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Guest on The Infra Blog: Brigham McCown, Chairman and Founder, Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii)

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Brigham McCown on The Infra BlogBrigham A. McCown, RDML, JD, Esquire, is Chairman and Founder of the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii), an independent, national, educational organization dedicated to identifying our nation’s infrastructure needs, creating awareness of those needs, and developing public-private partnerships to address those issues.

Brigham served as the United States’ senior energy and dangerous goods transport chief for President George W. Bush as the administrator / CEO and deputy administrator / COO of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) at the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). His role included security and safety oversight of over one million daily international and domestic shipments of energy supplies by air, land, and sea, as well as oversight of the national pipeline system. This infrastructure accounted for over two-thirds of all energy commodities consumed in the country each year.

Brigham previously served as the general counsel of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), also at the USDOT where he served as the country’s top attorney over the trucking, motor coach, and moving company industries. While in this position, he also served as the administration’s lead for implementation of the surface provisions of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In addition to his federal civilian service, Brigham also served twenty-nine years of active and reserve service as a commissioned naval officer and naval aviator. His service included participation in numerous conflicts including Desert Storm and Haiti’s Operation Support Democracy. Brigham was also awarded an honorary commission of Rear Admiral (LH) in the United States Maritime Administration for his service and dedication to the national maritime effort.

Without Grid Investment, Electricity Challenges Will Only Get Worse
Look at what happened in Germany last year, where they almost fried their grid because they didn’t have the technology that could regulate the power fluctuations they were seeing from renewable power. Just for that reason alone we need to invest in the grid, and the money we put into the grid I think will come back to us ten times in savings. If we don’t do that, we’re going to continue to experience outages, we’re going to continue to experience price fluctuations and instability in the market, and as we start to move our vehicular fleet toward electric, the crunch is going to get a lot worse.

Cybersecurity: A Necessary Aspect of the Smart Grid Conversation
In the past you had to be physically here to damage something, but in today’s connected world there are people who want to do us harm, and that harm in the 21st century doesn’t necessarily come via an army or a ship or a tank, it comes through electronic warfare, through cyber warfare. Europe has been experiencing that with ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere called asymmetric or hybrid warfare, and it’s something that we ought to be talking about in the same sentence that we mention “Smart Grid” or any other type of smart technology.

Change Requires Citizen Involvement
…Each one of us and every citizen has to get more involved in infrastructure…because without infrastructure we simply cannot maintain our way of life, our mobility, we can’t see loved ones, we can’t get to goods and services that we use every day. It’s something that we, as all Americans, have taken for granted in the past, and we can’t afford to do that because everything is not OK in the infrastructure world. It’s getting worse. The day of reckoning is coming, if it’s not already here, and we are not dedicating the resources we need to fix our crumbling infrastructure because people haven’t told the politicians, “Enough is enough.”

Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure: A New Perspective
Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure does exactly what its name sounds like. We’re trying to help policymakers achieve out-of-the-box solutions for our nation’s pressing infrastructure needs. Innovation means technology, but it also means just looking at an issue from a different perspective. Quite frankly, we’ve been talking the same talk in DC and elsewhere for decades, and we’re not getting anything done, and so clearly a different approach is needed. I formed this as a former government regulator and transportation guy, and thought the idea behind it was people aren’t really talking about the issues, and so we wanted to do this from a non-partisan perspective, and that’s why Aii was founded.

Download full transcript (PDF): Brigham McCown on The Infra Blog

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