Since 2013, Infrastructure Data Solutions, Inc. (IDS) has been developing GIS-centric artificial intelligence-powered software to provide public and private infrastructure organizations with intelligent decision analytics and optimization solutions. Their software, IDS Asset OptimizerTM, is integrated with ArcGIS, leveraging the platform’s spatial analytics technology to support the efficient management of infrastructure assets.
We spoke with President and CEO of IDS Infrastructure Data Solutions Inc., Mahmoud Halfawy, to find out the latest on their solution.
For how many years has IDS Asset Optimizer been leveraging ArcGIS technology?
IDS Asset Optimizer cloud-based software has been leveraging ArcGIS technology since inception in 2013. It integrates spatial data with other assets’ physical, operational, costs and lifecycle information to develop accurate data-driven predictive models and optimize asset management plans.
What is the benefit of ArcGIS to your business?
Another benefit of embedding ArcGIS in Asset Optimizer is the ability to directly consume ArcGIS data sources such as geodatabases, web services and JSON files. Asset Optimizer can also easily integrate with other third-party ArcGIS-based software. For example, Asset Optimizer interfaces with Cityworks to seamlessly integrate program management with project delivery. Once projects are approved in an Asset Optimizer program, it automatically creates work orders in Cityworks populated with project attributes such as work type, estimated cost, time, etc. Program managers using Asset Optimizer can track the status of the work orders (e.g., actual cost, time, resources) and access up-to-date information and status reports.
Optimization of long-term asset management plans in Asset Optimizer typically produces massive amounts of data, often hundreds of thousands or millions of records. Asset Optimizer uses several ArcGIS algorithms to support efficient analysis and presentation of this massive data. Analysis results and GIS layers in Asset Optimizer can also be consumed in ArcGIS Desktop and Enterprise tools, as well as in Insights and Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS or ArcGIS StoryMaps, to create intuitive visualizations to present the analysis results to asset managers and decision-makers.
Asset Optimizer has received the Innovation Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Why do you think your software was recognized with the award?
In 2016, our software was recognized with the Innovation Award from ASCE for its innovative artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to support infrastructure asset management. Since 2013, our software has implemented novel AI-based algorithms to forecast deterioration of infrastructure and optimize long-range asset renewal plans. We developed machine learning algorithms to accurately predict future deterioration and performance variables of any infrastructure system. Unlike commonly used approaches, our algorithms automatically “discover” or “learn” the best asset deterioration function by directly mining historical assets data, resulting in more reliable predictions.
Asset Optimizer was also recognized for its revolutionary highly efficient multi-objective optimization algorithm that can intelligently evaluate millions or billions of possible project trade-offs to find global optimal long-range asset renewal plans. These optimized plans can guide asset managers to select projects and allocate scarce funding in a way that maximizes assets’ performance and minimizes risk at the lowest cost.
Our optimization algorithm is the only algorithm in the marketplace today that can provide a global optimal solution to this NP (nondeterministic polynomial time)-hard problem. This represents a significant shift from traditional project ranking approaches, which typically produces sub-optimal or inefficient plans. These algorithms have made our software the first, if not the only, software in the market that leverages AI to solve some long-standing complex problems in managing infrastructure assets.
Our software was also recognized for its cloud-based, scalable and high-performance architecture, which provides users with the ability to optimize very large infrastructure systems and perform big data analytics by simply using a web browser. This enables infrastructure organizations of all sizes to implement state-of-the-art analytics and optimization technology using an affordable, subscription-based online service.
How does Asset Optimizer help infrastructure organizations optimize asset management decisions and planning processes?
Asset Optimizer provides organizations with a complete ISO 55000-compliant, cross-asset decision analytics and optimization platform that helps optimize investment decisions and strategic asset management plans across all types of assets. Using Asset Optimizer, asset managers can perform detailed evaluation of long-term impact of different funding levels on assets’ performance and risk, and optimize the allocation of scarce funding to the right projects at the right time.
Asset managers can use Asset Optimizer to develop robust predictive models, analyze capital and operational budgets (CapEx vs. OpEx), and evaluate various planning scenarios to accurately assess trade-offs and optimize strategies to sustain assets’ performance and achieve desired service levels.
Asset Optimizer helps organizations integrate asset management data and workflows across various departments and service areas, which would create a common vision and align an organization’s performance objectives and processes. The centralized ArcGIS-based data repository in Asset Optimizer allows users across the entire organization to manage and share one integrated version of the data. This helps to ensure data integrity, consistency and timeliness while reducing costs of data acquisition, duplication and management, also leading to more informed, transparent and defensible decisions and plans. The software allows users to share models, plans and analytics using interactive content-rich dashboards, maps and reports.
What differentiates IDS Asset Optimizer from other solutions in the market today?
A key differentiator of Asset Optimizer is its capabilities for “portfolio-level optimization”. As organizations typically manage a diverse set of asset types, it is very important to optimize decisions across the entire portfolio and not only for individual classes of assets. For example, a city would need to optimize investment across its entire asset portfolio including roads, water systems, sewer systems, treatment plants, facilities and so on. Unlike other software in the market today, Asset Optimizer can optimize plans and budget allocation across diverse asset classes to ensure achieving maximum portfolio performance at the lowest overall cost. To date, Asset Optimizer has been used successfully to optimize plans for portfolios of assets across various industry sectors, including municipal, transportation, transit and utility sectors.
By supporting cross-asset analysis, Asset Optimizer can help organizations identify opportunities to coordinate or cluster projects, leading to reduced costs, risks and service disruptions. For example, it can optimize project clusters within road corridors to coordinate road projects with water and sewer projects, avoiding the possible need to dig a recently resurfaced road to fix pipe failures.
Asset Optimizer’s cloud-based, high-performance and scalable architecture is another differentiator. With this architecture, Asset Optimizer allows infrastructure organizations of all sizes to use the most advanced analytics and optimization technology to plan and manage all types of assets in one system. In a way, organizations no longer need to use multiple asset-specific systems or to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement an asset investment planning software.
Where is Asset Optimizer’s future headed and where do you see the opportunities to help the industry move forward?
We believe that Asset Optimizer is well positioned to transform the infrastructure industry by providing organizations of all sizes and budgets access to breakthrough technology to optimize plans and ensure the maximum return on investment. AI will continue to be a key enabler to make Asset Optimizer algorithms and models more intelligent and robust. We will also continue to leverage ArcGIS spatial analytics and GeoAI functionality to enhance Asset Optimizer’s modelling and planning capabilities and improve user experience.
The infrastructure industry is undergoing a paradigm shift and becoming at the forefront of embracing new technologies to improve asset management practices. This is in part due to an increased awareness of the role of optimization technology and the importance of moving away from simplistic, decades-old models and methodologies in planning and managing infrastructure assets. The emergence of asset management regulations and ISO 55000 standards, combined with deeper understanding of the limitations of current solutions, are clearly driving the industry to search for better technologies to support infrastructure renewal and investment decisions.
Asset Optimizer represents the convergence of new technology (e.g., AI, cloud computing, high-performance computing) and advanced asset management modelling and best practices. Therefore, we strongly believe that Asset Optimizer is going to transform the way asset management decisions are made and plans are developed.
Partner Quick Facts
Company: Infrastructure Data Solutions, Inc. (IDS)
Head Office: Regina, Saskatchewan
Services: Software and consulting services to infrastructure organizations
Focus Industries: Municipal, transportation, transit, utilities, ports, airports, energy
Mission: Provide organizations with the most advanced and cost-effective decision analytics and optimization software to effectively manage infrastructure assets and help sustain critical infrastructure services to communities worldwide.