Since the 2016 election, visions of ‘infrastructure dreams’ with explosive job growth, world-class airports, and sparkling new roads and bridges have inspired many Americans.
Great news! Infrastructure is now a top priority for a wide array of stakeholders – from the White House, to Wall Street, to Silicon Valley, to cities and municipalities across the country. And there’s a sense of urgency to see things get started.
Put on the hard hat and get out the shovels!
But wait – broadband must also be part of the infrastructure conversation as cities and communities realize that the infrastructure of connectivity and access to information is a critical component to new industries and new jobs. Those roads and bridges will be smart roads and bridges – embedded with senors. Those new airports and waterways and food distribution networks and new electric grids will require smart infrastructure for managing and analyzing data.
It’s also dawning on cities and municipalities all over America that they need to attract a new, young workforce well versed with skillsets to support robotics, sensor-related industries for IoT, autonomous vehicles, digital healthcare, and cyber security that will empower this new infrastructure.
Cities like Phoenix, Arizona and many others are leading the way. I recently spoke with Chris Camacho, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) about this. Chris told me that Phoenix has launched a new industry branding campaign – The Connected Place – to promote the innovation taking place in the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor technology industry in Greater Phoenix.
Chris says that the global market value for smart sensors alone will total $154 billion by 2020 and he pointed to a cyber security cluster that has driven expansion in Greater Phoenix’s information sector over the last three years by 17 percent.
Great stuff. So the focus on infrastructure is both a promising opportunity and a huge necessity for many public and private stakeholders. And it’s clear that a smart and modern grid to serve the needs employers and their new modern workforce will be critical to job growth for both physical infrastructure as well as connected infrastructure.
The future looks bright as we cross the ‘smart’ bridge to the future (in our autonomous vehicle)