International Infrastructure Support System Now Available in 2 More Languages

Participants at the IISS training in Bandung.
Participants at the IISS training in Bandung.

By Andrew McIntyre

Twelve more languages are set to follow by 2020 to boost use of the free online platform, originally developed by ADB and the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation.

For national and local governments and city leaders keen to prepare infrastructure projects that can better secure financing and expertise, the International Infrastructure Support System (IISS) is now available in Bahasa Indonesia and Mongolian, as well as English, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. Twelve more languages, including Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, German and Italian, are set to follow by 2020.

IISS—originally developed by ADB and the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation, and fully functional since the start of 2016—is a free online platform that uses templates to ensure government officials provide the necessary technical and preparatory information that financiers need to assess both public and private projects. Around 50 projects valued at around $15 billion are currently registered on the system.

Asia and the Pacific alone are estimated to need nearly $1 trillion per year to fund key infrastructure. The population of the region’s cities, in particular, is growing at a rapid 120,000 per day on average, and Asian cities are struggling in the face of overburdened public transport, energy, water, and other infrastructure and services. But public and private financiers are frequently deterred from investing in these critical—and often bankable—projects by the dearth of relevant information or the large efforts needed to find it.

Government officials in many developing countries, on the other hand, have little experience in preparing projects, particularly public-private partnerships, and are often not aware of what information is needed or how to present it. To help, ADB’s Future Cities Program has provided training on IISS in Bandung, Indonesia and will soon also do so in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia and in Suva, Fiji. National government staff in Georgia also have recently been trained.

Bandung, for one, estimates its private infrastructure investment requirements at more than $4.4 billion, spanning over 90 commercial, social and government infrastructure projects, if officials are to make the city both inclusive and sustainable. Bandung has just started using IISS to more comprehensively prepare these projects in order to better reach out to investors, joining 18 governments already using the platform.

IISS currently covers 33 infrastructure sectors, ranging from waste water treatment plants, tunnels and dams to hospitals, energy-efficient buildings, and geothermal plants. All project profile templates have been peer-reviewed by almost 4,000 engineering, financing, and software experts and are regularly assessed by operators, financiers, contractors and investors in infrastructure assets and services to make sure they remain relevant. Templates for more infrastructure sectors—such as district heating, smart cities bundled by region, rural dairy industry development, and fiber-optic networks—will be added soon.

Being online means government officials can collaborate on project preparation regardless of location, and ultimately should ensure a standardized, consistent, and scalable approach that allows faster and better preparation of infrastructure projects. All the multilateral development banks and the G20 are already using IISS as their key project preparation platform. Moreover, filing future infrastructure projects online has the benefit of encouraging transparency, since the public as well as anyone else is able to view the projects once published.