Finally…An Action Movie About YOUR Job

If you have ever struggled to find the best words to define infrastructure, perhaps you can now go with comedian John Oliver’s definition of “anything that can be destroyed in an action movie”. Shining a light on the often unsung, overlooked and underfunded heroes of public service, Oliver recently spent an entire episode of his HBO series ‘Last Week Tonight’ discussing the dire status of America’s aging infrastructure. The episode (which contained adult content, as a warning) ended with this trailer teasing at the first action movie to show the real enemy to infrastructure…the slow passage of time.

While I wish we had both the ingenuity and the budget to hire Edward Norton to star in an AssetWorks video, we have to give credit where it’s due. John Oliver’s trailer “Infrastructure” adds real emotion and humor to the serious and important world of infrastructure maintenance and management. While nearly all of us drive over roads, cross bridges or engage with the public water system on a daily basis, it’s unlikely that we give thought to the people who work hard at the incremental maintenance that keeps the infrastructure safe and operational.

“If anything exciting happens, we’ve done something wrong.” It’s a funny line when delivered by a classic action movie voiceover guy. Yet, on a serious note, that’s actually true. When the public works department and DOT maintenance teams are performing routine inspections and preventive maintenance activities that keep everything running smoothly, nothing happens. At least nothing that’s the fault of an infrastructure failure. Can you imagine a job where success is determined by the lack of a failure? In the world of infrastructure maintenance, this is a bold and important reality.

The majority of America’s infrastructure was built in the mid-century and much of it is in need of major repairs which makes the role of maintenance organizations crucial. The average age of America’s 607,380 bridges is over 40 years old and in 2009 it was determined that nearly one of every nine bridges are structurally deficient. While bridge inspections and routine maintenance don’t make headlines, bridge failures do.

Some may argue that bridge failures are rare and, thankfully, they would be right. However, you can rarely go a day without hearing someone complain about traffic. Congested roadways and roads in poor repair have a daily impact on people’s lives.

These are merely two examples of the current status of America’s infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has created an infrastructure report card for each state and the nation as a whole. In 2013, the ASCE gave America a D+ when considering the status of all of our infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water, ports, public parks and schools.

While that situation sounds bleak and the funding for making the repairs uncertain, there is always a positive side to be found. There are teams of people at the federal, state and local level whose job is to care about and manage all the parts of this infrastructure. On a daily basis, there are people working to monitor, repair and improve the status of all that public infrastructure. Agencies are working with technology partners to streamline their processes and increase transparency to the public they serve.

While we have had the pleasure of working with many of these people for years and seeing just how hard they work to make sure nothing catastrophic happens on their watch, I am happy to see them finally gaining some credit. The 3 minutes you spend watching the video won’t be wasted. Not only will you learn something; you’ll be laughing along the way.

Watch the trailer for “Infrastructure” here.

Written by Kelley Ernsdorff, AssetWorks Director of Product Management


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