On the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) blog, Tetra Tech’s Nilmini Rubin and Jennifer Hara discuss the benefits of practice sessions for public-private partnerships teams tasked with addressing complex infrastructure issues. Nilmini and Jennifer discuss the applications of multiplayer simulations across multiple sectors, allowing teams to try out approaches and see challenges from partners’ viewpoints. All opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own.

In the past year, massive sinkholes opened up in suburban Atlanta, suburban Detroit, New York City, San Antonio, and San Francisco, partially as a result of decaying water, drain, and sewer pipes. These events caused massive amounts of damage. In a Detroit suburb, a sinkhole the size of a football field swallowed parts of three homes, forced the closure of a major road, and led to the evacuations of more than 20 families. These are just a few of the indicators showing us that the United States needs to invest in infrastructure. Now. […]

What can be done? Some argue that public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) are the answer. We agree that they can play an important role—if done well. In a PPP, a private party provides a public asset or service for a government entity, bears significant risk, and is paid on performance. The upside for governments and their citizens is that the private sector can be incentivized to deliver projects on time, within budget, and with reduced construction risk. The private sector can benefit by earning a steady stream of income from a long-term investment from a secure client. From the Grand Parkway Project in Texas to the Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan, PPPs have succeeded domestically and internationally.

As Nilmini and Jennifer write on the SSIR blog, “where real-world failures can cost millions of lives and billions of dollars, people use games to test assumptions, and expose policy and capability gaps.”

Read more about the benefits of multiplayer online simulations in building communication and understanding among PPP teams in the SSIR “Gaming for Infrastructure” post.

About the Author

Nilmini Rubin

Nilmini Rubin, vice president for international development at Tetra Tech, works to facilitate power and infrastructure transactions, promote clean energy solutions, expand electricity connectivity, boost energy service delivery, and improve utility operations. Prior to joining Tetra Tech, Nilmini served as a senior advisor to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a senior aide to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the White House's National Security Council, the U.S. Department of Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum. She holds a Master of Business Administration and a bachelor's degree in economics and development studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

About the Author

Jennifer Hara

Jennifer Hara, director of PPP Services for Tetra Tech, is leading IP3’s capacity building and consulting efforts focused on North America. She brings more than fifteen years of experience in the private sector, focusing on government contracts, public relations and communications for a small investment banking consulting firm, where she lead the business development and relationship building across all infrastructure sectors, including transportation and energy.