Two-thirds of professionals say industry isn’t evolving enough to meet society needs

A new global infrastructure survey has found that 67% of professionals are frustrated with how slow the industry is moving forward and have cited funding shortages as the number one constraint in getting new projects off the ground.

The findings are part of a survey conducted by consultancy AECOM. The Future of Infrastructure report surveyed more than 500 senior industry decision makers, all of whom work on infrastructure projects valued at more than $100m, to highlight today’s infrastructure challenges and the opportunities ahead. 

Their responses reveal that two out of every five major projects run into difficulties, causing serious delays. While only a slim majority of professionals believe they are good at responding to change, streamlining activities and adopting innovative delivery models.

Commenting on the survey, Michael Burke, chair of AECOM, said: “As a company focused on building a better world, we are passionate about our work in advancing infrastructure that improves quality of life and prepares us to meet the challenges ahead. Increasingly, we see networks and systems around the world coming under considerable strain. At the same time, as the physical and digital worlds converge, we are also witnessing amazing innovations and new ideas just around the corner. These are testing and exciting times. As we speak with friends, colleagues and clients in the industry, we hear expressions of worry and optimism, caution and exuberance about what’s ahead.”

It's widely regarded that present-day times could easily prove to be a pivotal moment in the history of infrastructure with aging and inadequate networks across the world meeting a time of incredible technological advancements with change coming fast. 80% of respondents agree that this is a monumental and important time for infrastructure with funding challenges needing to be overcome to trigger prosperity and growth.

“Amid the impacts posed by urbanisation, climate change and the dizzying pace of technological advances, merely narrowing the infrastructure gap can no longer be a baseline goal for our industry, our clients and governments,” Burke added. “What’s needed is a giant leap forward - focusing the smartest minds, training and deploying more skilled workers and leveraging new digital tools to deliver a better future through infrastructure.”

The report also revealed that 39% of those surveyed believe that lack of funding is the reason why infrastructure is failing to keep pace with society's needs. Many pointed to how the world of infrastructure needs to rethink project design and delivery with 71% stating that many of the traditional, tried-and-tested approaches to project management do not fit the demands of today’s large, complex programs.

Therese McMillan, chief planning officer at AECOM, said: “There is a lack of understanding of how infrastructure is provided and maintained at a government level. People just think, ‘Why aren’t things changing?’

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