Cities & Places

Before & Beyond the Build

A blueprint for creating social value through infrastructure investments

Jacobs and Simetrica-Jacobs release a thought leadership paper which asks the question: What if infrastructure could be planned, delivered/built and operated to generate enduring social value and positive community outcomes?

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Jacobs, in collaboration with Simetrica-Jacobs, has released a new thought leadership paper titled Before & Beyond the Build: A blueprint for creating social value through infrastructure investments.

The paper explores how infrastructure investments can contribute to addressing critical societal issues and how infrastructure could be planned, delivered/built and operated to generate enduring social value at scale and help overcome entrenched social issues in our communities.

The paper takes a systemic approach, looking to emerging models and trends from across the public, private and community sectors that are gaining traction and demonstrating impact on smaller scale, one-off, single discipline projects. It identifies five components that can be implemented across the project lifecycle to generate social value and positive community outcomes. Together, they form our blueprint for creating social value.

The five components are:

  • Big data analytics
  • Co-design
  • Blended funding
  • Social procurement
  • Social value measurement.

Of course, the blueprint itself is just the start.

Together with Simetrica-Jacobs, a world leader in social value measurement, we want to collaborate with our clients and partners to test and refine the blueprint. We will evaluate how successful these components are at generating enduring social value when embedded into infrastructure design, delivery/build and operations processes, and delivered at scale, and the circumstances in which they are most successful.

Why Now’s the Right Time to Have this Conversation

Until recently, many nations around the world have experienced long periods of positive economic growth, but the benefits of growth have not been distributed equally or fairly amongst all members of society. Some nations have missed out entirely and, even in historically prosperous nations, high levels of intergenerational and income inequality, homelessness and poverty remain. The current global pandemic—with its devastating repercussions—has brought the social and economic divide into stark focus and, as governments make plans to rebuild economies and livelihoods, there is a growing feeling that now is the time for real positive change.

Right now, governments are making careful decisions about where and how they invest for the future, and changing public expectations and greater levels of public scrutiny are forcing all institutions to re-evaluate the role they play in creating a fairer society for all. New models and approaches, such as impact investing, social procurement and social enterprise, that place a greater emphasis on collaboration across sectors and on societal and human-centered outcomes are emerging.

We have the opportunity to look at infrastructure investments through a deeply collaborative and strategic lens and to consider how we can leverage these new models and approaches to design, deliver/build and operate infrastructure in a way that could support us to tackle some of today and tomorrow’s most pressing social challenges.

Read the full paper here:

Before & Beyond the Build: A blueprint for creating social value across the project lifecycle

Before & Beyond the Build

(PDF, 13 MB)

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Sarah Alexander

Principal Consultant, Social Investment and Innovation

Sarah Alexander

Sarah is a social entrepreneur and strategist with a drive to challenge the status quo. She sees huge opportunity for our business to create positive change in the world around us and is motivated every day by the potential of engineering and technical skillsets to reimagine and make real the way our systems are designed, delivered and operated.

She has led multidisciplinary teams in Australia and Asia to provide advice and design responses that support equitable social and economic transformation and is currently working on large-scale infrastructure projects to embed social value into design and delivery processes.

external Meet Sarah

Rhyl Jones McCoy

Principal Consultant, Social Impact and Strategic Engagement

Rhyl Jones McCoy

Rhyl is an engagement leader and a positive psychology practitioner who views life through a strong community, equity and wellbeing lens. She relishes the opportunity to act as an agent for change and drive deeper thinking about how we can look for value and maximize benefits that infrastructure projects deliver the wider community.

She leads projects in assessing public interest, stakeholder impacts and the generation and distribution of social value. Rhyl works closely with clients and teams to facilitate engaged decision-making, drawing together elements of positive psychology, human-centered design and social wellbeing approaches so projects can achieve positive outcomes.