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

Service Manager – Network Management

Somerset County Council
£46,122 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Traffic Control Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Assistant Engineer

Bedford Borough Council
£31,371 - £32,878 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Clerk of Works

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 + market rate supplement £2,630 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Engineering Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£24,313 - £26,999 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Engineer – Multiple disciplines

Bedford Borough Council
£33,799 - £36,876 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure.  Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Trainee Engineering Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£21,589 - £23,836 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Asset Engineer

Isle of Man Government
£47,064 - £54,805
The Isle of Man is a special place to live and work! Isle of Man (GB) (IM)
Recuriter: Isle of Man Government

Commercial Services Officer - Funerals

Brent Council
£33,291 - £35,724 p.a. inc. plus Standby Allowance
The post will be involved in all aspects of the funeral service Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Transportation Planning Officer x2

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band F, SCP 26-31 (£29,636 – £33,799 per annum) (£15.36 - £17.52 per hour)
The post holders will be part of a team developing transport policy encompassing all modes of travel Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Highway Asset Engineer

Lambeth Council
£38,403 pa rising in annual increments to £41,466 pa incl LW
Lambeth is a vibrant place with a diverse population and an exciting cultural scene. Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32.029 - £34.788 career grade
We need an enthusiastic and experienced traffic engineer to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Senior Community Infrastructure Levy Administration Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 - £44,373
The successful candidate will play a key role in ensuring Richmond and Wandsworth Councils mitigate the... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Engineer (Structures and Tunnel)

Medway Council
£31,385 - £37,053
Exciting opportunity has arisen to work within the highways department in Medway Council... Rochester, Kent
Recuriter: Medway Council

Principal Information and Monitoring Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£40,183-£47,274 (Grade PO5)
Opportunity has arisen within the Spatial and Transport Planning service for a team leader with demonstrable practical experience of... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Community Infrastructure Levy Administration Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643-£44,373 (Linked Grade PO2- PO4)
There has never been a more challenging – or rewarding – time to work for Richmond and Wandsworth.  London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Engineer – Highways Development Service (HDS)

North Yorkshire County Council
£38,813 - £42,683 pa
We are looking for someone to join the Development Management Team in a new post. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Senior Development Management Engineer – Section 38

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782
Due to the nature of the role the ability to travel effectively throughout Warwickshire is essential. Warwick, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Warwickshire County Council

Partnerships & Activities Manager

London Borough of Bexley
£31,353 - £36,876
Currently seeking an experienced manager to work in the Parks and Open Spaces Team of Bexley Council’s Communities Department. Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Zero carbon roads?

Modelling the future

A breath of fresh air

View the latest issue

Latest Video