The P3 Conference in Dallas last week saw private sector experts explain the virtues of the design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM) model to dozens of public sector officials and staff from across the US and beyond. Many of these discussions focused on tying the O&M to the DBF and how that generates value for money and innovation.
What emerged from those discussions is how technology refresh can be a benefit of a PPP agreement and is becoming increasingly important to authorities considering the model. The extent to which a PPP agreement can allow for technology disruption however is likely to increasingly become a topic of debate at boardrooms, councils, conferences and construction sites.
Following his two-year stint advising the current US government on infrastructure policy, Jim Ray provided Partnerships Bulletin with a two-hour demonstration of just how the latest trends in technology and data will dramatically evolve the PPP model.
He said the one thing he was repeatedly told about the value of UK schools being delivered with PPP is that they mandated technology refresh. Ray noted that for an availability based transport DBFOM you could force that technology refresh, but that would be an expensive risk to push off.
During his most recent tenure advising the US Department of Transportation, he has been working with the transport, energy, technology and data sectors to understand how and when disruptive technology shifts will occur and what the impact will be.
What is emerging is the impact on multi-modal transit, social infrastructure and the importance of cross-collaboration between sectors is beginning to be understood.
Ray said you can envisage a world where thinking about next generation technology will include emergency services, municipal buildings and schools, “and then you get into the question ‘are they delivered as well as they can?’”.
With the pipeline of schools PPPs in the US expected to pick up dramatically, Ray asked: “Where will they be located, are they located in the right place?
“Where do the schools of tomorrow need to be? Same thing can be applied to fire units and the like.”
He concluded that as we move towards some of these technology solutions we will have structures that resemble PPP but also ones that are differentiated from PPP.
“I think we are going to enter a world where there is going to be a spectrum of innovative deliveries. I am very optimistic about all of that.”