Disruptive Technologies in Construction

A disruptive technology is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) last month released a thoughtful report called “Infrastructure Game Changers” which recognized disruptive technologies in energy, freight, transportation and water infrastructure work.

From new technologies to project delivery methods, pioneering communities across the country are taking steps to modernize their infrastructure. By making the investment, these communities are positioning themselves for economic growth and preparing for tomorrow’s challenges now.

The report, available at www.ASCEgamechangers.org, pinpoints project examples from across the country for each trend, including:


  • Ridesharing and transit apps
  • Robotic inspections
  • Bus rapid transit
  • Smart parking systems
  • Accelerated bridge construction


  • LiDAR and drone technology
  • Integrating renewables
  • Preparing for blackouts with resilience


  • Extracting energy from waste
  • Recycled and reclaimed water
  • Desalinated water


  • Public-private partnerships for inland waterways
  • Preparing for the Panama Canal expansion

On the Horizon

  • 3D printing technology
  • Standards for Adaptive and Resilient Infrastructure
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Self-healing asphalt


Civil Problem Solvers

“Civil engineers are by nature problem solvers,” said Robert D. Stevens, PhD, PE, ASCE president. “There are a lot of innovative ideas coming to fruition that can modernize our nation’s infrastructure. However, these game changers will only become the norm if we seize the opportunity and invest, not just be satisfied with maintaining the status quo.”

“Infrastructure Game Changers” was developed by ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure – seasoned engineers with expertise across the major infrastructure sectors, and the same group who develops ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. It was done in close collaboration with ASCE’s Institutes, as well as industry associations and the local/state government agencies who work on these projects.

The report includes a place for readers to submit additional infrastructure game changers, which will be assessed using a similar process as the initial release.

“Technology is certainly changing the way we approach solving a lot of our problems, but it doesn’t have to stop there,” said Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA). “I have always been a big proponent of P3s – Public-Private Partnerships – which leverage private sector dollars for public use. Innovation and thinking outside the box are imperative if we are to serve the taxpayers with the greatest efficiency possible. These represent more tools in the toolbox.”