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AECOM: global report The Future of Infrastructure warns lack of funding hampering progress

Global infrastructure firm AECOM’S newly-released inaugural global research report, The Future of Infrastructure, is warning that funding shortages are hampering progress.

The report has harnessed survey data and opinions from more than 500 industry decision-makers working in major organizations across the North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions.

Lack of public funding is flagged up as one of the key reasons why civil infrastructure is failing to keep pace with society’s needs.

With eight in 10 respondents agreeing this is a pivotal time for the industry, the report examines the problems, priorities and potential in delivering major infrastructure projects around the world.

Launching the report, Michael S. Burke, AECOM’s chairman and chief executive officer, said:

“Infrastructure networks and systems around the globe are under considerable strain. Amid urbanization, climate change and the dizzying pace of technological advances, just narrowing the gap that exists is no longer a sufficient goal. What’s needed is a giant leap forward.”

“Our report makes clear that by focusing the smartest minds, training and deploying more skilled workers, and leveraging new digital tools, we can come together to deliver a better future through infrastructure. The potential offered by high-quality infrastructure is transformative, and getting it right is everyone’s business.”

Governments worldwide are facing unprecedented complexity and transformation – The Future of Infrastructure report showcases how infrastructure development is complicated by rapid urbanization, demographic change and the digital age.

Specifically, the report looks at the gap in funding and investment, the growing necessity for resilient infrastructure, the evolving workforce needs and how the sector must innovate at rapid speed.

Notable findings include:

  • Changes in legislation and innovative funding models are needed to remove obstacles and allow the public sector to better access private-sector financing. 90 percent of respondents believe innovative funding models are effective at bridging the funding gap.
  • Future proofing and protection to guard against cyber and physical attacks are essential for all existing networks and systems. 71 percent of respondents say a major cyberattack or citywide transport disruption is probable in the near future.
  • Infrastructure will continue to play an important economic role, but is undervalued outside the industry: 82 percent of global respondents say that adequate investment in infrastructure projects is crucial to national prosperity.
  • Industry professionals are highly engaged, but they are also frustrated: 67 percent of respondents feel that the industry is not evolving fast enough to meet society’s changing needs.
  • Infrastructure funding shortages are hampering progress: 39 percent cite lack of public funding as one of the key reasons why civil infrastructure is failing to keep pace with society’s needs.
  • On the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, the world of infrastructure needs to rethink project design and delivery. Connected expertise is the key to a seamless approach. 71 percent believe that many of the traditional, tried-and-tested approaches to project management do not fit the demands of today’s large, complex programs.

The Future of Infrastructure report was compiled in two ways. First, AECOM conducted an online survey of 509 civil infrastructure professionals from three regions: Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

Survey respondents work in a range of sectors related to civil infrastructure and all work on projects exceeding US$100 million, with nearly half (43 percent) working on projects exceeding US$500 million. AECOM was not identified as the research sponsor.

AECOM then conducted qualitative interviews with a range of senior executives in the civil infrastructure industry, where AECOM identified as the research sponsor.

“We know that safe, secure and resilient infrastructure is critical to economic growth and social progress,” added Michael Burke. “The industry must embrace innovation and develop new ways to fund and deliver projects faster, smarter and better.”

Click here to access The Future of Infrastructure report

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