The Infrastructure Quiz

The UK Government has been criticised for its lack of a national infrastructure policy. Some might say this applies to Australia as well.  However, before we can develop an infrastructure strategy that can gain national acceptance, we need to have a general understanding across the nation about the purpose of infrastructure. In other words, common agreement on ‘what’s it for?”  So, today, we have a little quiz.

1. Which of the following BEST expresses for you the prime purpose of infrastructure?

  • create jobs
  • increase productivity
  • maintain strategic control
  • provide a needed service
  • raise the standard of living
  • stimulate the economy
  • sustain the construction industry
  • SOMETHING ELSE (please describe)

2. Do others see things the same way?  Spend a few minutes and consider who might support each of the other definitions.  (Research shows that each idea IS supported by some group.)

3. For those within an organisation, does your organisation see things the way you do?  What is the evidence that they do?  E.g. A policy, a principle, or, better yet, a practice.

4. Looking now to the State or the Federal level of government, what purpose would you say most reflects their infrastructure choices?   Are their choices consistent with each other?   Is what drives them also what drives you or your organisation?  That is. do you have the same purpose?  How do you know?

Have fun!

And do click the ‘add a comment’ tag in the menu bar and share any of your ideas.

9 Thoughts on “The Infrastructure Quiz

  1. Creating employment, standard of living variation, economic stimulus, sustaining industries, etc. I’d argue are all services. While mostly seen as inexorably linked to infrastructure by the public, commentators and politicians – the services do not essentially have to be supplied by huge infrastructure. Vehicles and transport infrastructure are services that facilitate education, commerce, entertainment, health, etc. We build more roads because that is the best way we think we can access school, work, shopping, fun, doctors… If we examine how technology and social change can impact on the need for physical access to “place at time” then the need for type, degree and scale, of infrastructure changes dramatically.

    So my answer is provide a service.

    • Penny on March 6, 2018 at 11:10 am said:

      Thank you Gregory. I suspect that one of the biggest problems we have in getting the ‘right’ infrastructure, is that we do not start from the perspective of achieving a service, we start from the idea that we need to have more infrastructure!

  2. Joe Mooney on March 7, 2018 at 1:17 am said:

    I believe that the purpose of infrastructure is to support the safety and convenience of the population. This should be the driver of the government when they address infrastructure. By products such as jobs, business growth, etc. are really what the public decides to do with the conveniences presented to them.

    • Penny on March 7, 2018 at 8:59 am said:

      Joe, I agree. So would Brett Frischmann, the author of “Infrastructure: the shared value of social resources” where he places the emphasis on infrastructure as an enabler of services chosen by the public. Which raises a few questions, for example: Are infrastructure decisions currently made with this idea in mind? Does it matter if they are not? And, to get back to where i started, with the idea of a commonly understood purpose as a necessary underpinning to a national ‘infrastructure strategy’, is indeed a national infrastructure policy even possible, or desirable? Many questions!

      • Joe Mooney on March 9, 2018 at 1:17 am said:

        “Are infrastructure decisions currently made with this idea in mind?” That could be why there are infrastructure issues. Many infrastructure decisions, made unfortunately by politicians, are often made to grease the squeaky wheel rather than to address any long range strategy. Infrastructure becomes a victim of the system if we don’t have leadership who would put aside their personal preferences and understand the strategic impact of those decisions.

        • Penny on March 9, 2018 at 7:29 pm said:

          Thanks for your comment. Politicians often do what seems to us to be pure ’squeaky wheel’ and yet their remit is to be responsive to their communities. So what is the answer? I spent 5 years working with politicians – two and a half with a bipartisan committee in the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament in South Australia, and two and a half years as Advisor to the Minister of Construction, Resources and Energy in Tasmania. Most of the politicians I came in contact with – not all! – were genuine good guys who were just trying to do a good job under trying and difficult circumstances. So I have been looking for a process that would support the good guys, and frustrate those with ill intent. Do you have any ideas that we could try out on the blog site?

  3. Miso on March 9, 2018 at 3:49 pm said:

    For those that have it, it is for sustenance of a way of life or socio-economic sustainability and growth. However, in order to realize the vision of future civilizations (something else) an infrastructure revolution is unavoidable. When I asked my econ prof what he saw as the biggest public infrastructure challenge, he said: “flexibility”. I thought “wow, that was/is never mentioned in any of the meetings I have ever attended” (and I have attended a few). In fact, we have lined up so many challenges before that one that at the moment I saw no hope for it. Fast forward a year or two , with my Turing machine clicking away and eccentric colleagues for sound walls – there are a few concepts on how to tackle it. One of them is to establish an infrastructure exchange modeled after a typical stock exchange, but without local agencies loosing sovereignty over their infrastructure networks or identity.

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