Why it’s time for IT to notice the $114B spent on Canada’s infrastructure projects

This year, the impressive collection of Canada’s top 100 infrastructure projects total an astounding $114 billion investment (18% more than last year!). Only five years ago, a list as impressive as this one would have gone unnoticed by companies in the IT industry. Our industry would have simply dismissed it as just concrete, big cranes and increased traffic congestion.

On their side, the companies involved in the largest projects would have not given IT much thought either. Traditionally, IT components in construction would have comprised as low as 0.25% (civil) to as high as 3% (commercial) of the total project budget – probably not more than $400 million of the $114 billion investment. IT would have been a rounding error, an afterthought.

Times have changed. IT is increasingly becoming required and even mission critical for the development of future infrastructure projects. The driving force will come from a need for connectivity; connected lighting controls and HVAC in buildings; transportation systems (e.g. automated toll systems); sensors; wireless devices in vehicles and on persons, and so forth. Everything is becoming connected and interdependent. The underlying networks will need to be built or updated to support the massive increase of traffic (bits and bytes) and activity (transactions).

Additionally, the required compute power for the “analytics” that help enable optimal performance of our infrastructure (utilization, economics, energy) is calling for data centres and the secure availability of the cloud.

Not long from now, I suspect that we will find IT as a significant component of some of the infrastructure projects in the top 100 as provinces, municipalities and businesses develop this mission critical infrastructure. IT will be more than a rounding error and will become, like concrete, the foundation for a smart and connected world.

About Rick Huijbregts

Rick Huijbregts is Vice President of Industry Transformation where he is responsible for Cisco Canada’s IoE strategy and industry business development. The members of his team are industry subject matter experts and each engage in the transformation of their respective industries (healthcare, oil and gas, financial services, education, real estate, and industrial sector). Huijbregts is also General Manager for Cisco Canada’s Smart + Connected Communities practice, including Smart + Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts holds construction and architecture degrees from Tilburg Polytechnic University and Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University. Huijbregts is currently a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he teaches classes on Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. He also serves on several boards of Canadian academic institutions and not-for-profits. Rick Huijbregts est vice-président de la transformation sectorielle dont les responsabilités comptent la stratégie de l’internet multidimensionnel et le développement commercial du secteur industriel de Cisco Canada. Les membres de son équipe sont tous des experts dans différents domaines et œuvrent à la transformation de leurs secteurs d’activité respectifs (santé, énergie, services financiers, enseignement, immobilier et industrie). Huijbregts est également directeur général du segment des communautés intelligentes et connectées, dont le volet immotique des immeubles intelligents et connectés de Cisco Canada. M. Huijbregts est titulaire de diplômes en construction et architecture de l’université Tilburg Polytechnic et de l’université Delft aux Pays-Bas ainsi que d’un doctorat de l’université Harvard. Il est actuellement professeur de Harvard à la faculté d’études supérieures pour les cadres en aménagement urbain où il donne des cours sur la gestion intelligente des immeubles et des villes. Il siège également à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’universités et d’organismes à but non lucratif.
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