Stephenson Halliday

U.S. News


Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Project? Get it Right

When incoming president, Donald Trump, calls for a major investment in the infrastructure of the United States, he and his appointed task force had better be discussing the entire “Platform for Commerce” before embarking on a strategic direction and committing funding.

Too many times when politicians to professionals in the various industries discuss “the Infrastructure,” they fail to include ALL the layers which make up the infrastructure supporting regional economic viability.

Different people will have a different image and definition when it comes to defining what the infrastructure consists of. The goal of this “Trillion Dollar” project should be that no initiative wastes any money or overlooks any layer of the infrastructure.

Roads, bridges, railroads and airports are great examples of infrastructure, but the complete “Platform for Commerce” consists of many more critical layers.

The Platform for Commerce

Prior to any federal government funding or special state incentive programs, we need to insure when a major financial undertaking on upgrading the infrastructure is initiated, everyone must be on the same page. This was first pointed out in a White Paper I wrote for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2009.

That White Paper, “Intelligent Infrastructure: Securing Regional Sustainability” included a more comprehensive definition for infrastructure called, “The Platform for Commerce.”

Unlike the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who came out with a “Report Card” on the poor condition of America’s national infrastructure, the Platform for Commerce did not leave out any layers. The ASCE review did not mention the Network Infrastructure at all, nor the lack of broadband connectivity. A critical layer was left out and my question was, how can we fix the national infrastructure if we don’t even agree on what the definition of the total infrastructure is?

The White Paper was presented at one of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Conferences, “Workshop on Aging Infrastructure” at Columbia University in 2009. It was later referred to by the US Army Corps of Engineers. My Platform for Commerce concept was described as “the business definition of Infrastructure and economic growth” in their Handbook, “Infrastructure and the Operational Art” in 2014.

The Platform for Commerce is a framework depicting ALL the layers of infrastructure as they evolved in the last 5,000 years including broadband connectivity and the Internet. It is further defined in my book, Location Location Connectivity.

This type of Framework is beneficial because just by looking at it, you can see how every layer evolved and when you go to re-build what is out-of-date, you will also see layers that may also have to be updated to support new mission critical and APP technologies.

Convergence of Real Estate, Infrastructure and Tech

The importance of understanding the Platform for Commerce is underscored by the understanding of the paradigm shift in real estate where there has been a convergence of real estate, infrastructure, and technology. Their combined impact on regional economic development must be understood and managed to build the right foundation to sustain regional economic development and viability.

These concepts were presented in the book, Location Location Connectivity which pointed out the new interrelationship of major areas needing to be coordinated in order to build and maintain next-generation real estate which supports global commerce and mission critical applications.

Next-generation Intelligent Business Campuses (IBCs) and Intelligent Retail/Entertainment/Convention Center (IRECs) complexes need to have additional capabilities and up-to-date supportive infrastructure in order to attract and maintain 21st century tenants. These new “intelligent Amenities” include redundant power and diversely-routed redundant broadband connectivity (network services).

With the use of new edge technology like smartphones and tablets, redundant networks for both power and broadband connectivity are a “must-have” for any corporate mission critical applications. These applications cannot have any “single point-of-failure.”

If you apply this rule to commercial buildings and business campuses, well over 95 percent of them would be deemed “technologically obsolete” to support any mission critical applications because they fail to have redundant connections to separate (and diverse) power facilities and communication network facilities.

Making sure power and communications networks are redundant and fast will definitely “Make America Great Again” because it will provide the basic foundation for businesses to compete in the global economy successfully.

Growth of Mission Critical Applications

With the accelerated growth of corporate mission critical applications across all industries, the premature obsolescence of commercial building stock is also accelerated. What is needed is a solid project to identify, retrofit, and upgrade the technologically obsolete buildings which will then provide a better and more state-of-the-art platform for businesses to successfully compete in the global economy.

Current mission critical applications account for one out-of-every-three corporate applications. That number is rising to one out-of-every-two corporate applications.

How many buildings are technologically obsolete when you measure them by seeing if they have redundant and diverse connections to both the power grid and for network connectivity to support mission critical applications? The number is staggering. Well over 97 percent of the existing buildings are technologically obsolete when you use this standard of measure.

Focusing on an infrastructure project to update the existing stock of commercial buildings would offer an immediate jumpstart in job creation and also add a residual benefit of offering better facilities to accommodate newly emerging and existing businesses for competing in the 21st century global marketplace.

The idea of spending money to improve infrastructure is a great one. Let’s not overlook any layer that is critical to economic sustainability.