Infrastructure innovation in the United States was once the envy of the rest of the world. A wide array of transportation, energy, and water projects propelled the growth of the US economy and drove the emergence of a vast middle class.
But now America’s infrastructure is in decline and the will to develop novel projects that would give the country a new competitive edge is lacking.
Part of the problem is essentially a leadership challenge. Big fixes are needed and bold leaders are required to corral all of the constituencies—local and national—into a cohesive team that works together across state and federal lines to move a project through design and completion. Another constraint is financial. Innovative public and private partnerships will be necessary to fund massive projects in the future.
To identify actionable solutions to America’s infrastructure woes, Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading strategy and technology firm, in conjunction with the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative and the Northwestern University Transportation Center, conducted 2 days of wargames in July, 2012 that brought together diverse teams of infrastructure professionals, including government, civic, and industry leaders. The aim of the sessions was to draw up specific regional initiatives for the movement of people and goods in the US in 2040 built around “megacommunities”—public, private, and civic interests linked together to develop projects that integrate new business models, innovative technology, and alternative financing in scalable, sustainable ways.