City of Cambridge: Saving millions through proactive infrastructure repair

Published on 30-Nov-2010

Validated on 17 Dec 2013

"The system gives us incredibly valuable insight into trends and what we can expect in the future. We’re moving from a break-fix mentality to a proactive planning mentality." - Michael Hausser, director of Asset Management and Supporting Services, Transportation and Public Works Department, City of Cambridge

Customer:
City of Cambridge

Industry:
Government, Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
Canada

Solution:
Selected Business Solution (sBS), Business Performance Transformation, Dynamic Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency, Green/Sustainability, Cloud & Service Management, Optimizing IT, Service Management, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Cities, Smarter Government

IBM Business Partner:
The Createch Group

Overview

The City of Cambridge, Ontario, has a long and proud tradition of fiscal responsibility, balancing its annual budget even in the face of hard economic times. Thanks to the creative use of available resources—such as deferring non-critical spending—the city of 130,000 avoided going into debt.

Business need:
The city had become acutely aware that there existed an “infrastructure gap.” Everybody knew there was a problem, but nobody knew how big it was, what risk it posed or even how to quantify it. The results of a study that examined the issue were alarming. The city had accumulated a repair backlog of CAN$54 million in its water system alone, and another CAN$17 million in its sewer system.

Solution:
The final piece of the picture is the actual operational system, based on IBM Maximo® Asset Management software and running on the flexible and scalable IBM System x® 3850 M2 hardware. The solution brings all the hard preparatory work done together and manages every aspect of infrastructure operations, maintenance and repair from end to end.

Results:
Giving the Department of Public Works deep visibility into the city’s infrastructure, allowing proactive asset management—saving millions in the process.

Benefits:
· An increase in number of roads rated “good” of 50 percent · A reversal of trend that is expected to eliminate over CAN$71 million in repair backlog · Potential savings of over CAN$6 million in annual costs due to poor infrastructure condition ·Support of proactive planning and maintenance through continuously updated data set - Optimization of workflows for field workers for increased productivity

Case Study

The City of Cambridge, Ontario, has a long and proud tradition of fiscal responsibility, balancing its annual budget even in the face of hard economic times. Thanks to the creative use of available resources—such as deferring non-critical spending—the city of 130,000 avoided going into debt.

Over time, however, the cumulative effect of this practice began to be felt. The city’s public works department found itself less and less able to do inspections and preventive maintenance, because its resources were increasingly being used to respond to emergency repair calls.

“We were heading towards a crisis point,” says Michael Hausser, director of Asset Management and Supporting Services for the Transportation and Public Works Department in Cambridge. “Not only were we slowly losing the ability to stay ahead of ordinary wear and tear on our infrastructure, we didn’t actually know what the state of things was at any given time. We were on the way to becoming completely reactive.”

The challenge of the unknown
The city had become acutely aware that there existed an “infrastructure gap.” Everybody knew there was a problem, but nobody knew how big it was, what risk it posed or even how to quantify it. The results of a study that examined the issue were alarming. The city had accumulated a repair backlog of CAN$54 million in its water system alone, and another CAN$17 million in its sewer system. Beyond this, the sub-par condition of the water and sewer systems was costing the city millions each year—CAN$2 million worth of fresh water, and CAN$4 million in costs related to infiltration of the sewer lines.

To address the issue, Cambridge established a division devoted to asset management and put Hausser and his team in charge. They immediately saw that the key to reversing the maintenance trend was to transform how maintenance was done. “We were basically at zero. We had no accurate inventory, no proper valuation of assets, and no real maintenance program.” A disconnect existed between the city’s records and the situation in the field, Hausser says. “Our records didn’t reflect what was actually out there.”

In addition, veteran workers possessed a wealth of untapped knowledge, from years of work in the field. This represented a priceless resource, and it was in danger of being lost as these employees retired. “It’s not at all uncommon in cities to get a repair call, go out, dig a hole and find something underground that isn’t on the map or in any record… but somebody in the department is aware of it. These workers know what’s actually out there, and how to keep things running smoothly. That’s the kind of information that we desperately need to understand our infrastructure.”

First things first—setting a baseline
The project team knew it had to gain an understanding of the state of the infrastructure. “Our vision was—and is—to gain total visibility into the infrastructure so that we can manage it as effectively and efficiently as possible,” he says. “To get there, we need three things: Information, technology to record and manage that information, and processes to put it to work. The key is the first part—information.”

The system envisioned is centered on a geographical information system (GIS) database containing data on the city’s civil infrastructure—some 250,000 assets ranging from roads and sidewalks to sewers and water pipes. It covers not only location and condition, but associated data such as when the asset was installed, inspected, last repaired, what was done, who did it, and so on.

Building the database was a major project, involving the transcription of every record, engineering drawing and map in the city’s files. Then, crews were sent out to physically inspect the actual assets and fill in the gaps. This three-year effort revealed that some 25 percent of the information on hand was either incorrect or missing.

Today, the database contains a rich set of data that goes far beyond anything the city has ever had. Photographs show actual asset condition and GPS has provided very accurate location information. In addition, employees were interviewed and their knowledge was incorporated to create a detailed, living picture of every asset in the city.

Putting a mountain of information to work
While the database project was under way, Hausser set about designing the means to allow Cambridge to leverage it. The team created a number of process and workflow templates covering all of the activities performed by the department, ranging from pothole repair to snow removal. These scenarios are highly detailed and incorporate analysis based on past experience. For example, knowing how often potholes appear in a particular place can help determine how often that stretch of road needs to be inspected—or even proactively reworked to avoid the pothole in the first place.

The direct employee knowledge aspect of the project has proven invaluable. During a snowstorm, for instance, managers know from experience that equipment needs to be put in certain locations and workers called in at a particular time before the weather gets too severe. They also know which roads need to be re-plowed first, and when, as the storm progresses. All of this information is now incorporated into established business rules and response plans.

The system in action
The final piece of the picture is the actual operational system, based on IBM Maximo® Asset Management software and running on the flexible and scalable IBM System x® 3850 M2 hardware. The solution brings all the hard preparatory work done together and manages every aspect of infrastructure operations, maintenance and repair from end to end. From call centre initiated response from the public to weather related responses and planned seasonal activities and preventative maintenance and inspection processes - It does away with inefficient manual processes and inconsistent paper recordkeeping, helping to make better use of budgets and personnel. More importantly, it lays the foundation for managers to be proactive, by giving the intelligence and insight needed to perform timely preventive maintenance—which helps reduce spending, because averting an issue is normally far less expensive than repairing a problem. The system gives us insight into what work is being accomplished, the resources consumed, and their respective service levels, however, just as important, we are now fully aware of what work is not being accomplished through resource or budgetary shortfalls. It is the latter piece that enables us to make management decisions related to rates, resources, and priorities to slowly shift into a more effective and efficient pro-active approach that will pay dividends far into the future. Unfortunately, this will mean significant short term increase in rates for citizens until we achieve sustainable levels, but it will result in significant long term savings which will avoid drastic and sudden future rate increases.

A typical scenario serves to illustrate the value of the system and its transformative effect. To varying degrees, each day, the system takes in data from many sources such as weather forecasts, incoming repair calls, personnel and vehicle availability, time of last inspection for assets, maintenance standards, outstanding issues and exceptional circumstances. After analyzing and processing all of this data, Maximo Asset Management issues optimized work orders that detail work for the day.

The future vision is that the system will incrementally increase the levels of optimization to leverage the crews and management resources further reducing travel times, administrative effort, and increase coordination between internal staff and external service providers. For example, it can send a work vehicle along a street that is due for inspection so that this task is taken care of in the process of performing a completely separate job within the scope of the crew’s function. The workers report status and completion via mobile computers, along with their time, materials, and equipment utilization. The database is then updated automatically so that it provides near-real-time, accurate information reducing (if not eliminating) paper timesheets and associated clerical data input efforts.

While it might take awhile to measure the impact of the full, Maximo Asset Management-based system, and funding opportunities we’ve been able to leverage because of the knowledge accumulated in the process, the city’s efforts are already delivering real results. “With our systematic approach to infrastructure renewal, we’ve been able to improve our roadways considerably,” Hausser says. “When the project started, only 44 percent were rated ‘good.’ Three years later, that number has grown to 68 percent.”

Hausser believes the city’s new approach marks a major turning point. “Not only does the system and process let us make much better use of our resources and save money every day,” he says, “It gives us incredibly valuable insight into what we can expect in the future. We’re moving from a break-fix mentality to a proactive planning mentality. That’s a major change for us, and it’s going to pay off for decades to come—not only financially and from a sustainability standpoint, but in the quality of life for our citizens.”

Smarter cities – Optimizing infrastructure management

·Instrumented: Information from field sensors and workers is transmitted to the city’s asset management system in near-real time
·Interconnected: Data from a myriad of sources, including work crews, survey cameras, GPS sensors, geographical databases and asset schedules is combined and used to create optimized work orders
·Intelligent : Proactive planning for preventive maintenance and asset replacement is made possible through end-to-end insight into the infrastructure and predictive analysis of infrastructure asset condition

For more information
To learn more about how IBM can help you build a smarter city, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner.

Visit us at: ibm.com/smarterplanet/cities

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System x: System x running hypervisor - VMware, System x: System x3850 M2

Software:
Maximo Asset Management, Maximo Enterprise Adapter

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Corporation 1 New Orchard Road Armonk, NY 10504 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America November 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Let's Build A Smarter Planet, Smarter Planet, the planet icons, Maximo and System x are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Other company, product, or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study illustrates how one IBM customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.