2.1.2 What data should be collected?
The data needed by any road organization are those that influence (World Bank 1997):
- The cost to replace or maintain road assets;
- Maintenance or rehabilitation treatments;
- Impact management decisions, and
- Service life.
In principle, asset management data falls into two main types and can be grouped as follows:
- Inventory data: Data that are mostly static in nature and describe the physical elements of the road system and assets; and
- Condition data: Data that describe the condition of the assets; these data typically change over time.
Other data used for asset management can be grouped as follows:
- Asset management activities; and
- Resource allocation.
Regardless of the maturity level of a specific road organization, it is imperative that a data management strategy be defined (Telli 2010). A data management strategy may comprise the following:
- Identification of the business need: This should be based on an assessment of the data requirements and should demonstrate how they meet the asset management strategy and include the risk associated with the data;
- Identification of the data owner: An “owner” for the data is required to be responsible for managing the collected information;
- Accessibility and date stamping: Access rights to the data should be considered, and all data should be date stamped;
- Data collection: When determining the method of collection, the most cost-effective method should be used. Requirements for the accuracy, reliability, and repeatability of data should also be considered. Collaboration (e.g., in procurement) between authorities should also be considered as appropriate with the objective of delivering cost savings;
- Frequency of collection and updating: A risk-based approach may be suitable, particularly where assets pose a low risk to the performance of the network and are unlikely to require capital investment. Decisions about the life expectancy of all data types will need to be made;
- Data management: Data storage and management processes should be considered to ensure that these are appropriate for the purpose, especially because the quantity and quality of data are likely to increase. Information technology specialists may need to contribute to this discussion to ensure that the proposed approach complies with the road organization’s information technology requirements; and
- Disposing of data: The data management strategy should include considerations of the archiving or disposing of out-of-date data. Road organizations should consider whether the data will be required at a later date or whether they may be disposed of completely. In determining the performance of individual assets, historical information and trends may be invaluable to support decisions regarding future performance.
The following questions should be considered when deciding what data to collect:
- What decisions are to be made to manage the network?
- What data are needed for the decisions to be made effectively?
- Can the agency afford to collect the required data?
- Can the agency afford to keep and maintain the integrity of the data over a long period?