Los Angeles — AECOM released its second annual global infrastructure report, The Future of Infrastructure: Voice of the People, which captures data and opinions from 10,000 residents across 10 major global cities — Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York, Riyadh, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto. The report is grouped into four themes to gather insight into the public’s infrastructure needs and ambitions for the industry: satisfaction, engagement, innovation and resilience.
“Residents of cities around the world want greater say in infrastructure planning, and they are growing impatient with delays in the delivery of modern infrastructure systems that can improve mobility, connectivity and quality of life,’’ says AECOM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael S. Burke. “Their views should be a call to action for wider government engagement, and new public and private partnerships that can advance ideas, funding and advocacy, and speed the projects that lead to growth and urban well-being.”
The survey’s results showed that while every city has its own distinct identity, people around the world share similar views and experiences with their infrastructure. While city dwellers have a positive outlook for the future, they are also restless for action to improve their infrastructure immediately. They are stressed when using public transportation and want their cities to be greener, safer and better connected. Most importantly, they want to have a voice in how infrastructure systems are planned, paid for, developed and operated.
Five key insights from this year’s report:
There is a clear public engagement gap. Most of the cities underperform when it comes to engaging with their citizens on infrastructure, with an aggregate global average of 3.3 out of 10. It is highest in Mumbai (5.9) and lowest in Sydney, Chicago and Hong Kong (2.7 each). Respondents said they want a more focused interaction, which could go a long way toward improving perceptions of city governments’ performance on infrastructure and securing support for future projects.
Residents want to help — and some are willing to pay. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents overall are willing to share personal data — the lifeblood of smart cities — to help city agencies improve infrastructure and services. In several cities (37 percent of respondents globally), residents indicated a willingness to pay higher taxes to fund infrastructure improvements. Both commitments underscore citizens’ desire to play their part in delivering better infrastructure.
Boosting resilience against cyberattacks is a pressing concern. More respondents have confidence in their city’s ability to protect infrastructure against natural disasters and terrorist attacks than those who do not. However, less than one-third (32 percent) have confidence in their city’s defenses against cyberattacks. Citizens need increased reassurance from city authorities about the capabilities of their infrastructure to withstand such events.
Wanted: More private-sector involvement. A clear majority of city residents overall (63 percent) believe the private sector should be more involved in the development of infrastructure. This effort could help contribute to the financing, development and management of better infrastructure.
Upgrading public transportation and enhancing environmental sustainability are top improvement priorities. Upgrading public transportation — particularly roads and underground rail — is the top infrastructure priority for those surveyed. Improving environmental sustainability — through solar power, recycling and waste-water reuse initiatives, for example — is a close second and tops five cities’ to-do lists.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of infrastructure. The Future of Infrastructure: Voice of the People report outlines ways that city authorities, infrastructure agencies, utility providers and business stakeholders can ensure greater strategic engagement to secure and maintain citizens’ support during projects, and following completion. It also provides guidance for aspiring smart cities about the benefit of exchanging data and ideas with companies, application developers and other innovators, as well as an opportunity to obtain citizens’ personal data if city authorities can ensure them it’s being handled securely and contributing to specific improvements. Lastly, the report confirms that sustainability continues to be important to residents, and with high public interest, green initiatives can boost engagement levels. While long-term planning is not going away, planners who adopt an agile approach can test, design and scale projects at pace — and engage more deeply with citizens.
The Future of Infrastructure: Voice of the People report has been produced by AECOM in collaboration with Longitude, a world-class leader in quantitative and qualitative research. The report was compiled in two ways. First, Longitude conducted an online survey of more than 10,000 people across 10 major global cities including Hong Kong (1,031 respondents), Mumbai (1,088), Singapore (1,109), Sydney (1,096), London (1,118), Riyadh (980), Chicago (1,014), Los Angeles (1,121), New York (1,128), and Toronto (1,065). Respondents were not compensated for their participation and AECOM was not identified as the research sponsor. Second, the firm conducted qualitative interviews with a range of senior figures in the global civil infrastructure industry where AECOM was identified to them as the research sponsor.
To download The Future of Infrastructure: Voice of the People report or to review city-specific results, visit https://infrastructure.aecom.com.