The black art of LG asset management

It’s a shared burden: across Australia, local governments often struggle to manage their assets to their community’s expectations. And I don’t think it matters if it is in the metro area or regional, or if you have the best asset management system or just something simple: there is always more that needs to be built, fixed, upgraded or replaced.

On top of this, asset management has traditionally been a black art of figures, tables, depreciation schedules, reports and financial assessments controlled by asset managers and the finance team. For ratepayers and even those outside of the area of asset management within the local government, it is difficult to get a complete picture of what is going on.

So how can location intelligence help? One of the core strengths of GIS is its power in communicating very complex location-based situations and processes to non experts. So for asset management this is ideal… all of a sudden those schedule plans and reports can be displayed in context of what is going on in the rest of the community. More involved scenarios can be explored so all players can see if we choose to do this here, what are the surrounding impacts?

The greatest value comes from incorporating this concept of using spatial visualisation to represent what is going on through the whole asset management process. Maps no longer are seen as secondary supporting evidence as a graphic in a report – they become integral in the day-to-day asset management decision making processes. Spatial views of assets become the starting point of where asset management options are explored and what if scenarios are overlayed. Funding allocations can be made based on a much greater understanding of all issues going on whether they are asset related or not.

So, this all sounds pretty simple but where do you start? It is fine if you already have great GIS systems and you can simply link your assets to your GIS, but what if you don’t? It is more complex than just ‘Getting a GIS’. The areas you need to focus on are:

  • Spatial Asset Management – Get your spatial data together so you know the location of all your assets.
  • Make it ready for Planning and Analysis – make sure your GIS can be linked to your asset management information. This could be as simple as linking asset management spreadsheets to spatial data right through to systems that seamlessly integrate with each other. Dekho is an effective way to integrate systems. 
  • Use Mobile Solutions to capture new data and confirm – asset management can’t be done just from just sitting behind a desk, you need to get out and capture new information and confirm information accuracy which can be passed back to the office.
  • Make it available, Situational Awareness – this brings it all together so that your Council’s asset management story can be easily communicated. This might be just a map showing condition of assets and what is being spent where all the way through to an interactive web interface that allows for more focused defining of queries to get answers to more specific questions.

So, as we look to embrace the concepts of  Gov 2.0 and its collaborative ethos, it now might be the time to reassess how you are getting your asset management story across. Location intelligence can help to communicate what is going on and provide a more inclusive platform for greater input and better decision making.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

– Pat G.

PS – some interesting links worth checking out:

http://resources.arcgis.com/content/local-government

http://blogs.esri.com/Dev/blogs/localgovernment/default.aspx

http://www.arcgis.com/home/group.html?owner=ArcGISTeamLocalGov&title=ArcGIS%20for%20Local%20Government&focus=all

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