Transportation, water, energy, environmental, and communications infrastructure systems have supported New York’s position as a world capital in business, media, and the arts. These systems are now showing signs of strain, threatening the region’s ability to further grow and evolve. The agencies that build and operate these infrastructure systems face significant challenges, from the erosion of their assets due to heavy use and inadequate funding for maintenance, to the more far-reaching threats of climate change and economic competition. Addressing these challenges requires implementing innovative technologies, developing new financing approaches, and adopting new institutional and management strategies – all while building a workforce with the skills and flexibility to adapt to change.
The CUNY Institute for Urban Systems (CIUS) was created in 2001 to identify innovative solutions to the problems of aging capital stock, environmental sustainability, and urban economic competitiveness in the management of transportation, energy, water, buildings, and other infrastructure systems. CIUS works to bridge the professional and academic realms through research, education, policy advisement, and advancing the state of professional practice. It draws its strength from the City University of New York’s distinguished faculty in engineering, architecture, economics, urban planning, geography, law and management, as well as from the depth of experience of expert professionals from around the region.
To modernize and expand its infrastructure in an era of rapid change and constrained resources, the metropolitan region’s next generation of infrastructure investment must address three key challenges:
Technology: The emerging wide scale applications of decentralized computing and communications technologies enables more dynamic control and provides more real-time information to infrastructure managers and users. This, in turn, enables infrastructure to serve new strategic goals and to provide greater benefits.
Institutions: In order to realize these benefits, institutions developed in the 20th century to build infrastructure now must transform themselves to operate, control and finance a new generation of infrastructure.
Finance: New technologies and institutional change require new financing and capital planning strategies. These, in turn, will also impact how infrastructure institutions are structured and governed, and how technology is used in their management.
- How does technology change the design and use of the infrastructure, and how do consumers react to these changes?
- How can the institutions that plan and manage infrastructure best incorporate adapt to technological change?
- How can infrastructure managers meet the needs for expansion while investing in the next generation of technology?
- How can we take greater advantage of nature’s “environmental services” as an alternative to the capital-intensive infrastructure systems favored in the last century?
- What must be done to help the workforce adapt to changing technological skills and operational practices?