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What is infrastructure? 

Infrastructure is a set of facilities, services, and technical means that support carrying out activities. The term is often used to refer to public works, institutions, and systems that belong to a city and a country, but it can also mean the infrastructure of a company or other type of organization.

Infrastructures are created at the intersection of many professional disciplines. Some examples of infrastructure include: road networks, telecommunications systems, public buildings, service distribution networks, waste management systems, etc.

What types of infrastructure are there?

Depending on its characteristics, infrastructure can be:

  • Hard: made up of material or physical elements, such as roads, buildings, airports, etc.
  • Soft: the human capital and social organizations that give life to hard infrastructure. It provides the expertise, methods, and regulations that enable hard infrastructure to function.
  • Critical: these are essential elements. Their weakening, sabotage, or destruction threatens the security of a country or the survival of an institution. For example: emergency services, communications, and financial services. 

Depending on its role, infrastructure may be:

  • Urban: enables the operation of cities. Urban infrastructure is characterized by its complexity because every contemporary city is a place of residence, work, and recreation all at once for large numbers of people. It includes public transportation, public space management, waste management, security forces, sewage networks, etc.
  • Economic: the set of facilities and services that enable a country or a region’s productive activity; for example, energy production and distribution systems, transportation routes (land, river, sea, and air), etc.
  • Military or defense: combines hard, soft, and critical infrastructures, and is what enables a country’s military operations or a company’s security.

What is the importance of infrastructure?

The infrastructure and development of a country are closely linked, especially from an economic point of view. Every year, the World Economic Forum analyzes the Infrastructure Quality Competitiveness Index, which evaluates more than 140 countries in the world.

Although the analysis considers several factors, those associated with transportation infrastructure are essential for the economy (regardless of whether it is by land, air, sea, or rail transport) to enhance value chains.

An adequate transportation infrastructure is essential for a country’s economic development because it reduces marketing costs, integrates markets, and promotes mobility. In addition, it is essential to aspire to higher growth rates and access new markets, diversifying them.

What benchmarks are there in terms of infrastructure in Spain?

The Ferrovial Company has been carrying out railway infrastructure efficiently since 1952. Ferrovial has also built unique buildings needed for managing the road network, such as train stations and maintenance and logistics areas; these entail the construction of large engineering works such as bridges, viaducts, tunnels, and even auxiliary roads.

In Spain, Ferrovial has developed almost five kilometers of railways; 722 kilometers of these are related to high-speed lines, and 24% belong to Spanish AVE lines (RENFE): Madrid-Andalusia (160), Madrid-Barcelona (237), Madrid-Northwest (128), and Madrid-Levante (197).

Ferrovial has also had a prominent role in projects for building and managing airports, water treatment plants, buildings, museums, theaters, warehouses, and solar towers, to name a few, for both the public and private sectors. 

Fun facts about infrastructure

  • After the acute phase of the COVID-19 crisis, governments have had to invest more than ever in infrastructure to accelerate economic recovery, create jobs, reduce poverty, and stimulate productive investment. 
  • The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the urgent need for resilient infrastructure, especially in the face of climate change.
  • It is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities in the near future. This challenge requires the creation of smart cities through complex urban infrastructures.

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