With the ability to visualize infrastructure and analyze maintenance costs - including how long major assets such as roads or pipes will last - cities can save time and money in the planning process and millions in construction and maintenance costs. Even modest-sized cities often own more than $1 billion in assets and spend millions each year maintaining them.
Cambridge, Ontario has more than 250,000 infrastructure assets with a total value of $1.6 billion, including more than 300 miles of roads and more than 1,200 miles of underground water mains, sewage and storm pipes. The city is using Council member IBM’s new infrastructure planning software (video) to examine millions of disparate pieces of information to perform what-if analyses to help make better decisions. Algorithms process the data and predict which assets will fail and when, helping city staff look across all departments and decide, for example, whether a sewer pipe should be re-lined or replaced entirely, or if a roadway should be resurfaced at the same time. It also incorporates a financial planning tool to help more effectively use funding for each project. Through better project coordination, less time spent on capital forecasting, and improved asset management, the city is expected to save at least $100,000 per year.
“When developing new infrastructure, it should be from the ground up – underground sewer pipes to surface streets and storm drains. We should only have to dig up a street once to fix all of its underlying systems,” said Mike Hausser, director of asset management and support services with Cambridge. Using IBM’s Intelligent Operations software based on cloud computing standards, Cambridge is able to coordinate efforts in servicing, maintaining and updating its infrastructure, which can lower costs for city departments and improve the quality of services to citizens.