America's Digital Infrastructure Is Crumbling, Too

Last weekend I passed through the glittering main terminal of the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. It is highly efficient, utterly beautiful and ultramodern. I cannot think of a single U.S. airport that compares favorably to it in any dimension. China today is building high-speed rail networks, new modernized ports, and seemingly endless stretches of smooth highways at a prodigious rate. We used to think of a “missile gap” threatening the U.S. during the Cold War. Today we are increasingly facing an infrastructure gap -- and it is expanding daily.

And as we begin yet another tumultuous year of politics and policy in America, the White House, state-houses, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle are already putting infrastructure at the top of the political agenda. In Tuesday's State of the Union message, President Donald Trump called on Congress to allocate at least $1.5 trillion for "the infrastructure investment we need."   

Much of the conversation relates to people's most tangible perception of infrastructure: roads, rails and bridges. The media rightly give us increasingly frequent images of derailed train cars, collapsed trestles, cracked stanchions and crumbling bridges.

But in the 21st century, infrastructure is more than concrete and metal. Equally important is the digital infrastructure that underlies America’s economy and governments. In an era when goods, services and ideas are increasingly transported via the internet, the strands of fiber, routers, servers and seemingly endless lines of code that compose our digital highways and hubs are quickly becoming the backbone of U.S. infrastructure -- and it too is crumbling.

Perhaps nowhere is the U.S. greater need of information technology improvements than...

Continue reading this article by: James Stavridis & Dave Weinstein on bloomberg.com