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Fostering Innovation Through Digital Modernization

Government officials and other asset owners currently are experiencing record increases in project volume and maintenance work orders stimulated by new funding and aging infrastructure.

Yet, the opportunity to repair and replace infrastructure comes with the challenge of managing new and bigger capital improvement programs (CIPs), while simultaneously balancing an aging workforce, labor shortages and the necessity of up-skilling workers. In addition, community watchdogs are pushing agencies more than ever to ensure community assets are safe, sustainable and efficient—while concurrently meeting expected levels of service. 

Now is the time for government agencies and other asset owners to engage in digital transformation. Antiquated technology, legacy proprietary data formats and analog processes create silos of “dark data” that are inaccessible (digitally or timely) to teams across the asset lifecycle. These industry challenges have been a significant and costly reality for decades. According to Deloitte Consulting research, these bottlenecks cause an incremental 8-percent hike in incurred CAPEX costs and a 15-percent overrun in operational costs.

Having a digital workflow plan in place is essential to make the best use of public dollars. Adopting digital technology across a CIP organization can improve productivity, transparency and outcomes. It will help program managers scale up to handle the massive increases in project loads that are coming—and it can help CIP teams handle the increase in work while boosting fund distribution transparency.

Implementations of digital technologies may include deploying connected data environment (CDE) solutions to maximize spatial intelligence, introducing specifications for digital site plans for greater quality control and data fidelity, or mandating 3D models that effectively improve the entire asset lifecycle management process. Or, perhaps, it’s leveraging public-facing portals to assist with the development, construction and permitting processes, along with aggregating data from remote monitoring and LiDAR to monitor critical infrastructure.

Modernization Through Digital Transformation

Stakeholders need to make the investment to modernize their geographic information system (GIS) and asset lifecycle management strategies. It’s the perfect time to allocate resources to broaden the capabilities of their teams. With federal funding already available, it has become easier for organizations to expand their use of technology to manage critical asset data and meet the growing expectation of technology adoption by both internal users and citizens.

The greatest asset for any organization is their human capital and the teams that keep their communities running and organizations ticking. But when there is a shortage of staff to support business needs, the right solutions can help streamline processes and bridge the gap left by resource constraints.

Agencies can reduce data and productivity loss by connecting digital workflows across their design, project delivery, and asset management systems of record. By establishing an open, connected data environment, high-fidelity asset data is consistently utilized across the entire lifecycle reducing risk and improving operational efficiency. Adopting the right technology also helps eliminate communication and data silos, which in turn fosters greater community connectivity and ensures that key infrastructure is being managed and maintained throughout its lifecycle.

Asset Lifecycle Management

Every single asset—whether it is a residential housing development, a water valve or a sidewalk network—has a life of its own with a corresponding lifecycle. If we consider the complexity of a drinking water network before this vital infrastructure can provide potable water, it must go through multiple stages to become operational.

First, it is planned and designed, likely through a collaborative effort between city staff and consulting engineers. This “design” stage includes multiple iterations and reviews of the plans before a final version is submitted for approval.

When this is completed, the construction phase begins and generates new volumes of data about the asset, along with numerous vital activities—such as inspections, which correlate the design to the actual asset and confirms that the infrastructure is ready for operation.

This is followed by the operational phase of the lifecycle, where the asset not only needs to be operated, but also properly maintained to adequately serve the community. This phase includes work orders that alter the attributes of the asset until its eventual retirement.

Numerous resources are invested in the infrastructure to accomplish this with the goal of extending the useful life of the asset, reducing the risk that is created if the asset fails, and preparing for its consequent expiration and replacement.

Each asset produces copious amounts of data as it goes through the various stages of its lifecycle. Many organizations have mountains of asset data they don’t know how to utilize—or worse, their data becomes “dark data” that is lost or siloed between the different stages of an asset’s lifecycle, especially as it travels through multiple departments and disparate business systems.

Fostering Digital Maturity

Empowering digital maturity within your organization can help ensure that data is transparent, accurate and properly utilized to inform decision-making and budgetary needs. The best way to combat dark data is to bridge the gap between each of the phases of the asset lifecycle and connect data through technology. Aggregating data provides all users across an organization with a complete vision of the status of their infrastructure. This connected asset lifecycle platform approach empowers owners to leverage data to its fullest extent.

We must never lose sight of the direct impact that infrastructure owners have on the well-being of their communities and the everyday residents that use those assets. At the end of the day, good data leads to better decision-making, which fosters stronger and more resilient communities.

The ideal solution is to digitally transform how assets are designed, built, operated and maintained through an asset lifecycle management platform. Asset owners will reduce data and productivity loss by connecting digital workflows across their design, project delivery, and asset management systems of record. By establishing an open, common data environment, high-fidelity asset data is consistently utilized across the entire lifecycle reducing risk and improving operational efficiency.

By Becky Tamashasky, Sector VP of Product Vision, Asset Lifecycle Management, Trimble Owner & Public Sector