CHICAGO, IL - Public transit agencies and other infrastructure managers need a strong foundation of data governance and management to fully tap into the potential of new technologies that help automate or optimize asset management practices. The time to start is now.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides a generational opportunity for the United States to improve how public transit agencies serve the public and determine the best path to manage, operate and maintain those investments for the long-term.
Transit agencies can implement tools such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and digital twins to bring powerful decision support systems, create proactive knowledge management solutions and streamlined work practices. The promise and success stories from recent implementations are driving these technologies to become the new normal throughout transportation agencies and supporting industry partners.
Predictive analytics, for example, can be used to forecast future maintenance needs long before they become a problem. Artificial intelligence, through machine learning, can proactively identify patterns in asset operations to notify infrastructure managers of improved preventative maintenance schedules. Digital twins will continue to have limitless possibilities, including 3D virtual environments used for operations control, workforce training/simulation and utility network traceability.
To better prepare for this technology-driven future, public agencies must create an organizational structure that supports sound data management fundamentals and an agile mindset to implementation. A mature data governance approach is essential to support agency operations and long-term asset management goals.
Enterprise digital transformation initiatives in support of asset management advancement can be a significant change in how an agency manages its assets. It is important that an agency remain agile during this process by focusing on incremental change while providing staff with the training and support needed to meet its long-term goals. But it is also best supported by agencies that have invested in data governance and management strategies that support distributed data ownership, stewardship and extreme accessibility.
There are countless examples of agencies embarking on this journey. For example, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is implementing an enterprise asset management system through an incremental, stakeholder-intensive strategy across all its departments and building an effective network of stewards to support future implementation phases.
A grand vision of the future that embraces innovation is what drives these initiatives forward. None of it will work without the full “buy in” and encouragement of agency leadership. Focusing on establishing the fundamentals and practices that embrace change – which is sure to come – will make all the difference.
Jeff Siegel serves as the director of HNTB’s Technology Solutions Center.