The Concept of the Infrastructure Balance Sheet Tool

In a previous life, while working for the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works, we coined the phrase “infrastructure balance sheet” to represent the concept of a very high level software tool designed to help mayors and councils evaluate funding needs for transportation, parks, sewage treatment plants and other typical city and county infrastructure.

Since public agencies are often saddled with historical funding levels for their infrastructure assets—even though they may no longer reflect current needs, we felt that an infrastructure balance sheet tool would help agencies see how funding should be changed or updated to be more effective. We felt that it was an idea whose time had come.

My Introduction to Asset Trade-Off Analyst

When I came to AgileAssets one of the most compelling and powerful tools I was shown was the asset Trade-Off Analyst™ tool. The concept behind Trade-Off Analyst was almost exactly the same as the infrastructure balance sheet concept that we had worked on in Indianapolis—a high-level infrastructure analysis tool designed for senior management. However, in addition to projecting funding needs for specific assets like pavements, bridges, safety or utilities, Trade-Off Analyst also took the analysis function to the next step by supporting the project selection process for each asset type and presenting the best mix of projects for all asset types.

Trade-Off Analyst enables agencies to take the project list that gives the best return-on investment (ROI) for each asset type and—based on the multi-year, multi-criteria optimization that best meets its long term goals—find the very best mix of projects and funding levels over all asset types that gives the very highest return for the agency as a whole. Agencies don’t have unlimited funding, not even close, and so a tool that provides the ability to weight projects and to project future condition level-of-service (LOS) for specific investment amounts over multiple years is incredibly powerful. And a tool that enables agencies to determine funding needs based on desired outcomes is even more powerful.

Trade-Off Analyst: Imagine the Possibilities

Perhaps the greatest challenge to performing this kind of very high-level analysis may come from many agencies as they attempt to determine the best mix of transportation infrastructure projects across departments and asset types.

Now imagine that an agency can take input from all of the departments that comprise the organization, provide appropriate weighting through agreed upon decision trees and optimization models and then be able to produce a list of projects that will provide the very best allocation of available funding.

Then imagine accomplishing all of this work without weeks and months spent pouring over spreadsheets or other outdated analysis tools. If you can, you’re imagining AgileAssets Trade-Off Analyst, the only fully integrated, entirely browser based tool to provide this type of high-level optimization across all asset types and the only asset management tool that will meet all of your MAP-21 requirements.

Infrastructure asset management really does come back to the issue of money—your agency’s and your constituent’s money. Why not use the most advanced optimization analysis tools to ensure the most effective allocation of available funds and the best possible ROI? For additional information on our advanced analytics technologies, I invite you to visit our Trade-Off Analyst information page.

 

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