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New engineering model 'helps cities cut repair costs'

Road and water works

Canadian engineers have created a computer model which could save millions by enabling better co-ordination on infrastructure works.

Civil engineering professors and PhD students at Concordia University in Montreal developed an asset management framework which helps government officials plan infrastructure works more efficiently, cutting costs for repairs to Canada’s ageing infrastructure.

A test in Kelowna, British Columbia, showed that linking planning for road and water works could cut asset lifecycle costs by 33%. For example, better planning would avoid a new road being demolished for sewer repairs.

Although the study focused on linking road and water works, the model could work across other infrastructure, such as electricity and gas networks.

The model takes lifecycle and user costs into account, as well as the state of the infrastructure and its replacement value.

It uses a database with information on road and water networks; key performance indicator (KPI) models to get the best outcome; and an algorithm which sifts through thousands of scenarios to come up with the best schedule for construction works.

“Better coordination at city hall is the key to less costly repairs,” said PhD student Soliman Abu-Samra.

“We’ve shown that streamlining maintenance results in huge financial and time savings.”

Although there is no formal arrangement in place, researchers are in discussions with the City of Montreal about implementing the framework model.

The researchers’ findings were recently published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.

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