In April, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its quadrennial report card on the state of civil infrastructure in the United States. The overall result was a depressing D+ grade, with some categories like roads and transit faring even worse. Stephen Colbert did a sort of gallows humor segment on it. But it's really no laughing matter, and the story of urgently needed upgrades to our civil infrastructure is not unique to the U.S.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that $60 trillion (USD) in infrastructure investment is needed to maintain global GDP growth through 2030. And yet this requirement is likely to be met with only $24 trillion (USD) in funding from the world’s leading economies. To close the gap in demand for infrastructure and available funding, we need a better way to manage project complexity and drive down costs.
To help meet the challenge posed by this "infrastructure cliff," Autodesk is today introducing Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro, a new offering of the latest 3D modeling, visualization and cloud-based collaboration technologies that will help governments and civil engineers fast-track the desperately needed infrastructure projects and maintain a foundation for sustainable economic growth.
With its ability to import a variety of existing conditions data including GIS, satellite imagery and point clouds (including those generated by Autodesk ReCap), Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro makes it possible to rapidly create proposals and designs within the context of real site conditions. And its cloud-based capabilities allow stakeholders in geographically dispersed offices to publish, store, collaborate and manage large infrastructure models centrally in the cloud where they can be accessed anytime, from anywhere, via desktop or mobile devices. The virtually unlimited power of the cloud can also be used for computational intensive aspects of performance analysis, simulation and high-resolution visualizations for complex infrastructure projects.
Those 3D visualizations allow designers and engineers to communicate and get better-informed input from government officials and the public alike, which can accelerate the often-lengthy approvals process for infrastructure projects. Design options for roadways or bridges or rail lines seen in 3D in the context of what already exists in the physical environment can be far better-understood by non-technical citizens than 2D drawings ever could.
In just one example, an earlier version of the software was used by the City of San Francisco last month to get stakeholder input on designs to revitalize the city's central thoroughfare Market Street.
In addition to democratizing access to design data for non-technical stakeholders, Autodesk is also democratizing access to the software itself with new quarterly access plans. To accommodate long or short project needs, users have the flexibility to renew at the end of each quarter.
This change to expand access on a shorter-term basis and the shift to cloud-based software follows other similar recent moves by Autodesk such as the June launch of Autodesk Fusion 360, which gives affordable monthly access to sophisticated 3D product design tools for individual inventors and small businesses.
Infrastructure may be the far other end of the spectrum in terms of project size, but the impulse to expand access and give engineers the tools they need to solve the world's grand challenges is the same.
For more information, please see the news release issued today.