In trying economic times, South African municipalities are expected to decrease expenditure while increasing the scope and quality of their service delivery. Since 2015 Rustenburg Local Municipality has been implementing IMQS’s digital infrastructure asset management solutions to overcome planning and operational challenges. Find out how IMQS is helping RLM decrease its operational expenditure.
DIGITAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS
All municipalities are faced with juggling limited financial and human resources that must be directed at maintaining and renewing infrastructure, addressing backlogs in service delivery, and comprehensively dealing with changes in demand.
Digital Information Management is an essential component of building smart, resilient cities that can intelligently approach the challenges faced by rapid urbanisation and environmental change. The right information in the right hands at the right time informs decisions, improves awareness and ensures the effective use of resources.
However important accurate information may be, it seems to be the case that in developing countries data is rarely converted into an electronic format. Existing data is difficult to find, is captured via old technology, or distributed across disparate offices and departments.
The repercussions can lead to the following challenges:
Silos form between departments such as Engineering and Finance
Information is rarely accessible to all relevant stakeholders
Communication of information is made more difficult
Lack of oversight and accountability
Unwarrented operational expenditure
IMQS’s integrated Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) software aims to consolidate data emanating from different sources into one, easy-to-use, accessible and geographically enabled IAM platform. All stakeholders across the municipal infrastructure spectrum are empowered when they are able to access relevant real-time and historical information.
RUSTENBURG LOCAL MUNICIPALITY
Rustenburg Local Municipality (RLM) is a Category B municipality within the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, in the North West Province, South Africa. Rustenburg is a large town situated 112km northwest of Johannesburg and Pretoria, at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountain Range. It is an economic centre for Platinum Mining and trade. The municipality is the most populous in the North West Province and the fastest growing municipality in South Africa. In 2011 its population was estimated at 549 575, with a per annum growth rate of 3.50% (2001-2011).
In the case of RLM, a digital infrastructure asset management system needed to be built from the bottom up. There was a complete lack of electronic data, and all relevant information was either archived across departments or non-existent. The inability to consolidate data made it nearly impossible to make timely and informed decisions.
Maintenance was, furthermore, purely reactive. There was no knowledge of the age and existing life of water and sanitation infrastructure, and no modeled output of the water and sanitation network. Operational teams were left guessing as to which materials to collect from the stores before they went out on-site.
A high expenditure on overtime was one result of ill-informed planning and limited oversight.
THREE BENEFITS TO IMPLEMENTING IMQS AT RLM
RLM needed a solution to overcome operations and planning challenges. The municipality needed an easy-to-use system that could bridge communication gaps, support operations through accessible information and in so doing effectively manage revenue.
The following IMQS solutions have been implemented at RLM since 2015:
A GRAP-compliant Asset Register – desktop version for all movable and immovable assets
Work In Progress (WIP) Register – that acts as an inventory for all capital projects in progress
IMQS Mobile Asset Verification tool – is used to verify movable assets across all departments
Water, Sanitation and Water Demand modules – run on the IMQS Web platform as an integrated way to manage the entire water distribution and sewer networks.
The software has been developed to help increase accountability across the entire stakeholder spectrum by making information more accessible and processes visible. The goal is to facilitate informed decision-making that enables focused customer service.
The implementation of IMQS’s integrated digital IAM solutions have started to bear fruit in three following areas related to effective planning and operations:
1. IMPROVED DECISION-MAKING
Operations are supported from a back office with modern technology, where IMQS offers all stakeholders a geographic view of their entire infrastructure landscape. Data from various points are consolidated through IMQS and made accessible to all stakeholders. In effect, IMQS has become the central point of contact where operational staff members meet before going out into the field.
2. INCREASED OVERSIGHT AND ACCONTABILITY
Easy audit tracking is a key feature of all IMQS products. When an incident is logged, for example, an operational staff member’s name will be added to the incident and a time stamp is automatically created. The control room will know exactly if the plumber deliberately delays the call out to claim extra overtime. Should this occur regularly steps will be followed against the staff. In this manner, managers can gain a better oversight and save on unwarranted overtime.
3. REDUCTION IN OPERATIONAL EXPENDITURE
A great achievement at RLM thus far has been the continuous reduction of overtime from R1,5 million in 2015 to R328,000 in 2016. This was made possible by tracking work done and improving on the reporting of maintenance projects.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUCCESS
From service delivery protests to negative audit reports, if municipalities are unable to meet their statutory and democratic responsibilities towards their citizens, the consequences can be dire and far-reaching.
Although municipalities in South Africa still face many challenges, technology is opening up the doors to comprehensive and sustainable municipal infrastructure management. Rustenburg stands as a positive example for other small to medium size municipalities in Africa and the world that work within similar, challenging environments.
Building digital capacity from the bottom up can be a daunting and expensive prospect. However, as systems are developed and put in place, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Building a better tomorrow starts with putting the right systems in place today. This is why IMQS remains a client-centric software company, focused on innovation-centered development and committed to overcoming the myriad challenges faced in achieving a greater excellence in, and equal distribution of, municipal services.