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Standardising land transport data for local government infrastructure

Supplied by the Asset Management Data Standard Programme Team at the NZ Transport Agency.

Picture a world where data is easily described and recorded, readily shared, exchanged, and understood.

Waka Kotahi with the transport sector is designing the Transport Asset Management Data Standard (AMDS), leveraging multiple benefits from the significant investments in road infrastructure for the transport sector and the taxpayer.

The standard is designed to improve land transport asset information to support better decision-making about New Zealand’s land transport assets. The design of the standard is system neutral, flexible, and scalable, and is consistent with the latest international and New Zealand data standards and practices across all types of infrastructure, including water.

Enabling a digital future

The AMDS programme is committed to ensuring that the transport sector can make more informed, data-driven decisions. AMDS is striving to develop a standard for defining and managing data and related information on assets through all stages of the asset lifecycle. By doing so we are establishing a unified, reliable, and reusable approach to help support the implementation of Digital Engineering (DE) throughout the sector.

Our approach to planning for DE is to enable a collaborative way of working through digital processes to enable more productive methods of planning, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining assets through their lifecycle, focusing on the management of consistent and reliable data and information from project delivery through to asset operations and maintenance.

It will provide a digital twin decision-making environment better able to reflect the challenges of providing good service to our customers and forecast the impacts of alternative approaches.

At a simple level the data standard supports observations and measurements of safety defects, for example, in a way that better enables planning, prioritisation and implementation of remedial action than current information systems can.

Because the data standard is spatial, it enables the ready use of spatial analytics across all New Zealand’s transport networks once implemented and populated. With more rapid advances in analytics tools in the transport sector, this is leading to better modelling, richer scenario testing and forecasting, and better targeting of activities to improve customer service.

David Darwin, AMDS business owner says; “We are creating conformity in service and asset data so that digital engineering process and analytics can be widely applied across the supply chain and Councils to deliver wide benefits from better planned and delivered projects, better targeted and managed road maintenance and renewal.”

Creating a future sector standard

The standard is being developed by the sector for the sector to ensure it is fit for purpose across the industry.

Leah Watts from Waka Kotahi says; “From April 2021 we reset the approach to the design of the data standard, acknowledging that without sector SMEs taking an active role in the development of the standard we would struggle to meet the accelerated timeframes while ensuring a collaborative fit-for-purpose standard.

“The establishment of a dedicated working group to review the standard has also assisted with ensuring that the right SMEs within RCAs have awareness of asset classes of interest to them as they are released. The members of this working group actively assist with providing feedback.

“The other mechanism to ensure the standard is fit-for-purpose is through the feedback that we received from the wider sector through the provisional release of a standard, this enables the team to consider the feedback and make any required updates prior to stabilising the asset class.”

The standard is being developed to support the complete asset management lifecycle enabling the monitoring of trends, impacts, service performance or asset condition. Targeting the right intervention at the right time. Enabling a better understanding of when and why maintenance renewal and improvement activities are needed, what different roadworks can achieve and cost, and how they should be designed and scoped to address all service defects and outcomes together for least disruption.

AMDS is intended to support current and future multimodal networks and reflect the planning and design activities around that for asset management.

Getting ready for implementation

The standard will be implemented by the 68 Road Controlling Authorities (RCAs) and Waka Kotahi for State Highways over five years (2 NLTP periods) concluding in 2027. RCAs have been grouped into 10 implementation tranches and planning is underway with Tranche 1. This approach has been developed in partnership with the transport sector.

Patrick Hanaray from Upper Hutt City Council says; “We are currently working with the Waka Kotahi AMDS programme team to plan our implementation and intend to adopt AMDS early 2023.

“Adopting early supports improvements to our asset management processes.  It provides a foundation for us to build on and creates opportunities for sharing information across the Wellington region.”

For RCAs in later tranches, there are several activities they can work through now to prepare for implementation. Waka Kotahi has produced a reference guide available on the AMDS website.

To understand the preferred timing, potential impacts, and scale of the implementation, the AMDS Programme team is meeting with all RCAs to walk them through each of these considerations. There is great willingness to adopt the standard across the sector.

Shaped by the sector for the sector

To support the implementation of the standard, the AMDS team is working closely with dedicated AMDS RCA and Supplier groups at regular intervals, who provide feedback to the process, give advice, and help to represent the views of the sector.

The programme is also working closely with sector groups like The Road Efficiency Group (REG) and RCA Forum, who will play a key role in advocating and supporting adoption of the standard over the implementation period.

“Waka Kotahi is the government’s lead agency for land transport,” says Myles Lind, and AMDS Reference Group member based in Auckland.

“It’s great that they are leading this change for the sector. Asset data is the foundation of our sector, and the standardisation of our data that Waka Kotahi is investing in, future proofs that foundation for our communities in an increasing digital world.

“Ultimately, the development of data standards can only go so far. The most important stage of the AMDS is the implementation phase – when each RCA picks up the challenge and delivers the benefits of data standards to their community.

“Doing this consistently across the country, in different towns at different scale, is no easy task. That’s why Waka Kotahi set up the AMDS Implementation Reference Group. The group is made up of people from all around the country and gives us a direct channel to provide feedback to the implementation process.

“Together we have been able to openly discuss things we don’t like about these changes and work together to find solutions. We can’t really ask for more.”

Realising the benefits and rewards

Applying the standard from the planning and design process onwards will make the handover of data by developers and contractors from the design and building phase over to maintenance and operations far easier.

By starting with a specification of the data we will need at the end and collecting asset data in a standardised way from the beginning, the handover process will be just a further milestone in the data collection and reporting journey.

Local government organisations will benefit from national benchmarking and analysis of best practice for forward works planning, materials, treatment, renewals approaches and timing. They will be able to create a stronger evidence base for funding bids and to realise more value from investment decisions.

This will result in efficiencies within local road infrastructure projects, including avoided variations and reduced whole-of-life asset costs, due to improved planning and coordination.

The taxpayer will ultimately benefit from improved infrastructure with better quality data and better understanding of assets.


The AMDS programme is developing and implementing a common language and data structure that defines and describes assets, their attributes, characteristics, properties, location, performance; all the information needed to perform efficient and effective end-to-end life cycle asset management.

The standard is being developed iteratively, with input from Waka Kotahi, industry SMEs and through sector engagement.  We invite you to have a look and contribute your feedback: www.nzta.govt.nz/amds.

Version 1.0 of the standard will be ready by 1 July and will be managed and updated as a living standard by Waka Kotahi and the sector to respond to technology and practice changes and investment partner needs.

AMDS will provide better outcomes for local and central government across transport and wider infrastructure sectors, providing a foundation to realise the benefits of digital engineering across the asset lifecycle.

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