The yearly report card of infrastructure in the United States by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is regularly covered in the mainstream media. This rating hovers in the D range, citing issues with highways, bridges, sewers, pipelines and the power grid.
According to the ASCE report, the cost of yearly maintenance on these systems is estimated at $100 billion annually, just to maintain the current levels of service. In addition, an estimated $1.6 trillion would need to be spent to bring the infrastructure up to a passing score.
The associated problems of aging man-made and environmental systems have enormous economic impact. It’s easiest to gauge that impact when systems fail and the damage has been done. In the United States this year alone, the explosion of steam pipes near Grand Central Terminal and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis had an enormous impact on local economies.
How do we monitor our systems and prioritize spending prior to failure? Spatial tools can help greatly to quantify the problems and assist in measuring risk and reliability, monitoring infrastructure status and determining expedient and economical remediation strategies.