Are we wasting all of our infrastructure development?

Crossing the country and back, I passed through five really sad airports. All were dirty and rundown (although all were making efforts at renovation). Services were spotty; food was old school and unhealthy… and one even still utilized the people movers of the last century to take people between terminals. I won’t comment on security, other than to say that how we act and behave and how we look is often correlated. Pride is pride, after all.

Let’s face it: As the saying goes, we are—at best—merely putting lipstick on a pig. My apologies to the pork world.

Bottom line? Infrastructure is critical to life, to happiness, and (needless to say) essential to future development. And we in the United States are behind the eight ball.

I have written before about Y&R’s proprietary brand study BAV (Brand Asset Valuator) and our Best Countries report, where we study infrastructure because it is important to any perception of a country’s strength.

When we analyze the impact of having a well-developed infrastructure, we find it is:

o         92% correlated to the overall ranking of a country.

o         59% correlated to a country’s rank on Happiness.

o         77% correlated to a place people would live.

Think about that. Then think about the infrastructure of all kinds in your country…and then think about your happiness.

Infrastructure is an important category which carries many burdens, from communications to retail, to banking, and of course where I started—transportation.

Returning to BAV Best Countries we can see the critical importance of transportation:

o         ‘Easy to Get Around’ counts for a 72% correlation on a country’s rank on ‘Happiness.’

o         83% correlated to a place people would live.

Makes sense, no?

It gets ever clearer when you realize that the US has dropped in its overall ranking as a Best Country, and more that it doesn’t make the top ten in ‘Easy to Get Around.’

Make no mistake: As old-fashioned as it might seem, transportation infrastructure is as necessary for our future as is WIFI or Tesla’s charging stations.

It drives me crazy that we are being seduced by the driverless car distraction, irrelevant rocket ship development, and faux drone programs. As I have written before, drones are already playing an important role in many places, in many ways. The driverless cars are coming, of course, but who cares? It’s evolution. And while rockets are my passion, they are not going to make your life easier.

Yet they got it in the ancient world. 2000 years ago in Egypt, Babylon and Greece, transport of people and goods was done with carts pulled by horses or bulls. The engineers of the era quickly noticed that animals would spend much less energy when the cart was traveling on predetermined path, without possibility for steering or traveling over uneven terrain. After the Roman Empire fell, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the concept again became core to a country’s economic development.

Imagine that!

When I come home to New York and fight my way out of aging terminals to wait for a ride (because there is no place for a car to wait, then endure the traffic back to the city), I dream about The Heathrow Express and its civilized 15-minute ride to central London from the airport.

I love the Eurostar, and haven’t flown from Paris to London since it began.

So it goes. And if you pay attention to movies about the future, there is always a train.

Yet we seem to be frozen…awed by sideshow displays of technology and clever marketing programs parading as disruption. Ethereal leaders of our world exploit infrastructure, creating massive businesses that, although useful and possibly important, add no bread to your table, nor will they get you to Boston on time.

Like the ancients, they get it.


“Move fast with stable infrastructure.”

-      Mark Zuckerberg

Meanwhile, our politicians and such are creeping along pitted and potholed paths.

All aboard! Or wait until all you can do is FaceTime a visit.

What do you think?

Related posts: