Assetic – a Melbourne-based company providing strategic asset management software and services to help organisations manage public and private infrastructure – is Esri Australia’s newest technology partner.
Director and co-founder Ashay Prabhu explains the future role Geographic Information System (GIS) technology will play in strategic asset management, and shares a few local government success stories where GIS has been integrated into agency operations.
EA: Where do you see the potential of GIS in strategic asset management?
AP: It is absolutely pivotal now – I’ve been promoting data intelligence for the last three or four years. Combining Assetic with GIS spatial intelligence tools adds a new dimension in the visual presentation of asset data – enabling organisations to add science into decision-making. They get a clear picture of their assets, what condition they are currently in, and what condition those assets are likely to be in in five, ten or 20 years’ time.
ArcGIS helps spatially locate, analyse and present asset data in a simple and beautiful format, and can integrate with Assetic software that uses the data, applies intelligent analytics, and forecasts multiple options for the future. This means you don’t just see your current assets on a map – you can click a button and model what your portfolio would look like in five years if, say, you cut your funding by half.
You can’t stand up in front of a council, a mayor or a board of directors, and convince them of a situation with current data alone. However, if you publish a map showing the future what-ifs – ‘bingo’, the penny drops.
EA: Do you have a recent example of asset management projections using GIS?
AP: In the United States last month, we presented the Assetic/Esri solution to a large transportation authority. We were able to extract their asset data – $17 billion of infrastructure – and project it on an Esri map, using their network schematics. Through the Assetic myPredictor modelling optimisation engine, we were able to show them eight different scenarios in red, yellow and green – colours representing risk of failure; i.e. what their assets would look like given different funding levels, and which assets would need to be replaced, rehabilitated or renewed over a 20-year period.
Their real outcome here was the projected saving on maintaining a $17 billion asset stock, degrading at $140 million per year. The optimisation demonstrated how they reduce network degradation by 35 per cent without any additional capex funding.
The spatial element within the presentation allowed us to get this full story across to the stakeholders. With spatial integration, the message was easy to demonstrate – that the technology offers value for money, and puts them in control of their future.
EA: How is GIS helping agencies manage their assets?
AP: Regulatory guidelines, mandates and audits for transparency mean agencies need to manage assets at a granular component level. Collecting data becomes onerous on paper, and without a GPS location, the data is often less reliable in decision-making.
What used to take local governments months to collect, collate and import; the industry is now saying, ‘I want to do that in minutes’ – and honestly, why shouldn’t they? They’re not getting extra resources to do the work, so it’s our job to make the process seamless.
It’s about creating assets, deleting assets, and upgrading attribute information fast – it’s not rocket science.
EA: Can you share some examples of how local governments have generated positive outcomes by leveraging geographic insight?
AP: We have over 130 clients on our books, but let me give you an example. We work with a very large regional council in Queensland, which manages over $2 billion in asset value. Between 2009 and 2013 they turned their asset management completely around, to the point where their asset management maturity has moved from unsustainable to stable, slashing millions of future renewal through asset management science.
And let’s also take a small shire council in Victoria, which is responsible for an $800 million asset portfolio. Originally, this was consuming at about $16 million per year; they have successfully cut this down to $10 million within eight years.
EA: What essential role will GIS play with strategic asset management in the future?
AP: The last decade has been focused on understanding your current asset portfolio – but we’ve conquered that territory. Now, there’s so much value in utilising spatial data. Using ArcGIS, you can set up various schematics and colour code your asset profiles, including health, failure metrics, risk and future profiling. You can find out how to get a better asset network in five years’ time, just by spending your money differently.
It’s about modelling and projecting your data, and showing your stakeholders the smart decisions you have to make to reach your goals with less money.
We now live in an era of funding cuts, where there are three tough choices – print more money, raise taxes or slash services. But there is a fourth choice – a smart choice – that of optimising and achieving financial sustainability. A combination of spatial systems for intelligent data, and a truly strategic asset management system, can provide the ultimate solution.