At a Glance – Infratech

Merging infrastructure & technology

The shift of profit from product to data has never been clearer. In this changing business climate, industries across the spectrum are learning to generate wealth from information. For companies used to handling high quantities of data (for instance, financial services), developing a culture of data integrity has been a necessary, natural progression. However, other sectors are not so well equipped. This is especially true for infrastructure owners and operators, who are increasingly working with technology companies to cope with digitalisation. The merging of legacy infrastructure and technology has been described as ‘the infratech era’.

Examples of infratech projects include motorways fitted with smart technology and power plants equipped with sensors. Adding connective technology to incumbent systems has obvious merit for both companies and consumers, gathering masses of data which is then used to inform future decisions. The point is to make infrastructures, whatever they may be, run as smoothly as possible. But instead of handling the materials they’re familiar with, infrastructure companies are learning to use personal information. This is a challenging transformation, and as with every partnership, tech firms and infrastructure companies don’t always agree. According to international law firm Pinsent Masons, the key to overcoming these sticking points is full engagement and communication between tech and infrastructure firms.

Other obstacles include deciding who exactly owns the data collected from infratech projects, and what data standards should be put in place. In this recent survey carried out by Pinsent Masons, the majority of respondents stated that infratech suffered from lagging data protection laws. The survey found that while 91 per cent of respondents favoured an open access approach to data, only 62 per cent of infratech projects actually worked in this way. Hopefully, the current uncertainty over data regulations will be aided by the enforcement of GDPR next May.