WHAT IS INFRASTrUCTURE?

Noun

  1. the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.

“the social and economic infrastructure of a country”

What is infrastructure in simple words?

Infra- means “below;” so the infrastructure is the “underlying structure” of a country and its economy, the fixed installations that it needs in order to function. These include roads, bridges, dams, the water and sewer systems, railways and subways, airports, and harbors.

The infrastructure, or physical and economic foundation of a nation, is what keeps a country operating smoothly. Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, waste management and telecommunications equipment are just a few types of infrastructure that people use daily. Because of this, there is a demand for infrastructure projects to maintain the existing infrastructure and build new infrastructure. In this article, we discuss what an infrastructure project is and examine nine types of infrastructure.

What is an infrastructure project?

An infrastructure project is a proposed plan that focuses on the improvement and upkeep of services, facilities and systems already in place throughout a country. Examples include improvements to communications equipment, transportation channels and electrical systems. Both private and public companies finance the projects to ensure a country operates efficiently and safely. This allows citizens to have electricity, the ability to communicate using technology and easy ways of getting from one place to another.

9 types of infrastructure

Two main categories of infrastructure are hard and soft infrastructure. Soft infrastructures are the institutions that make up an economy, like healthcare systems, law enforcement, financial institutions and educational systems. Hard infrastructures are the physical systems that help run a region or nation such as roads, bridges and telecommunications.

Here is a list of nine types of hard infrastructure, the projects associated with them and examples of each:

1. Aviation

Flying is a form of travel that allows people to cross long distances in a much shorter time than driving or taking a train. One important current aviation infrastructure project includes building extensions to pre-existing airports to increase the overall percentage of flights landing on time. Another in-demand project is maintaining the safety of current ground facilities by repaving airfields.

Examples of aviation infrastructure include:

  • Airports
  • Air traffic control
  • Heliports

Ground facilities

2. Telecommunications

Technology is always expanding, and that leaves a constant need for telecommunications infrastructure projects, such as progressing from 4G to 5G mobile networks. Examples of telecommunications infrastructure include:

  • Telephone wires and cables
  • Internet
  • Satellites
  • Mobile network towers
  • Radio broadcasting systems

3. Bridges

The maintenance of large-scale, high-volume bridges is necessary for many people’s daily transit. Examples of bridge infrastructure include:

  • Beam bridges
  • Cable bridges
  • Arch bridges

4. Power and energy

Traditional energy infrastructures include coal, gas and nuclear plants, which help produce electricity for the entire country. Maintenance crews regularly perform repairs and maintenance on the plants to ensure they properly and efficiently transmit power to the correct locations. Modern infrastructure projects create power and store energy without the use of fossil fuels, such as solar-, wind- and geothermal-powered infrastructures.

A few examples of both traditional and renewable energy infrastructures used today are:

  • Electric power grid networks
  • Nuclear plants
  • Gas pipelines
  • Fossil fuel-based power production such as gas and coal plants
  • Renewable energy like hydro-electric power, biofuels and solar power

5. Railways

In addition to train tracks, railroad infrastructure includes all buildings, equipment and land that support the railways. This also includes management, transport of materials and maintenance of rail lines and all of their facilities. Divided into two categories, the rail network consists of freight and passenger. For both categories, railroad infrastructure projects involve the maintenance and upkeep of the current railways, but also include making efforts to create new rail line extensions and adding signage near railways.

Examples of railway infrastructures include:

  • Railway lines
  • Trains
  • Tunnels
  • Railroad bridges
  • Train stations

6. Roadways

Roadway infrastructure includes drivable locations such as highways, roads and streets. Minor roadway projects are tasks such as creating new traffic lights, signage, ramps and traffic lanes. Larger roadway projects consist of building new roads and repairing existing roads. Street and highway reconstruction and resurfacing are essential to keeping a road in drivable condition. Many states rely on the income from toll roads to fund the construction.

Some examples of roadway infrastructures include:

Roads

Bridges

Tunnels

Bus transit

7. Water

The constant supply of clean and filtered water to people across a country is an important infrastructure to maintain. Water infrastructure projects differ depending on location because of environmental factors. For example, in a location that typically has droughts, water infrastructure projects ensure the continuation of a steady water supply and reduce the number of leaks by monitoring and repairing the water facilities in use. Most projects include updating the current distribution of water and finding effective ways to transport water from one location to another.

Examples of water infrastructure include:

  • Main water lines
  • Wells
  • Pumping stations
  • Treatment plants
  • Septic tanks
  • Stormwater drains
  • Roadside gutters
  • Dams
  • Levees

8. Waste management

Waste management’s goal is to keep the environment free of waste in roads, cities and neighborhoods in order to keep citizens safe. Waste management includes transporting waste from commercial and residential areas to places such as landfills and recycling facilities to prevent the spread of sickness and pests. Waste management infrastructure projects consist of building and properly maintaining these facilities.

Waste management also includes water waste management, which keeps rivers, lakes and oceans clean. Wastewater collection systems filter out harmful substances in water (such as soaps, food scraps and other solids) before returning it to natural bodies of water.

Examples of waste management infrastructures include:

  • Landfills
  • Treatment plants
  • Recycling facilities
  • Storage facilities
  • Solid and hazardous waste transport
  • Wastewater facilities

9. Recreation facilities

Recreation infrastructure provides facilities and services that help bring communities together through the use of shared public amenities in surrounding neighborhoods. Recreation infrastructure projects include designing new facilities that communities can enjoy and maintaining existing structures, such as parks, playgrounds and nature reserves.

Examples of recreation facilities include:

  • Public parks and playgrounds
  • Public beaches
  • Historical sites
  • Nature reserves
  • Public bathrooms
  • Picnic areas
  • Public parking areas

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