The devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma impacted the lives of millions and caused over $200 billion worth of damage.
The Conversation, one of the leading online publications covering the latest research, has investigated the fall-out from America’s greatest natural disasters to determine the best route for rebuild and regeneration.
“In the case of hurricanes, roadways with smart signaling and controls that dynamically adjust stoplights and reverse lanes to allow vehicles to evacuate quickly would be of significant value,”
Investigators found that there are three major rules needed for when it comes to investing in infrastructure during the 21st century. Experts state that we should recognize the need to rethink how we design and operate our infrastructure in a new and changing environment. The standard building methods we have used to date are not sufficient to keep us or our infrastructure safe.
Here are the three main rules to follow when rebuilding a damaged America in the 21st century:
1) A Strong Foundation
According to Kellogg Insight, the research & ideas magazine of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, America’s infrastructure problem has become so bad that the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the country a D+ grade, a rating usually received by third world countries devoid of any health or safety standards. The United States should be on a B rating or better, and would need to double its infrastructure budget to raise standards and fulfill its requirements.
The bill to repair deteriorating roads, bridges and dams could reach $210 billion by 2020, and $520 billion in 2040.
The answer is to invest in redesign institutions and not just infrastructure. The key here is to spend the money on the design process for new builds rather than repairing damaged sites using archaic building methods.
2) Resilience and Uncertainty
Design in advance, for climate change and other possible factors that can come in the future. When it comes to the planning stage now, it’s important for architects and surveyors to become forward-thinkers. Climate change is undoubtedly altering the planet we live on, and is getting worse over time. Plan and design for what may lie ahead 100 years from now, as opposed to just what is present today. Today’s climate changes not only mean severe storms and flooding, but also extreme heat and cold, wildfires, and drought – all of which should be factored into designs.
“Infrastructure planning and design must consider the legacy of past decisions and how risks build up over time as ecological, technological and human systems interact in increasingly uncertain and complex ways,” Scientific American states.
3) Infrastructure and Equity
Create a flexible infrastructure. It’s all about resilience and adapting to the environment around us. Current buildings are extremely solid, but it can be extremely expensive and difficult to adapt these constructions to cater for today. The key here is to improve existing infrastructure with forward-thinking designs, or to start again with adaptable logic.
“In the case of hurricanes, roadways with smart signaling and controls that dynamically adjust stoplights and reverse lanes to allow vehicles to evacuate quickly would be of significant value,” Scientific American states.
Experts say that planners and policymakers up and down the country must “engage diverse communities” and ensure that “infrastructure services are designed for everyone.” The report states that even if it is not evident today then communities must demand it.
It will take bold actions by both lawmakers and policymakers to ensure that America gets the infrastructure development it requires to bring it up from a D+ to a B rating. Budget is no doubt a factor, and now with a further $200 billion needed to repair damage caused by the latest hurricanes, there is optimism that America can rebuild itself even better than before.