Infrastructure Asset Management and a Changing Climate
Understanding the Connection and Building Resilience
Infrastructure is the backbone of modern society, and its effective management is crucial for its continued operation and sustainability. As severe weather events become more frequent, infrastructure asset management (IAM) has become an important tool for building resilience and adapting to these challenges. Let’s explore the connection between IAM and severe weather events and how IAM can help organizations and communities prepare for and respond to the effects of these events.
What is Infrastructure Asset Management?
Infrastructure asset management is a process that is implemented to help efficiently and effectively use and manage infrastructure assets. It involves planning, developing, operating, maintaining, renewing, and disposing of assets in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. IAM aims to maximize the benefits of infrastructure investment through continuous asset monitoring and assessment to identify risks and opportunities. This, in turn, can inform decisions about allocating resources.
Why is IAM Important in Response to Severe Weather Events?
Severe weather events have a significant impact on infrastructure assets. Fluctuating water levels, increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, and shifting patterns of rainfall and temperature all contribute to the ongoing degradation of assets and increase the risk of failure. IAM can play a crucial role in helping organizations prepare for and respond to these impacts by using a systematic and integrated approach to managing assets. This may involve upgrading assets to make them more resistant; investing in new infrastructure designed for improved resiliency; or developing contingency plans for continued operation during severe weather events, supply chain challenges, staff shortages, or any vulnerability an organization may face.
How to Incorporate Preparation for Severe Weather Events into IAM?
There are several steps that organizations can take to incorporate preparation for severe weather events into their IAM processes:
Assess the risks and impacts of severe weather events on infrastructure assets: This may involve using computer software models and scenario planning to assess the potential impacts of fluctuating water levels (e.g., streams/rivers/lakes/oceans), floodplain levels, stormwater volumes, and other extreme weather events. Emerging contaminants and changes to regulatory permits should also be taken into consideration.
Integrate the preparation for severe weather events into your decision-making processes: Organizations should ensure that the potential impacts of severe weather events are considered in all aspects of IAM, including planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance (which is often overlooked).
Develop and implement a resilient strategy: This may involve upgrading existing assets, investing in new infrastructure designed for long term resilience, or developing contingency plans for continued operation during severe weather events or other threats (e.g., natural or man-made).
Monitor and review progress: regularly monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the resiliency strategy is essential to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in the face of changing conditions.
IAM and severe weather events are closely related and IAM can play a critical role in building resilience and adapting to these impacts. By incorporating preparation for severe weather events into IAM processes, organizations can ensure the efficient and effective use of their infrastructure assets and prepare for the challenges posed by our changing weather events.
For more information on our Asset Management capabilities, please contact: Tim Taber, P.E., BCEE