What are you doing with the asset management data you’re already collecting? If you’re a utility or owner-operator, your data can help you make the best decisions for your utility assets.

Living asset management, as a key component of an Effective Utility Management strategy, can measure your utility in a comprehensive way that aligns with your long-term plan. That’s the key difference between traditional asset management (AM) and a living asset management mind-set — one that leverages digitization and optimization to make the most of what you have.

Anne Kennedy, BC’s National Asset Management Specialty Leader, agrees. As renowned subject matter expert with nearly 30 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry, she says that traditional asset management plans that sit on a shelf are obsolete. What utilities and owner-operators need now is a dynamic digital infrastructure strategy that serves their current needs as well as grows with them in the future.

Don’t get boxed in

Prepackaged software is not sufficient to support that growth, Anne explains further.

“It’s really a framework for improving decisions about how and when to acquire, operate, maintain, renew, and dispose of assets. It’s a methodology of how to best guide decision-making for utility assets.”
Brown and Caldwell National Asset Management Specialty Leader Anne Kennedy


The issue that many utilities and owner-operators face with asset management, however, is that they don’t know what to do with all that data. In addition, they have many disconnected sources.

For a typical operation, there’s data from:

“Then you throw in the people piece, the O&M staff, designers, planners, managers, customers, and it gets even more complicated,” Anne says.

Understanding that data and how it all fits together forms the backbone of a solid, proactive AM plan that improves operations and saves costs, Anne elaborates, but how do we get there? Optimization.

Meet BC:Opta™

BC:Opta is BC’s unique approach to utility optimization for a more effective future. As a BC:Opta solution, the Living Asset Management Program can enhance a utility’s infrastructure strategy.

By taking an approach that combines people+technology+adoption, BC:Opta delivers an AM program that specifies a practical AM workflow and:

  • Puts data at your fingertips
  • Gathers disparate data into a single location
  • Offers combined and blended data sets
  • Enables quick and easy data analysis and visualization
  • Processes and organizes data, and transforms it into actionable information
  • Highlights critical data gaps

As the technologist behind BC:Opta’s Living AM Program, Ricardo Campos knows all about its benefits.

“It takes all that data they’re already collecting, organizes it, synthesizes it, brings it together in such a way that they can take a look at disparate data sources in a single location, blend information, and use Power BI to visualize what that data really means. It helps them organize their data and turn a data point into something actionable. It also helps them understand what data is missing.”
Brown and Caldwell Asset Management Consultant and Technologist Ricardo Campos


More than advanced technology, the critical component, he says, is adoption.

“It’s bringing the right subject matter experts together but combining it where appropriate with technology that creates great solutions. That’s really the heart of optimization: Getting the most out of your assets and your people. If you can’t get the organization to adopt it, then you’ve achieved nothing. The adoption component is critical.”

Case in point

One example of a major metropolitan utility district successfully implementing BC:Opta’s Living Asset Management Program is a water supply district in Northern California that covers roughly 700 miles of distribution mains and serves a population of about 200,000.

The district needed to build a defensible 50-year Rehabilitation and Replacement Capital Improvement Plan. It had AM plans, but was missing a critical tool: A comprehensive digital framework that would focus on what was important by leveraging all of the data they already had with just a few clicks, then drill down to visualize what, when, why, and how.

“They asked for the right tools to be able to make defensible decisions,” Anne points out. “Like many utilities, they had a governing board that asked hard questions about where they should be spending their money and why.”

BC:Opta’s Living Asset Management Program Tool

This snapshot shows what BC:Opta’s interactive Living Asset Management Program Tool can look like.

The BC:Opta Living AM tool displayed data-driven outcomes in easy-to-share, dynamic visualizations, which enabled the district to fully understand and utilize its data. With its now defensible data, the district could justify project investments and achieve buy-in with stakeholders and the district’s governing board.

“The district now knew how they were going to manage their assets, so they could collect data not just for the sake of collecting data, but intentional data that they knew they were going to use, how to use it, and why. Plus, it is focused data that makes sense to their stakeholders. It is tied directly to their big picture and is benchmarked directly against their strategic plan.”
Brown and Caldwell National Asset Management Specialty Leader Anne Kennedy


The district could now:

  • Refine its maintenance strategy
  • Generate and share dynamic visualizations
  • Answer its biggest question: Where best to spend money in a certain year on certain infrastructure improvement?

The future

With the ability to organize, synthesize, and visualize disparate data points from many sources in a responsive and interactive program, utilities and owner-operators can unlock the power of that data to not only optimize their asset management and save costs, but to also empower their people.

“It’s very user-friendly and exciting,” Anne says. “The district’s staff could use it easily and make the right best decisions on how to manage their assets. When you have real data backing decisions, that is a priceless moment.”

That coupled with an Effective Utility Management strategy, BC:Opta’s Living Asset Management Program can help measure utilities in a comprehensive way that helps them achieve their long-term goals.


About the experts

Anne Kennedy is Brown and Caldwell’s National Asset Management Specialty Leader based in Columbus. As a professional water asset manager, Anne specializes in risk and condition assessment of vertical assets.

Ricardo Campos is an Asset Management Consultant in Brown and Caldwell’s Utility Performance Practice based in Charlotte. Ricardo specializes in helping utilities effectively use data and technology to better manage their assets.

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