An opportunity for infrastructure that cities and industry can achieve
A few months ago, I wrote about what we learned when we surveyed mayors from across the country. A majority said investments in infrastructure were an immediate and long-term need, and even more pointed to the need for infrastructure investments with a focus on technology.
Since then, the rollout of vaccines has offered a light at the end of the tunnel for some of the acute challenges that our communities are facing because of COVID-19. Over the past year, those challenges have required tough decisions, the quick mobilization of teams and strategic solutions to help keep people safe.
Now, as we turn toward recovery, an even bigger opportunity is before us: Not only can we meet our infrastructure priorities, we can actually reimagine what we want our infrastructure to do.
With the American Jobs Plan, we see a real national vision emerging for infrastructure and innovation. And as I realized early in my career as chief of staff for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, our cities will be places to watch as we engage at the local, state and national levels—and across the public and private sectors—to make this vision a reality. Our cities are truly where the rubber meets the road, where we can activate entire ecosystems of businesses, civic groups, academic institutions and others to solve problems.
It’s why Siemens is partnering with more than 100 cities across the nation to build the critical infrastructure that’s needed for the 21st century, bringing new technologies and capabilities to the industrial world in ways that enable our infrastructure to do things that it just couldn’t do before, like helping cities lower their carbon emissions or even serving as a front line of defense for pathogens like COVID-19.
The convergence of the digital and physical worlds is what really excites us about the opportunity for infrastructure right now. There’s the potential to do more than address what’s broken or lacking, transforming the everyday, creating more agile and productive factories, more intelligent and resilient buildings and power systems, and more reliable and sustainable transportation.
We’ve already put forward a few ideas. Investments in rail and transit, for example, can connect communities in ways that advance equity. With distributed energy systems and grid modernization, we can achieve both resiliency and climate action. Above all, as we make these investments, we can help expand access to economic growth and opportunity, creating new jobs and opening the door to well-paying careers for more Americans.
In this way, investments to modernize infrastructure can pave the way toward a more sustainable and equitable future, lifting up those most vulnerable in our communities.
One compelling insight from our survey of mayors was that 100 percent believe the private sector has a role to play in a city’s rebuilding and revitalization efforts.
So, we’re looking back at the last year as just the beginning of the change we can drive, together. I’ll share two quick examples that demonstrate why. The first involves the healthy indoor spaces that are key to our return to work and school. So far, we’ve partnered with more than 150 local governments, offices, schools and universities to install technologies like air purification systems that can create these safer indoor environments. And while the immediate focus is on eliminating COVID-19 and other pathogens, with these investments we’re also taking the steps that will make buildings safer and healthier for the long term.
A similar transformation is happening in manufacturing. By repurposing our real-time locating system technologies, typically used to manage assets on the factory floor, we’ve introduced a tool that can help maintain social distancing among essential workers by tracking employee interactions. Crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19, these technologies are also capable of producing the data-driven insights needed to reconfigure workplace layouts for greater safety. With these changes, manufacturers can mitigate the future risk of their production lines having to be shut down.
The importance of infrastructure and technology was clear in the results of our survey of mayors last year. Now we have an opportunity to turn those priorities into achievements. As the American Jobs Plan is considered by Congress, and as cities mobilize their ecosystems, progress is underway to create the 21st-century infrastructure that’s crucial to our recovery and our future.
Brie Sachse is vice president and head of U.S. Government Affairs for Siemens U.S. with responsibility to shape and drive a robust legislative and policy agenda in support of the company’s business priorities across infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation, economic development and workforce. With nearly 15 years of expertise in local, state and federal government operations, Sachse leads a team of political and policy experts that promote the company’s interests and influence outcomes that impact Siemens reputation, financial position and ability to operate.