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20 June, 2024
Greenfields, Brownfields… and now Bluefields, the new PPPs for digital roads are coming

After the pandemic, the infrastructure sector is focusing on new challenges to face again potential disruptions in the future: intensifying its operational resilience, the affordability of infrastructure, the need for sustainability and a critical enabler, the deployment of new technologies.

In the case of roads, the digitalization of this infrastructure is a transformative process that will reshape the way we interact with it, from the user and operational perspective. The technological advancements enhance efficiency, resilience, sustainability, and safety on the roads but also open a question on how to finance these projects that require a high level of investments.

Traditional procurement contracts by operators or Departments of Transportation could be an initial way to learn how this process works. However, the ambition for this kind of investments requires a long-term vision with a minimum time of implementation of around 5-10 years. This opens the door for new public-private collaborations where the key is not the pavement but the digital information of the traffic and vehicles. It is not Greenfield, nor Brownfield. We are talking about a new specimen, the Bluefields. The upgrade of an existing pure physical highway towards a minimum level of digitalization that will allow a basic set of new services to emerge, as the exchange of information with users and vehicles or the enablement of automate driving. We already have some first examples of this PPP visionary approach in Michigan or California.


This investment in infrastructure would also impact positively on the OEMs delivering CAVs as they will have another source of (actual) truth for their algorithms, increasing safety for their drivers. This safety level should not be a binary value, yes or no, but a variable indicator that users should know when driving on their journey. This could allow them, for example, to know when to activate the autonomous mode of the vehicle or when to keep their hands on the steering wheel in the traditional style.

In this sense, Globalvia is deploying the NeoRoads initiative in Pocahontas Parkway (Virginia). It represents a significant leap forward in road digitalization, offering a comprehensive suite of services for connected cars that include the deployment of 5G networks, IoT devices and Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Globalvia has also invested in Cavnue aiming to deploy the first digital corridor for autonomous cars in the I-94 in Michigan. What does this mean for drivers? This means receiving real-time road insights, better traffic management and enhancement of the overall passenger and driving experience.

In summary, the digitalization of roads is not just a technological upgrade but an opportunity to strengthen public-private partnerships with a new vision, driving innovation, and moving towards a more sustainable, safe and connected future. Bluefields are here to stay.


Fernando Vallejo, Chief Innovation, Information and Sustainability Officer at Globalvia and Managing Director at Openvia Mobility.