New York— Microdesk, a leading provider of business and technology consulting services to help firms successfully plan, design, build and operate land and buildings, unveiled the results of its 2013 “State of the Industry” survey. The survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted online in August by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microdesk, asked questions regarding their sentiments on a wide range of issues, from what infrastructure is believed to be at greatest risk to how improvements should be facilitated.
Following a year in which Americans witnessed the devastating impact of natural disasters including Hurricane Sandy and infrastructure failures such as bridge and building collapses throughout the country, the survey revealed Americans are keenly aware of the country’s failing infrastructure system.
A 2013 report from The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a “D+” grade based on condition and needed fiscal investments. According to the survey results, Americans’ sentiments echo the ASCE’s findings, with 77% giving infrastructure a “C” grade or below.
The World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitive Report ranked infrastructure in America as 15th among world economies, behind Singapore, United Arab Emirates and others. Americans also recognize that the U.S. is falling behind. Only 20% think the U.S. ranks first or among the top five.
As America’s infrastructure system faces increased scrutiny, 41% of Americans believe that bridges will be most vulnerable to damage and decay. 26% believe that roads will be most vulnerable.
Asked to provide insight on what three types of infrastructure systems should receive government funding, sentiment again heavily leaned towards bridges and roads.
Americans, overwhelmingly concerned with bridges, believe the average age of U.S. bridges is 48 years old. The ASCE sites the average age is 42, indicating Americans may be overly cautious on bridge viability and recognize most are nearing the end of their typical 50-year design life.
Americans rank major infrastructure failures as their greatest infrastructure-related concern (32%), followed by tax increases due to repairs needed (20 percent).
Overwhelmingly, 93% of Americans feel that the government should play any primary role in helping guide U.S. infrastructure improvement.
While President Obama made unsuccessful attempts to call on lawmakers to approve funding this past year, the survey reveals a majority of Americans (41%) believe the lack of funding for proper maintenance is the greatest risk to the U.S. infrastructure system.
As concern mounts around major infrastructure failures, and the associated costs, Americans identify the following solutions for getting America’s infrastructure back on its feet:
Technology: a majority (90% agrees that technology plays an important part in improving the quality of U.S. infrastructure.
Private vs. Public Funding: 68% disagree that improvements should be financed by private funding, not government funding.
Regulation: 75% agree that increased government attention in the form of laws and funding is needed to improve the quality of infrastructure.
“After a hard year in which Americans experienced the devastating effects of everything from hurricanes and tornados to bridge failures and train derailments, there is a strong awareness that our infrastructure system is in serious danger,” said Michael DeLacey, President, Microdesk. “Our consumer survey shows that Americans are looking for a combination of government leadership and funding, along with new technologies, to get U.S. infrastructure back on its feet. This mirrors the sentiment we saw in our first State of the Industry survey2, as well as other recent polls of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry professionals. As consumer awareness grows, now is the time for a serious discussion around next steps.”