Cyndee Hoagland is the Senior Vice President of the Owner and Public Sector markets at Trimble. We asked her some questions regarding recent changes in infrastructure funding and infrastructure management, as well as how communities can best plan for the future. Here is how our conversation went:
Q: What can utility organizations and local governments expect from the recent changes in infrastructure funding and policy? How can they best prepare for the future?
CYNDEE: Utility organizations and local governments should anticipate that the main focus of federal funding programs will be on addressing sustainability, resiliency, social equity, and the adoption of digital asset maintenance strategies that embrace efficient lifecycle management.
Organizations can prepare for upcoming changes in infrastructure funding by exploring what programs are available and by assessing how to effectively apply funding in order to enhance the sustainability, equity, and efficiency of their communities. An owner’s ability to utilize infrastructure asset data and coordinate effective communication between various stakeholders and departments will be critical for successful implementation of funding.
Finding good partners and technologies that focus on improving data standards and streamlining workflows is very important. Communities should seek out partners and resources that emphasize a lifecycle approach to asset management and empower them to control their data and workflows.
Q: What does the future of infrastructure and infrastructure management look like?
CYNDEE: The future of infrastructure and infrastructure management is largely technology and data-driven. Asset management workflows will be more collaborative, automated, and integratable. Communities will seek out technologies that have a built-out ecosystem of solutions that work well together, as well as solutions that are open and based on data standards. Data will be more accurate and effective throughout the lifecycle of public infrastructure—from design and construction to operations.
New technologies such as AI and machine learning will be adopted and assist in providing accurate infrastructure data. As agencies embrace digital delivery as a requirement for their improvement and expansion projects, they will be able to take advantage of the ability to enable all project stakeholders to collaborate in ways that facilitate efficiency, visibility, and transparency. Furthermore, digital delivery agencies can see the value of Building Information Models (BIM) beyond the construction phase and into operations, enabling them to make real-time predictive decision-making for capital investments—maximizing ROI on infrastructure assets through the lens of sustainability, safety, and resiliency.
Q: What current industry trends should utilities and agencies be aware of?
CYNDEE: There has been a big push in the infrastructure management industry to focus on sustainability, digital delivery, and digital asset management. This has prompted a large number of owners to adopt technologies that are mobile and cloud-based. Organizations are now more reliant on automation and integrations to optimize and streamline their workflows.
Owners are placing more of an emphasis on the full lifecycle of their assets, especially in the planning and design phase of projects. Small tweaks to project workflows, such as injecting asset IDs as attributes in asset models, allows for more effective data collection on projects and keeps the prolonged maintenance of infrastructure in mind.
Q: What seems to be the greatest challenge for communities when it comes to infrastructure and how can they overcome those challenges?
CYNDEE: Currently, there is a major shift in the age of the workforce. Many communities are losing staff that are approaching the age of retirement. The majority of these employees have been in the industry for decades and the amount of new talent willing to work in local government is limited.
With the upcoming influx of federal and state infrastructure funding, it will be challenging for communities to compete for funds as well as deliver on projects without these skilled employees. That being said, those who are entering local government are younger, more tech-savvy, and willing to embrace technology that can automate and streamline older processes, which will allow agencies to become more efficient with fewer employees. For workers in the workforce today, many of the technologies available are designed with survey or construction workflows in mind, so it’s easier to learn and understand how to use those technologies.
Another challenge for communities will be gaining access and/or visibility to the various grant programs as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and determining how to best orient themselves to be awarded funding.
Q: What is the greatest benefit that Trimble and Cityworks offer to utilities and agencies around the world?
CYNDEE: Trimble and Cityworks provide a variety of solutions that help communities improve their workflows. We connect owner-level business needs with field data and technology that enhances the management of infrastructure throughout its full lifecycle. What is really key is Trimble’s open and integrated approach. It facilitates improved data management from design to construction to operations and maintenance. This provides enormous value to utilities and agencies. We have spent years taking inputs from design, using those inputs with technology to build, and then producing outputs that drive so many systems and operations owners need—such as GIS, BIM, Asset Management, Capital Planning, Safety, Maintenance, and even sharing better data with other agencies and partners.
Q: Any tips or tricks for industry professionals wanting to get the most out of Trimble’s extensive resources?
CYNDEE: Industry professionals can start out by determining specific data and workflows they would like to update and enhance. After this has been determined, they can reach out to Trimble and Trimble partners and share the data and workflows they would like to work on.
Q: What made you choose the career that you are in? What originally drew you to it?
CYNDEE: I have always had an interest in American politics, both locally—in my own city and state—as well as nationally. I believe in advocating for positive change in the world and Trimble helps push this goal forward by developing and providing purposeful technology that has a positive impact on communities around the world.
Trimble is a company driven by purpose. Its products and services help improve the efficiency of crop yields and water, as well as help move goods and supplies across the country and assist in building safer and more sustainable infrastructure. I have been very fortunate in my career at Trimble to help tell our story to local, state, and federal officials and share how we are transforming the way the world works across the industries we serve and how we are helping to create a better future.