Deferred maintenance, defined by Wikipedia is "the practice of postponing maintenance activities such as repairs on both real property (i.e. infrastructure) and personal property (i.e. machinery) in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies."
Here's a little analogy to help:
Imagine you live in a home and the roof is 10 years old. It's probably going to entirely break in another 10 years and cost you lets say for simplicity sake, $100. Now you could put $25 into some maintenance today and another $25 5 years from now and never reach that point of no return. You've just saved $50 with a little bit of planning and strategy. If you didn't do the maintenance you should be doing and you keep deferring those $25 dollar payments you are going to reach a bad tipping point come sooner or later.
This is the same problem government's have with their infrastructure. But instead of $25 dollars imagine hundreds of billions of dollars globally. Your local city problem is already in the hundreds of millions. The United States alone currently has a $3.8 trillion shortfall in infrastructure investment.
First, what's wrong with the current ways of doing things?
Well. A lot. Each part of a city or state or project usually has what's called a CMMS system, or Computerized maintenance management system.
Technology architecture and data processes to tackle deferred maintenance
Governments and institutions have long dealt with deferred maintenance issues throughout city government and educational institutions. Their inability to utilize available technology and data in an efficient manner has left them unable to accurately estimate and budget their assets. De-structured data sources from third parties and in-house systems are available to many city governments. Even in cases where they lack this data, it can be compiled efficiently in order to more accurately track the status of assets city wide. This would create an opportunity to leverage this data in order to allow cities to realistically budget, manage their assets, and tackle deferred maintenance issues through more efficient planning and prioritization. We believe this era of budgeting troubles can come to an end through the use of a unique technological architecture and available data.
This research project will outline the systems and processes needed in order for cities and institutions to tackle their deferred maintenance issues. We will outline the necessary data sources, technological architecture, and organizational changes needed for cities to organize their assets and better budget their resources to deal with deferred maintenance.
Cities like DC have implemented systems to work to combat these issues. Their system CARRS has collected inventory data on their assets which is a step in the right direction for their budgeting and deferred maintenance needs. However, this data needs to be kept updated efficiently, and they have yet to aggregate all available data from third party providers and contractors. Data on assets is in some cases not collected, but creating an asset inventory does not come without costs; it can require intensive data collection, data matching, and resources to get up and running. However, it is clear that asset inventories are essential to strategically and sustainably manage infrastructure.
Many cities have department specific software systems that keep data on assets. However, policy and budgeting decisions are not properly informed due to the gap of knowledge and data sharing between city levels. There is a running need for a central administrative level central administrative level system to monitor and aid budget and policy decisions that are flawed in the current process.
This paper will aid in outlining how to more efficiently implement deferred maintenance technology city (or state) wide and improve on the current ideas and architecture in order to allow for better data to improve policy decisions.
This research will be conducted through industry investigation which includes but is not limited to: city and state government administration interviews, analysis of current processes and solutions, and technology architecture research development.
Deferred maintenance is a long held troubling concept for governments and institutions around the world contributing significantly to the global infrastructure deficit. Outlining the architecture and processes behind a system to manage deferred maintenance and budgeting issues in cities would allow cities to not only gain control of their resources and budgeting but allow more more reliable planning and implementation of current and future expenditures with their assets. Better information provided by these solutions can inform policy discussions regarding long-term capital needs and strategies that can address these needs. Over time, the details like the costs of repair versus replacement can be refined and budgeting can be more informed.
This research will build upon current research in deferred maintenance organization by providing a model for cities to efficiently implement the necessary systems asand well as leverage the necessary technology and data. Additionally, the proposed organizational tracking of assets and budgeting would not only provide institutions with a better picture of their current infrastructure and their needs across all agencies, but it can provide the private sector with the full spectrum of potential investment opportunities.
Additionally, there are opportunities for ana architecture such as the one being outlined in this paper to not only aggregate third party data but begin to replace these underlying systems with more unifying software to improve the entire platform and aid institutions in cutting software infrastructure costs.