There are grand hopes that it is the development of infrastructure and utilities that will help stimulate growth in the British economy. Funding has been made available and frameworks announced. But the questions remain: What does infrastructure of the future look like? Will the industry be able to deliver on projects incorporating smart technology while adapting to new regulations regarding emissions? What provisions will be made for self-driving cars and will railways be fully automated?
Challenges of expanding and upgrading infrastructure
While the UK’s road and railway infrastructure may be extensive, it is aging and commuters frequently have to contend with congestion and delays. The ever expanding population in urban areas is increasing pressure on transport infrastructure. So while plans for smart highways and high speed trains are being rolled out, there is still debate as to whether they’ll ever be able to keep up with the demands of burgeoning urban populations.
Unfortunately planned upgrades to several key airports have recently been halted. While this may make sense in terms of the current situation of the aviation industry, in terms of a future outlook, it’s a major setback. At some time in the future demand will return, as will the need to upgrade airport facilities.
With many people working from home in recent months it’s highlighted the need to upgrade telecoms networks. The 5G network debate raged on for months with the latest decision that any Huawei contribution to the network has to be completely removed by 2027. While many are in favour of the decision, the result is that it will further delay the upgrades of telecoms infrastructure.
Similarly utilities are also under pressure. While major investment has been announced in clean energy infrastructure projects, there is still the challenge of upgrading the existing grid to be able to tie in with new technology and different forms of energy supply.
It’s largely accepted that the future of infrastructure will entail smart cities where infrastructure is linked and managed by smart technology. In an ideal world waste and emissions will be largely reduced and recycled by industry, but currently the UK is very far from that future. Cities are smoggy and congested and transport infrastructure is struggling to keep up with maintenance. Technology may be the future of infrastructure development, but right now its industry expertise and creative innovation that are going to bridge the gap.