Infrastructure is in the midst of a technological revolution, fueled by big data analytics, Internet-of-Things capabilities, sensors, drones and network connectivity. These advances can increase the revenue potential of different infrastructure initiatives and reduce their cost and risk. For example, Barcelona embedded sensors in parking meters and created an integrated app that made it easier for drivers to find open parking spaces. Within a year the “Smart Parking” app was issuing 4000 parking permits a day and the city increased annual parking revenue by more than $50M.
Technological change can have disruptive implications
for current and future infrastructure. Since infrastructure is
built for decades, any technology-induced changes in behavior
can result in stranded assets, where a large investment is made
but subsequent use turns out to be much less than expected. Autonomous vehicles, for instance, could dramatically reduce traffic congestion. On a per kilometer basis, our analysis found that autonomous robotaxis could be cheaper than mass transit
in many cases. However, increased use would have a ripple effect in other areas—reshaping demand for traditional transit options, impacting employment in the parking, taxi and truck driving industries, and altering traffic and revenue streams. Planners
and financiers will need to take these issues into account when developing new projects.