The Aging Infrastructure Paradox

Many countries in the developed world have an infrastructure crisis. In the United States there is an avowed problem with bridges and railroads, but also with water and sewage systems and with internal governmental communications technology. There is general agreement that these aging structures need to be replaced or repaired, but the cost is tremendous and the political jockeying for funds is, and will be, intense.

There is another problem, though. With technology advancing so rapidly, how does a municipality or nation decide when to proceed in adopting technology with promised cost reductions and improvements over the horizon? Any project undertaken will necessarily be outdated and overcost compared to projects undertaken in the near future, but further deterioration in infrastructur hurts all facets of society.

It is clear that in physical infrastructure projects leaders must choose a contractor and technique and live with it, technology in this arena and costs will always fluctuate but structures must be maintained.

In communications technology any investment designed to modernize infrastructure will be rendered obsolete in a few years. Anything adopted in the public sector will immediately lag behind innovations in the private sector. This can lead to problems that are not immediately apparent, such as tech support being ended for the technology in use. If quantum cryptography or other innovations provide superior security from cyberattacks then anything not using that technology will be vulnerable to intrusion. Systems that are immediately antiquated will be vulnerable and attractive targets.

Flexibility is integral in modernity’s ever-advancing technological revolution. Skeleton structures that can be modified and updated are optimal, instead of rigid, permanent structures, in both physical and communications projects.

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