Cities in developing economies must become sustainable, smart and resilient if they are going to manage future challenges associated with rapid urbanisation. The need for robust, intelligent and integrated infrastructure asset management practices has never been this dire. How can digital infrastructure asset management contribute to building the sustainable cities of the future?
Cities are central nodes in the development of human geographies. They are spaces where the flows of goods, capital and people converge. They rely on the management and good governance of public infrastructure for sustainable growth and stability, and to safeguard their populations against natural and man-made disasters.
International organisations such as the United Nations (UN) emphasise how rapid urbanisation across every major region of the globe will bring a variety of urban management challenges. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)1:
Global urban population grew from 746 million in 1950 to 3,9 billion in 2014
54% of the world’s population was urbanised in 2014
66% – 70% should be urbanised by 2050
90% of this growth is estimated to take place in Asia and Africa
City governments need to nurture and expand their infrastructure ecosystems. Developing economies will struggle to provide housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, employment and basic services. In Africa in particular, populations crammed into informal settlements and low-cost housing are most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters, conflict and climate change2.
City governments need a forward-looking systematic approach to urban growth in order to secure sustainable socio-economic development and ensure resilience in the face of disaster.
KEY GOVERNANCE POINTS INCLUDE:
Access to and efficiency in the use of public services
Reducing ecological footprints and financial fragility
Ensuring resilience to natural and man-made hazards
Planning, building, operating and assessing public infrastructure becomes a fundamental part of this process.
RAPID URBANISATION ACCENTUATES THE FOLLOWING CHALLENGES MUNICIPALITIES FACE:
Tight financial controls
Services delivery backlogs and failures
Intelligent use of massive volumes of data generated from different asset classes
Compliance to legislation and standards
Data and management tools spread across disparate systems and processes
Digital Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) makes use of advances in information technologies (such as sensors, remote monitoring tools, Cloud Computing and Internet of Things) to create integrated and holistic software solutions for key infrastructure management domains. A digital IAM strategy integrates data collection, verification and integration with financial, project management and maintenance components in order to manage the full life cycle of an asset digitally.
A service provider such as IMQS builds software products across a range of domains – Asset Management, Project Management, Sewer Management, Road Management, Electricity and Water. Our goal is to offer a client end-to-end, centralised, web-based and spatially enabled solutions for holistic and systematic management of all infrastructure assets.
The full range of products and services developed by IMQS in conjunction with its clients – such as the City of Tshwane and the municipalities of Ekurhuleni and Rustenburg – offer proven benefits in the following areas:
Improved governance and accountability
Enhanced service management and customer satisfaction
Improved risk management
Improved financial efficiency (cost savings)
Informed decisions, and sustainable solutions
In IMQS’s experience, cities are diverse ecosystems. They each have their own fingerprint, breath and heartbeat. They are shaped in specific economic, cultural, political and geographic contexts. There is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution for the challenges they face.
According to UNDESA nearly half of the world’s urban inhabitants live in smaller settlements of less than 500 000 people. Only one eighth reside in mega-cities of more than 10 million3. In Africa, poor populations are cramming into towns and cities characterised by limited, weak and often under-resourced infrastructure.
Larger cities may take the center stage in debates on global urbanisation and gain attention from major IAM service providers. From IMQS’s perspective, smaller and medium-sized municipalities in resource scarce environments will need to be the focus for new cost-effective solutions that tackle real world challenges.
IMQS believes that it is never too late to start building your digital IAM system. As context is important, we focus on building solutions with our clients. This makes us excited! We have seen, first hand, how building digital IAM systems from the bottom up can reap rewards quickly.
IMQS has first-hand experience in building solutions where resources may be lacking, and therefore use a variety flexible and configurable technologies to develop software products that can easily integrate with existing systems.
Rapid urbanisation is a growing challenge. Small to medium size cities in resource scare environments will be the playing field where new solutions are tested against real-world challenges. IMQS and its partners will be developing exciting products to support municipalities of every size as they attempt to become sustainable, resilient and smart.
By working together today we can better secure the sustainable future of our urban tomorrow!