Challenges and opportunities in Australian highways

25/01/2019

Townsville City Council in Australia has procured Yotta's Horizons platform for its pavement asset management needs. Avesh Maharaj (pictured), business development manager at Yotta, explains the challenges and opportunities in the Australian infrastructure asset management market.

As a connected asset management software and services provider, Yotta’s stock-in-trade is helping organisations, agencies and companies with asset-rich environments to manage and make more informed decisions about their infrastructure assets. That’s been our focus in the UK for many years.

The challenges and complexities of highways infrastructure asset management are much discussed at a local government and broader industry level across the country. But these kinds of issues are not unique to the UK. Industry bodies worldwide have similar challenges to face – but the geographical, regulatory and economic environments in which they are working can be very different.

The Australian infrastructure asset management environment is a case in point. The broad asset management approach in Australia is theoretically based on that in the UK. Like the UK authorities, the Australian authorities look to follow ISO 55000, an international standard, introduced in 2014, covering the management of assets of any kind. Before that, the Australian authorities typically followed the UK’s PAS 55 standard, which was published by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in 2004 for physical assets, and later evolved into ISO 55000. It is important to note too that the ISO and PAS standards are across all asset classes including water, facilities and open spaces.

Australia also has also two important industry bodies in this space: Austroads, the peak organisation of Australasian road and transport agencies and the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA).

The way ownership and funding of roads is organised in Australia is, however, quite distinct from the UK. Some roads are funded by local authorities. Some are funded by the state, which is also funded by the federal government. These are typically maintained either by the state, local government, or by a contractor. Other roads are owned by local government. These are funded by the state, rate payers and federal government, and maintained by the local authority or by the relevant contractor.

Funding is also typically tight. When authorities with responsibility for road maintenance discuss the challenges they face, it is generally the biggest talking point. For solution providers pitching into the marketplace therefore, the focus is typically on asset optimisation - being able to do more with less.

While serious concerns about the scarcity of funding will be only too familiar to highways and infrastructure asset management departments within UK councils and local authorities, the way that the approach is rolled out is quite different in the two countries.

Take the way that road information is measured and mapped, for example. While the UK has a data collection standard, Australia does not. Authorities typically either collect data from complex machine-based surveys or drive down the road and give it a rating score from one to 10.

Factors such as safety and traffic volumes are typically key considerations for the authorities when planning their overall strategies. Weather is also a critically important factor when it comes to road design and maintenance.

The country experiences a vast range of different climatic and weather conditions: from snow and ice to arid and tropical. Those that are relevant will of course need to be factored in when roads are designed, particularly with regards to the types of materials used in the road building and maintenance process.

Looking to the Future

Moving forwards, connected asset management is likely to become increasingly important to the authorities responsible for road ownership across Australia. Today, connected assets still only make up a small proportion of most councils’ overall asset portfolios.

Therefore, while the potential offered by connected asset management is likely to be huge over the years to come, linking field staff to office staff may well be the most important application for this kind of solution today. We also see potential for connected asset management technology to help in ensuring compliance obligations are met by making certain that complete records are kept of all inspections and defects.

In more general terms, while some councils remain risk averse and hesitant to adopt new technology, we see huge potential for the latest asset management approaches across Australia to help teams responsible for roads management to visualise, manage and optimise all their asset management strategies and records in a more efficient and effective manner.

And moving beyond that, we see great opportunities for them to start building connected infrastructure, which allows them to maximise the value of their assets, bring data, systems and people together and drive operational efficiencies.

Highways jobs

Surface Water Engineer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £35350 per annum
At Essex County Council, we're passionate about helping deliver economic growth, the best starts in life and the chance to age well for people in the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highways Operations Manager

Swindon Borough Council
Salary up to £41,494 p.a.
In this key role, you will plan, organise, co-ordinate and control the workforce Swindon, Wiltshire
Recruiter: Swindon Borough Council

Senior Engineer (Highways Maintenance Design)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Senior Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Projects Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£33,153 - £35,755
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire and... Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Heating Engineer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
Up to £48,692 per annum
Looking for a Senior Heating Engineer who will work as part of one of the small professional teams. London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Traffic Management and Parking Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£34,788 to £42,683
Are your skills and experiences suited to a traffic and parking engineer position? Is project work something you enjoy doing? Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Lead Practitioner (Infrastructure)

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£33,799 to £35,934 per annum
Newark and Sherwood is looking to recruit to its newly created post of Lead Practitioner for Infrastructure. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recruiter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Senior Parking Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
As Senior Parking Manager, you will be responsible for the effective management of the Council’s Parking Services contract Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Highways Inspector

Hackney London Borough Council
£28,752 - £32,577
We are seeking an experienced Highways Inspector to join the Highways Team. Hackney, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata. (£11.50 per hour)
A school crossing patrol officer is responsible for assisting children to cross the road safely on their way to and from school. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Assistant Director - Environment

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
£82k per annum
Our Assistant Director – Environment will ensure clean, safe and attractive communities. Redcar, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,782 - £42,683
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Network Management Team Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Street Lighting Client Officer

Enfield London Borough Council
£37,842 – £40,728
As a Street Lighting Client Officer, you will assist the Streetlighting Client Manager in managing the Council’s Street lighting Service Provider Enfield (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Enfield London Borough Council

Pest Control Officer

Brent Council
£26,745 - £28,725 p.a. inc.
Brent Council's Pest Control and Hygiene service continues to see a growing demand in its pest control services. Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

PCN Appeals Officer

Brent Council
£26,745 - £30,711 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an experienced parking professional to join the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager - Trading Standards

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band H, SCP 38-43 (£40,760 - £45,591 per annum) (£21.13 - £23.63 per hour)
We have an exciting opportunity to recruit to the position of Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Key Route Network Manager

Liverpool City Region
£63,753 - £71,747
An exciting new opportunity has arisen within the Integrated Transport Directorate of the LCR Combined Authority Liverpool, Merseyside
Recruiter: Liverpool City Region

Assistant Director

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council
£92,826 - £111,231
This is an ideal opportunity for an expert waste management professional to make a real impact and to lead the service to outstanding. Fulham, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council

Partnership Director (Fixed Term for 2 years)

Tactran
£79,165 - £83,020
An exciting opportunity has arisen for the post of Partnership Director for the Tayside & Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran). Perth, Perth and Kinross
Recruiter: Tactran

Service Director Planning, Transportation and Highways

Wakefield Council
£88,768
To lead on behalf of the Council on all planning, transportation and highways matters Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Valuing our roads: What is a network worth?

Also inside:

Traffex review 

Diary of a flood.

Beautiful roads

Live Labs exclusive briefing 

View the latest issue

Latest Video