cloud-based storage and solutions are key elements of most organiza - tions’ going digital strategy. Almost in parallel, the way we design, build, and operate infrastructure has evolved along with how the professionals involved make deci - sions, and in turn the outcomes possible. Most, if not all, have moved from what they were doing on paper in 2D to CAD. Many rely less on drawings and reports, and instead choose to leverage 3D modeling, which has seen building information modeling (BIM) standards and processes proven to deliver productivity and quality improvements. However, BIM is of course much more than simply using 3D models during design – perhaps to identify and resolve clashes between exist - ing and proposed assets – with large numbers organizations extending the value that managed information, standardized processes, and digi - tal workflows deliver into procurement and construction. Increasingly, Bentley users have been advancing techniques to include 4D for the “digital rehearsal” of construction, and 5D – where time, cost, and carbon calculations are an integral part of the decision-making process. Moving beyond BIM, fueled by the increasing amount of data we collect, create, and consume in our day-to-day tasks, and the volume of connected devices delivering so-called big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), we are already seeing more and more decisions being made based on the insight gained directly from data, and it is why at Bentley we believe that infrastructure digital twins will be the next big digital disruption in our industry. Bentley’s digital twin capabilities are already enabling organizations to visually immerse their teams in the decision-making process, run all manner of analytics to predict and produce different outcomes, and im - portantly track and manage the constant change we see not just across the delivery of a project but also throughout an asset’s operational life. Our iTwin technology enables the federation of data and deliverables from engineering and design, with live or near real-time data streams from IoT connected devices in operations to connect the physical asset in the real-world with its digital counterpart – its digital twin. From the conceptual stage, through planning and into engineering, design, and construction, and ultimately operations and maintenance, it is that link – that connectivity – that really makes the difference. ASCE: America’s Infrastructure Report Card Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a report onAmerica’s infrastructure. At a high level, the 2021 Report Card shows that while we recognize the need to repair aging and inferior infrastructure, we are still not investing in what they call the backbone of our economy. In real terms this failure to act costs every American household $3,300 a year. Multiply that by the roughly 132 million U.S. households predicted to exist at the end of 2021, and you are talking about significant costs and consequences to the economy. In the case of roads, which ASCE scored a grade D, over 43 percent are in poor or mediocre condition. The United States has been under - funding its roadway maintenance for years, resulting in a $786 billion backlog of road and bridge capital needs, but the bulk of the backlog, some $435 billion, is in repairing existing roads. As the backlog of
rehabilitation needs grows, American motorists are forced to spend nearly $130 billion each year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, while congestion means each commuter pays over $1,000 every year in wasted time and fuel. America’s bridges scored slightly better with a grade C, but still the report said that out of the 617,000 bridges across the country, 42 per - cent were over 50 years old, and 7.5 percent are structurally deficient or in poor condition. A situation that brought the health of America’s bridges back into focus in May 2021 was the news of a crack discov - ered through routine inspections of the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River, in Memphis, Tennessee. While it is fortunate a potential disaster was averted there, regrettably it is not always the case – when bridges fail the results can be catastrophic. Currently the repair backlog is es - timated to be $125 billion, and ignoring further degradation over the same period, at current investment levels, would take 50 years to clear. Rail and transit fared no better, scoring grades B and a D – respec - tively. As with many countries, the U.S. rail network is divided into two categories, freight rail, and passenger rail. In spite of both being part of the same integrated system, with similar challenges each has to overcome, freight is able to maintain a strong network using shippers’ fees to invest an average of $260,000 per mile of track, passenger rail requires government investment, and the lack of federal support has led to the current state of good repair (SGR) backlog of $45.2 billion. With transit, the situation is worse. Currently, there is a $176 billion transit SGR backlog, which is nearly four times as much as rail, and the deficit is expected to grow to more than $250 billion by 2029. Meanwhile, transit ridership is declining, a trend compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic – which saw APTA report that stay-at-home or - ders had caused some agencies to experience a 70 percent passenger decline. Failure to address the shortfall for both passenger rail and transit only exacerbates ridership declines, as cuts in service mean trip delays and reliability issues become more frequent – it is a downward spiral, unless we make a change and reimagine the future. Reimagine Infrastructure in the United States: How to Build Better Over the past decade, China has invested more in infrastructure as a percentage of GDP than any other country, spending 5.6 percent in 2018 versus the United States’ 0.5 percent. Recently though, decision makers at all levels of government have recognized the critical role that America’s infrastructure plays in supporting the quality of life for citizens, and the country’s economy. Many have championed smart infrastructure policies and investment, and as a founding partner of the Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments (CSII), Bentley is promoting federal policies to modernize America’s aging infrastructure with Congress right now. You can learn how your firm can participate at www.infrastructurecoalition.org but the group’s main message is that by unleashing the promise of proven technologies, infrastructure can be built and maintained in ways that are more timely, equitable, efficient, transparent, and sustainable.
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