The term infrastructure encompasses the physical facilities and systems that serve the public at large. These include structures that facilitate transportation, communication and other essential daily processes. These structures can range from standard roads to major accomplishments such as dams and canals.
Some of the most visible infrastructure systems are in transportation, since most of these systems are exclusively public. The various forms of roadways, including highway and freeway systems, are an example of transportation infrastructure. Overpasses and bridges are also examples of transportation infrastructure.
Utility and communication systems are more technical forms of infrastructure. Utility systems include the wiring and piping systems that transport electricity, water and gas from distribution facilities to consumers. Communication systems are the wiring and facilities that make communication through telephones and other devices possible.
While these systems may be public, it is common for private businesses to work on them. These companies are subject to the regulations established by either a local or national governing body. For example, drinking water systems are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, regardless of whether they are public or private. Infrastructure can have a positive impact on industries such as agriculture and manufacturing. Some international welfare organizations have shown a link between solid infrastructure and low levels of poverty.