Infrastructure in the Digital Age
    Category: Column By : Scott Younger Read : 635 Date : Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 11:26:18

    With innovation taking place on a regular basis in the digital age, it is hard to reconcile the opportunities that are available to society connected to technology compared with those still scratching out a living to survive. The changes that will occur over the century arising from technology, however, will provide opportunities to reach into levels of society currently deprived.

    Living patterns will change as steady urbanization means most people will live in close proximity to each other. People will also live longer, and an individual’s aspirations for a contented lifestyle will bring different challenges.

    From a sustainable development point of view, today’s governments and communities are still grappling with providing adequate connectivity across most countries, and to provide the necessary movements that people have come to expect daily, as well as a regular supply of food, water and energy. Many of the basic processes and procedures that are applied to these needs have evolved over the past half century since the advent of computers, and their continual upgrading in capability can help solve hugely complex problems, something unthinkable before.

    However, today’s professional engineering and other technical staff must change their approach to solving problems to take advantage of new digital technologies, not only in processes for sustainable construction, but also in subsequent operations, with flexibility for upgrading, as technologies offer more efficient approaches to the work.

    For Indonesia, however, the deficit in the construction of basic infrastructure, whatever the sector, is still hampering the country’s development, although there’s a greater effort to make up for lost ground now. It’s much needed if the most unconnected people in the country are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital age and, simultaneously, not fall further behind those who have the advantage of easier access allowed by an urban environment.

    However, the delivery of key infrastructure to deprived areas remains hampered by elements of the bureaucracy and this has to change, especially where electricity is either missing or only erratically served. The target of 19.5% of electricity generated by 2025 to come from renewable sources will not be achieved unless there is a major change in the regulatory structures needed to encourage the use of renewable energy, and reduction in the current inefficient supply and use of diesel in remote areas.

    There is a recognized significant national shortage in skilled staff even for the straightforward build out of basic infrastructure. While some of this has to be attributed to lack of education in both its quality and quantity, the lack of connectivity and access to electricity has also much to do with underperformance in education across the archipelago.     

    Achieving sustainable development has a long way to go, and education and pre-digital age infrastructure must remain as top priorities.