5
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Infrastructure systems are extensive and complex. Their description includes a substantial accumulation of data that continues to grow as the service lives of facilities progress. Potentially valuable information is sometimes lost or neglected because data are in a form that cannot be accessed easily by decision makers. Rapid and accurate acquisition and storage, processing, and retrieval of information about the system are key to cost-effective management. This information can document current status, simulate future performance of components and interdependent subsystems, and project and evaluate trends in demand and usage.

Rapidly increasing data acquisition, management, and analysis capabilities—associated with advances in measurement, computation, and communications technologies—have made information management a distinct discipline. Research is needed to adapt improved information-management tools to infrastructure development and operation. Particular issues include collection of as-built descriptions of facilities and data on maintenance and rehabilitation that may substantially alter a facility's physical characteristics as well as its operating behavior, over periods of several decades.

The potential payoffs of research include improved confidence in the bases for planning and design decisions, and enhanced operating efficiencies, all due to improved information for decision making. These benefits in turn can improve safety of operation, workforce efficiency, and system reliability.



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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research 5 INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Infrastructure systems are extensive and complex. Their description includes a substantial accumulation of data that continues to grow as the service lives of facilities progress. Potentially valuable information is sometimes lost or neglected because data are in a form that cannot be accessed easily by decision makers. Rapid and accurate acquisition and storage, processing, and retrieval of information about the system are key to cost-effective management. This information can document current status, simulate future performance of components and interdependent subsystems, and project and evaluate trends in demand and usage. Rapidly increasing data acquisition, management, and analysis capabilities—associated with advances in measurement, computation, and communications technologies—have made information management a distinct discipline. Research is needed to adapt improved information-management tools to infrastructure development and operation. Particular issues include collection of as-built descriptions of facilities and data on maintenance and rehabilitation that may substantially alter a facility's physical characteristics as well as its operating behavior, over periods of several decades. The potential payoffs of research include improved confidence in the bases for planning and design decisions, and enhanced operating efficiencies, all due to improved information for decision making. These benefits in turn can improve safety of operation, workforce efficiency, and system reliability.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research Research is needed to adapt information-management technologies for infrastructure problems. This research should target fundamental advances in these technologies, to enhance their value in addressing the unique characteristics of infrastructure. Three research areas that offer high payoff potential are discussed in this chapter: adaptation of advanced data acquisition and management methods developed for defense and aerospace, that can collect and maintain integrated and up-to-date descriptions of infrastructures, their performance, and their environments, to make the data accessible for wide application; development of more cost-effective and accurate network analysis methods for characterizing and modeling behavior of infrastructure systems at several geographic scales; and development of tools and information to support professional and public education for more effective management of the investment in infrastructure. ADVANCED DATA ACQUISITION AND MANAGEMENT METHODS Infrastructure systems are subject to changing demand and environmental conditions. Daily and seasonal variations in weather as well as more gradual shifts in soil conditions, ground cover, and other characteristics of the region will influence both service loads and operating characteristics of many elements of infrastructure. Remote sensing based on earth-satellite imagery and expert systems for data interpretation that have been developed for defense and agriculture may be adapted for infrastructure development and management in urban regions, but research is needed. Remote-Satellite Imagery High-precision data suitable for describing infrastructure location and condition are being acquired continuously by earth satellites. The U.S. Department of Defense, for example, operates a global positioning system with approximately 22 such satellites, and with the purported capability of determining a transportation vehicle's position to within inches. Satellite-collected imagery includes microwave, infrared, and visible-light data that might provide a wealth of information on physical conditions of facilities. However, research is needed to make these data available for infrastructure development and management. Typical questions for research might include the following examples: Will the current resolution of satellite imagery, especially in the visible-light range, support detailed assessment of the physical condition of engineered structures, as well as soil and rock foundation substrata?

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research Can systems be developed for rapid acquisition and assessment of structural, soil, and rock conditions following earthquakes, hurricanes, and heavy snows and rainfall, or in advance of potentially hazardous weather conditions? How can global positioning systems be developed for control of aircraft, vehicular road traffic, and vessels using harbor and canal facilities? Improved Use of SCADA1 SCADA (systems control and data acquisition) systems have been developed for use in water-supply, natural-gas, liquid-fuels, and other infrastructure systems. SCADA systems use remote sensors and telemetry to collect and transmit data to regional or central control facilities where operational decisions are made. Research is needed to further develop SCADA systems, particularly regarding uses of graphical display, computer algorithms for automated (i.e., "smart") control, and enhanced performance in emergencies. Typical questions for research might include the following examples: Can SCADA be augmented with computer-assisted graphical network modeling for real-time infrastructure system simulation and decision making? Can "smart" systems be developed to support emergency system operations, including rapid allocation of "dedicated lines" to enable delivery of critical resources? What new technologies are needed to support installation and use of equipment (e.g., computer and radio receiver) in vehicles to receive and process up-to-date traffic information and make adjustments in route plans (e.g., the "intelligent" vehicle). NETWORK ANALYSIS METHODS Research is needed to develop improved procedures for infrastructure network representation and simulation. Such research should focus especially on finding ways to better utilize geographical and subsurface geotechnical data in conjunction with data on facility condition and socio-economic bases for demand estimation. These various data are typically collected and maintained on different geographic systems, and algorithms are needed to extrapolate from one system to another (e.g., network links, census zones, and drainage basins). Aggregation And Disaggregation Methods Network analysis models must generally be developed at a level of detail appropriate for the questions to be addressed. Too much fine detail consumes excessive computational resources, while having too coarse a

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research network sacrifices accuracy and ability to represent the consequences of alternative plans or operating policies. While substantial advances have been made for moving from one geographic scale of analysis to another, many procedures remain to be developed. Research is needed to enable better integration of operational, condition, and environmental information that influences network performance. Typical questions for research might include the following examples: Can general algorithms be developed for aggregation and disaggregation of multifunctional infrastructure networks in a particular geographic area? Can environmental data be represented at several geographical scales without losing critical information? Intermodal Interactions One of the most important needs in infrastructure is to manage the interfaces among the various lifeline and utility systems. There is currently no comprehensive means for doing this, although it is technically feasible through computer graphics to simulate the layout and operation of a subsystem (e.g., water supply, electric power, and natural gas). In an urban environment, these systems are interdependent: a gas- or water-main rupture can shut down electrical power, which can then cut off water-pumping capacity and track signaling for rapid transit and street traffic signals. Research is needed to support integrated information systems to deal with these intermodal interactions. Typical questions for research might include the following examples: What data and network modeling capabilities are needed to deal with damaged systems, to represent nonlinear flows, partial system disruption, and time-dependent intermodal damage propagation? Can digital video technology be adapted to show time-dependent simulation of multimodal network performance and failure modes? Can quick methods be developed to identify and characterize "hot spots" within various utility networks, where the local failure of one component can have severe repercussions for adjacent components of different subsystems? Can optical-disk technology be adapted for easy storage and rapid retrieval utility maps and repair records? EDUCATION FOR INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT Many aspects of infrastructure lie underground or in remote locations, hidden from the user's view. Even infrastructure professionals have diffi-

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research THE FIRE ALARM TELEGRAPH First constructed in Boston in 1851 by physician William F. Channing and electrical inventor Moses G. Farmer, the fire alarm telegraph created a new urban network. Channing conceived the concept as a sort of "municipal telegraph" that could play a role similar to the human body's nervous system, covering "the surface of the municipal body as thickly with telegraphic signalizing points as the surface of the human body is covered with nervous extremities or papillae...". Under the Channing-Farmer plan, Boston was subdivided into fire districts and wires strung between thirty-nine alarm boxes and a central station. The operator would indicate the fire location by energizing a set of bells distributed throughout the city as well as by sending a signal to the alarm boxes. Widely adopted by cities and towns, by 1902 there were 764 systems in the nation. The fire alarm telegraph also facilitated the movement away from volunteer fire companies to more professional organizations.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research culty comprehending the complex relationships that underlie performance of geographically extensive facilities with very long service lives, that comprise infrastructure. Research is needed to enhance understanding—by both professionals and the public—of these relationships and the value that infrastructure represents as a public asset, and thereby to improve the overall ability to manage and protect the system. Such research would explore how information about infrastructure is best presented to enhance access and understanding. Taking advantage of new opportunities for rapid transmission of high volumes of information to homes or offices requires that ways be developed to process and usefully display that information for the recipient. Using Information Highways Development of ''information highways,'' generally envisioned as high-capacity, fiber-optic conduits for vast quantities of information, could make available on home or office televisions detailed information about system condition (e.g., congested highway segments, heavy water demands for fires or other emergency situations, and stormwater drainage problems). Research is needed to determine how such capabilities can be used to modify demand to improve performance and more generally instruct the public and technical community on infrastructure issues requiring attention. Typical questions for research might include: How can transmission of emergency-response instructions and infrastructure condition following earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes be made more effective? Can education and retraining programs for infrastructure professionals be made more effective through remote learning? How can enhancing public awareness of key infrastructure problems at earlier stages in the problem's development help to expand options and improve system management? Can video-conferencing or other such tools provide cost-effective improvements in coordination of utility and emergency-response personnel after major accidents and natural disasters? Uses of Multi-Media Graphical displays, computerized games, simulations, and multimedia (i.e., pictures, sound, and printed information) are increasingly important tools for decision analysis and general education, enabling presentation of complex information in formats that can be most readily

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research grasped. Research is needed to adapt such tools for use in briefing public officials and other decision makers on key issues and available options for development and management of infrastructure. Typical questions for research might include: What are the most efficient means of presenting technical information to those who may not be expert in the technologies under scrutiny? How can interactive presentations, in which decision makers can be directly engaged in exploring "what if" questions, enhance the quality and public acceptance of infrastructure decisions? NOTE 1 Research on SCADA is also addressed with respect to system life-cycle management (Chapter 3).

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research BRIDGE INSPECTION DATA PROCESSING Computer applications can enhance all aspects of infrastructure management. Here, field inspection of a bridge will be supplemented by expert-system software to help determine whether levels of metal fatigue require special attention. Such systems effectively make available to the field inspector a much broader range of experience than any one person is likely to accumulate in his or her career. Research can yield better methods far characterizing system behavior, monitoring system condition, and anticipating and responding to threats to overall performance. (Photo courtesy of ATLSS, Lehigh University)