Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sustainability + Systems Engineering + Asset Management

Introduction
We have collectively arrived at a tipping point.  Public concerns regarding a more sustainable world have produced a need for engineers of the future to have a broader and more holistic view of our national infrastructure.  These three concerns - - designing, constructing, and managing highly complex public infrastructure in a resource constrained world of highly interconnected systems - - have collided head on into a world of limited fiscal resources.  A new reality in which our desires to invest in the future run into our obligations to pay for the past.  The tipping point should provide an appreciation that the future will not look like the past.  How we look at public infrastructure systems in 2020 will be a far cry from the how associated with the view in 1980.
The future of public infrastructure will center on the ideas of S2EAM, where S2EAM is the integration of the ideas of sustainability, systems engineering, and asset management into a broader and more holistic operating philosophy.  Public infrastructure, be it water, or transportation, or energy, they will have sustainability challenges that include the continued development of an efficient , reliable, and cost-effective system in the context of our global competitiveness, dependence on imported oil, global climate change, protecting the environment, and developing the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from natural and human-made disasters.  Systems engineering (Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that focuses on how complex engineering projects should be designed and managed) provides a holistic focus on the interconnectedness and interdependencies embedded in our increasingly complex network of public infrastructure.  The engineering class of 2020 needs to understand that they are not confronted with problems that are independent of one another, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with one another.  Finally, asset management concentrates resources, polices, and procedures in an environment of increasingly limited fiscal resources where infrastructure managers and operators are attempting to do more with less.  In such an environment of tight fiscal constraints and declining public support for expenditures, the critical question is - - what is the added external input or resource that produces the productivity environment where an organization can do more with less?
The U.S. Corps of Engineers published a report in August 2010 entitled, “National Report:  Responding to National Water Resources Challenges.”  The report outlines a framework for building collaborative relationships for a sustainable water resources future.  The report lists numerous challenges that we face across regions.  The various challenges are outlined below - - demonstrating how they can be organized and discussed in the context of sustainability, systems engineers, and asset management.
Table 1 – The Corps and S2EAM

Concern/Area
Sustainability
Systems Engineering
Asset Management
Lack of science-based data and information, especially about water use and availability
ü 

ü
Lack of integrated data and databases

ü 
ü
Fragmented planning across state agencies and with Federal agencies

ü 
ü 
Competing uses for water (especially to set minimum stream flows for diverse purposes)
ü 


Population growth and shifts from farms to city centers or suburbs where water distribution systems are inadequate
ü 


Aging infrastructure that needs to be repaired, rehabilitated, upgraded, decommissioned, or replaced; lack of water storage capacity; inadequacy of distribution system
ü 

ü 
Degraded water quality from point and nonpoint source pollution
ü 

ü 
Budget cutbacks and loss of experienced staff
ü 

ü 
Lack of sufficient funding for projects, modeling, monitoring, staff, state water plan implementation
ü 

ü 
Use of water to produce alternative fuel sources
ü 
ü 
ü 
Increasing sedimentation in rivers and reservoirs
ü 

ü 
Difficulty in meeting environmental standards
ü 


Natural disasters, including floods and droughts
ü 
ü 
ü 


Climate change and weather impacts
ü 
ü 
ü 
Lack of policies (e.g., for water withdrawals, wastewater management
ü 


Reservoir operations
ü 
ü 
ü 
Regulatory process for permits; lack of authorities

ü 

Conflicts in/competition for use of water
ü 

ü 
Lack of guiding national water resources vision and unified guiding principles

ü 
ü 
Loss of stream gages, inconsistent monitoring

ü 
ü 
Interstate conflicts

ü 
ü 
Overuse of groundwater
ü 


Drought planning
ü 
ü 
ü 
Eroding coastlines
ü 
ü 
ü 
Resolution of Indian Water Rights


ü 
Mitigation of climate change impacts
ü 
ü 
ü 
Lack of awareness of understanding about water issues
ü 

ü 


S2EAM in the context of our most pressing water problems in the West is not an abstraction.  It is a highly visible reality.  The Colorado River Basin and the civilization it waters are in crisis.  Lake Mead is 40% full - - emptying in a decade-long drought.  Whether this is a cyclical and normal event, or an early sign of climate is unclear.  But even if the drought ends, most scientists think global warming will cause flows to decrease by 10-30% in the next half century.  The issue is whether the sustainability of civilization in arid regions subject to potential climate change is viable or not.
In the northern states, the Colorado River supports cattle empires.  In the southern stretch, especially in California’s Imperial County, the river irrigates deserts to produce our winter vegetables.  And all along the way, aqueducts branch off to supply cities from Salt Lake City and Denver to Phoenix and Los Angeles.  We not only have very basic sustainability and carrying capacity questions, but we also have an enormous and, complex system in numerous dimensions - - physical, legal, political, and cultural.
Las Vegas gets 90% of its water from one source - - the Colorado River.   Asset resilience, reliability, and sustainability are not words that come to mind when discussing Las Vegas (Does every middle class house really need a lawn in the desert?).  We are attempting to manage an infrastructure asset with very basic sustainability and complexity concerns.  Fiscal constraints are forcing asset managers to listen to “Can you do more with less?” without a firm understanding and metric of what more and what less actually mean.
The structure of this paper is organized around singular discussions of sustainability, systems engineering, and asset management with a concluding section combining all the material together for a collective summation.
Sustainability
What is sustainability?  A better series of questions might be - - “How should engineers be thinking about sustainability?” and “What should engineers be designing in the context of a sustainable environment?”  Sustainability as a philosophical abstraction evolving to the notion of applied sustainability - - this is the process of evolutionary thought that is most important to the practicing engineer.
Sustainability, like many other words, can have different meanings to many different people.  Sustainability is derived for the Latin sustinere (sus, up; tenere, to hold).  Generally, sustainability is thought of as the capacity to endure - - where the words “maintain” and “support” come into play.  For engineers, a good starting definition of sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of our well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions.  Our fundamental and collective creed is the protection of the public’s safety, health, and welfare.  We deeply understand the twin concepts of safety and health.  Welfare has a certain abstraction and vagueness, yet it is no less important.  Sustainability intersects directly with the notion of public welfare - - our collective responsibilities to the well being of the public.  Sustainability may be grey and boring, but it is the biggest single challenge to global capitalism today.
One common view of sustainability is the idea of a Triple Bottom Line.  Historically, the framework for a project or product selection decision has been based on a methodology embedded in engineering economics.  The goal was to develop a single bottom line - - money in the context of profit or rate of return or “value” is defined as something that remains after costs and benefits are tallied up. 
The idea of a Triple Bottom Line provides for a broader approach that encompasses three areas.  The first is the traditional economic - - optimizing financial resources with the goal of producing the greatest return.  However, the economic bottom line is bounded by two other ideas - - the environment and the social.  The second bottom line is related to environmental goals.  Given the economic bottom line, does the project or product (1) endanger the survival of humans, (2) impair human health, (3) cause species extinctions or violate human rights, or (4) reduce quality of life or have consequences that are inconsistent with other values, beliefs, or aesthetic preferences?  The second bottom line is not the narrowness of an environmental impact statement, but it is the expansiveness of a holistic view of our global environmental systems in the context of establishing a sustainable future for multi-generations.  The third bottom line is social justice - - what are the social consequences of the project or product?  Have the ideas of social justice equity been taken into consideration with the idea of sharing our available resources in a sustainable manner?
Engineers need to put the philosophical definitions and attributes of sustainability into an applied context.  Australia provides an excellent framework to discuss the concept of sustainability and put it into a structured and meaningful problem with a global context and interconnections to systems engineering and asset management.  Australia is the planet’s driest inhabited continent.  Until recently, it was recovering from its worst drought ever - - a drought that lasted over a decade and too many was deepened by climate change (Note - - since November Queensland has been lashed by rains from La Nina, a phenomenon associated with a pattern of low temperature in the central Pacific.  This area accounts for three-fourths of Australia’s black-coal exports.  Many mines have been flooded and railway lines ruined.  Given the extreme weather potential generated as an outcome of rising greenhouse gas concentrations and our warming planet, sustainability has taken on the added burden in global environment of extreme uncertainty and unpredictability).  Like people of many countries, including the United States and China, the Aussies look to the sea as a source of drinking water.  In one of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects in its history, Australia’s five largest cities are spending $13.2 billion on desalination plants capable of sucking millions of gallons of water every day, removing the salt and yielding potable water.  Completion is projected by 2012, when at the time Australia’s major cities will draw up to 30% of the water from the sea.  Many citizens and experts feel this is the cost of adapting to climate change while many others have a different opinion.
The New York Times covered this story on July 11, 2010, in an article by Norimistsu Onishi, entitled Arid Australia Sips Seawater.  But the Drink May Be Costly.  The story demonstrated the complexity when issues such as water shortages, climate change, energy consumption, technology, and immigration all collide to together.  Onishi writes the following:
“Big waste of money,” said Helen Meyer, 65, a retired midwife in Tugun, where the northeastern state of Queensland opened a $1 billion desalination plant last year.  “It cost a lot of money to build, and it uses a lot of power.  Australia is a dry country.  I think we just have enough water for 22 million people {the country’s population is projected to rise to 36 million in 2050, from the current 22 million}.  What are we going to do when we’re up to 36 million?”
As one travels down the path of seeking solutions to Australia’s problems, three branches to the path come into view.  The first path is “doing more with more” - - investing $13.3 billion in desalination plants - - where “more” are technology and energy inputs.  The assumptions being not just energy, but cheap energy.  More with more is an expensive and energy hungry alternative that fundamentally fails to explore the linkage among water issues and energy consumption and climate change concerns (electricity in Australia comes from coal fired power plants).  Technology solving one problem while generating an entirely new set of climate change related problems (problems are usually not solved; they are just overtaken by other problems).  The second path is “doing less with less” - - restricting development and population increases with highly restrictive immigration and growth policies that would cap a fixed limit on the number of people that Australia could support (approximately 22 million people).  The third path is “doing more with less” - - utilizing information and rehabilitation technologies combined with market based pricing strategies to encourage conservation, reduce inefficiencies (e.g., water loss via leaking pipes), and adjust life styles via market forces that are compatible to an arid climate.
The notion of “doing more with less” represents the path that engineers will be traveling down in the future.   The idea is to solve problems with a narrowing set of constraints.  Given the world of “doing more with less” - - the required steps for applied sustainability can be thought of as the need for progress and change in the following areas:
1.       Population Development - - The finite carrying capacity of the earth does not allow continuous growth of the human population and of associated total consumption.  In all regions, the birth rate cannot be greater than the death rate in the sustainable state.  Different regions may decide to sustain different population densities, but each region must be able to support its own population sustainability
2.       Resource Use - - Sustainability requires stabilization of resource use at rates consistent with ecosystem capabilities to sustainably supply resources, absorb wastes, and recycle materials.  While per capita consumption of basic necessities still has to be increased in some parts of the world, it must be reduced in others, and it must ultimately be stabilized in all regions.
3.       Systems Approach and Decision Making - - Most of the problems society faces, especially those in the public infrastructure arena, has interrelated ethical, cultural, interregional, ecological, economical, social, political, and technological aspects.  Their solution requires an integrated systems approach, the active and creative search for diverse and alternative solutions, awareness and discussion of ethical issues, and broad base informed consent.
4.       Rules of Conduct - - While sustainability requires structural system changes in some cases, it only requires adaption of existing operating principles in many others.  The advantage of adapting or changing rules of conduct is that maximum effect can only be achieved with minimum administrative and control effort.  Progress towards sustainability would be achieved in particular by strict observation of established rules of conduct, including the definition of clear and well-defined constraints and fair and prompt administration of justice and punishment of transgressions.
5.       Market, Trade, Exchange - - The market principle represents a successful translation of an ecosystem principle into the context of society - - advantages for the “fittest” goods and services.  This efficient principle of self-organization without any central planning authority (“invisible hand”) must play a central role in sustainable development.
Civil engineers, especially those working in the matrix of public infrastructure, need to embrace the linkage among the ideas of sustainability, population growth, and consumptive demand.  Because carrying capacity (the number of people, ecosystems, or resources a particular region or area can support) is limited, a higher population implies a lower sustainable material standard of living, and vice versa.   The human population continues to grow at a high rate (population is still doubling every 60 years, at a growth rate of 1.2 percent per year).  In addition to the essential life-support functions for human populations provided by ecosystems (food, waste recycling), the physical processes of society’s economic and technological systems require “exergy” and material flows.  The corresponding per capita demands of the human population for ecosystem and resources (“exergy” and material flows) continue to grow (still doubling every 55 years, with a growth rate of 1.3 percent per year).  As population and per capita demands rise, the required material flows and inventories of the human system rise much faster - - since the load on the environment is proportional to the product of population and per capita demand, it currently grows at a rate of 1.2 + 1.3 = 2.5 percent per year, doubling every 28 years (formula - - population X energy consumption per capita X (1.2 + 1.3)).
At a certain level, sustainability is about questions and answers coming from engineers versus coming from public policy experts, economists, lawyers, and political aristocracy.  Keep in mind the last industrial revolution was led by engineers who didn’t just answer questions and solve problems that were put to them by others,  but they also defined the questions.  They posed the problems and set about solving them.  We are at the start of another global industrial revolution.  It is an example for our goal towards a more sustainable future - - a low carbon society.
Consider the words of Keith Clarke, Chief Executive of Atkins, an engineering consulting firm based in Epsom, United Kingdom.  Clarke has prepared a lecture entitled “Beyond Rhetoric: Delivering a Low-Carbon Society” as part of the Institute of Civil Engineers’ Brunel International Lecture Series.  The institute’s 8th Brunel lecturer, he spoke in London in May and will deliver his lecture to engineers, planners, designers, and policy makers around the globe:
Given the technical complexity of the issues we’re facing, the role of the engineer is paramount.  The engineer will define the questions and provide the solutions.  As engineers, we need to involve our clients in the challenges of a low carbon economy and be clear in the provision of practical, affordable projects.  Ultimately, we must:
·         minimize the use of all resources required by all designs (based upon carbon budgets);
·         significantly improve the resource efficiency of construction and manufacturing operations;
·         significantly reduce the use of operational carbon; and
·         make carbon intensive engineering a socially unacceptable proposition.
Engineers will make this happen.  We must show ownership and leadership, be bold and enhance the status of the engineer.
We are in the process of understanding the basic question: “Where is the carbon and how do we remove it from the equation?”  As we develop our understanding of design of low carbon intensity, we can map activity against carbon budgets, prioritize and plan, and recognize how we might meet the incredibly tight timescales that face us.
There is an overriding need for engineers to show significant leadership that will build upon the reputation of the profession.  A sense of pride and “I did that” will be central to deliver the necessary changes.  Don’t blame government, clients or the recession; in truth we are limited only by our ambition and ingenuity.  Engineers have to demonstrate what is feasible so that governments and the financial community understand which way to go.
Sustainability constraints are on a collision course with historic development practices and public infrastructure that supports the development.  Unquestionably our low-density and car-dependent development patterns have successfully supplied millions of new housing units at prices that we could afford.  We could also afford the public infrastructure that connected all this together.  Low energy costs, few resources constraints, and a public willingness to spend on infrastructure produced an illusion of affordability.  S2EAM takes a more complete and holistic view of development and infrastructure investments, especially in attempting to capture the true and sustainable cost of sprawling areas.  A more sustainable future will look at much denser, smaller, and sans automobile living arrangements.  Low-density suburban development costs much more per dwelling unit to service than do higher density urban development.  The cost of providing and maintaining streets and utilities to a new home can be substantial.  Each home requires a certain amount of paved street, storm drains, and utilities before it can be occupied.  A culture of sprawl is running head on into a world of resource constraints, fiscal limitations, political realities, and changing demographics.
Systems Engineering
Engineers need to start viewing the world of public infrastructure through the system lens.  Historically engineers have learned part and parcel of a system, yet never the richness of the holistic view.  We are taught the elements of a system - - often the easiest parts to notice, because many of them are visible, tangible things.  We are taught what makes up a tree - - roots, truck, branches, and leaves.  We are encouraged to become hyper-specialized - - we are taught that the road to professional enlightenment is to become a root or branch specialists.
We have a full understanding of the tree, yet the actual forest remains a dark and unexplored mystery.  Thinking about the forest and its boundaries, interconnections, inputs, outputs, feedback loops, purpose, and structure is beyond what we have had to consider.  We have been taught to learn the players and statistics of the world, but not the rules of the game, the coach’s strategy, the players’ communications or the laws of physics that govern the motions of ball and players.  We never see the interconnectedness of the entire system.
Engineers live and work in a highly complex world of systems, yet we don’t always see the world as a world of systems and system interfaces.  We typically don’t ask questions in the context of system structure and behavior - - from the full range of technical issues to social concerns to economic constraints to environmental sustainability.  We never know or fully appreciate if we are looking at a system or just a bunch of stuff.  After the nightmare of Katrina, a key question needed to be asked.  Had we concentrated too much on the “stuff” and neglected our responsibilities regarding the entire system?  Historically, we didn’t bring enough systems thought into the process where key questions are developed and rise to the surface.  Do the parts affect each other?  Do the parts together produce an effect that is different for the effect of each part on its own?  Does the effect, the behavior over time, persist in a variety of circumstances?  Katrina’s big lesson for all engineers is a message which is also embedded in the ideas of sustainability - - the crust of civilization on which we tread is always wafer thin.  The Big Easy shows us the Big Difficult, which is to preserve that crust.
Living in a world of complex and interconnected systems requires engineers to embrace the language of systems and systems thinking.  From stock, flows, and dynamic equilibrium to feedback loops to shifting dominance, delays, and oscillations to resilience, self-organization and hierarchy - - our mental models need to embrace the complex world of systems thinking.  The industrial society is just beginning to have and use the words for systems because it is only beginning to pay attention to and see complexity.  Carrying capacity, structure, diversity, and even system are old words that are coming to have richer and more precise meanings.  New words have to be invented as we understand and manage the complexity of our public infrastructure.
Our tipping point requires of engineers, the ability to identify and understand the critical infrastructure interdependencies that exist in a broad spectrum of our systems.  The current and pressing issue is the notion that our infrastructure is highly interconnected and mutually dependent in complex ways, both physically and through a host of information and communications technologies.  Identifying, understanding, and analyzing such interdependencies are significant challenges.  These challenges are greatly magnified by the breadth and complexity of our critical infrastructure.
Infrastructure interdependencies means a bi-directional relationship between multiple different infrastructure in a general systems of systems through which the state of each infrastructure influences or is influenced by or is correlated to the state of another.  A good example is energy and water - - the two systems are interdependent.  Energy and power production require water - - thermoelectric cooling, energy mineral extraction/mining, and emissions control.  Water production, processing, distribution, and end-use require energy - - pumping, transport, treatment, and use of conditioning.  For example, 20% of the total energy use in California is for water transportation, treatment, and use.  We can expect growth in energy and water interdependencies; future energy development will put new demands on water development.  Many new technologies will be more water intensive - - the hydrogen economy would require even more water and water constraints will grow for energy development and power plant expansion.  Future water supplies and treatment will be more energy intensive - - readily accessible fresh water supplies are limited and have been fully allocated in some areas and new technologies to access and/or treat non-traditional water resources will require more energy per gallon of water.
The systems engineering tension between water and energy is clear.  Water is needed to generate energy.  Energy is needed to deliver water.  Both resources are limiting each other - - and both may be running short.  Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern civilization.  It is our most pressing Catch-22.  This Catch-22 shows up in our collective strategic vision of the future - - a future where any switch from gasoline to electric vehicles or biofuels is a strategic decision to switch our dependence from foreign oil to domestic water.  For example, nuclear power is seen as the apple in our Garden of Eden.  But examine the arithmetic for any such energy-water system.  A gas/steam combined cycle plant needs to withdraw between 7,400 and 20,000 gallons of water to generate one megawatt-hour of electricity.  In comparison, a bite into the nuclear polished apple will require a water withdrawal rate (draw and dump plant configuration) of between 25,000 and 60,000 gallons of water to generate the same one megawatt-hour of electricity.
A systems engineering perspective is critical when viewing the world of public infrastructure, especially those deemed as critical.  Critical systems in crowded urban environments (keep in mind, by 2025, some 600 cities around the globe will account for 60% of world’s economic growth) and suburban areas are subject to increased risk from nothing more than proximity - - two seemingly independent systems that in actuality have tremendous geographical interdependencies.  Damage to one infrastructural component, such as a cast-iron water main, can rapidly cascade into damage to surrounding components, such as electric and telecommunication cables and gas mains, with system-wide consequences.  To complicate matters, much of this critical infrastructure is underground which obscures the location and condition of components.  The proximity of aging weakened pipelines to other important facilities, such as high-pressure gas mains and electric power substations, is frequently not recognized, increasing the potential for unanticipated accidents for which no preparations have been made.
Your typical water distribution or wastewater collection system master plan might look at many different variables, including risk.  Risk having both a likelihood and a consequence component.  Attention would be given to those older and critical components of a water distribution system.  The focus is just one system - - the water system.  What are often overlooked are the interdependencies with other systems.  The aging and corroded natural gas line next to a new and critical water supply line might actually have the greatest likelihood and most damaging consequences.  The other overlooked scenario is the moderately risk ranked water line next to a highly critical telecommunications facility.  The risks to systems external to the water distribution system are completely ignored.
Lifeline systems (six principal systems - - electric power, gas and liquid fuels, telecommunications, transportation, waste disposal, and water supply) all influence each other.  Electric power networks, for example, provide energy for pumping stations, storage facilities, and equipment control for transmission and distribution systems for oil and natural gas.  Oil provides fuel and lubricants for generators, and natural gas provides energy for generating stations, compressors, and storage, all of which are necessary for the operation of electric power networks.  This reciprocity can be found among all lifetime systems.
Engineers should remember that there are no separate systems.  The world is a continuum and where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion.  They should also be reminded that the greatest complexities arise at boundaries.  Consider the rolling blackouts, the state experienced during Super Bowl week, as reported in the February 2, 2011 edition of the Dallas Morning News:
AUSTIN (AP) – Burst water pipes at two coal-fired power plants forced them to shut down, triggering rolling power cuts across the state, the lieutenant governor said Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said this is something that “should not happen.”
Dewhurst said he was told that water pipes at two plants, Oak Grove and Sand Hill, forced them to cut electricity production.  Natural gas power plants that should have provided back up had difficulty starting due to low pressure I the supply lines, also caused by the cold weather.
The lieutenant governor said the demand placed on the Texas grid was nowhere near peak capacity.  He said he was frustrated by the situation.
The statewide electric authority ordered cities across the state to start rolling power outages to cope with the crisis.
Asset Management
Asset management is the third leg of public infrastructure stool.  It is the leg that balances the tensions of sustainability with the demands of system complexities in a world where “doing more with less” becomes an unpleasant reality.  The term “asset management” is much in vogue as a management philosophy in the context of public infrastructure.  Some of the “in vogueness” is a function of requirements identified under Government Accounting Standards Board statement 34 (GASB 34) and the January 2001 U.S. EPA draft rule known as CMOM (capacity, management, operations, and maintenance).  There are no national or state mandates requiring the application of asset management to the stewardship of public infrastructure that are linked to funding eligibility, as in some other countries (GASB 34 does not require the modified approach to asset valuation and reporting).
Asset management should not be considered the latest fad or the current management buzz-word.  The fundamental foundation of effective asset management is far more substance than magic and mystery.  In a world of increasing concerns associated with sustainability and overall system complexities, asset management helps to bring several key questions forward while hopefully providing a base that provides insightful and useful answers.  In a world of $14 trillion federal debt (In addition, the unfunded present value of Social Security and Medicare is approximately $55 trillion - - roughly $230,000 per person at the current population for the total of national debt, Social Security, and Medicare), with the federal government playing the role of ultimate backstop in many of our infrastructure systems, asset management gets hit with “How is this all going to work out?”  Asset management fundamentally starts with three key questions:
1.       Physical Condition - - What is the condition of an asset that enables it to meet its intended service levels?  (e.g., what is the integrity of the drainage system and is the total system/interfaces managed in a sustainable manner?)
2.       Demand /Capacity - - What is the capacity of an asset to meet service requirements?  (e.g., what is the ability of a particular road to handle traffic flow and is the transport system sustainable?)
3.       Functionality - - What is the ability of an infrastructure element to meet program delivery requirements (e.g., is the levee system sustainable in terms of economic, environmental, and social needs?)
In dealing with these three questions, historical management practices can no longer support the expected level of infrastructure services on a sustainable basis.  The ideas of S2EAM can be translated into 10 interrelated objectives that can serve as a new national roadmap for a more sustainable, systems oriented, and proactively managed public infrastructure network.  Regardless of the asset and the location, the goal should be the same - - to maintain, repair, renew, and replace assets to achieve sustainability. 
All 10 recommendations have some element of sustainability and systems thinking embedded in them.  The inputs to produce greater efficiencies in our public infrastructure can no longer be thought of as only concrete and unlimited and always available sources of tax generated revenue.   The new inputs must be a collection of technology, innovation, creativity, and new managerial approaches to old problems.
The 10 proposed goals are as follows:
1.       Asset Inventory and Condition - - To develop a reliable and assessable inventory of our national infrastructure, including location, condition, and valuation that supports integrated asset management.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Non-destructive, non-invasive technologies for the inspection of above-ground and below-ground infrastructure.
·         Methods for accurately locating existing infrastructure.
·         New technologies for the analysis of system components or of the system as a whole.
·         Methodologies to determine which components require inspection, and to establish frequency of inspection.
·         Sensor and associated communications and analysis of systems for real-time monitoring of infrastructure conditions.
2.       Benefits of Maintenance and Rehabilitation - - To develop an accurate understanding of the relationships of proper maintenance and rehabilitation practices to the life expectancy of infrastructure.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Identifying and characterizing the key factors that influence the longevity of infrastructure including (1) quantification of improvements due to intervention such as repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation; and (2) acceleration of deterioration due to breaks or failures.
·         Predictive models for the residual life of infrastructure that supports asset management and decision-making.
·         Performance indicators that are relevant, reliable, easy to measure, and widely used.
3.       Life-Cycle Cost/Benefit Analyses - - To integrate technical, economic, environmental, and social factors into sustainable public infrastructure investment decision-making processes that are based on life-cycle cost/benefit analyses.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Identifying and characterizing life-cycle costs (economic, environmental and social) and evaluating the factors that influence these and associated costs, including the effects of demand, service, and load levels.
·         Developing models for the life-cycle costs of infrastructure that are adaptable to wide-ranging conditions and can be incorporated into asset management and decision-making systems.
·         Developing methodologies to incorporate life-cycle costs into procurement systems and procedures.
4.       Integration of Civil Infrastructure Systems - - To manage infrastructure as a system of interdependent assets.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Performance indicators and benchmarking tools that allow cross-systems evaluation and comparison.
·         Infrastructure management systems adaptable to the complexity of the infrastructure under consideration, such as simple systems for small municipalities.
·         Tools to evaluate the interdependencies of systems and the impacts of actions and/or interventions on one or more components of a network.
·         Decision-support systems that consider the interdependence of infrastructure assets.
5.       Technology Evaluation - - To develop tools to evaluate the field performance of existing infrastructure systems and to predict the performance of new technologies and materials.  Technology needs would consist of :
·         Benchmarks for assessing new or improved technologies over existing ones, including the development of performance indicators and assessments that can be applied over the life cycle of the technology or product.
·         National programs of pilot/demonstration projects, including long-term monitoring of performance measures, life-cycle analysis (economic, social, and environmental), and risk sharing.
6.       Knowledge Management - - To implement processes to properly manage and share knowledge.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Mechanisms for validating knowledge obtained from case studies, lessons learned, and new developments.
·         Use of information technology to widely share validated knowledge.
·         Use and enhancement of existing knowledge-transfer mechanisms such as the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure (developed by various professional organizations and government agencies for the Canadian government).
·         Models that allow feedback looping between practice and policy.
7.       Diverse and Adaptable Technology - - To increase the diversity of and access to technologies for the design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of infrastructure, adapted to local conditions.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Focusing on rehabilitation technologies and easy-to-use, cost-effective, and durable equipment, and developing procedures to adapt them to a wide range of local conditions.
·         Risk/benefit models for the introduction of new sustainable materials.
·         Development of new technologies through multidisciplinary teams in partnership with public, private, and research groups to ensure their fast-track acceptance and use.
·         Development and maintenance of technology databases accessible to all practitioners.
8.       Monitoring and Control Operations - - To implement technologies to optimize the operation and maintenance of infrastructure through real-time monitoring and control.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Technology that is durable and flexible enough to allow for varied conditions and changing data requirements.
·         Systems to monitor and report condition, status, and deterioration rates.
·         Tools for data management.
·         Technologies and tools to obtain real-time data required to optimize public infrastructure operations.
9.       Quality Assurance and Quality Control - - To expand the use of tools and processes to improve the quality of design, construction, rehabilitation, management, and operations of infrastructure systems.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         Design and dissemination of QA/QC procedures and tools.
·         Technologies and mechanisms, such as shared databases, for cooperation and collaboration among consultants, contractors, administrators, and designers.
·         Effective, uniform procedures and tools for QA/QC field applications.
·         QA/QC procedures focused on the performance of systems as well as on individual components.
10.   Education, Training, and Outreach - - To ensure that educational, training, and public outreach programs meet the needs of decision makers, the workforce, and the industry.  Technology needs would consist of:
·         New IT tools for better use of existing educational resources.
·         Certification standards.
·         Validation and testing procedures for the evaluation of new materials.
·         Outreach programs to educate decision makers and the public of the value of innovation in infrastructure.
One conclusion should be rather obvious, given the times that we live in.  The days of public infrastructure being the sole domain of the public sector is quickly coming to an end.  Both economics and politics are driving this.  Asset management will increasingly be some combination of public-private partnerships, combinations, and arrangements.   This will be our most public mixed marriage.  An engineer in 2020 needs to understand the language of the private infrastructure sector - - from “shadow toll model” to mezzanine capital.  Processes, people, and technology will be blended to produce a public-private matrix where governing and asset management is taken seriously with a foundation in strategic thinking.  Asset management embedded in the ideas of sustainability and systems analysis, where you are relentlessly asking “What world are we living in and how do we adapt to thrive?”   Financing, design, construction, and management will be developed on a case-by-case basis.  Laws will change, attitudes will be modified, pragmatism will dominate infrastructure politics, and management practices and processes will be molded to the new realities.  These new arrangements still must function effectively in a world of resource constraints, sustainability goals, increasing demands, and complexity - - where the word less is far more abundant than the word more.
Closing Thoughts
We have arrived at the tipping point - - a point where resource constraints and sustainability goals are intertwined in a world of complex and highly interconnected infrastructure systems where the fiscal stability at all governmental levels casts a long and troubling shadow.  Our collective tipping point has produced a world in which old solutions and ideas no longer are relevant.  We can no longer ignore the ideas of sustainability and the demands of climate change.  We can no longer attempt to paint the grayness of our concrete some shade of green.  We can no longer ignore the tensions of growth and capacity.  We can no longer be concerned with the parts and ignore the sum.  We can no longer view a multidisciplinary world in terms of single disciplines.  We can no longer think in terms of system boundaries and barriers.  We can no longer manage the public goods as we did in the past while ignoring the fiscal constraints and economic uncertainties of our future.  Our collective thinking and reasoning that is in thrall to a world that is passing will require a mental “reboot.”  Engineers need to remember that evolution is not over - - attempting to hold on to something essentially human by trying to fight against something that humans do best - - evolve through culture and technology - - is a contradictory and ultimately futile course of action. 
The way forward is to recognize and embrace the notation of integrating the ideas of sustainability, systems engineering, and asset management under one umbrella.  The ideas embedded within S2EAM  are tightly linked; sustainability needs a systematic view, asset management must look at the economic, environmental, and social factors of the enterprise, and systems engineering must identify critical system interconnections within  the infrastructure asset matrix.  But tipping points provide the challenges and opportunities to think new about the old where new ideas need to be interwoven into the fabric of public infrastructure.
None of this will be easy or completed quickly.  The path of forward progress is sometimes less than straight - - the most important thing to remember is that we are always on a path, never at a turning point (every generation, narcissistically, thinks it stands at a turning point in history).  The idea of “doing more with less” will come across as simplistic and intellectually shallow to many.  To many others “doing more with less” is actually code for “doing more for less.”  People will debate the negatives - - is it too simple or simply wrong?  Others will argue that it is a march toward conflict and tension - - are we ready to settle for less so others can have more? 
The elements that go into the idea of “doing more with less” are the sort of ideas we’ve got to begin trying - - less for the specifics of these particular notions than for the spirit they suggest.  There’s nothing more stubborn than a fact and the facts speak loudly to the notion that we have collectively arrived at a tipping point.  These same facts are the cobblestones from which we build roads of analysis.  Without a concentrated effort to export the ideas of S2EAM, we are at risk for a world of “doing less with less” highlighted by a world of unaccustomed constraints with a collective contraction in interest and responsibility.  Unlike the federal government, states and municipalities cannot print the money they need to meet their obligations, and their capacity for borrowing to make up their shortfalls is far more limited than their counterpart’s.  They therefore, have to reduce services.  All over the United States, police forces are cut, library hours are curtailed, teachers from the elementary to the university levels are laid off, and public health facilities are closed.   This is the path of “doing less with less.”
Our generational tipping point of resource and fiscal constraints in a world of increasing systems complexity brings us collectively to a fork in the road - - “doing less with less” and “doing more with less.”  We are going to have to reorganize and restructure many things in a more sustainable, complex, and resource constrained world.  The future will belong to engineers that have the ability to see beyond the present circumstance to imagine another world.  The risk is that we collectively think too narrowly where we end up clinging to a flawed image of the world.  If that happens, no amount of dexterous policy execution will save us from disaster.  

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