Every time I drive to the office there are 11 separate stoplights along my route. Based on some cosmic luck-of-the-draw, two thirds of the stoplights will either be red or green, and the time it takes me will vary from 12 to 22 minutes.
Yes, it’s a relatively short commute. But the countless hours spent every year sitting mindlessly at ill-timed stoplights represents a tremendous expense of time, fuel, and resources that not only I, but also the majority of workers in America bear, all because of one tiny piece of ancient infrastructure – the dumb stoplight.
Indeed many communities are beginning to shift to intelligent traffic systems that constantly adjust patterns to better match the flow of cars. But this long overdue transition is happening at great expense to cities, an expense that cities themselves derive very little direct benefit from.
In this one teeny example, we can begin to see the challenges ahead for dealing with infrastructure. Not only is it expensive to maintain and upgrade what we have, but more importantly, it blinds us to what-comes-next.
For this reason, I’d like to take you along on a journey into the complex world of future infrastructure, and the curse of every legacy system that accompanies it.