Is It Finally Infrastructure Week?

July 29, 2020 | 9am PDT | 12pm EDT

If construction happens in a city and no one is around to complain... is it completed ahead of schedule and under budget? Until very recently, frustrations with never ending construction were simply part of urban experience. With traffic significantly reduced by COVID-19, infrastructure projects all over the world are being undertaken at a rapid rate and resulting in significant cost reductions. In many cities, local leaders are taking the opportunity to construct infrastructure that prioritizes wellbeing, such as bike lane networks in Bogotá and increased space for pedestrians in Athens. These places and others are not only betting on the fact that cities will bounce back, but that this is an incredible opportunity to improve them. 

Yet it’s been a long time since infrastructure was simply about planes, trains, and automobiles; digital infrastructure – IoT, sensors, big data, et al – has proliferated in cities all over the world, and COVID-19 has presented an opportunity for a massive increase in surveillance technology for purposes of tracing infection patterns. 

In this episode of The Big Rethink, we’ll take a long look at the many interpretations of infrastructure in cities and how they’re being altered by COVID-19. We’ll explore ambitious, wellbeing-focused infrastructure projects from all over the world, the scale of funding required for cities to keep riding this infrastructure wave, and whether the proliferation of surveillance technology today foreshadows a world of cities without privacy.

Sascha Haselmayer
CEO, Citymart; Fellow, New America

Julie Kim
Senior Fellow, Financing Strategies, NewCities

John Macomber
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School

Greg Lindsay
Director of Applied Research, NewCities