Public infrastructure has been poorly rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers and most public officials acknowledge the deterioration of the infrastructure we rely on daily. However, many jurisdictions have limited information about their systems, and little data to use to justify spending. The resistance to impose fees or taxes to upgrade infrastructure also remains high. Hence the infrastructure tends to deteriorate further each year. At present the United States spends about 1.6% of its GNP of infrastructure, as compared to 3.1 % prior to 1980. Half as much money, and a large portion of that was for growth as opposed to repair and replacement. Hence the need for better tools for asset management.
Utilities that utilize asset management programs experience prolonged asset life by aiding in rehabilitation and repair decisions while meeting customer demands, service expectation and regulatory requirements. The general framework of asset management programs involves collecting and organizing the physical components of a system and evaluating the condition of these components. The importance and the potential consequences associated with the failure of the individual assets are determined by this evaluation. Managers and operators can then prioritize which infrastructure are most critical to the operation of the system and furthermore which infrastructure to consider for repair, rehabilitation or replacement. It is a continuously reviewed and revised strategy that implements the acquisition, use and disposal of assets to optimize service and minimize costs over the life of the assets. An asset management plan (AMP) considers financial, economic and engineering goals in an effort to balance risk and benefits as they relate to potential improvement to the overall operation of the system.
Over the last 2 years, we have been working to develop a means to quickly, effectively and in a cost efficient manner to collect data and assess public infrastructure using simple, readily available means, without the need for significant training and expertise. The idea was to use student efforts to coalesce a common evaluation without the need for destructive testing. There are three successive projects used to improve the collection of data for ultimate use in an asset management program. Students were provided with Leica and Trimble units to gather data. For the first project, an app was created by FAU students that included photographic tools and entries to document the asset condition and location and permit offsite QA/QC from the cloud. This app was initially developed for stormwater, but was updated to include all public assets for the second community. Data retrieval was created to be able to log data directly onto a smart phone or tablet in the field to save time and the information is instantly downloaded to the internet for quality assurance. The collection system also was programmed with a condition index to help with organization A session was held in the field with student groups to normalize the assessment process. The approach began with an inventory and location of each asset. The assets were field inspected and assessed for condition. A numbering system and photographic tools was used to document the asset condition. This was accomplished by physically locating each asset in the field and marking it with a global position system (GPS) coordinate which allowed the data to be populated in a geographic information system (GIS) and organized with the other assets of the system
The results include this senior design project by our geomatics students. It is a 3-dimensional map of all infrastructure from the ground down on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. 800 acres and over 5000 points, many of which must be stitched together. They also created building extrusions for a future project. Very cool and useful from a tablet. So the question is – do you have a 3D map of your utility?