This report is the second in a series of updates on the progress being achieved by Canadian municipalities through FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP). Each web-based report will focus on one of the five competencies from the Asset Management Readiness Scale. These reports incorporate real examples of what communities are doing to improve their decision-making on infrastructure as well as information on tools communities can use to better manage their assets.
About FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program
MAMP offers resources and grants to municipalities, as well as funding to a network of partner organizations to provide training. Check out our latest offerings.
FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP) helps municipalities improve their approach to infrastructure. For communities just starting to improve their asset management practices, one of the main competencies, or focus areas, that they concentrate on is data and information.
Data collection and availability is the most frequently identified challenge faced by communities at the beginning of their asset management journey.
How does good asset data encourage better infrastructure decision-making?
Almost all services provided by municipalities rely on infrastructure assets. For example, recreation services require parks, community centres and arenas to host them, and an economically vibrant community needs services such as clean water, adequate roads and sewage treatment.
Good data can tell you which assets need to be maintained, repaired, and replaced, and when. Current and reliable asset information can help your community make decisions around the levels of service it can offer, ensuring your municipality prioritizes its budget, while keeping services running reliably. Good data will help your municipality better assess risk associated with providing services over the longer term.
Where do communities get started?
Asset management check-in
Check out FCM’s Asset Management Readiness Scale. This tool can help you evaluate what steps your community can take to advance its competency in five asset management skills areas, including Data and Information.
Collecting, validating and analyzing data on municipal assets is the foundation of good infrastructure decision-making. It is so fundamental that 79% of municipalities who received a grant from MAMP pursued activities that, at least in part, focused on data and information.
Setting up your asset data electronically is key, but also challenging. It is important to recognize that after long periods, there can be obstacles in sourcing information on projects from decades past, for example work on potable water pipes might not include information like material, diameter, and installation dates.
Municipal activities to level-up your data
46% of municipalities who received a MAMP grant progressed at least one level along the Data and Information competency of the Asset Management Readiness Scale
The main activities communities work on to improve their asset management approach to data include:
Creating an inventory of assets: Having a comprehensive understanding of your assets, including those that are most important to supporting services your community provides and the infrastructure that supports those systems
Identifying the condition of assets: Understanding where your assets are in their life cycle and having standard approaches to documenting information about your assets supports your municipality’s decisions about whether to repair, replace or decommission assets.
Storing data in a centralized location: Compiling data in a central location from across departments provides for a more holistic understanding of the asset and ensures the usability and integrity of this information.
Breaking down department silos: Municipal departments are often the owners of the data specific to their tasks, for instance finance data may be kept separate from maintenance data. Easy to access pertinent data and better communication between departments ensures better processes around asset data and information.
Defining levels of service: Understanding the complete cost of your assets contributes to determining if you can afford levels of service your citizens want. Having this information will help your community create budgets and anticipate infrastructure costs over the long-term.
What are communities learning through asset management training?
Municipalities that completed training offered by MAMP partners reported gaining knowledge and skills in collecting and interpreting asset data to support their asset management practice. They also report planning to continue or start data collection for their asset classes and analysis activities as their next steps.
Communities who pursued training to enhance their data asset management approach focused on:
Understanding the factors influencing data quality: Recognizing the link between data collection, data quality and the influence it has on the success of municipal asset management initiatives. Some factors that impact data quality include: availability of current as-built drawings or capital project records, age of the condition assessment data, desktop or physical assessment, employees’ recall, maintenance/rehabilitation records.
Improving data interpretation skills: Enhancing municipal practitioners’ know-how around data collection, interpretation and analysis was a key factor in supporting municipal decision-making.
Connecting data to municipal process: Better understanding the relationship between data and municipal processes, forecast model-ling, long term capital needs planning and examining adequacy of budgets.
What are MAMP funding recipients working on?
Since 2017, 504 municipal grant recipients worked on data and information activities, leading to the completion of:
Service levels definitions and/or assessments
Infrastructure report cards
Condition assessment frameworks
Software (module or configuration) acquisitions
Asset management maturity assessments
Movement along the Asset Management Readiness Scale
Below are graphs demonstrating where communities who made progress in this competency rated their data and information activities on the Asset Management Readiness Scale before and after participating in MAMP activities.
As communities progress through the Asset Management Readiness Scale they are improving their infrastructure decision-making.
Of the 232 municipalities who improved on the scale:
Key insight: Municipalities who have advanced in the Data and Information competency on the Asset Management Readiness Scale are more likely to have improved their level of service assessments and risk analyses.
Of the 149 municipalities who improved on the scale:
Unless specified, data provided about MAMP is cumulative from May 2017-April 2021.
What data and information activities are communities working on? Check out this key learning from the Village of Perth-Andover and this helpful tool from AIM Network.
Gathering asset data leads to strategic decision for the Village of Perth-Andover, NB
In the process of creating its asset management plan, the Village of Perth-Andover, NB (population 1,590), learned a lot about what it didn’t know regarding the condition of its assets. With funding from MAMP, the village undertook a project to fill in the data and information gaps.
The village hired a consultant to set up a geographic information system (GIS) database that would map and store its asset information. The process began with the water and sewer infrastructure: a surveyor visited all the known locations with visible asset information and helped to create a map of the system and its components. Staff are learning how to use the GIS database and plan to add more data.
Another key piece of the project was an engineer’s condition assessment of seven municipal facilities. This led to a conversation about the maintenance required for these buildings and how best to spend taxpayer money. Three of the municipal buildings were located in a high-risk flood zone. The municipality addressed this by moving the village office, fire department and library to a single building located on higher ground. The village is currently choosing the location and an engineer has begun drawings for the new building.
Tools and templates, free to municipalities to help document their asset management
The Atlantic Infrastructure Management (AIM) Network has been working to define the process for building and updating a municipality’s asset management information set, through a methodology they call the AIMnet Solution.
The AIMnet Solution includes a number of Excel-based tools available free to municipalities to support this process:
Level of service workbook
Climate assessment workbook
Facilities Collection Tool: An enhanced Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for collecting facility inventory data and importing that data into the Capital Inventory Tool
Capital Inventory Tool: An enhanced Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that stores and reports on inventory data to contribute to the user’s capital program. This tool includes:
Worksheets to store all the asset data
Import/export functions with field mapping to incorporate GIS data
The ability to generate preliminary “state of infrastructure” reports (PSOIR)
A risk worksheet to adjust risk tolerance and prioritize projects
Refined “state of infrastructure” reports (RSOIR) with demands in five-year blocks based on the user’s risk-based prioritization
Fields to assign project names and years to individual assets, to build projects for five-year capital plans
A pro-forma budget report generated from the project list to plan projected annual spending over a five-year period
These tools support a municipality in mapping its asset data and generate a cost and priority inventory for its major asset classes.
Guide: Questions to ask before your municipality considers asset management software
While there is no official definition of “asset management software,” this document refers to applications designed to help you collect, manage, store, visualise and/or analyze your asset-related data.
Establishing asset hierarchy and performing data gap analysis (webinar)
Curious about the different asset data attributes that your municipality should collect and maintain? Watch this free webinar from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to learn more and access templates you can use to assess the current state of your asset data inventory.
Did you know that municipalities who completed level 1 on the Asset Management Readiness Scale’s Data and Information competency were most likely to state they would work on their asset management policy and strategy next?
If you are interested in leveling up your community’s policy and governance activities, you need to read Asset management insights: policy and governance. You’ll discover insights about how Canadian municipalities are integrating infrastructure asset management into their policy and governance activities.