. Here are some weird and wonderful facts about concrete, a strong and versatile material, that is used in everything from our kitchen countertops to the roads we drive on daily.
Article | April 20, 2020
OxBlue.Com, an Atlanta-Based Technology Company and the Leader in Professional Construction Camera Services, Has Announced the Development of Artificial Intelligence-Based Technology for Detecting Social Distancing on Construction Sites. OxBlue, an Atlanta-based technology company and the leader in professional construction camera services, has announced the development of artificial intelligence-based technology for detecting social distancing on construction sites.
Article | July 27, 2021
The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, has announced a full review of the National Policy Statement (NPS) for national networks covering major roads and rail.
NPSs outline the UK government’s strategic policy intent for infrastructure development and are used as part of the planning system to determine if a proposed project should be granted development consent. The review aims to bring the national networks NPS in line with commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The secretary of state said: "The current National policy statement (NPS) on national networks, the government’s statement of strategic planning policy for major road and rail schemes, was written in 2014 – before the government’s legal commitment to net zero, the 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, the new sixth carbon budget and most directly the new, more ambitious policies outlined in the transport decarbonisation plan."