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Council says predictive modelling essential when setting asset targets

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Predictive modelling is making the task of setting asset renewal targets more of a science than an art for Melton City Council in Victoria.

Strategic Asset Management Officer Rima Zreikat says the council uses predictive modelling to optimise service level outcomes. She says a good predictive model incorporates all the parameters for decision-making within it, including condition, hierarchy and functionality. Algorithms accurately predict the future behaviour of assets and enable scenario comparison to aid decision-making.

These parameters are determined through a consultation process with service providers from several service units within council. Data produced goes through a field inspection validation process, and another review by stakeholders before being finalised. This leads to a well-informed budget allocation for renewal and a long-term financial plan to inform budget planning.

Zreikat explains that renewal modelling for a specific asset category – such as roads, footpaths or play equipment – usually takes place after a condition audit is completed. 

Although condition is a key variable in the decision-making process, it’s not the only factor. Other considerations include material, age, function and usage, as these can influence the asset’s degradation profile. The renewal model can process these variables through a pre-determined decision-making matrix set by stakeholders.

“We use predictive modelling to set a desired overall asset condition, then calculate the cost for maintaining assets at this condition for the next 10 years,” says Zreikat, who has worked in local government for 14 years and has been with Melton City Council since 2018. “This process is called ‘setting service level targets’, which is integral to any financial plan because it sets the parameter for council’s spending on asset renewal into the future.”

According to Zreikat, predictive modelling not only helps determine which assets require treatment, it can help select the right treatment for the individual asset based on the type of defects it has. Treatments are also determined through the consultation process based on tried and tested methods.