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Infrastructure and Types of Infrastructure

types of infrastructure

In this post, you will learn about the little history of infrastructure, infrastructure definition and types of infrastructure in details.

The word infrastructure first used in French in 1875. Later on, this word was used in English in 1887, the original meaning of infrastructure is “the facilities that form the basis of any operation or system”.

This word was imported from the French language, where it was used for the substrate floor surface. This word is a combination of “infra” and “structure”, where “infra” means below that’s why many of constructions are underground like water system, gas system, tunnels, and underground railways and “structure” came from Latin word “Structura”.

This word became popular in the US in the 1940s after the creation of NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and later on, adopted by planners of modern civil sense in 1970.


Infrastructure is the basic systems and facilities that serve a country, province, city, or other regions, with the inclusion of facilities and services needed to run the economy.

Infrastructure includes physical improvements in bridges, roads, tunnels, sanitation, water supply, telecommunications (including broadband speed and Internet connectivity) and electricity grids sponsored by public and private sector.

In general, it is also defined as the interconnection of physical components systems that deliver essential goods and services to facilitate, sustain or improve social living conditions.

Broader Types of Infrastructure

There are many types of infrastructure but mainly it is divided into two classes hard infrastructure and soft infrastructure.

Hard infrastructure is defined as the physical networks which are important for the operations of the modern economy. The hard infrastructure includes bridges, roads, railway tracks, etc.

Soft infrastructure is defined as the infrastructure based on all institutions that ensure the maintenance of cultural, social, health, and economic standards of a country. The soft infrastructure consists of official statistics, educational programs, law enforcement agencies, emergency services, parks, and recreation facilities, etc.

Major Types of Infrastructure

Personal Infrastructure

This is one of the important types of infrastructure which is neglected by most of the authors. One way to exemplify personal infrastructure is human capital. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines human capital as “the elusive collective resources available to individuals and groups within a given population”. The personal infrastructure aims to determine the quality of the values of the economic actors.

This result in 3 important tasks: 1). the power of economic resources in the economic process (teachers, skilled and unskilled workers, etc.), 2). The social relevance of personal infrastructure, and 3). the importance of personal infrastructure for an individual (consumption of education in short and long term).

Institutional Infrastructure

This is the second one from types of infrastructure. The institutional infrastructure is based on the term of “economic constitution”. The institutional infrastructure is the subject and legal and economic policy, according to Gianpiero Torrisi. It depends upon already set and grown norms.  

It refers to equal treatment of actual economic data which helps to define the framework within which economic agents can formulate their own economic plans and implement them in cooperation with others.

Material Infrastructure

The third one from types of infrastructure is Material infrastructure. It is immovable, capital goods which cannot be shifted or transferred, but which have an essential contribution in the production of infrastructure services and goods that are requisite for the fulfillment of the economic operator’s essential social and physical requirements.

Material infrastructure has two different qualities: 1) mass production and 2) meeting or fulfilling social needs. The first characteristic is about the unavailability of infrastructure goods and services. The second characteristic is about the concerns the basic human needs.

Economic Infrastructure

The fourth one from types of infrastructure is Economics Infrastructure. The researcher defined economic infrastructure as the country’s domestic facilities that enable commercial activities in the country such as transportation, communication, financial institutions (helps individuals in their financial needs like disbursement of loans and suggestions for diversified investments), distribution networks, financial markets, and energy generation and supply systems.

Economic infrastructure provides the ground for productive events and activities in the country. This includes highways, roads, airports, bridges, water distribution systems, cycling infrastructure, irrigation systems, sewers, etc.

Social Infrastructure

The fifth one from types of infrastructure is Social Infrastructure. In a broader sense, social infrastructure is defined as the construction as well as the maintenance that facilities which supports social services. Social infrastructure is created to amplify social comfort and to respond to economic activity.

These include schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks, public safety structures, waste treatment facilities, sports fields, etc.

Core Infrastructure

The sixth one from types of infrastructure is Core infrastructure, which provides fundamental services and is monopolistic in nature. The investors who are seeking core infrastructure has an eye on five essential but different characteristics: low volatility of returns, income, low inflation rates or protection against high inflation, diversification, and long-term bond/liability counterparty.

The core infrastructure is somehow the same as basic infrastructure which includes major types of infrastructure like highways, roads, public transport, railways, water supplies, gas supplies, electricity supplies, etc.

Basic Infrastructure

The seventh one from types of infrastructure is Basic infrastructure, which includes major roads, railways, ports, drainage, canals, wharves, dikes, land reclamation, and the electromagnetic telegraph. It includes the most known features of the infrastructure. The things of the world we encounter every day (roads, buildings, wharves, etc.).

Complementary Infrastructure

The eighth one from types of infrastructure is Complementary Infrastructure, which sometimes refers to additional infrastructure which needs to finish of polish some final products. As it is shown by its name “complementary” which means an “additional” thing. Therefore, it deals with little things in the modern engineering world.

Some of its examples are tramways, light railways, the landscape around buildings, sidewalks, the benches in the park or on bus stand to allow pedestrians to sit, etc.

Other Types of Infrastructure

  1. Business infrastructure
  2. Data infrastructure
  3. Facility infrastructure
  4. Information infrastructure
  5. Last-mile infrastructure
  6. Public infrastructure
  7. Transportation infrastructure
  8. Critical infrastructure
  9. Digital infrastructure
  10. IT infrastructure
  11. Network infrastructure

Business Infrastructure

The business infrastructure refers to the basic structure, facilities, and services which provide the foundations to rest of business. Many people relate this concept to only hard or tangible things like buildings etc. but business services and software are also considered as infrastructure. Examples of business infrastructure are given below.

  1. Network Services
  2. Computing
  3. IT Services
  4. Business Services
  5. Energy and Power Management
  6. Facilities
  7. Transport
  8. Business Continuity

Data Infrastructure

This is one type of digital infrastructure which promotes consumption and data sharing. Same like other infrastructures, this infrastructure helps in facilities and services that are important to the economy along with daily operations of the society. Examples of data infrastructure are given below.

  1. Data Ingestion
  2. Data Access
  3. APIs and Integration
  4. Data Storage
  5. Data Processing
  6. Databases
  7. Networks
  8. Data Security
  9. Data Quality
  10. Data Centers
  11. Data Analysis
  12. Data Visualization
  13. Cloud Platforms

Facility Infrastructure

Facility infrastructure supports the processes and facilities of the Federal government which are part of its maintenance and operations. Facilities infrastructure includes the list given below

  1. Asset Management
  2. Business Continuity
  3. Clod Standby
  4. Hard Services
  5. Infrastructure as Code
  6. Internal Controls
  7. Problem Management
  8. Self Service
  9. Benchmarking
  10. Call Tree
  11. Disaster Recovery
  12. Incident Management
  13. Infrastructure Management
  14. Operational Risk
  15. Safety Controls
  16. Soft Services

Information Infrastructure

Information infrastructure defines by two great scholars Pironti (2006) and Ole Hanseth (2002). Pironti (2006) defined it as all of the tools, facilities, technology, procedures, processes, and people that support the transport, use, creation, destruction of information, storage, etc. Ole Hanseth (2002) defined it as an open, shared, standardized, heterogeneous, and evolving installed base. Examples of information infrastructure are given below.

  1. Fiber Optic Communication
  2. Satellite Communications
  3. Network Hardware
  4. Computing Hardware
  5. Facilities
  6. Software
  7. Platforms
  8. Systems
  9. Services
  10. Last Mile Infrastructure
  11. End-User Devices
  12. Internet of Things

Last Mile Infrastructure

The last mile, a term used to describes the costs of reaching businesses and homes with services and equipment. Sometimes, it shows the investment and operational cost for any facility to reach home like wireless or wired internet.

Public Infrastructure

Public infrastructure is owned by the government and is consist of facilities, equipment, structures, institutions, and services which are essential for the economy and ease creation in daily life. Examples of public infrastructure are given below.

  1. Transport Infrastructure
  2. Wet Infrastructure
  3. Energy Infrastructure
  4. Information Infrastructure
  5. Government
  6. Institutions
  7. Public Space

Transportation Infrastructure

Transportation infrastructure is an infrastructure that helps or makes movements or travel easily within and out of the country. The list of its examples is as follows

  1. Roads
  2. Railways
  3. Walkways
  4. Bridges And Tunnels
  5. Stations
  6. Airports
  7. Air Routes
  8. Waterways
  9. Ports
  10. Cycling Infrastructure
  11. Living Streets

Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure makes essential operations of the economy easy. It is the body of assets, networks, and systems which are required for working conditions of security, economy, public health, etc. for the economy. The list/examples of critical infrastructure are as follows

  1. Transportation
  2. Energy
  3. Health
  4. Water
  5. Government
  6. Food
  7. Communications
  8. Information Technology
  9. Safety
  10. Finance
  11. Industry

Digital Infrastructure

Digital infrastructure is an infrastructure that helps in the storage and exchange of data through a centralized system. Sometime DI took as the ability for exchange of data but it is not the ability only, it is something like digital transformation which helps businesses and economies to stand. Therefore, we may say its center of digital transformation.  The list/examples of digital infrastructure are as follows

  1. Internet Backbone
  2. Fixed Broadband
  3. Mobile Telecommunications
  4. Communications Satellite
  5. Network Infrastructure
  6. Data Centers
  7. Cloud Computing
  8. Platforms
  9. Systems
  10. Applications
  11. APIs and Integration
  12. User Devices
  13. IoT

IT Infrastructure

IT infrastructure is defined as the composition of software, hardware, networking resources and services which are required for the management, operations, and existence of an IT enterprise environment.

Network Infrastructure

Network infrastructure is a branch of IT, which helps in networking services for individuals and business. This branch makes it able to connect devices for communication purposes. The list/examples of network infrastructure are as follows

  1. Routers
  2. Switches
  3. Hubs
  4. Bridges
  5. Gateways
  6. Proxies
  7. Servers
  8. Load Balancers
  9. Reverse Proxy
  10. Ethernet
  11. Wireless Access Points
  12. Optical Fiber
  13. Repeaters
  14. Optical Amplifies
  15. Interconnects
  16. Firewalls
  17. Intrusion Detection System
  18. Intrusion Prevention System
  19. Identity And Access Management
  20. Key Management
  21. Certificate Authority
  22. DNS
  23. DHCP
  24. SMTP
  25. VoIP
  26. VPN
  27. Content Delivery Network
  28. Edge Computing
  29. Network Management System
Muhammad Waqas Khalid
About Him: He has done Master of Philosophy in Economics in 2016 by paying special attention to the development of research skills. He has worked as a Research Associate at the London School of Economics. He has 6 years of experience in writing. He has published many research articles and some of them got published in impact journals too. Check his work at Google Scholar: His Expertise: He has both quantitative and qualitative expertise. He has command over different statistical packages/software i.e. SPSS, Eviews, STATA, Microfit, MS Excel, etc. and He is willing to help you out in your assignments or thesis etc.