Following last week’s news that America’s infrastructure is receiving an overall grade of a D+, some construction industry experts are making the argument construction technology can help build infrastructure in a more effective manner. The question becomes can information technology help America boost its infrastructure GPA?

The ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), www.asce.org, Reston, Va., released its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure last week and gives the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of a D+. Such infrastructure includes aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, ports, rail, roads, transit, wastewater, and more.

Even though this is the first time the grades rose overall, the group still predicts $1.6 trillion additional funds need to be invested to get infrastructure to an acceptable grade level. To sum up, this Report Card suggests the nation’s infrastructure may soon fail to meet society’s needs if more investment isn’t made.

However, there is a solution that can help deliver projects without breaking the budget—technology. Mike DeLacey, president, Microdesk, www.microdesk.com, Nashua, N.H., a company providing consulting services to the construction industry, makes the point that construction technology can help fix America’s aging infrastructure.

He is quick to say technology in and of itself will not raise the grade, but rather leadership in Washington is needed to help raise general awareness. From there, technology will allow the construction industry to fix infrastructure with the money that is available.

Processes such as BIM (building information modeling) can help reduce waste and improve collaboration, resulting in projects that are delivered on time and under budget. DeLacey says BIM can cut the cost of construction by 7-9%. A number of different software programs allow for modeling, scheduling, and estimating on construction projects in general.

More so than that, technology is also continuing to advance specifically for the infrastructure segment of the construction market. As an example, FEA (finite-element analysis) systems can help analyze structural data of bridges. Data is gathered by comparing predicted performance results of a structure with realtime data related to capacity. This allows users to calculate the life of a structure and assess if there is a need for restructuring work.

Jonathan Danos, an infrastructure specialist and founder of 3S Structural Steel Solutions, has already begun implementing FEA for monitoring and maintenance work. Such technology comes from Fynite Solutions, www.fynitesolutions.com, Moon Township, Pa., which provides Bridge Rating Analysis that can analyze bridge structure such as steel fatigue, corrosion, temperature stress, collision damage, and structural defects.

The technology allows construction companies to assess complex and large-scale designs, as well as analyze existing structures. The use of this technology enables a better understanding of structural data.

As America searches for a way to improve its infrastructure, construction technology can help by providing the means to build structures as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. Teams working on these types of projects might consider BIM, FEA, and other methods to deliver projects on time and under budget.