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Asset Management: Building a Foundation for Smart Decisions

Elizabeth Young, GISP, City of Fort Worth
Elizabeth Young, GISP, City of Fort Worth

Elizabeth Young, GISP, City of Fort Worth

Cities all over the country are faced with the on-going issue of ageing infrastructure and limited resources.

The City of Fort Worth is no different.

In an effort to better understand and manage their infrastructure, the City has invested in asset management collecting information about their assets to make data-driven decisions and plan improvements for the future.

Asset Management is not a new trend. The Institute of Asset Management defines Asset Management as an organizations ability to realize value from its assets.

They have developed a knowledge base and set of best practices to help organizations make decisions on the acquisition, maintenance, operation, rehabilitation and disposal of assets.

For obvious reasons, it is crucial to understand what asset the City owns. How can you manage something if it is unclear what you are managing? Developing an asset repository is the foundation for building a good Asset Management Program. The City of Fort Worth – Transportation and Public Works Department (FW-TPW) embarked on developing their asset repository in 2006. Over the last 14 years, the City has invested in 4 inventory projects to collect location and condition information on assets like pavement, pavement markings, curb and gutter, street lights, signs, traffic signals, railroad crossings, parking meters, storm drains, pipes and channels.

 Developing an asset repository is the foundation for building a good Asset Management Program 

In total, FW-TPW tracks over 35 asset types and is approaching a million assets with over almost 25 million data points.

These assets are tracked using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. It is an on-going process of adding new assets, retiring assets and maintaining information on existing assets.

Information about an asset helps FW-TPW quickly assess how much work will be required for a project. For example, in August of 2019, local schools changed class start time.

This required the City to modify school zone signs that show specific times. Historically, crews would be sent out to locate and count the signs to be modified taking days sometimes even weeks to complete the work. However, with detailed sign information in the GIS asset registry, City employees were able to identify the total number of signs and their locations in only 15 minutes saving the City thousands of dollars in labor.

In 2013, FW-TPW deployed its first asset management software allowing the organization to link the work and associated costs to an actual asset. The Storm Water Division was the first to implement this type of technology within the department. The team saw immediate benefits in using the software. By utilizing mobile devices, crew members were able to enter work order information directly into the system improving data accuracy and freeing up supervisors to oversee the work and deal with other issues. They could easily report information using software tools simplifying monthly and annual reporting processes. This was also the first time crews could spatially see location information for their infrastructure as well as other groups such as water and sewer helping them to better understand what was happening in the field and make decisions on how to proceed.

While there is a significant investment in collecting, maintaining and analyzing information about City assets, FW-TPW believes the benefits far exceed the costs and help their organization make data-driven decisions saving them valuable resources.

 

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