IBM Maximo Fulfills the Promise of Smarter Cities

IBM Maximo Fulfills the Promise of Smarter Cities

Tivoli Beat. A weekly IBM service management perspective.

City management demands a new approach. As city asset groups, service requirements, and population sizes have all typically climbed, city budgets have typically remained flat or fallen. This means that to accomplish their goals, cities will increasingly have to find ways to accomplish more—while using less.

Toward that end, one key strategy they can pursue is optimizing the way they manage their assets. For many cities, this is a great opportunity to improve because asset types tend to be managed in a domain-specific, service-specific fashion—not with a view to the holistic value that can come through an integrated perspective and implementation.

The result is that city assets, in areas ranging from public transportation to public utilities to public buildings, are harder to track and monitor, harder to maintain, have shorter lifecycles, and thus perform less effectively for citizens than they could, all while also costing the city more, at every point along the way.

IBM's approach to municipal asset management—part of its Smarter Cities initiative—takes a different approach, and one that yields a substantially better outcome. The root idea is to collect asset information centrally, in a shared repository, and then analyze it and leverage it in many ways, for many purposes—always with a view toward driving up value for citizens, while also driving down costs and complexities of many kinds.

IBM's Maximo asset managment solution family—best known for its success in the private sector, enterprise-class space—also includes a number of industry-specific solutions that are directly on point in addressing public sector challenges exactly like the kinds faced by cities today.

While each offering focuses on a specific category of city assets and challenges, these Maximo solutions integrate with each other to form a complete asset management solution. This helps optimize asset performance and value in a holistic sense—and thus fulfills IBM's Smarter Cities vision remarkably well.

IBM Maximo for Transportation

One clear example of the kinds of asset challenges cities face, for instance, lies in the transportation domain. Consider vehicle fleets such as buses; they require ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure they work as expected, helping citizens move efficiently from point A to point B. For many urban citizens they represent the primary means of getting to the workplace and back—not an area where a city can afford to compromise service quality.

"While each offering focuses on a specific category of city assets and challenges, these Maximo solutions integrate with each other to form a complete asset management solution. This helps optimize asset performance and value in a holistic sense—and thus fulfills IBM's Smarter Cities vision remarkably well."

IBM Maximo for Transportation not only addresses mobile assets of this type, but also fixed assets (like maintenance facilities and stations), linear assets (like roadways), and transportation-related IT assets (any digital asset used to oversee or fulfill transportation needs). It does this by aggregating information from all of these asset groups, then allowing the city to analyze it, understand it, and take appropriate action to get a better outcome.

For instance, the city can assess asset performance, tracking it over time to understand whether transportation assets are hitting targets (and if not, doing something useful to resolve the problem, such as creating and fulfilling a work order, and/or making sure the terms of vendor warranties are met). Via this solution, it's also much simpler to evaluate compliance with government regulations that relate to transportation services, and generate reports accordingly.

Maximo for Transportation also includes many specific features useful to transportation-specific issues of many kinds. Driver logs, for instance, record problems reported by drivers of buses and other public vehicles, which can be followed up on later. Fuel records establish gas consumption—key intelligence needed to track and drive down energy costs.

And the fact that this solution is based on Java means it's unusually easy to leverage in an SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture), meaning that information and capabilities it provides can be directly used by the city in other contexts as well. This spares the city having to reinvent the wheel, or acquire solution data in a manual fashion.

IBM Maximo for Utilities

Another area where cities can often benefit from improved asset management: utilities.

Consider how critical gas, electricity, and water are to the every day routine of both citizens and businesses—central resources by any definition. Because utilities infrastructures tend to be exceptionally large and complex, however, it can be very difficult for a city to ensure that utility-specific assets are really monitored and managed properly, to perform as well as possible, for as long as possible.

And when routine maintenance is required, it can be similarly difficult to optimize that maintenance. Perhaps the maintenance schedule is too slow, and assets decline in performance; perhaps the schedule is too fast, meaning that the city is wasting money attending to assets that don't need immediate attention. Similarly, it's not always clear how much time, or what kinds of tools or parts, might be required for service even if an asset does require it. Then there's the question of managing the work crews themselves—a whole different challenge.

IBM Maximo for Utilities helps address exactly these problems in a number of different respects. It includes industry specific capabilities in electric, gas, and water, covering both transmission and distribution, that help make sure that maintenance is really as optimized as it can be.

For instance, it supports compatible unit estimates (CUE), which contain accurate information about the materials, time required, and tools typically needed to perform different kinds of jobs. These estimates, collected in a library, can inform all kinds of maintenance processes, increasing the odds that the job will not only be done, but done right—in every case.

Spatial enablement helps work crews easily visualize and understand asset locations—especially important to carry out work orders in the shortest time. The solution also supports approval and project fulfillment tracking (to demonstrate that the work order has been fulfilled).

And like Maximo for Transportation, this offering is also implemented in SOA-enabled Java—making it easy to multiply the value it can create.

IBM TRIRIGA Facilities Manager

How do cities manage buildings (or floors within buildings)? Usually, the answer is: not as well as they might.

Space utilization, in particular, is an area that could stand some improvement. Space is often allocated in a suboptimal way, resulting in wasted square footage; the result is higher costs of many kinds, such as energy costs related to cooling.

TRIRIGA Facilities Manager delivers a better outcome by helping city managers visualize actual space utilization through highlighted floor plans that depict space allocation both currently and historically—useful information for arriving at the most efficient possible scheme. The same information is helpful any time team members or assets need to be relocated.

Finally, that relocation process is also optimized because the solution not only assigns move projects, but also tracks the costs created—data that can be analyzed to reduce those costs over time.

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