Infrastructure asset management refers to the development and life cycle plan for physical infrastructure assets. Every step in the life of an infrastructure asset, from its initial design plan to long-term replacement or repairs, is considered part of infrastructure asset management. Without proper infrastructure asset management, infrastructure systems will be inherently unstable, leading to the possibility for disaster.
A physical infrastructure asset is a basic building block for society. Roads, bridges, sewer systems, and power stations are all types of infrastructure assets. Social assets, such as hospitals and public schools, are also considered in this category. Buildings that are used for government or public purposes, such as courthouses or government-owned performance venues, can also be infrastructure assets. The primary mandate of infrastructure asset management is to ensure that these assets are constructed and maintained appropriately.
A great deal of research, development, and forecasting is used in the process of infrastructure asset management. For a new public road to be built, a government cannot simply design a blueprint, hire construction workers, and then forget about the whole issue. Asset management includes the consideration of issues such as rate of deterioration, funds for future repairs, the possibility of expansion in case of a significant population increase, and the affect of the road on the lives and safety of nearby residents. Officials must determine the expected lifetime of the road, and how to ensure it lasts as long as anticipated. Moreover, they must determine how the road will be repaired or replaced once it reaches the end of its life cycle.
Implementing safety and testing plans is often essential for effective infrastructure asset management. If a government builds a new water pipeline, it must conduct regular testing to ensure that the water is safe for drinking, and that pipelines are correctly and capably handling the flow of water through the pipes. Without a mechanism for periodic safety checks, officials may not be aware of a flaw or deterioration until a disaster occurs.
In addition to safety management, government officials can help manage infrastructure assets through periodic reassessment. If a massive population expansive has lead to incredible traffic jams on public roadways, a committee may need to reassess the lifetime maintenance plan to fit the new circumstances. Likewise, if a recession causes the lay-off of a large government department, infrastructure planners may want to consider consolidating office space and selling now-empty public buildings in order to conserve resources. An ability to adapt and respond to changing societal circumstances can be critical to the continued utility of public assets.