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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop 4 Creating a New paradigm Renewing and restructuring an extensive network of existing infrastructure systems to help meet a range of 21st century imperatives constitute a complex, long-term challenge for the United States and its citizens. However, continuing to use the same decision-making processes, construction methods, and operational practices as those used in the 20th century will likely yield the same results: increasing instances of service disruptions, higher operating and repair costs, and the possibility of catastrophic, cascading failures. Meeting this century’s challenges requires a fundamental reexamination of the purposes and value of critical infrastructure systems and of the current processes for infrastructure-related decision making and investment. While daunting, this reexamination can yield a new paradigm from which to develop practical solutions to complex issues. INGREDIENTS FOR A NEW PARADIGM Some of the ingredients needed to create the new paradigm referred to above are available today. At the workshop—Toward Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Systems: Framing the Challenges—conducted in May 2008 under the auspices of the National Research Council’s Board on Infrastructure and
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop the Constructed Environment, the participants identified an array of new technologies and materials, ongoing initiatives, and financing options that can provide the basis for moving forward with new approaches to infrastructure renewal and investment. TECHNOLOGIES AND MATERIALS Research has yielded technologies for monitoring the condition and performance and for improving the management of infrastructure systems; new materials for constructing and repairing infrastructure components; new knowledge about the interrelated nature of water and wastewater, power, transportation, and telecommunications systems; and models to simulate the consequences of deteriorating infrastructure so that preventive actions can be taken to avoid failures. Today, self-diagnosing, self-healing, and self-repairing systems can be designed to provide for greater resiliency, fewer long-term service disruptions, and lower life-cycle costs (Amin and Stringer, 2008). Buildings can be designed to supply their own electricity using solar collectors and, in some cases, to generate excess electricity that can be sold back to power companies. Wind turbines and more powerful batteries can augment other energy sources for in-place power generation. Decentralized and “package” systems for water and wastewater treatment offer new possibilities for expanding centralized systems or building new stand-alone systems. New telecommunication systems, such as wireless mesh, may be more resilient than current systems and may help allow for more telework and less commuting (Doshi et al., 2007). In Europe magnetic trains are being built to take advantage of existing rail lines while also cutting the cost of energy to power the train by one-third (Toffler Associates, 2008). Ongoing research has the potential to significantly change how services are provided in the future. For instance, researchers are studying the use of microbial fuel cells to convert complex wastes to electricity, with a focus on wastewater treatment or solid-waste facilities (Lovley, 2009). The first prototype is currently installed on the grounds of a brewery, using organic wastes from the brewery to produce electricity. Research and development of systems that produce electricity and hot water using existing asphalt roadways and parking areas are also underway (WPI, 2008). And water treatment systems that use ultraviolet
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop radiation in place of chlorine, a volatile substance, are being developed (McClean, 2007). To date, no one has captured the full range of innovative technologies being used or the research that is being undertaken at universities and elsewhere. Some of these existing or emerging technologies may provide breakthroughs that could lead to new ways of providing for essential services and change the nature of today’s infrastructure systems. Widespread use of new technologies and materials could create more durable, reliable, and resilient infrastructure with more benign environmental impacts. ONGOING INITIATIVES Many groups and individuals have recognized the need to upgrade the nation’s critical infrastructure systems and have proposed various solutions.1 An array of issue papers, plans, and strategies to repair and upgrade infrastructure as a whole or to deal with specific systems, such as water supply systems, have already been developed.2 At the regional, state, and local levels, community, government, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations are developing and implementing strategies to address one or more infrastructure-related challenges across jurisdictional and political boundaries. The following are examples of such initiatives: For the Memphis metropolitan region, which includes portions of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas as well as 40 individual cities,3 a conceptual framework titled 1 See, for example, “America’s Infrastructure: Ramping Up or Crashing Down” (Katz et al., 2007); “Guiding Principles for Strengthening America’s Infrastructure” (CSIS, 2006); “A New Bank to Save Our Infrastructure” (Ehrlich and Rohatyn, 2008); “Time for an Infrastructure Overhaul” (Little, 2007); “It’s Time to Rebuild America” (Rohatyn and Rudman, 2005); “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure—2009” (ASCE, 2009); and “Main Street, Not Wall Street, Should Fix Crumbling Infrastructure” (Sebelius and Stern, 2008). 2 See, for example, Critical Issues in Transportation (TRB, 2006); The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis (U.S. EPA, 2002); An Economic Strategy for Investing in America’s Infrastructure (Deshpande and Elmendorf, 2008); Energy and Water Distribution Interdependency Issues: Best Practices and Lessons Learned (U.S. EPA, 2005); Future Investment in Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure (CBO, 2002). 3 The area is described as follows: Although the Memphis metropolitan region is composed of two distinct and geographically unequal parts due to the effect of the Mississippi River, it is still one unit. Two automobile and two rail bridges connect the city across the Mississippi. While the urbanized areas
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop “A Strategic Global Future” has been issued with the stated mission: “Firmly establish the Memphis region as a dynamic, growing, energetic, metropolitan region strongly connected to the global economy” (Boyle and Associates, 2009). The framework addresses many aspects of the region’s economy, its critical infrastructure systems, and a plan for investment and management that explicitly crosses jurisdictions to enable significant changes. In the state of Indiana, the Departments of Transportation and Agriculture have undertaken “a joint initiative to explore the potential for major statewide infrastructure improvements that can strategically support and drive Indiana’s economic growth” (Purdue University, 2006, p. 2). The Indiana State “Pipe Dream” Workshop was held to “identify new and dramatic improvements in underground transportation infrastructure that would accommodate current and future needs for … Energy, Broadband, Communications, Livestock/Agriculture, Storm/Wastewater Treatment, and Fresh Water Supply” (ibid). The America 2050 coalition is a “national initiative to meet the infrastructure, economic development and environmental challenges of the nation as we prepare to add about 130 million additional Americans by the year 2050” (America 2050, 2009). The goal of this effort, guided by a coalition of regional planners, scholars, and policy makers, is to develop a framework for the nation’s future growth that considers trends such as rapid population growth and demographic change, global climate change, the rise in foreign trade, and infrastructure systems that are reaching capacity. Blueprint America was developed by nonprofit foundations to “shine an unyielding spotlight” on America’s decaying and neglected infrastructure and to educate the public about critical infrastructure-related issues and the policy choices that will need to be made (PBS, 2009). on the two sides of the river are not contiguous, they are highly interactive and have developed closely together. They are therefore considered to be part of the same metropolitan area (Boyle and Associates, 2009).
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop Existing issue papers and plans provide a wealth of detailed information about infrastructure issues and needs. Ongoing, community-based initiatives and strategies provide a source of creative and collaborative approaches for infrastructure renewal that cross jurisdictional and institutional boundaries. In the absence of an overarching vision or concept for critical infrastructure systems, these plans, initiatives, and strategies have been independently developed, each with its own set of objectives. FINANCE MECHANISMS Faced with expensive infrastructure renewal projects, individuals, organizations, and communities have proposed innovative financing options that include public-private partnerships (Orr, 2007), restructuring of the Highway Trust Fund, increased reliance on user fees such as those for toll roads and high-occupancy toll lanes, use of public pension funds (Sebelius and Stern, 2008), privatization (Anderson, 2008), and the establishment of a national infrastructure bank (Ehrlich and Rohatyn, 2008). Ownership and financing mechanisms entail differing levels of risk, involve issues of social equity (for example, access to services according to one’s ability to pay), and impact how the public values the services provided. Each approach has short-and long-term social and financial implications, and no single approach would be appropriate to all situations. Choosing the best approach for a specific situation would depend on the objectives to be achieved. THE NEED FOR A FRAMEWORK Although technological advances, community-based initiatives, and financing options offer the promise of new ways to approach critical infrastructure renewal, they have been ad hoc, often focusing on one issue, one type of system, or one set of solutions. By concentrating on single projects, technologies, financing mechanisms, or narrowly defined objectives, ad hoc efforts run the risk of wasting scarce resources and increase the probability of serious, unintended consequences. A framework is needed to create a structure within which ongoing activities, knowledge, and technologies can be aligned and leveraged to support critical infrastructure renewal and also to help achieve some of the nation’s 21st century imperatives.
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop A FRAMEWORK FOR DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS The purpose of a framework is to create an environment for developing short- and long-term solutions to complex issues involving a multitude of stakeholders. A framework can provide the structure for establishing public expectations about the reliability, resiliency, efficiency, and cost of critical infrastructure systems and can guide actions for solutions that are physically resilient, socially equitable, cost-effective, and environmentally viable. The following are the essential components of such a framework: A broad and compelling vision that will inspire individuals and organizations to pull together to help meet 21st century imperatives by renewing the nation’s critical infrastructure systems. Such a vision would focus on a future of economic competitiveness, energy independence, environmental sustainability, and quality of life, not a legacy of deteriorating concrete, steel, and cables. A focus on providing the essential services involving water and wastewater, power, mobility, and connectivity—in contrast to upgrading individual physical facilities—to foster innovative thinking and solutions. Recognition of the interdependencies among critical infrastructure systems to enable the achievement of multiple objectives and to avoid narrowly focused solutions that may well have serious, unintended consequences. Collaborative, systems-based approaches to leverage available resources and provide for cost-effective solutions across institutional and jurisdictional boundaries. Performance measures to provide for greater transparency in decision making by quantifying the links among infrastructure investments, the availability of essential services, and other national imperatives. VISION Americans have undertaken great challenges when leaders have effectively communicated the importance and significance of the issues at stake. President Dwight D. Eisenhower presented
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop a vision for national security based in part on the construction of an interstate highway system. His vision inspired the country’s public- and private-sector leaders to design, plan, finance, and build that system. President John F. Kennedy’s call for the nation to land a man on the Moon and return safely to Earth within the decade of the 1960s was similarly inspiring. This challenge was met through a collaborative effort of scientists, engineers, businessmen, and government officials and was supported by taxpayers. The United States does not currently have a vision for its critical infrastructure systems to guide the development of concepts, strategies, stated objectives for their future configuration, level of performance, or level of services. Current policies, procedures, and decision-making processes are unlikely to result in the development of a network of systems that will meet current and future social, economic, and environmental needs. The last congressionally initiated review of the condition of the nation’s critical infrastructure systems concluded in 1988 with the publication of Fragile Foundations: A Report on America’s Public Works. The report found “convincing evidence that the quality of America’s infrastructure is barely adequate to fulfill current requirements and insufficient to meet the demands of future economic growth and development” (NCPWI, 1988, p. 1). To upgrade infrastructure systems, Fragile Foundations recommended a broad-based, long-term strategy involving the government, the private sector, and the public. Twenty years later, government and industry leaders have not called for a broad-based, collaborative, long-term strategy, and consequently it has not been developed. A vision is now needed that will inspire and rally business, community, academic, and government leaders to tackle issues related to critical infrastructure systems. It should not be a vision of concrete, steel, and cables, but rather one of expectations for economic competitiveness, reduced dependence on imported oil, a high quality of life, and harmony with the environment. In the absence of such a vision, adhoc initiatives and investments for critical infrastructure systems driven by economic forces or disaster recoveries will continue, but it will be difficult to integrate these into a coherent approach to meet 21st century needs.
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop FOCUS ON PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES Citizens and businesses expect that essential services—water and wastewater, power, mobility, and connectivity—will be available without interruptions. However, business and population growth have already outpaced the capacity of existing systems to meet those expectations, as evidenced by transportation congestion, air and water pollution, and increasing instances of power and service disruptions. If stakeholders are to understand fully what is at risk and what choices need to be made, the public dialogue needs to be recast as a discussion on how best to provide essential services—as opposed to its current focus on the merits and deficiencies of individual physical systems. As part of this discussion, it will be necessary to develop answers to questions such as the following: What are the public’s expectations for the levels of services to be provided by critical infrastructure systems? What are their expectations with respect to the resiliency of these systems? What actions will be necessary to achieve those expectations? How much money are people and businesses willing to invest now and in the coming years? What alternatives are available to traditional practices for providing essential services? What actions are needed to develop systems that are physically, socially, financially, and environmentally sustainable? Shifting the conversation from deteriorating, engineered systems to the provision of essential services that affect everyone’s quality of life can refocus stakeholders’ attention on the ultimate value of such services. Doing so will provide opportunities for more creative thinking, greater engagement by a wider range of stakeholders, and a more robust and diverse array of possible solutions for service delivery and infrastructure renewal.
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop RECOGNITION OF INTERDEPENDENCIES AMONG CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS Providing for resilient and reliable infrastructure systems requires crosscutting, collaborative approaches to enable the identification and mitigation of vulnerabilities and the leveraging of resources and solutions. Such approaches are possible and practical, as evidenced by the efforts highlighted earlier in this chapter that are occurring in the Memphis metropolitan region, in Indiana, and in other places. Finding ways to collaborate across institutional and jurisdictional boundaries can help to enable the achievement of multiple objectives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting water supplies, and working toward environmental sustainability. In addition, it can help to avoid narrowly focused solutions with serious, unintended consequences by bringing more information and more stakeholders to the table. By considering the interactions of water, wastewater, power, transportation, telecommunications, and the environment, it should be possible to develop solutions that meet multiple objectives and are sustainable for future generations. COLLABORATIVE, SYSTEMS-BASED APPROACHES Existing institutional arrangements and decision-making processes inhibit effective thinking about the interactions among various infrastructure systems, about their overall performance in delivering services, and about the costs of operating and maintaining these systems over a 50- to 100-year life span. Shifting the public dialogue to focus on essential services, the regional nature of infrastructure systems, and their interdependencies will provide opportunities to bring together stakeholders from a range of infrastructure-related organizations to discuss issues that cut across institutional, jurisdictional, and political boundaries. In doing so, they can potentially identify new ways to leverage resources, to optimize investments, and to identify solutions that meet multiple objectives. PERFORMANCE MEASURES Although infrastructure systems are built and operated to provide essential, complex, and varied services for societies, their performance or effectiveness is seldom evaluated against
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop social objectives, such as health and safety, cost-effectiveness, or reliability (NRC, 1995). The lack of performance measures inhibits transparency and effective decision making about infrastructure-related investments because it is not clear what results can be expected or what results are actually achieved by such investments. A first step in developing an effective performance measurement system is to establish goals and objectives for the elements to be measured—for example, the level of services to be provided by critical infrastructure systems. Data on current levels of service can provide a baseline. Investments in infrastructure can then be measured against the baseline to determine if the levels of services are improving or declining, allowing appropriate actions to be taken. At least three broad categories of measures will be needed to evaluate the performance of infrastructure: effectiveness, reliability, and cost (NRC, 1995). A variety of ways could be used to provide real-time performance data and public feedback, including sensors and other monitoring technologies. Readily available, transparent performance information could lead to changes in the behaviors of institutions and individuals, alter perceptions about the value of infrastructure, and lead to greater accountability regarding the results of infrastructure investments. For example, the first net-zero electric commercial building4 in the United States has a dynamic graphic display in the lobby that shows the “real time” operation of the building in a dashboard format and has inspired employees to save energy by turning off lights and taking other similar measures (Grabowski, 2008). A multiple-objective performance measurement system would promote greater transparency in decision making, improved information for making decisions, and a better understanding about the links between infrastructure investment and economic competitiveness, quality of life, and environmental quality. It could also help to communicate what is at stake and the risks involved when critical infrastructure investments are being considered. Performance measures may also help to establish long-term public support for investments in infrastructure among its users—citizens, businesses, nonprofit organizations, 4 Defined as a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year: that is, energy produced minus energy used equals zero (Grabowski, 2008).
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Sustainable Critical Infrastruture Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives - Report of a Workshop governments, and other public- and private-sector institutions (NRC, 1995). MOVING FORWARD An important first step in creating a new paradigm is to bring together those who have an essential stake in meeting 21st century imperatives and who are already involved in sustainable infrastructure efforts. They include infrastructure owners, designers, engineers, financiers, regulators, and policy makers, as well as ecologists, community activists, scientists, and researchers. Working within the framework, experts in such areas could begin to identify a full range of new approaches, technologies, and materials for providing the services of mobility, connectivity, water, wastewater, and power to meet multiple objectives. They could also identify new approaches to decision making, finance, operations, and processes related to infrastructure. The results of such a gathering could serve to initiate a longer-term, collaborative effort to develop a vision, concepts, and objectives for the nation’s critical infrastructure systems and then to identify the policies, practices, and resources required to implement the vision. The results could be critical infrastructure systems that are physically, economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable for the next 50 years.
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