The Public Works Department is responsible for city street maintenance; street lighting; city fleet maintenance; garbage pick-up; recycling; engineering planning, design & construction, traffic planning, engineering & management; development review; and capital improvement program project delivery. They include public buildings (municipal buildings, schools, hospitals), transport infrastructure (roads, railroads, bridges, pipelines, canals, ports, airports), public spaces (public squares, parks, beaches), public services (water supply, sewage, electrical grid, dams) and other, usually long-term, physical assets and facilities.
Public works is a multi-dimensional concept in economics and politics, touching on multiple arenas including: recreation (parks, beaches), aesthetics (trees, green space), economy (goods and people movement, energy), law (police and courts), and neighborhood (community centers, social services buildings). Essentially, it represents any constructed object that augments a nation's physical infrastructure.
Municipal infrastructure, urban infrastructure, and rural development usually represent the same concept but imply either large cities or developing nations' concerns respectively. The terms public infrastructure or critical infrastructure are at times used interchangeably. However, critical infrastructure includes public works as well as facilities like hospitals, banks and telecommunications systems and views them from a national security viewpoint and the impact on the community that the loss of such facilities would entail.
Furthermore, the term public works has recently been expanded to include digital public infrastructure projects. The first (US) nationwide digital public works project is an effort to create an open source software platform for e-voting