In the first of a series of quarterly blogs, Brightly Software explains how asset management problems can be predicted before they even happen.
Digital tool Predictor, part of the Brightly Software suite, is helping councils to predict problems before they arise; prioritise where to place funds, and make strategic, data-driven decisions to implement processes and solutions.
The UK Government recently announced that £8.3bn of funding from the scrapped HS2 project (between Birmingham and Manchester) is being given to local authorities. It’s a lot of money – and a lot can be done with it.
Potholes in the press
This funding windfall, after a long period of tightening budgets, has already kicked up a storm in the UK media, with the press highlighting that pothole repairs should be a key spending priority. Typically, councils deal with potholes on a reactive basis, but often, these repairs last little more than a few years. This has not only resulted in funds being poorly spent, but also has led to the public becoming resentful and distrusting of their councils. A much better pothole containment strategy is to assess where they are most at risk of appearing (based on historic data and predictive models), and carrying out regular preventive maintenance to (as much as possible) prevent them from appearing in the first place. This is a far, far more cost-effect strategy over the long term.
But potholes, as large as they loom in the public psyche, are just one of many areas where councils can allocate spending to benefit their communities. After years of increasingly restricted budgets, it’s vital that councils invest intelligently for the long term and, for many, this post-HS2 windfall provides an ideal opportunity to do just that.
Stop, think and do something different.
Predictor, our digital, cloud-based solution can foresee the multitude of issues councils face today, helping them to act pre-emptively, rather than reactively, to address problems before they get out of hand – or even before they arise at all.
It does this through the process of asset investment optimisation: analysing data and strategically allocating financial resources across various assets and investment opportunities to maximise returns – all while minimising risk.
For councils, this approach enables them to carry out root cause analysis and fix problems before they manifest, rather than the traditional ‘responsive’ approach to asset management and maintenance, which has not necessarily delivered the most efficient or effective outcomes or demonstrated the best use of money. The predicament of pothole repairs demonstrates this perfectly.
With proactive interventions saving local councils up to three times as much as reactive tactics, Predictor delivers on value thanks to its ability to analyse risks, performance, conditions and budgets. What’s more, funding from the scrapped HS2 project is available to local authorities now. So now is the ideal time to invest.
Asset investment optimisation
How can local authorities use asset investment optimisation and what benefits does this approach deliver?
Ultimately, this approach enables strategic decision-making by analysing multitudes of data on community requirements, budgets, historic outcomes and more – as well as drawing extensively on third party statistics.
- Risks can be assessed based on numerous factors, from regulations; to environmental effects; to community size, traffic flows, infrastructure features and more. In addition, potential strategies for risk mitigation can be modelled and analysed.
- Budgets can be pre-planned and allocated for maximum long-term effectiveness, enabling councils to prioritise projects based on urgency, ROI and the impact it will have on the community.
- Infrastructure upgrade requirements can be identified and prioritised based on the needs of the community and the impact on associated assets – for example, utilities, pavements, streetlights, roads, bridges, etc.
- Energy-efficient solutions can be evaluated and considered based on their cost, environmental impact and risk.
- The delivery of public services can be optimised by investing in technology and systems that improve the efficiency of the process.
- Councils can stay up-to-date with regulations that may impact their investments and procedures.
- Councils can engage with their communities to find out their needs and requirements, as well as explaining their reasons for carrying out works, methods being used and expected completion dates. This improves transparency and trust.
Predict and prioritise every pound spent
Local authorities will always need to strike a balance between dealing with immediate issues (which are typically the issues most visible to the public and of most concern to them) with the need to save and to plan for the future. Predictor is an enormously powerful tool to help with planning and prioritisation, both for the here and now, and into the future. And it does so in the most cost-effective, time-efficient manner, and all while keeping risk to an absolute minimum.
It’s a versatile solution that can be tailored to help each unique council balance its community’s needs, assets’ health and budget.
Ultimately, local authorities need to take a step back, recognise the shortcomings of the reactive approach to asset management and maintenance, which has been used traditionally – and largely unsuccessfully – up to now, and take a much longer term view.
An investment in Predictor isn’t merely a software purchase. It’s partnership with Brightly’s team of experienced and expert analysts, backed by Siemens, one of the world’s leading technology brands. It’s an investment in your future, and in the future of the communities you serve.