At the end of July, the White House and the key group of bi-partisan senators announced a nearly $1 trillion dollar hard infrastructure package, marking the biggest investment of federal funds since the creation of the highway network 65 years ago.
Not to be ignored, this number also includes funding the critical 5-year surface transportation reauthorization act, which expires on September 30, 2021.
This much needed and long overdue influx of federal capital is going to pay significant dividends and bring the nation – and the construction industry – up to the 21st century and for global competitiveness.
The question then becomes, with all this money coming in, how does the nation complete the lengthy list of backlogged projects across all 50 states? How does the construction industry attract the talent needed to modernize and update our infrastructure?
The short answer is embracing technology in the palm of our hands. The long answer is shifting the way projects are delivered by embracing technology and unlocking the data within all these projects to provide valuable insights into safety and quality, allowing more robust data driven decision making to improve future project outcomes.
As more of these tools are adopted across the industry, the next generation of talent will see career opportunities where their expertise in all things digital can be put to good use.
Fortunately, our nation’s leaders see the impacts digital project delivery can have on transforming our industry.
Tucked into the Surface Transportation Reauthorization package, now rolled into the larger infrastructure deal, is a section dedicated to digital delivery and innovative technologies. Section 5113, entitled Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Advanced Digital Construction Management Systems, charges the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to promote, support, and document the application of advanced digital construction management systems, practices, performance, and benefits.
The bill allocates $20 million dollars for this initiative for every year from 2022 to 2026, with the intent to manage risk, reduce project delays and overruns, enhance safety and quality, support sustainable design and construction, and allow for more timely and productive information sharing among stakeholders.
The industry is already preparing for this shift to digital project delivery. Currently, 43 State Departments of Transportation have signed on to Federal Highway’s Every Day Counts 6 Initiative to embrace and adopt e-Ticketing. The momentum is on the industry’s side, with the added benefit of federal funding to support this transformation.
The time to evaluate how you are leveraging digital tools to improve performance is now. Over the next decade, the construction industry will experience a loss of about 41% of the workforce.
In order to remain competitive, construction companies, producers, contractors, and departments of transportation need to embrace technology and digital solutions to attract and retain the talent, and set themselves up for a successful transition to digital project delivery.