Infrastructure on the Agenda

Since the 2016 election campaign, the status of the infrastructure in the U.S. has been used as a wedge issue. Both major parties talk about it, the President talks about it—remember the almost annual “Infrastructure Week?”—and the press talks about it, but nothing has been done about it. Yet.

The House of Representatives, under the Democratic majority, has been debating H.R. 2, “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act” better known as the “INVEST in America Act.” The Senate has been moving to committee a similar bill by the Republican majority.


Infrastructure Workorder Management

An old ironworker saying goes, “Rust never sleeps.” Leave steel out in the elements even for a short time, and rust will be showing up. It seems, in many parts of the country, that “Potholes never sleep.” Go to bed with the street nice and even; wake up to a crater in the middle of the road. Civil engineers have these nightmares and infrastructure companies have the answers. Now those companies have a new management tool as well.

Woolpert has designed the Cityworks GeoPhoto Tool to enable field crews and end users to spatially view linear assets, such as streets and bridges, and relevant work order information at the exact location along each asset.


Oil Is Everywhere

Most people think of “oil” in terms of motor fuel and lubrication, but oil and its byproducts are major components used in the production of plastics and chemicals, as well as many lubricants, waxes, tars, and asphalts. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, oil prices collapsed, and we are living in an increasingly challenged economy. Companies with a moderate to strong plan for transitioning from oil to renewable energy sources are finding their progress delayed.

Consulting firm Deloitte surveyed company executives to see how these factors have changed the pace of energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables and whether energy and industrial companies will remain committed to their decarbonization goals.


Sustainability and Infrastructure

Bridges, roads, dams, and other infrastructure elements are intended to last for generations. Roman aqueducts still stand thousands of years after they were built; American roads look like moon craters and bridges literally fall apart in some parts of the country. Why the difference? What can be done to make infrastructure more sustainable?

In certain ways, technology can make a difference. The ISI (Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure) develops and manages Envision, a framework that encourages systemic changes in the planning, design, and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure through education, training, and third-party project verification. As an example, AIT Bridges, (a division of AIT (advanced infrastructure technologies), has gained accreditation for its employees and projects by becoming a member of ISI. For the last decade, AIT Bridges and ISI have both advocated for more sustainable practices in the infrastructure industry and this collaboration should help drive sustainability and resiliency.


Heavy Vehicles Going Green

Concern about the climate change challenge, which has taken a backseat during the COVID-19 pandemic, is never far away. While governments worldwide are researching ways to stem the increase in average temperatures, commercial companies are taking a leadership position, often in concert with their peers and competitors. In Europe, two leading heavy commercial vehicle manufacturers, Sweden’s Volvo Group and Germany’s Daimler Truck AG, have established a joint venture to develop and produce fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicles and other uses. Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50% in the joint venture for the sum of approximately €600 million on a cash and debt free basis.


Applications for Infrastructure Contractors

Most heavy construction companies, those involved in infrastructure projects especially, are long-time users of multiple software platforms. Every aspect of the project must be controlled and monitored for government regulation adherence and public liability. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic slowing and even stopping projects, contractors are looking for innovative ways to stay active while protecting their workers and the company’s assets. Two major software companies involved in this segment, Command Alkon and HCSS, are working to help companies to quickly expand safe social distancing capabilities on critical infrastructure jobsites.


Nationwide Construction Stand-down

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous changes in safety regulations on jobsites throughout the country. While many projects have workers naturally spaced apart, comparable to the six-foot social distance in government proposals, other aspects of the jobsite have been of concern to workers and contractors alike. In response to the general lack of government guidance on the subject of jobsite safety, many member companies of the AGC (Associate General Contractors of America)  is holding a stand down for safety action on Thursday, April 9, 20. On that day, hundreds of construction firms across the country will stop work and hold coronavirus-focused safety meetings as part of a nationwide safety campaign.


2020 Trends: Building Green

Contractors report green practices hat promoting energy efficiency are most commonly used in homes: 91% of homebuilders use energy-efficient approaches, and 69% do so on the majority of their projects. These practices may include the use of LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances and right-sized, highly efficient HVAC systems. Ninety-seven percent of builders doing more than 50% of their projects green report using energy efficiency practices on more than 75% of their projects; 88% mention a tight building envelope and 61% use high-performance ventilation.


Pricy Places Plunge

No one expects Manhattan luxury homes to be cheap; they wouldn’t be luxury then. But these homes, which make up the top 20% of the market, have seen their prices fall to the lowest level since 2013. According to the final 2019 StreetEasy Market Report, homes had to be priced at or above $3.8 million to qualify as luxury—a 6.1% drop from the top threshold in the previous year. This drop in the luxury threshold indicates that many sellers have finally begun to accept lower prices in order to stand out amid the growing surplus of high-end homes. Even as price levels fell in the fourth quarter, luxury inventory expanded 12.2% over the previous year, with 4,354 homes for sale above the $3.8 million threshold.


AI in Your Future?

Artificial intelligence is no longer a dream, but simply not yet the nightmare that some have predicted. Although the term AI—otherwise known as artificial intelligence—is used in many different areas, it doesn’t really have an agreed upon definition. Some use AI to describe AGI (artificial general intelligence), an intelligence capable of completing a wide range of tasks like human intelligence, while others use AI to describe narrow AI, an AI that can perform a single task or a few tasks with high competence.