Keynote address looks at the future of infrastructure

Aug. 31, 2021
ASCE’s Tom Smith detailed the importance of communications infrastructure to America’s future.

At the BICSI Fall Conference 2021, opening keynoter Tom Smith, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, discussed the ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. He made two points very clear in his presentation: 1) the grades are not great but are improving, and 2) broadband will almost assuredly be a part of the next report card.

In 2021 the U.S. finally moved out of the “D” range to achieve a C-minus grade, but there is still a long way to go. The report card covers aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, stormwater, transit, and wastewater.

When speaking about broadband, Smith pointed out that 65% of U.S. counties have average connection speeds lower than the FCC’s definition of broadband. An estimated 20% of school-aged children lacked the high-speed internet connection needed to access lessons and other materials when the pandemic forced remote learning. He also pointed out that civil engineers manage construction and design of utility poles, structures, and towers across the country that will support 5G. He emphasized a “dig-once” approach to broadband installation.

You can find more information on the ASCE’s Report Card here.

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