Utility Mapping and Record Keeping for Infrastructureby David F. Pickering, Jonathan M. Park, David H. Bannister
Any attempt to improve, or even maintain, the standard of living in rapidly developing urban areas cannot go forward without adequate municipal infrastructure and utility services. Inadequate or poorly managed services limit urban economic development in several ways: exposing segments of the urban population to health risks; limiting economic productivity when services are cut-off or unreliable; adding financial costs to individuals and enterprises through unnecessary property damage; and creating additional economic costs from congestion of transportation and communications systems. The economic and efficient delivery of infrastructure services in turn, depends on effective planning and management. Without proper information, spatial and otherwise, the quality of service delivery, financial performance, and the ability to plan can be eroded. Information from maps, and records, based largely on records of utilities and infrastructure facilities, contributes not only to efficient services, but also to the operation and maintenance of assets, and to the sensible planning of extensions and new works. Any serious lack of such information can adversely affect the economy, the quality of life, public health, and the environment. This discussion paper reviews recent developments in the field of urban infrastructure recording and mapping, a number of issues that need to be addressed, and some actions that could be taken to improve record keeping systems. Although the emphasis is on map and records for utilities basic municipal infrastructure services, particularly those with underground networks, some aspects of the discussion apply to urban management information systems in general. Thecentral point is that the standards of records and information systems in municipalities and utilities often fails to meet the needs outlined above. Any organization that expects to run an efficient day-to-day operation and to manage and develop its services effectively must know what assets it has, where they are, their condition, how they are performing, and how much it costs to provide the services. Adequate records are also essential to assess deficiencies and to engage in forward planning. As the need for satisfactory recorded information continues to grow, countries must decide how to deal with a number of related institutional organizations, and technological issues, including questions of awareness and responsibility. This discussion paper examines those issues and some options for addressing them. The options range from national initiatives to measures that could be taken by municipal departments and utilities on their own or in cooperation with other local bodies.
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