The RIMS conference theme of “Beyond 2020” was a great way to get the Transportation Asset Management industry reflecting on the fact that eleven-and-a-half months’ ago, many of us had been wondering about the risks and realities of travelling to Napier before lock-down decided for us.
The 353 days between the first instatement of Level 2 COVID-19 restrictions in New Zealand and the start of 2021’s multi-venue RIMS conference has been quite unlike anything I have ever experienced.
With my family members and friends spread across the world – including much of Europe, the USA, Canada and (of course) the UK – I feel I have had a slightly more personal view into the huge disruption this pandemic has brought. And insight into the human cost, too.
We ARE lucky in New Zealand, and this was no more apparent than at RIMS 2021. Whilst there were around 30-40 attendees from within Auckland – and elsewhere around the country – relying on live streaming from Napier, the conference went ahead safely.
Presenters and participants who could not get to Napier were also able to appear at the conference on the big screen – including Pio Terei MC-ing day one remotely.
Nobody really gives much thought to how significant some of these incredible communications and systems technologies really are. They have become a part of almost every aspect of our working lives.
The rapid changes in our national COVID-19 alerts could have seen the conference postponed or cancelled for many months, yet it was possible to pivot and deliver an un-trialled ‘hybrid’ conference format successfully.
We all acknowledged the amazing work of the organisers and the AV technical staff supporting RIMS 2021 – but it is still almost unthinkable that we could have delivered and engaged with this format for a conference at this scale even one year ago.
From memory, no one even forgot to un-mute themselves (although we may have had a temporary issue with screen sharing on occasion)!
Which brings me to a summary of what we saw and discussed at RIMS 2021.
Our industry – like so many – has faced changes we could never have imagined at the start of this decade. But technology, through both accessibility and adaptability, is enabling us to respond effectively with barely a pause for thought.
Complex “Big Data” supporting infrastructure decision-making is collated, processed, and served to us almost automatically. We have simulated, trained, and validated the outputs from real-world surveys and computer modelling to give us a more complete picture of our roading assets than ever before.
The numbers of professionals who see the value in – and work with – these cutting-edge tools is also increasing.
Modelling asset conditions and predicting the best approach to physical work operations, management, and construction is maturing rapidly for transportation engineering.
This is perhaps the most significant observation. We remain short of resource, yet the industry’s response has so strongly advocated for IS yielding results.
Waugh Infrastructure Management is proud to be part of the RIMS community and supports the industry in achieving even more success in our ever-changing environment.
We are here to serve our communities with more certainty and coverage in modelling, more adaptability in works programming and investment strategies, and more innovation in managing climate adaptation. This is no longer theory – this is how we roll!