Government & Infrastructure Director, EY Ireland
Infrastructure not only boosts productivity and economic growth, but it makes citizens’ lives better. In fact, it will shape the way that future generations will live and work.
Our grandchildren will experience a very different world from the one we know today. Global events such as Brexit, Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis have significantly disrupted the status quo.
In a rapidly changing environment, how can we build long-term infrastructure which is fit for tomorrow’s world? What we can do is evolve our infrastructure delivery to keep pace with change. The key to doing this is collaboration to address the trends influencing society today.
Driven by a culture of real-time information sharing, citizens are used to instant gratification. The longer-term nature of new infrastructure delivery means that new ways of thinking are required to accelerate shorter-term ‘quick wins.’
Hackathons and civic competitions are examples of engaging in a new form of problem-solving in an inclusive and inspiring way. EY’s NextWave data competition saw 5,000 students across the globe work together to analyse a real-life dataset taken from the city of Atlanta to predict the density of the population in the city centre at any specific moment. This type of new information can open up the possibility of delivering real improvements over a shorter timeframe.
Our response to Covid-19 and the success of the ‘Track and Trace’ operation showed us the power of collaboration. We must harness that collaborative energy to deliver on our future infrastructure ambitions.
To meet rapidly changing citizen needs and expectations, sometimes, a digital solution is required.
To meet rapidly changing citizen needs and expectations, sometimes, a digital solution is required. For example, in Manchester, the transport authority piloted a technology using sensors to hold traffic lights on green to allow late-running buses to pass through.
Infrastructure will play a key role in helping us to deliver Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and net zero ambitions. Hammarby Lake City, located near Stockholm, is a fantastic example of ecologically sensitive development. It utilises a district heating system, biogas production from waste, solar hot water tubes and centralised vacuum tube recycling collection. Such ambition needs to become a feature of all future developments.
One thing is clear: building infrastructure for the future requires cross-sector collaboration. Together, we have the ability to look at things differently and bring about meaningful change.