Low cost bridge database

Eurobodalla Shire's Works Division has developed a low cost management system for its extensive bridge and major culvert assets.

Located on the South Coast of NSW, the Shire includes popular coastal areas, national parks and mountains. It is responsible for 280 bridges and culverts and servicing a 975 kilometre road network. Previously, single paper files were kept for each bridge. This system was cumbersome, incurred delays in response to inspection reports and could only be accessed by one staff member at a time.

Asset Management Officer Lei Parker said systems available on the commercial market tended to be larger and more convoluted than Council needed. Therefore, it was decided to design a new system in house. "We knew exactly what we wanted," he said. "A very simple database for our bridge assets."

He said since bridges were routinely inspected once a year, it was easy to have staff collect the necessary data with a purpose designed form as part of their routine work. This also meant staff had input as to the kind of data necessary for them to do their work.

As a result staff who were initially wary of a computer based system are now very happy with it. "They now know exactly what they need to take with them before going to repair a bridge saving driving back and forth for materials," Lei Parker said.

Developed to incorporate elements of Council's existing computer hardware, the new system utilises inexpensive proprietary software and works on the simplest of computers with little training. Staff, from strategic planners to field maintenance teams, in four administration centres within the Shire can now access bridge data simultaneously.

Intellectual ownership and control of the database resides with Council. This allows the database to be adaptable and able to change at an instant without cumbersome negotiations and expensive development fees.

"Money would not have bought a better system as this one relies on intangibles &endash; respect, trust, dedication and a belief that the individual, at any level, does have a role to play in the management of our community assets," Lei Parker said.

The database won a High Commendation at the NSW Local Government Excellence in Engineering Awards in May. It is available on request, free of charge to any Council to assist in the management of their own network.

For further information contact Lei Parker, telephone (02) 4474 1000.