We explain what infrastructure is, its types, examples and importance in areas such as the economy, urban planning and computing.

Infrastructure includes facilities, institutions, and systems.

What is infrastructure?

Infrastructure is the set of services, technical means and facilities that allow the developing of an activity. The word infrastructure comes from Latin infra ("Below") and structus ("Built"), and therefore this term is used to refer to a structure that supports another, acting as its base.

In its most frequent use, infrastructure includes the set of public works, facilities, institutions, systems and networks that support the operation of cities, countries and other forms of social organization.

As examples of infrastructure, we can point out: telecommunications systems, power plants, schools, financial institutions, hospitals, airports, bridges, dams, the distribution networks of drinking water and of Energy, waste management, waterways, ports, railways, highways, automobile traffic control, industrial parks and military installations of a country.

Infrastructure and superstructure

The word infrastructure became an important concept for the Marxist thought. For this current, infrastructure is the material basis of a society: the set of economic processes, productive forces and production relations that create and sustain the superstructure of a society.

According to Marxism, the superstructure is the set of legal, political and ideological elements that characterize a given society. This superstructure arises from and depends on the infrastructure.

The form of production of a society (infrastructure) will result in different ideologies, beliefs, laws and cultural expressions (superstructure).

Hard, soft and critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure is essential for the functioning of the State.
  • Hard infrastructure. They are the material or physical aspects of the infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, factories, ports and airports.
  • Soft infrastructure. It is the human capital and the institutions that give added value to the physical aspects of the infrastructure. That added value is the set of knowledge, expertise, methods Y normative that optimize the performance of hard infrastructure.
  • Critical infrastructure. They are essential elements for the operation of the Condition. These are systems or networks of such importance that their weakening, sabotage or destruction threaten the security of the State. For example: emergency services, nuclear reactors, communications and financial services.

Urban infrastructure

The urban infrastructure is made up of all the structures, networks and services that allow the normal functioning of citizen life. The maintenance and management of public space, public transportation, waste collection, sewerage and lighting networks, and security forces belong to the infrastructure of a modern city.

The urban infrastructure is characterized by its great complexity because every modern city is, at the same time, a place of residence, work and recreation for large human masses.

It is estimated that in the near future 70 percent of the population world will live in cities. This has raised the need to conceive “smart cities” that optimize the uses of urban infrastructure resources.

Economic infrastructure

The economic infrastructure is the set of facilities and services that support or facilitate the productive activity of a country or a region.

For example, ground transportation, river or maritime make economic activity feasible. Also, telecommunications, energy, irrigation systems and collection centers are elements of the economic infrastructure.

Military infrastructure

Military infrastructure includes facilities like the Pentagon in the United States.

Military or defense infrastructure refers to the permanent buildings and facilities that allow a country's military operations.Barracks, barracks, communications centers, air bases, weapons and ammunition warehouses or parks, missile systems, maritime facilities, among others, belong to this category.

Network infrastructure

Network infrastructure is called the set of resources of hardware Y software necessary for any business or industry that uses telecommunications and Internet.

Typically a network infrastructure includes: computers, routers, telephony, wiring, operating systems, network security applications, computer protocols, among other elements. These resources allow connectivity, communications and communication management internal of said organizations.

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