Sunday, April 14, 2013


Innovyze is a good example of the new breed of powerful tools for infrastructure asset management - - in this case water and wastewater systems.  Part management, modeling, and planning tool - - Innovyze also has a powerful decision support platform.  These types of decision support tools combine engineering and behavioral psychology around the reality of limited funding for infrastructure management, maintenance, and improvements.

Decision support systems attempt to help people and organizations address the "want-should" question - - What we want to do versus what we should do.  The goal is to reduce the conflict people struggle with regarding multiple goals.  Infrastructure asset management is typically a struggle with things management and the public thinks they should do and those they want to do.  When do I need to rehabilitate the old lift station versus expanding the interceptor by the city park?  This conflict typically takes place in an environment in which management does not have complete and accurate information; for example, incomplete condition assessments, outdated hydraulic modeling, limited cost data, no real-time flow information, etc.  We want to make good decisions about the future with a poor understanding of the present and the past.

Look for decision support systems being the norm in all types of asset management going into the future.  The "want-should" conflict and question is going to increasingly drive how we think about managing our public investments.  The goal of systems like Innnovyze is to improve governance in the context of infrastructure management - - we all want more reflection and choice and less decision making by accident and force.

Consider the following from the Harvard Business Review Blog, Fixing the World's Infrastructure.  Most engineers worlding in the infrastructure markets will face a future of many, many "want-should" decision points:

Just to keep pace with anticipated global GDP growth, the world needs to spend $57 trillion, or on average $3.2 trillion a year, on infrastructure over the next 18 years. That's more than the entire worldwide stock of infrastructure on the ground today — and nearly 60% more than the world has invested over the past 18 years. Tackling maintenance backlogs, future-proofing infrastructure to cope with climate change, and meeting development goals such as access to clean water and all-weather roads to transport goods to markets would cost a great deal more.

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