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Please note that for our December issue of Voices, we are pleased to share the “Best Ideas” outcomes report from our 5th Global Infrastructure Initiative Summit, hosted by McKinsey in London from October 29-31, 2018.

Welcome to the October 2018 issue of Voices on Infrastructure, a collection of insights from McKinsey and industry experts on future-proofing infrastructure in a fast-changing world.

Infrastructure is a critical foundation for much of our economic activity and social life. Demand is rising not only for more infrastructure, but also for infrastructure that is produced effectively and efficiently. But we must put a high priority on making our infrastructure systems as resilient as possible to emerging trends, disruptions, and risks. Tragic accidents, like bridge and dam collapses, and natural disasters serve as stark reminders of a broad array of risks facing our infrastructure.

This issue looks at resilience through four lenses:

  • Physical resilience. How can we address the need for maintenance, as our assets slowly crumble? How can we account for climate risks and use our resources more effectively—from natural disasters to long-term water management? How can we defend infrastructure and built assets against cyber and conventional attacks?
  • Economic resilience. Technology affects both the use and the cost of infrastructure, and it can make assets obsolete or noncompetitive. Contractual terms can make or break a project financially.
  • Protecting cities from stress. Many large cities face continued rapid growth, including sudden inflows of migrants, as well as frequent shocks and emergencies. Smart-city technologies can help alleviate these stressors, and affordable housing strategies can accommodate planned and unplanned growth.
  • Cultural resilience. Amid these sweeping, and often abrupt, changes, organizations must prepare to operate with more adaptability, pragmatism, and innovation. Leaders must prioritize culture change to withstand long-term demands and threats.  

We hope these insights inspire new thinking about the long-term future of the built world and help you scale best practices in your organizations and geographies.

Jan Mischke
& Company

Jonathan Woetzel
Senior partner,
McKinsey & Company
Director, McKinsey Global Institute


More Articles


As the digital world becomes increasingly connected, it is no longer possible for infrastructure owners and operators to remain agnostic in the face of evolving cyber threats. Here’s what they can do to build an integrated cyber defense.

James Kaplan, Christopher Toomey, and Adam Tyra, McKinsey & Company


In the effort to tackle the backlog of infrastructure maintenance in the United States, five steps can help prioritize projects to not only meet the greatest needs but also build resilience.

Kristina Swallow, American Society of Civil Engineers


Climate-related risks are on the rise, and our critical infrastructure is underprepared. Both public and private infrastructure owners should pursue three actions immediately to shore up our assets.

Michael Della Rocca, Tim McManus, and Christopher Toomey, McKinsey & Company


The country’s long-term vision, use of innovative technologies, and stakeholder engagement efforts have been critical to its success.

Khoo Teng Chye, Centre for Liveable Cities


As the costs of energy-storage systems continue to fall, engineering and construction companies will need to improve their operations to stay competitive.

David Frankel, Sean Kane, and Christer Tryggestad, McKinsey & Company


Technology and data can help cities absorb future growth and weather any shocks that come their way.

Jonathan Woetzel and Jaana Remes, McKinsey & Company


To promote wider adoption of document and process standardization in the infrastructure industry, public- and private-sector organizations should foster greater collaboration during the early stages of project development.

Michael Pearson, Nick Wong, Tony Giustini, Clare Burgess, Gianluca Bacchiocchi, and Joanna Lilley, Clifford Chance


A shortage of affordable housing is taking a toll in every geography and on every segment of society. Several strategies can help governments free up supply of land, resources, and productivity.

Mourad Limam, Jan Mischke, Shannon Peloquin, Sangeeth Ram, and Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey & Company


Tony Hansen, Global Infrastructure Initiative


In an era of rising customer demands, the infrastructure industry needs to support new solutions, reshape capital markets, and take a long-term term approach to asset development.

Scott Jacobs, Generate Capital

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