Vast infrastructure – transport (roads, bridges, railways, airports), electricity grips and networks, water supply and wastewater treatment plants and sewer lines, telecommunication, are the primary examples of infrastructure that underpin all modern economies.
Disruptions in infrastructure services in the event of blackouts, road closures, and taps that fail to produce water make us realise the importance of these assets in our day-to-day living.
Hence, we should manage infrastructure in the best possible way to ensure that they are resilient or can withstand extreme events, continue to provide service, and are affordable to users.
Infrastructure Asset Management Background
The paper “Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM): Evolution and Evaluation” that Eric Too and Linda Tay authored traces the evolution of infrastructure asset management and evaluate current practices.
According to the authors, IAM as a discipline is relatively new. The term “asset management” was first adopted in 1980 during the privatisation of water utilities in Great Britain.
The term was first used in Australia in 1993 when the Australian Accounting Standard Board issued the Australian Accounting Standard 27 – AAS27 requiring government agencies to capitalise and depreciate assets rather than expense them against earnings. (Too & Tay, 2008).
Although a new discipline, IAM is evolving and attracting the attention of many agencies that own infrastructure. Due to the high cost of infrastructure in terms of money and time to build, governments and organisations managing infrastructure would want to maximise its value by extending the life of their assets.
With many infrastructure assets nearing their end of life, mainly those built around the mid-1900s, the management process focuses on the later stages of the asset’s (infrastructure) life to prolong its usefulness through maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement (Infrastructure Assets End, 2015).
Climate Adaptation in Asset Management
Today, the threat of climate change and extreme events on infrastructure has led the IAM discipline to adopt climate change adaptation approaches and strategies on infrastructure, specifically on making infrastructure assets more resilient to extreme events.
The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) is the principal organisation for infrastructure asset managers and professionals across Australia and New Zealand.
They also provide internationally and nationally recognised education, training and advocacy for those involved in delivering public works and engineering services, including infrastructure asset management.
One of its Digital Badge offerings, the Introduction to Climate Adaptation in Asset Management, introduces key considerations for asset management in adapting to climate change.
It explains how Asset Management can be a vehicle for implementing climate adaptation strategies, helping us prioritise investment, improve community resilience, improve resilience planning, and contribute holistically to national hazard risk management (Digital Badge, 2022).
In the 27th April IPWEA NZ Newsletter edition, Murray Pugh, Chief Executive at IPWEA New Zealand, writes:
“A colleague recently shared the following reflection with me – which had me thinking about the impact that public asset and infrastructure management can have on our day to day lives and on our planet. I am sharing this with you too as an opportunity for contemplation….”
“I was watching a video today: Video: We WILL fix climate change. It’s about climate change: that things are bad but could be worse. There’s still reason to act, hope, and think. If you skip ahead to about 10:10, there’s a line that really hit home for me:
“… all of these processes are great, but not nearly fast enough. We are still doing way too little, and technology will not magically solve everything. We need to use fewer resources and use them longer, design consumer goods that are repairable and durable and decrease our energy requirements. We need much better infrastructure, agriculture, and cities. …”
What I like about this is that it positions asset management and infrastructure works squarely in the essential part of the response to climate change.
I’ve always realised asset management has a role to play in adapting to climate change, but this short paragraph helped me think about it in the broader terms… when discussions about getting value for ratepayer money seem so old hat, considering the proactive and essential role that asset management has in climate change could be a way forward, another reason for being.
We’re doing asset management because we want to provide a good level of service to our customers and communities, but we’re also at the forefront of the response to climate change across the world – that’s why asset management needs good investment and good people.”
Ngā mihi nui,
Murray Pugh CE | IPWEA NZ
Watch the video here:
Inframanage.com joined the Climate Adaptation Platform team to provide assistance and resources on its infrastructure asset management components, and among others, promote IPWEA programs and courses relating to climate change adaptation.
Too, E., & Tay, L.C. (2008). Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM): Evolution and Evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB11465.pdf
Infrastructure Asset End of Life-Cycle. (2015, September 28). VueWorks. Retrieved from https://www.vueworks.com/infrastructure-assets-end-of-life-cycle/
Digital Badge CC 101 Introduction to Climate Adaptation in Asset Management. (2022). IPWEA. Retrieved from https://www.ipwea.org.nz/product/cc-101-introduction-to-climate-adaptation-in-asset-management/