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What are the AIR processes intended to do?

I was asked some great questions about the AIR research project recently, so I thought I would share my responses, to those questions.

Through application of AIR, the benefits are short to long-term. Through the standardised approaches to gathering and sharing of evidence-based data, effective business and stakeholder decision making is enabled.

The key starting point for managing the interfaces, which may be affected by urban change (demolition and reconstruction of buildings etc.) and urban management (repair and maintenance of buildings and highways etc.), is the need to know what is there, who owns it and how protection can be assured, if at all (Darroch et al., 2016).

This must start with the transport infrastructure owners (TIO), as they have the statutory requirement to provide a safe operating environment for their services. That environment is, however, often only considered by the TIO to be their own infrastructure and not its contextual environment, the interfaces with buildings etc., and vice versa (Darroch, 2014).

What the AIR processes are intended to do is to gather evidence-based (legal, engineering, asset management, geographical, and historical) data explaining the occurences of those interfaces, record key findings, and to display the location of the occurrence, ownership, and maintenance responsibilities, within a GIS interface. That GIS enables rapid access to the standardised evidence-based data and other relevant source documentation (asset reports and drawings etc.) (Darroch et al., 2020b).

The processes of data gathering can be undertaken on a rolling day-to-day basis, by a dedicated team; or if urgent analysis is required for specific occurences. Both have their merits, by employing standardised processes of analysis, data gathering, quality control, agreement with interfacing stakeholders, access via a GIS interface, and ongoing data management (Darroch et al., 2016; 2018).

Over time, a whole network can have standardised evidence-based data generated and retained for most occurences of the interfaces. That data can then be rapidly accessed through the GIS interface by people within the TIO or its interfacing stakeholders. Having an evidence-base, enables the TIO or interfacing stakeholder to say “we know/agree what is there, we know/agree who owns or is responsible for it, these are our legal expectations, and these are our legal responsibilities”.

With regard to the management of that data over time, AIR can be applied to new infrastructure projects at the proposal and planning stages, and during construction, where amendments are made to the design. In addition to providing the evidence-based data, reasoning for those decisions is also recorded. That way once the project is completed, there is an accurate record of what was undertaken, how, when and why, for future asset and urban management. Unfortunately, it seems that this is something that does not occur presently, and causes headaches for TIO asset managers and interfacing urban stakeholders, as neither knows what is happening (Darroch et al., 2020c).

If you as a TIO interface manager are working with an interfacing stakeholder (urban developer), you can simply record your agreed decisions, along with references to the evidence-based data, which should be held in a central repository (muniments, engineering archive). These references are then provided to the AIR team, who update the interfaces in the register and GIS, whilst retaining version control of previous documentation. That way in 50 years time an asset manager can see what happened, how, when and why.

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