Civil Infrastructure

It has been estimated that by 2050 70% of the earth’s population will live in cities. With urban sprawl happening across continents, cities are coming up everywhere. The basic requirements for the development of a city are an area that can be defended, easily accessible drinking water, and energy source. As cities evolve the requirement for modern cities also keep changing. Nowadays, cities need proper sewage, reliable energy sources, communication network, and proper transportation. All this now falls under the ambit of civil infrastructure.

What is civil infrastructure?

When we talk about civil infrastructure we think about the design, plan, and analysis of all those amenities that support human activities. This includes electricity, oil and gas, transportation, communication networks, water supply, sewage, and a collection of buildings.  

The concept of civil infrastructure is an extension of civil engineering. Rather than focusing on a single structural element, civil infrastructure analyses how different structures interact and behave in a system created to support a community. Hence, by definition, civil infrastructure is not only spatial but dynamic. 

The technical aspects of infrastructure engineering must take into account the political, social, cultural, and economic context in which the infrastructure will develop. Engineers also plan for the long-term that not only includes design and planning, but also maintenance and safety during natural calamities, and other man-made mishaps.

Factors affecting the civil infrastructure of modern cities

As modern ‘smart’ cities become the norm of the day, engineers must keep in mind the following factors while planning and executing civil infrastructure systems:

A resilient future: Artificial intelligence, 3D technologies, and the Internet of Things are now being used by engineers to plan a city and consider what-if scenarios –especially roads, railway, bridges, and other urban infrastructure that have long term effects on the residents.

A modern touch: Modernizing the craft using modern tools and technologies are digitizing and revolutionizing the planning of modern cities. Engineers nowadays are achieving unprecedented levels of precision by using technology. This is widening the horizon of possibilities.

Maximizing outcome: Project teams are divided based on their expertise. This fragmentation of work often makes it difficult to supervise projects and carry out seamless collaboration. Using modern technologies like 4D modelling and project management software that can track real-time progress are now fast-tracking many projects. 

Collective creativity: Globalization has now posed a problem of multilingual and multicultural teams in construction projects. It has become critical to share information openly across team members to achieve seamless collaboration.

Software and technology are now streamlining the planning, design, and execution of different civil infrastructure projects. Smart cities require technology-led infrastructure, pivoting on the new normal. Hence the definition of civil infrastructure in today’s context is very different from what it was fifty years ago. Fifty years down the line, the definition of civil infrastructure will further evolve with the line between civil engineering and software engineering blurring. With the technology empowering human lives and infrastructural growth, this digital era will usher in a new way of planning cities.