Sunday, August 29, 2010

Investing in the Nation's Infrastructure but Doing it Right

In an interesting Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Dr. Laura Tyson of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is calling for a new stimulus package to invest in the nation's infrastructure.

My colleagues and I at the Supernetworks Center have been writing a lot on how to identify not only the costs of infrastructure degradation from our roads and bridges and even the Internet, from an economic and performance standpoint, but also on how to identify the effects of enhancement and investments by taking into consideration the behavior of those who will ultimately be using the infrastructure. In addition, it is imperative that the investments are made with cognizance of climate change and how best to adapt our infrastructure investments accordingly from transportation networks to supply chains and electric power generation and distribution networks.

Our paper, which contains highlights from our research and major findings, but in a more condensed fashion than found in our Fragile Networks book is entitled: "Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain Age,"and it is in press in the journal International Transactions in Operational Research.

I just hope that if a new stimulus does get passed and even an Infrastructure Bank established, that economists, engineers, operations researchers and management scientists, and even environmental scientists, all work together so that what gets built, renovated, expanded, enhanced, and where, can have the greatest positive impact economically not only in the short-term but also in the long-term.