Types of Infrastructure
Infrastructure is divided into two major classifications, “hard” and “soft”. “Hard” is obviously the roads, bridges, etc. It also relates to the big physical networks essential for the functioning of a modern industrial nation Hard infrastructures refers to physical facilities or installations needed to operate, manage and monitor a system with the intention that the structures to be permanent whereas “soft” infrastructure is human capital and institutions that develop it, such as community colleges and universities.. All the institutions which are needed to maintain the economic, health and cultural and social standards of a country may also be referred as “soft” infrastructure such as the education system, financial system, health care system, government and law enforcement. Both hard and soft infrastructure are essential for the progress and discovery of a nation.
The following are types of hard infrastructures but is limited to capital resources that serve the function of delivery or path of people, vehicles, fluids, energy or information and which take the form either of a network or of a critical node used by vehicles. One type of hard infrastructure is transport infrastructure. This type refers to the road and highway networks, transit systems (MRT and LRT), railways, canals and waterways, seaports and lighthouses, airports, bicycle paths and pedestrian lane, underpasses and ferries. Another type of hard infrastructure is energy infrastructure like power networks, gas pipes, petroleum pipes, coal handling facilities, steam or hot water production and distribution networks for district heating systems, electric vehicle networks for charging electric vehicles. Coal mines, oil wells and natural gas may be classified as part of mining and industrial sector of the economy but not part of infrastructure.
Another type is water management infrastructure and examples are those drinking water supplies, sewage collection, drainage system, major irrigation systems, major flood control systems, coastal management. Communications Infrastructure is also another type of hard infrastructure like the postal service, telephone and cell-phone networks, television and radio transmission stations, cable television, internet, satellites, undersea cables and major private, government or dedicated telecommunication networks.
Under the types of hard infrastructure, solid waste management also falls into that category. Solid waste management involves the solid waste landfills, solid waste incinerators, materials recovery facilities and hazardous waste disposal facilities. Earth monitoring and measurement network is also considered as a type of hard infrastructure like meteorological monitoring networks, tidal monitoring networks, geodetic benchmarks and many more.
“Soft” infrastructure is also consisted of groups. It involves both physical assets such as highly specialized buildings and equipment, as well as non-physical assets such as the body of rules and regulations governing the various systems. The financing of these systems, as well as the systems and organizations by which highly skilled and specialized professionals are trained, advance in their careers by having experience. Unlike hard infrastructure, the real meaning of soft infrastructure is the delivery of specialized services to people. Unlike much of the service sector of the economy, the delivery of those services depend on highly developed systems and large specialized facilities, group of specialized vehicles or institutions that share many characteristics of hard infrastructure.
Government infrastructure is one of the types of infrastructure. For example, the system of government and law enforcement, including the political, legislative, law enforcement, justice and penal systems, as well as specialized facilities and systems for collecting, storing and disseminating data, laws and regulation. Emergency services such as police, fire protection and ambulances and military infrastructure like military bases, training facilities and command centre also falls into the category of government infrastructure. Economic infrastructure is one of the groups that make up “soft” infrastructure. Economic infrastructure involves the financial system ,like the banking system and financial institutions, major business logistics facilities and systems, manufacturing infrastructure and agricultural, forestry and fisheries infrastructure.
Another one of the groups that make up soft infrastructure is social infrastructure. This included the health care systems like hospitals, health insurance and public health monitoring and regulations; educational and research systems with elementary and secondary schools, universities, specialized colleges; social welfare systems including both government support and private charity for the poor. Last group that is in the subcategory of soft infrastructure is cultural, sport and recreational infrastructure such as parks sports facilities for sports, concert halls, museums, libraries, theatres for cultural infrastructure and business travel and tourism infrastructure includes both man-made and natural attractions like convention centres, hotels and restaurants.
There are less similar systems in hard infrastructure that are usually unnoticed like earth monitoring and measurement networks but serve important daily role’s in everyone’s life. When everything is running smoothly, we don’t notice how much we need it. However, unusual disruptions such as blackouts or terrorist attacks abruptly remind us of how dependent we all are on these systems when suddenly a city goes dark. Every small interruption such as highway construction making a commute to work longer or when we can’t connect to the internet reveals our dependence. Infrastructure is always going to be part of society. In essence, the biggest problem with infrastructure is that it is geared to only take from nature, we must redesign it to give back to the natural world and allow is to live within nature in a way that expands ecology and society. Sources: