One positive impact that the COVID-19 crisis could create is the opportunity for governments to address infrastructure needs through stimulus, stakeholder engagement, and innovation. To that end, and for the third consecutive year, the global infrastructure giant AECOM recently released its “Future of Infrastructure” report, which is always a great read about the zeitgeist of the infrastructure industry. This year’s edition covers infrastructure stimulus, reopening airports post-COVID, building a “better case” for infrastructure investment, resiliency, effectively deploying private finance, net-zero energy projects, mobility in mega-cities, and innovation.
After nearly three years of revisions spurred by public opposition and data privacy concerns, project approvals for Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside “smart city” project in Toronto were set for a June 25 vote. But recently, in an open post on Medium, CEO Dan Doctoroff announced that Sidewalk is dropping the project. So what’s next for the Alphabet-backed startup? In this long-form article, we take a look at its plans for Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, and how its investment model could help spur innovation across a spate of technologies in diverse market sectors, from mobility and wastewater to renewables and other “smart city” technologies.
What does COVID-19 mean for AEC industry startups, public companies, and the future of the construction industry?
In this long-form article, AEC Labs takes a look at whether recent capital inflows to the construction industry could be redirected toward more established players who may struggle to emerge from the shadow of COVID. We also ask if COVID will put the brakes on capital flowing into the sector entirely and drive increased consolidation across the industry. What about construction tech’s prospects, valuations, and the future of construction tech more broadly? There’s a lot to unpack here!
Earlier this summer, I participated in an internal AECOM client event that discussed the future of “integrated” mobility hubs in different types of geographic locations (urban, suburban, and rural). What is an integrated mobility hub? It’s our working definition for real estate or infrastructure development that incorporates mixed uses, smart-city technology, public spaces, and multi-modal transportation options, from autonomous vehicles and buses to ride-sharing alternatives, scooters, and drones. At the event, I spoke specifically about e-commerce applications, public-private partnerships, and how certain kinds of P3 models might be used to foster the development of these hubs. I thought it would be worthwhile to transform my talking points from the event into a longer form article here at AEC Labs, so here we go!
Gamifying infrastructure: why the future for bridging the infrastructure funding gap could be crossed on the blockchain
It’s been quiet around here lately thanks to some demands around the AEC Labs home office, but we’re happy to be back and have some great content and initiatives planned around here in 2019, so I hope you will stick with us! As some of you may know, I spent a lot of time last fall thinking about how blockchain technology could apply to the construction industry. In the course of working through that effort, I also found myself increasingly thinking more specifically about how a blockchain solution or protocol (but not necessarily a standalone cryptocurrency) could help bridge the $3.5 trillion infrastructure funding gap (for maintenance on existing infrastructure alone!) through 2025. And, with infrastructure getting a single mention 55 minutes into this week’s State of the Union Address, I think it remains timely to consider how the country can possibly bridge that gap.
US infrastructure funding gap = $1.5T
Domestic construction productivity down 20% since 1980
Global construction market to double by 2030 to $18T