AEM took its infrastructure message to Capitol Hill on Tuesday with a marquee Infrastructure Week discussion featuring elected representatives and industry leaders in the halls of Congress.
AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative convened a high-level discussion on the future of infrastructure featuring U.S. Congressman and Infrastructure Week Co-Chair Garret Graves (R-La.), Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James, AEM Director and Kennametal CEO Ron De Feo and other top representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Siemens Corporation and The Futures Lab.
“It’s so important for our industry to create opportunities and forums that bring together different stakeholders in an effort to craft a vision for a long-term, national plan for U.S. infrastructure and how we will move people, freight and energy in the future,” De Feo said in opening remarks to begin the event.
The discussion took shape along several major themes, including the importance of using emerging technology and Big Data to guide smarter policy decisions related to infrastructure.
Graves warned that the United States could lose its competitive edge against global competitors unless it invests in smarter infrastructure.
"The power of data could really take our planning efforts so many steps forward,” he said.
Infrastructure is now about so much more than just materials or machinery, Mayor James noted, “It's also about how they interact with technology."
A major focus of the panel was focusing on the future.
"The cheapest dollar you're going to spend on infrastructure is on planning,” said Steve Morrison, Siemens Rail Systems’ director of business development.
Amanda Engstrom Eversole of the U.S. Chamber’s Center for Advanced Technology meanwhile lent insight as to how emerging technology like autonomous vehicles could reshape infrastructure planning. Derek Woodgate, CEO of The Futures Lab, offered a glimpse of some of the ways infrastructure systems could evolve over time. The Capitol Hill event was well-attended by congressional staff, representatives from industry and advocacy groups, and other infrastructure stakeholders from throughout Washington.
Tuesday’s event was one of the two events put together by AEM as part of Infrastructure Week. On Monday, May 23, Northwestern University will hold an academic and industry discussion on its campus in Illinois to debut new research commissioned by the Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative.