Development Of Prototype Municipal Asset Management System
DEVELOPMENT OF PROTOTYPE MUNICIPAL
ASSET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Sunil K. Sinha, Ph.D., Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering,
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Sewers, water pipes, and streets are elements of our civil infrastructure, the supporting structure
of society, society’s skeleton, sinews, and nerves. . Infrastructure is a complex technical system
that provides us with a varied range of valuable and essential services. Decisions influencing
infrastructure development and use - asset management – undertaken and executed without fully
recognizing the complexity, diversity, and social and technological evolution of the system
almost inevitably squander economic, environmental, social, and cultural resources. Emerging
new technology, science and mathematics are influencing our understanding and approaches to
analyzing and designing infrastructure, and a philosophy of long-term management
responsibility – the term asset management is sometimes used – is gradually gaining public
awareness and changing management practice. Many municipalities are moving toward the
implementation of asset management systems.
A prototype methodology for integrating municipal infrastructure management activities has
been developed. This paper describes the analytical procedures and data integration and
presentation methods as well as the geographical information system – GIS – based software
system that ties together and implements the data and management procedures. Together these
elements comprise the new methodology. There are four major areas of integration considered in
the methodology: (1) Integrated computerized system; (2) network-level integration; (3) project-
level integration; and (4) multiple performance measures. The network-level integration involves
performing trade-off analysis to select candidate projects from various municipal infrastructure
components. The project-level integration includes identifying adjacent improvement projects
from various infrastructure components that can be implemented simultaneously to reduce costs.
The project-level integration is performed in a spatial manner using GIS capabilities.
Keywords: Municipal Infrastructure, Asset Management, GIS, Data Integration,
Performance Measures, Computerized System.
Municipal governments are continually investing large sums of money to maintain the physical
and operational quality of their infrastructure assets above minimum levels. A municipal assets
management system consists of many components that are normally owned and managed by the
same agency (e.g., streets, culverts, water pipelines and sewer pipelines). Thus, it is logical to
expect that managing these components in a coordinated manner is beneficial to both uses and
owners. Municipal infrastructure management is essentially a set of activities associated with the
process of maintaining, rehabilitating, and reconstructing/replacing municipal assets in a cost-
effective way. Thus, municipal governments need tools that allow them to perform coordinated
management of their assets and that provide the services that the community expects of them
within funding limits.
The main objective of this paper is to provide municipal government with a methodology for
developing tools that can be used to evaluate the trade-offs among various municipal
improvement projects and coordinate project implementation to reduce cost and traffic
disruptions. In other words, this prototype methodology can be used for managing various
municipal infrastructure components in a coordinated and cost-effective manner. The
methodology consists of analytical procedures and data integration and presentation tools, along
with the geographic information system based software that integrates and implements those
procedures and tools.
A multimillion-dollar investment in annual maintenance and rehabilitation is required to
maintain infrastructure assets. The rate of deterioration of municipal infrastructure assets is
forcing owners to closely examine the state of their assets and plan for the future to bring North
American infrastructure assets back to an acceptable level. In response, there has been a
movement towards the development of asset management systems [1,2,3].
One of the first steps to understanding and using asset management principles is to have a clear
definition of the term. Unfortunately, this has not been an easy task and both a variety of
definitions and some confusion over the scope of asset management exist.
First, as guiding principles, we can state that:
1. Asset management should be viewed as a process and an asset management system
(AMS) as the operational application or implementation of the process.
2. The fundamental requirement of an AMS by administrators and engineers is that it
employs good business practices and effectively integrates or incorporates the already
established component management systems (pavements, bridges, etc.), as emphasized in
The following example definitions, from the transportation sector but applicable in general,
address these guiding principles wholly or in part:
• " Asset management is a comprehensive business strategy employing people, information
and technology to effectively and efficiently allocate available funds amongst valid and
competing asset needs" .
• " Asset management is a systematic process of maintaining, upgrading and operating
physical assets cost-effectively. In the broadest sense, the assets of a transportation
agency include physical infrastructure such as pavements, bridges, and airports, as well
as human resources (personnel and knowledge), equipment and materials, and other items
of value such as financial capacities, right-of-way, data, computer systems, methods,
technologies and partners" .
• "Total Asset Management (TAM) is a comprehensive and structured planning process for
developing capital and recurrent programs and budgets. It aims to focus on customer and
community needs, provide quality services and a commitment to excellence to ensure that
assets remain productive" .
In essence, asset management should be directed to gaining the greatest possible benefits for the
owners and users of the assets.
Based on the foregoing definitions and on experience in infrastructure and asset management, an
overall asset management framework has been developed, as shown in Figure 1 . The
schematic is generic to all infrastructures allowing flexibility to accommodate individual agency
needs, resources and policies. Of particular importance is the context of asset valuation within
the framework. Asset valuation is based on first identifying or inventorying the classes/types of
assets, locations and amount or extent, and establishing their current status or condition,
requiring evaluation methods and models. In addition, the determination of future asset values is
required. An essential requirement for estimating these future asset values is models or estimates
of future performance of the assets (e.g., performance prediction models).
Asset Management involves processes of planning and monitoring physical assets during their
useful lives to an agency. Managing effectively requires an appropriate level of management
interest and concern be maintained well beyond the ‘ribbon cutting’ stage of acquisition.
The objective of asset management is to achieve the best possible match of assets with program
delivery strategies. This is predicated on a critical examination of alternatives to the use of
assets. The expectation is that ‘non-asset’ solutions will enable delivery of the program at a
Asset management systems provide accurate and timely information for effective decision-
making. A complete system has five components:
Assessment of condition
Operations, maintenance, repair and replacement management
Analysis and evaluation including use, risk, and cost-effectiveness
Figure 1. Overall Framework for Asset Management
MUNICIAPL ASSET MANAGEMENT
Municipal asset management (MAN) is a body of management practices that maximizes the
cost-effective use of capital assets over the life of the asset. Simply stated, it gets the most use
out of each asset over the life of the asset for the least long-term cost.
Municipal capital assets include general infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, water and sewer
treatment plants, sewer collection systems, airports, schools and storm water collection facilities,
as opposed to financial assets or rolling stock. MAN provides the systematic planning,
acquisition, development, operation, maintenance and control of capital assets; Asset
management technology focuses on techniques, such as valuation, development, utilization,
prioritization, replace-versus repair decisions, and Asset management systems
Good Asset Management is built on carefully defined levels of service (LOS) applied to:
• The design of asset
• The maintenance of the asset
LOS statements become both design targets for new assets and maintenance benchmarks for
operations. LOS standards are the basis for establishing work processes (step-by-step instructions
for executing operations and maintenance tasks), which, in turn, help set staffing and equipment
levels and determine budget needs.
Manages of municipal infrastructure assets must also make different technical decisions
regarding when and how to maintain, repair, or renew their assets, while working with
continuously-shrinking budgets. These manages must allocate funds among competing yet
deserving needs, often having to make decisions based on incomplete data, In addition, the asset
manages’ resources are being challenged from all sides: managers are also being asked to cut
costs, privatize operations, outsource responsibilities and reduce expenditures .
In 1998, Gordon and Shore  suggested three planning horizons to illustrate the conflicting
nature of long-term decision making for asset managers: operational, tactical, and strategic. As
any good asset manager realizes, municipal infrastructure is an integrated system and the
individual components must function both independently and in unison with other systems.
Based on the investigation completed to date and experience learned from various related
projects [10,11], several administrative, financial and technical challenges are identified to fully
address the need of municipal infrastructure planning:
• Seamless data integration is difficult to achieve
• Enhancement and standardization of the currently available tools
• Central repository for the information
• Shared experience and “best practices” such as proposed in the National Technical for
Municipal Infrastructure 
• Life –cycle analysis and long-tern service life prediction
• Intercommunication between municipal infrastructure research and the field of service-
NEED FOR DECISION-SUPPORT TOOLS FOR MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Efficient information management is the key to better decision making for municipal
infrastructure. For many organizations, major issues of service delivery are “repair and renew”
rather than “design and build” . Engineers, technical staff, administrators, and politicians all
benefit if decisions about maintenance, repair, and renewal are based on reliable data, solid
engineering principles, and accepted economic values. When reliable data and efficient decision-
support tools are in place, the costs for maintenance, repair, and renewal will be reduced and
services will be timely, with less disruption. These improvements will all reduce the costs of
managing municipal infrastructure.
Many major asset owners in North America are beginning to recognize the importance of
knowing the current and future states of their infrastructures. Meanwhile, Winnipeg, Canada,
 has made recommendations to (1) invest more in infrastructure; (2) make the strategic
investments with the dollars they have; and (3) find ways to reduce the magnitude of the
infrastructure deficit problem. More specifically relating to decision-support tools, the Winnipeg
government recommends that:
• Life-cycle costing analysis be used for all decisions related to infrastructure alternatives
• Maintenance can be deferred only if the impact on life expectancy and life-cycle costs
(LCC) is minimized and if maintenance is factored into initial infrastructure costs
• Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) must be adopted.
PROPOSED MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Significant efforts have been made to develop management systems to improve efficiency in
utilizing limited infrastructure resources (e.g., pavement management systems and bridge
management systems). However, there has been much less work done to develop a "total"
infrastructure management methodology that ties these systems together. During the late 1980s,
discussions began on the importance of a comprehensive system for managing civil
infrastructure components such as pavements, bridges, culverts, and traffic control devices in a
coordinated manner to improve managerial decisions. However, very few specifics have been
stated in this regard.
One of the early efforts in the area of urban infrastructure management was made by the Urban
Institute and the International City Management Association in the early 1970s to identify
measures of effectiveness for basic municipal services (e.g., transportation, solid waste
collection, water supply, sew- age). However, the real-world use of these effectiveness measures
is still largely untested .
The need for a total highway management system and general guidelines for developing it were
discussed by Sinha and Fwa (1989) . Stephense (1987)  described the approach taken by
the city of Orlando, FL., to develop integrated street infrastructure information systems that
operate from a common street inventory. Similar systems are used by some municipalities to
provide performance and inventory information related to urban infrastructures, such as
pavements, sewers, gas, and electric [17, 18]. However, most of these systems do not have the
necessary decision support analytical techniques, such as life cycle cost analysis, utility theory,
and optimization techniques. These techniques are needed to perform reasonable integration of
engineering as well as economic decisions .
The key elements of all types of asset management systems are (1) inventory and monitoring
data, (2) database system, and (3) data analysis, reporting, and presentation tools. The main
components of data analysis tools in a traditional management system are (1) performance
prediction models (2) project-level rehabilitation needs analysis, and (3) network-level
optimization analysis. A municipal asset management system is generally developed at two
levels: project and network. Project-level analysis requires detailed data and treats management
units on an individual basis; it is a site-specific management system. It assesses the cause of
deterioration, and recommends the most cost-effective treatment. On the other hand, network-
level analysis deals with the entire network (or a large part of it) at the same time. The main
purpose of network-level analysis is to assess the effect of various funding scenarios on the
health of the entire system.
This paper describes a prototype methodology for managing multiple municipal infrastructure
assets in a coordinated and cost-effective manner. Key features of this methodology are
summarized as follows:
• Geographical Information System (GIS)
• Investment trade-offs (Network-Level Integration)
• Coordination of project implementation (Project-Level Integration)
GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS
GIS are becoming extremely popular with municipalities to manage cadastral information such
as lot plans, buried systems and road networks . In a geographical information system, the
data about a particular asset are directly related to their physical location on a map of the city or
region. For example, the location of a specific lot can be viewed in the context of other lots in a
neighborhood; lot surface areas can be calculated, and distances to specific services can be
accurately calculated. Satellite imagery data can also be included in GIS systems.
In addition to the widely available client-server GIS applications, the World Wide Web can also
be used as an interface to GIS data. The State of Kansas' GIS uses the Web extensively to
publish information regarding geomatic information. The Kansas interface serves quick and
comprehensive data to citizens and municipal decision-makers, alike. The data include physical
descriptions in form of maps or charts, as well as demographic information related to these
regions, such as number of households, number of rental units, vacancy rates, property values,
System implementation costs for a comprehensive GIS can be extremely expensive for municipal
or regional governments. A large Michigan county has expended over $l0M US to date for their
county-wide GIS; however, the savings to the taxpayers are estimated at $1M US.
Although GIS may appear as a solution to many in the municipal engineering field, the
integration of the diverse set of applications related to municipal infrastructure may be
problematic. However, based on the significant commitments to GIS in the field of municipal
infrastructure by a large number of organizations (GIAC), it is highly recommended that any
software developed in the domain of investment planning should interface to an organization's
Geographic Information System. Browsing the Internet provides considerable data about GIS in
the field of municipal engineering.
An essential tool for applying the new municipal infrastructure management methodology
efficiently is a computer software system that includes a set of appropriate engineering,
economic, and spatial methods. Major advantages of integrated infrastructure management
software are as follows:
• Integrated database and common linear referencing system
• Compatible analytical procedures
• Compatible output presentation methods
• Potential for reduced software development, maintenance, and operation costs
• Potential for reduced training costs
Simply put, a GIS combines layers of information about a place to give you a better
understanding of that place. What layers of information you combine depends on your purpose-
finding the best location for a new store, analyzing environmental damage, viewing similar
crimes in a city to detect a pattern, and so on. There are two main advantages of using GIS:
Improve Organizational Integration: One of the main benefits of GIS is improved
management of organization and resources. A GIS can link data sets together by common
location data, such as addresses, which helps departments and agencies share their data. By
creating a shared database, one department can benefit from the work of another-data can be
collected once and used many times.
Make Better Decisions: The old adage "better information leads to better decisions" is true for
GIS. A GIS is not just an automated decision making system but a tool to query, analyze, and
map data in support of the decision making process.
For example, GIS can be used to help reach a decision about the location of a new housing
development that has minimal environmental impact, is located in a low-risk area, and is close to
a population center. The information can be presented succinctly and clearly in the form of a
map and accompanying report, allowing decision makers to focus on the real issues rather than
trying to understand the data. Because GIS products can be produced quickly, multiple scenarios
can be evaluated efficiently and effectively. The advantages of transferring information to the
GIS system are:
1. Information contained within asset management databases can be presented visually by
the mapping database
2. Programs developed within the Mapping System enable further analysis of data
3. Interrogation within the GIS system can be cross-checked against information within
the Asset Management System to enhance reliability of result.
Streets Culv er ts Sewer P ipelin e W ater P ipelin e
Inv entor y and M onitor ing Analys is:
O ptim ization T echniques
Utility Theor y
Perform anc e Pr edicti on M odels
Relational D atabas e
O ther K nowledge
Spatial A nalysis
Reports and Fi gur es
P ropos ed S ystem Desi gn for M unicipal Infrastructure Man agem ent
Figure 2. System Design for Municipal Infrastructure Management
Use of GIS for asset location and identification eliminated the need for complex intelligent asset
numbering systems. The key point is to be able to easily and quickly identify the asset both in
office and in the field. GIS is used to illustrate asset age profiles and locate and inquiry to the
asset attribute data files. A picture is worth a thousand words and a color picture is worth a
million. The system design and operation procedure of the ARC/INFO software environment are
summarized in Figure 2.
This is a trade-off analysis among alternative investment strategies that allows for the selection
of improvement projects from various infrastructure components to maximize the overall
performance of the municipal infrastructure network now and in the future, within funding
limits. For example, to improve the overall performance of a municipal infrastructure network, it
may be more appropriate to shift a portion of street funds to culverts, or vice versa. As can be
seen from Figure 3, the network-level integration is performed in two steps:
1. Allocate a total network annual budget across competing components
2. Allocate the optimum share of each component from the total budget across the competing
projects within the component.
To formulate the above procedure in optimization problems, it is necessary to measure the
benefit of improvement for each infrastructure component, to develop a common infrastructure
performance indicator for all components, and to develop mathematical relationships between
investment level (i.e., budget) and infrastructure performance.
Year 1 Across Components Allocation
Streets Culverts Pipelines Component # n
Project # P11 P21 P31 … Pn1
Project # P12 P22 P32 … Pn2
Project # P13 P23 P33 … Pn3
Project # P14 P24 P34 … Pn4
Project # P15 P25 P35 … Pn5
. . . . .
. . . . .
Project # P1a P2b P3c Pnm
Figure 3. Network-Level Integration Approach used in Prototype Methodology
To determine the optimum allocation of the total budget across the competing components, it is
necessary to develop a mathematical model that represents the relation between investment level
and efficiency for each infrastructure component in every year of the improvement program.
Using data for the municipal infrastructure system in State College, PA., it was found that the
exponential form is a reasonable and simple best-fit regression function for this relationship.
Thus, the functional form of the investment-performance function is:
Performance = a (investment)b
Where performance is expressed in terms of efficiency or percent adequate, investment is
expressed in terms of dollars, and a and b are regression coefficients.
It is necessary to note that the values of the a and b factors depend on the infrastructure condition
in the current year and, consequently, on the investment levels and infrastructure condition in
previous years. As the investment level in previous years increases and the infrastructure
condition improves, the slope of the investment-performance curve in the current year decreases
(i.e., a approaches 100 and b approaches 0).
This aspect of integration includes identifying adjacent improvement projects from various
infrastructure components in a particular year that can be implemented simultaneously to reduce
time, cost and traffic disruptions. In the absence of coordination, conflicts in project
implementation are likely to occur. For example, pavement rehabilitation activities may be
performed on a section, and then a few months’ later rehabilitation activities are performed on a
sewer pipeline located within the pavement section. Obviously, such uncoordinated projects
increase both agency costs and user costs.
This aspect of integration in ARC/INFO includes:
a. Identifying adjacent improvement projects from various infrastructure components (like
culverts, pipeline system, etc) in a particular year
b. These projects can be implemented simultaneously to reduce traffic disruptions, costs and
disturbance between different projects.
c. Use GIS software to perform the project-level integration in a spatial manner.
GIS is a powerful tool for (1) integrating, managing, and displaying municipal infrastructure
data; (2) displaying the geographic distribution of improvement projects and deficient features;
(3) displaying spatial relationships among performance measures; and (4) spatially analyzing
municipal infrastructure data. Two examples about GIS software integration are shown in
Figures 4 and 5.
Figure 4. Example for Map display
Figure 5. Example for Interactive Asset Information Query
A prototype methodology was developed for the management of various municipal infrastructure
components in a coordinated and comprehensive manner at the network and project
implementation levels. The methodology is, in principle, applicable to any number of municipal
infrastructure components. A GIS-based infrastructure management software system was
developed using the concepts of the new integrated methodology.
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