The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (also known by the formal title, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), kick-started activity to modernize our nation's critical physical assets and reimagine how we use transportation, utilities, and more with $1.2 trillion in funding. In just the last year, $200 billion has been distributed over 20,000 projects in all 50 states and U.S. territories. That includes starting repairs to more than 69,000 miles of roadway, 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, 3,700 bridge repair and replacement projects, and fielding of 5,000 clean transit school buses. Money continues to be made available through grants to improve legacy infrastructure and introduce new technologies to improve how the nation uses infrastructure.
Everything Old is New Again
Rail travel is receiving heavy investment due to increased usage and demand. Virginia and North Carolina have seen record-high ridership in the last year and those states are now looking for ways to increase the number and frequency of passenger travel. Virginia is looking to purchase right of way from freight railroads, so it can install passenger-only tracks at key chokepoints. Tennessee is also looking to increase rail options in the state pulling together potential ridership numbers to advocate for federal investment in new rail lines to serve the state and surrounding metropolitan areas.Continue reading →
The Department of Transportation (DoT) has taken a leading role in the infrastructure plans of the Biden Administration. This connection makes sense given that the mission of the DoT is to "ensure America has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, which boosts our economic productivity and global competitiveness and enhances the quality of life in communities both rural and urban." The success of their mission is contingent on the stability of roads, bridges, and rail lines -- key elements of our national infrastructure.
The bipartisan infrastructure agreement being used as a starting point for budget allocations includes America's largest-ever investments in public transit and bridge systems. The single largest part of the package consists of approximately $109 billion for roads, highways, and bridges. How this money is spent has yet to be determined. It could very well be distributed directly to states, cities and other local governments to repair their roads and bridges. From a federal perspective, currently Congress spends around $45 billion a year on highways and bridges. This plan would add on two years of spending to be used for federal grant programs run by the U.S. government or leveraged to underwrite private projects.
The use of Internet of Things (IoT) to manage infrastructure and services is not a new concept, but response to the new normal of pandemic life, natural disasters, and the implementation of 5G networks all could accelerate the implementation of IoT solutions.
Stay-at-home orders, social distancing measures, and backlogged inspection schedules all combine to make a great case for implementing sensors and other IoT devices as part of infrastructure management. With technology providing data on the status of equipment, facilities, and general infrastructure like roads and bridges, the need to deploy inspectors to the field can be minimized. In the short term, this reduces potential points of exposure for inspectors and field staff. Longer term, it adds a new "colleague" to field management teams. IoT can handle routine, low risk monitoring, freeing up humans to focus on more complex or higher priority tasks and activities.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be the newest cabinet-level department, but it is still facing the same modernization challenges felt across government. The agencies pulled under the DHS umbrella in 2002 came with legacy systems. While a good deal of integration and modernization happened while DHS was being formed, systems have to keep evolving to keep up with the ever-changing threat landscape and the technologies used to threaten the homeland.
Cybersecurity, as it relates to the protection of the national infrastructure and government systems, is a huge focus for DHS. In fact, The DHS Secretary recently said that nation-state adversaries "are at the highest levels since the Cold War, largely but not exclusively due to leveraging cyber to conduct espionage and influence operations and disrupt services." As part of their efforts to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, the Department is leading the Continuous Diagnostic Monitoring (CDM) efforts across government to provide capabilities and tools to identify cybersecurity risks on an ongoing basis, prioritize these risks based on potential impacts, and enable cybersecurity personnel to mitigate the most significant problems first.
With a broad mandate to support election security, DHS has been collaborating across the government to ensure the security of machines and records for national elections. New technologies such as Albert sensors, technology designed to detect suspicious IP addresses and malware signatures, will be in place in 90% or more of voting machines used in November. Continue reading →
Hurricanes, wildfires, gun violence, data breaches. It's been a rough news cycle and an even rougher reality. As painful as it is to think about these recent events, it is important for organizations to plan for the worst. This includes the logistical (if we lose access to our building, how will we work?), the technical (how do we maintain access to our data and IT systems?), and the personal (how do we contact and support employees during a disaster?).[Tweet "Hurricanes, wildfires, gun violence, data breaches. Be prepared for any disaster. #GovEventsBlog"]
Lucky for those of us who shudder at thinking about worst-case scenarios, there are professionals whose job it is to map out a plan that can be used in the event of disaster. These disaster recovery experts share theoretical and tactical guidance at a number of events throughout the year. Below are some upcoming events listed on GovEvents that can help anyone be better prepared for a disaster:[Tweet "Planning for the Worst: Making Disaster Recovery a Priority. #GovEventsBlog"] Continue reading →