Smart Cities Shift: As The World Launches Mega Infrastructure Projects, These Presenters Show How Infrastructure Thinking is Changing

Ciere Boatright Chicago Neighborhoods Initiative
Ciere Boatright, Vice President, Real Estate and Inclusion, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives spoke with us about the 180 acre mixed-used redevelopment of Chicago's Historic Pullman District (photo: Courtesy of Ciere Boatright).

Listening to talks at our Global Summit earlier this month, one would think the United States is lagging far behind the rest of the world on Infrastructure and falling farther behind every day. The D+ Report Card on America's Infrastructure from the American Association of Civil Engineers, citing the dire need for repair and replacement investment in America's Infrastructure has become something of an annual ritual flogging for the US industry. A new report on Infrastructure from McKinsey further highlights the extent to which America has turned away from large capital spending infrastructure budgets, even as other countries embrace large infrastructure spending as an economic stimulus staple. At our Summit, we heard about entire new tech-enabled cities in Africa, The Middle East, and Asia fueled by multi-billion dollar government programs, and we wondered what is it about the United States that has it falling so far behind on major infrastructure projects. Through the three presentations below, our members and guests help us understand some of the ways that priorities may be shifting in the United States and how that may help explain some of the differences between what is happening in the US and elsewhere.

Historic Pullman: An Illustration in Intense Efforts to Listen, Respond, and Include.

Typically, when we look at capital projects tied to the creation of vibrant, new urban areas, we see the construction of a super tall tower, a giant landfill, or a signature train, bridge, road or tunnel. In this 180-acre redevelopment of a historic Chicago neighborhood, involving more than $300 million of investment, the signature capital investment was a grocery store.  As Ciere Boatright, VP of Real Estate & Inclusion at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, points out in the session below, more than 80 community meetings and planning workshops helped inform the priorities for this development, and it turned out that addressing the area's "food desert" issue became the top priority. Erin Aleman, Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning added to the conversation, noting more of the ways groups like hers are providing more comprehensive data to help better inform infrastructure planning decisions and also to help create a broader region-wide context for those decisions.

Chicago's Infrastructure Planning Session

2020 Infrastructure Conference: Smart Infrastructure Planning; Development in Chicago with CMAP, CBRE, and CNI


Related Research Reports:

From the "Clockwork City" of the 20th Century to a 21st Century Responsive, "Platform City"

With a background at IBM as well as in City Government, John Tolva has been a leading expert in how planners can leverage data to make better decisions about how best to meet a City's infrastructure needs. In this talk, he helps us understand the evolution from a technological focus on a "clockwork city" where trains run on time to a concept of an open city where people have the ability to access massive amounts of data harvested from cities and presumably make better decisions about the needs of cities.  Much of the technology we have seen developed in the past several years is actually based on this idea that broad arrays of sensors can help us derive better data than ever before about everything from traffic flows, to outbreaks of illness.  The vision that John shares with us in this session is one of a world where cities are responsive to that data, self regulating and self organizing. Beyond this idea of the "Platform City," John discusses critical implication in this idea around how rules are write, how security addressed, and what this means for a more equitable development of future infrastructure.

Infrastructure 50 List

For more on the Infrastructure Oriented Applications we are tracking, see our Infrastructure 50 List

Changing Players: A Look at the Growing Influence of Tech and Tech Companies in Infrastructure.

In this session, smart city expert, Paul Doherty of the Digit Group and infrastructure finance expert, Tom Budescu of EY discussed what smart infrastructure looks like today and how and where it is being developed in the United States. Among the more interesting aspects of this discussion was an exploration of the very significant role that technology companies are playing in the development of infrastructure in America.  The group walked us through how companies like Apple, Google, and Sprint are fostering the development of new infrastructure by acting as financing partners, tenants, channel partners, and suppliers of technology, from coast to coast and in between.

In conclusion:

What these three presentations show us is that those engaged in developing infrastructure in the United States today are balancing many factors:

  • Leveraging technology and techniques to maximize input from communities served.
  • Implementing a range of technologies to enable cities to be more efficient and higher quality in serving its citizens.
  • Partnering with technology, communications, and other non traditional players at a variety of phases and for a variety of needs.

So, while we may not see robust federal, state, and local budgets for large capital infrastructure projects in the United States, the BuiltWorlds experts point to new opportunities for infrastructure projects that perform better for the citizens of the regions they serve.

More Discussions on Infrastructure:

Smart Building Framework

Across their portfolio, Carr Properties is applying a digital business design program that allows them to connect building to building.

Evolution of Computing Architectures and Data Centers

As cloud infrastructure proliferates and continues its evolution, computing and application development solutions are becoming significantly more distributed and complex.

Interconnectivity: The Backbone of Budding Smart Cities

Interconnectivity, the backbone of Smart Cities, is one area where novel advancements continue to sprout. For example, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), a network of physical entities—streetlights, phones, cameras, etc.—embedded with sensors and software, allows cities and businesses to relay vital data and create statistical models instantaneously.

Israel's transportation ecosystem

2020 Infrastructure Conference Global Summit Preview: Israel’s Transportation Sector Innovation Ecosystem

2020 Infrastructure Conference (Day 1) Session Recording – Israel’s Transportation Infrastructure Sector Session Overview:  Upgrading legacy infrastructure and integrating new technology is a global challenge. In this session, a preview of the kinds of talks we will be hosting in our Global Summit in October, we will examine Israel’s approach to smart infrastructure development. Yogev […]

Peter Nelson, Bechtel Enterprises, Infrastructure 2020

2020 Infrastructure Conference: Peter Nelson, Bechtel Enterprises, Smart Infrastructure Opportunities & Challenges

2020 Infrastructure Conference (Day 1) Session Recording – Smart Infrastructure Opportunities & Challenges What is smart infrastructure and how do we build it? Peter Nelson, Development Director at Bechtel Enterprises discusses the challenges, trends, and opportunities for building large scale, technology enabled infrastructure around the world. In this discussion, Peter provides perspective on some of […]

Plan IT Impact Demo Drop

BuiltWorlds Venture Forum Demo Drop – PlanIT Impact

PlanIT Impact A sustainable design web application for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Industry. The app introduces costs and ROI associated with high performance building and landscaping strategies during early design phases and preconstruction, leveraging a mass iteration discovery tool that runs hundreds of scenarios in seconds to provide recommendations on energy, water, stormwater, and […]

PARAFIN Co-Founder Adam Hengels talks machine learning and the future of design

Generative design, an approach based in machine learning, is the contemporary frontier of building design and pushing this frontier even further is the tech start-up PARAFIN.

Pop-up shops and the placemaking of retail

Latent Design’s Katherine Darnstadt and Related Midwest’s Dani Sassower closed down Retail Day with a discussion on BoxTops, a pop-up retail experience in Chicago that reuses shipping containers. 

Building Smart Cities – Paul Doherty talks the future of urban development

Paul Doherty, the CEO of The Digit Group spoke at BuitlWorlds’ Cities Conference about the developments in smart cities construction taking place all around the world including Nashville; Qingdao, China; and Medina, Saudi Arabia. In his keynote, Doherty highlights some exciting new technologies including AR/VR, smart cars, and autonomous smart cars and trains. Learn more […]

Revitalizing Detroit’s Neighborhoods

Three years after exiting bankruptcy, Detroit continues to shed it’s image of a city in decline. Now, Detroit is leading the way in smart city infrastructure in many ways

About BuiltWORLDS:

BuiltWorlds is the buildings and infrastructure industry’s leading platform for open innovation, keeping companies in the worlds of engineering, construction and related fields informed and connected, and helping them find avenues to collaborate for their own strategic success and for the betterment of the industry, as whole. For more information about BuiltWorlds, visit the BuiltWorlds Network