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Public Works Finds Its Voice in Future Structure

May 1, 2014

Public Works Finds Its Voice in Future Structure

By Mike Eastling, City of Richfield

FutureStructure is a joint initiative of e.Republic's Governing Institute and Center for Digital Government to help think through and solve challenges faced in building economically and socially robust communities and regions. The aim of FutureStructure is to overcome constraints inherent in haphazard and siloed approaches that communities often take when conceiving, investing in and building their future. 

Learn more by watching the video below.

The tagline for this new perspective is: "FutureStructure – a new framework. What we build, how we build it, and how everything we build interconnects with everything else."

FutureStructure looks at three, self-reinforcing building blocks:

1. Soft – The ideas that define what we build. Plus, the human capital systems that enable education, good jobs and livable communities.

2. Hard – Infrastructure: roads, water, and energy systems, schools.

3. Tech – The evolving set of tools to build the future. Today, technology is increasingly connected and smarter, allowing us to conceive and build in new and better ways.

In FutureStructure, the editors are connecting infrastructure and community-building. When the editors made that connection, I believe they are finding a voice for the “fundamental change” that is happening in public works.

Public works leaders will need to embrace the coming change or step aside as others shoulder the change. How can public works leaders embrace the three self-reinforcing building blocks?

1. Soft – Ideas
Public Works Leaders need to be aware of how Public Works connects to the rest of the world. The Minnesota Chapter of APWA offers opportunities for members to connect through conferences and workshops. Now more than ever these events need to bring in perspectives from outside the traditional Public Works arena. For example, logistics experts have been presenting economics of moving goods at recent events. This information is vital to understanding why we build and maintain roads. The APWA/Hamline Leadership Academy brings this “outside the box” thinking to students.

2. Hard – Infrastructure
This building block speaks directly to Public Works. Infrastructure is in our DNA. What I find interesting is that the Future Structure editors see the importance of something that is the life blood of Public Works.

3. Tech – Tools
Changes in the tech tools we use in our jobs are happening at the speed of light. Smart phones, 3-D CADD, Email-Facebook-Twitter-Oh my!, See-click-fix, Mind-mixer. How can we keep up?

Understanding these concepts and learning more about them are core functions of APWA and the Minnesota Chapter.

To learn more, visit the FutureStructure website.

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