Poor infrastructure is costly to operate and maintain. It prevents cities and countries from becoming truly competitive, with a global presence. Moreover, poorly maintained roads, utilities and other infrastructure also prevent adequate disaster planning and response, resulting in more damage and loss of life than reasonable.
As Reuter’s reports, “The bill will only apply to government projects , but also allows for privately-operated projects on government-bought land. The government is relying on the private sector for two-thirds of the G20 member’s infrastructure needs. Japan, China and India have already promised over $70 billion.”
Indonesia is not alone when it comes to experiencing infrastructure problems that directly impact the economy. Business in Asia points out in a recent article about India’s infrastructure, “India’s overstressed power grid is one of the most obvious signs of lagging infrastructure development. ” Meanwhile, “the modern electronics industry is holding its breath after a the one and a half day power outage in South Korea, which crippled Samsung’s NAND flash memory production and may reduce global production of NAND memory by a fifth. In India, in contrast, power failures can and should be expected daily, even in the most developed areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.”
One.org has reported on the need for infrastructure, but has also indicated that strong need for transparency needs to exist with respect to infrastructure projects. As projects proceed from planning to construction to maintenance, the overall infrastructure work flow needs transparency. The costs of implementing large infrastructure programs sometimes spiral out of estimates, thus losing support. Transparency built into the processes ensures that support is maintained and implies a higher level of professional cooperation.
There is a storng relationship between poverty, poor infrastructure and vulnerability to disasters. Migratory populations, inadequate housing and lack of clean water are basic factors that need to be worked upon. Asia Infrastructure said, “poverty in developing economies is a significant factor contributing to the death toll and structural damage caused by natural disaster. Make-shift developments, slums and shanty-towns in compact areas of urban environments, built without any cohesive regulation and standards are highly vulnerable to the damages caused by a earthquakes and floods. Similarly, the rapid population booms in Asian cities has resulted in wide-scale mass development of buildings without proper regulation or a holistic approach to infrastructure.”
Geospatial tools are central to planning, construction and operation of infrastructure. While the geospatial community has talked about return-on-investment, many look toward tangible costs and benefits. However, as the above organizations and observations imply, intangible benefits and competitiveness values need greater attention and understanding.
Investments in infrastructure can be viewed in similar light to ‘ecological services’ – but do we ask, “what are the infrastructure services – and their values?