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Infrastructure is the set of facilities and systems that serve a country, city, or other area, and encompasses the services and facilities necessary for its economy, households and firms to function. Infrastructure is composed of public and private physical structures such as roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, and telecommunications (including Internet connectivity and broadband access). In general, infrastructure has been defined as "the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions" and maintain the surrounding environment.
Especially in light of the massive societal transformations needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change, contemporary infrastructure conversations frequently focus on sustainable development and green infrastructure. Acknowledging this importance, the international community has created policy focused on sustainable infrastructure through the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Sustainable Development Goal 9 "Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure".
One way to describe different types of infrastructure is to classify them as two distinct kinds: hard infrastructure and soft infrastructure. Hard infrastructure refers to the physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industry. This includes roads, bridges, and railways. Soft infrastructure refers to all the institutions that maintain the economic, health, social, environmental, and cultural standards of a country.This includes educational programs, official statistics, parks and recreational facilities, law enforcement agencies, and emergency services.
A way to embody personal infrastructure is to think of it in terms of human capital. Human capital is defined by the Encyclopædia Britannica as “intangible collective resources possessed by individuals and groups within a given population". The goal of personal infrastructure is to determine the quality of the economic agents’ values. This results in three major tasks: the task of economic proxies in the economic process (teachers, unskilled and qualified labor, etc.); the importance of personal infrastructure for an individual (short and long-term consumption of education); and the social relevance of personal infrastructure. Essentially, personal infrastructure maps the human impact on infrastructure as it is related to the economy, individual growth, and social impact.
Institutional infrastructure branches from the term "economic constitution". According to Gianpiero Torrisi, institutional infrastructure is the object of economic and legal policy. It compromises the grown and sets norms. It refers to the degree of fair treatment of equal economic data and determines the framework within which economic agents may formulate their own economic plans and carry them out in co-operation with others.
Sustainable infrastructure refers to the processes of design and construction that take into consideration their environmental, economic, and social impact. Included in this section are several elements of sustainable schemes, including materials, water, energy, transportation, and waste management infrastructure. Although there are endless other factors of consideration, those will not be covered in this section.
Material infrastructure is defined as “those immobile, non-circulating capital goods that essentially contribute to the production of infrastructure goods and services needed to satisfy basic physical and social requirements of economic agents".There are two distinct qualities of material infrastructures:
1) fulfillment of social needs and 2) mass production. The first characteristic deals with the basic needs of human life. The second characteristic is the non-availability of infrastructure goods and services. Today, there are various materials that can be used to build infrastructure. The most prevalent ones are asphalt, concrete, steel, masonry, wood, polymers and composites.
According to the business dictionary, economic infrastructure can be defined as "internal facilities of a country that make business activity possible, such as communication, transportation and distribution networks, financial institutions and markets, and energy supply systems". Economic infrastructure support productive activities and events. This includes roads, highways, bridges, airports, cycling infrastructure, water distribution networks, sewer systems, and irrigation plants.
Social infrastructure can be broadly defined as the construction and maintenance of facilities that support social services.Social infrastructures are created to increase social comfort and promote economic activity. These include schools, parks and playgrounds, structures for public safety, waste disposal plants, hospitals, and sports areas.
Core assets provide essential services and have monopolistic characteristics. Investors seeking core infrastructure look for five different characteristics: income, low volatility of returns, diversification, inflation protection, and long-term liability matching. Core infrastructure incorporates all the main types of infrastructure, such as roads, highways, railways, public transportation, water, and gas supply.
Basic infrastructure refers to main railways, roads, canals, harbors and docks, the electromagnetic telegraph, drainage, dikes, and land reclamation. It consist of the more well-known and common features of infrastructure that we come across in our daily lives (buildings, roads, docks).
Complementary infrastructure refers to things like light railways, tramways, and gas/electricity/water supply. To complement something means to bring it to perfection or complete it. Complementary infrastructure deals with the little parts of the engineering world that make life more convenient and efficient. They are needed to ensure successful usage and marketing of an already finished product, like in the case of road bridges. Other examples are lights on sidewalks, landscaping around buildings, and benches where pedestrians can rest.
Engineering and construction
Engineers generally limit the term "infrastructure" to describe fixed assets that are in the form of a large network; in other words, hard infrastructure. Efforts to devise more generic definitions of infrastructures have typically referred to the network aspects of most of the structures, and to the accumulated value of investments in the networks as assets. One such definition from 1998 defined infrastructure as the network of assets "where the system as a whole is intended to be maintained indefinitely at a specified standard of service by the continuing replacement and refurbishment of its components".
Civil defense and economic development
Civil defense by country
Civil defense planners and developmental economists generally refer to both hard and soft infrastructure, including public services such as schools and hospitals, emergency services such as police and fire fighting, and basic services in the economic sector. The notion of infrastructure-based development combining long-term infrastructure investments by government agencies at central and regional levels with public private partnerships has proven popular among economists in Asia (notably Singapore and China), mainland Europe, and Latin America.
Military infrastructure is the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support of military forces, whether they are stationed in bases, being deployed or engaged in operations. Examples include barracks, headquarters, airfields, communications facilities, stores of military equipment, port installations, and maintenance stations.
Communications infrastructure is the informal and formal channels of communication, political and social networks, or beliefs held by members of particular groups, as well as information technology, software development tools. Still underlying these more conceptual uses is the idea that infrastructure provides organizing structure and support for the system or organization it serves, whether it is a city, a nation, a corporation, or a collection of people with common interests. Examples include IT infrastructure, research infrastructure, terrorist infrastructure, employment infrastructure, and tourism infrastructure.