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Auckland Motorway Alliance: Paving the way to improved asset management with ArcGIS

Abstract: To maximise return on investment, the Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) constantly tries to balance asset performance with cost. “If your assets aren’t failing then you aren’t pushing them hard enough,” says Tony Darby, CIO for the Auckland Motorway Alliance. “That’s the commercial reality. We are trying to maximise asset performance – pavements, line markings, bridges, signage, etc - while trying to be as cost effective as possible. But in order to push our assets to the outer limits we need accurate detailed information about each asset and its condition. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming an unplanned reactive operation which causes even more disruption and cost.”

To help them manage their assets wisely and maintain Auckland’s motorways in a safe and cost effective manner, the AMA selected Esri’s ArcGIS solution as the backbone of their asset management system and has engaged Eagle Technology to assist in implementation and on-going support.

A 25-year veteran of GIS projects with a variety of organisations, Darby found the decision to adopt ArcGIS an easy one. “Simply put, ArcGIS has all of tools we needed to do the job,” he says. “ArcGIS provides complete ‘out of the box’ capabilities and, because it is a market leader around New Zealand, there is a wealth of Esri expertise available. For instance, Esri Business Partner Geographic Business Solutions (GBS) has been most helpful, especially with our Highway Information Sheets application. And the team at Eagle has the experience and skills to back us up whenever we need specialist assistance. Fraser Hand has been especially helpful as we’ve developed our Flex- and Silverlight-based GIS viewers.”

AMA Background

The Auckland Motorway Alliance, a consortium led by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) with Fulton Hogan, Opus International Consultants, Beca Infrastructure, Resolve Group and Armitage Systems, was established on 1 October 2008 to operate and maintain Auckland's motorway network and SH22 for ten years. With over 60 professional staff and 90 specialist road crew, the AMA’s the primary objective is to provide a pleasant motorway network so that motorists know they'll be able to get to their destinations comfortably, safely and quickly at all times of the day and night. AMA’s contract includes renewals but not large capital projects or planning issues.

Data integrity

The first order of business was cleaning up the data. “When we started, we didn’t even know what we didn’t know,” explains Darby. “Because there had been different stewards of the source data - contractors, consultants and engineers – there were varying levels of accuracy. Our main focus was to update and automate our Highway Information Sheets, used since the 1960s, that were in CAD format. We validated the content for accuracy, separated the information into layers and added metadata descriptions. As a result, we now have a flexible spatial database that enables us to maintain our Highway Information Sheets to a much higher standard. We estimate that the automation aspect of the project alone will save us at least $600,000 over the life of the contract.”

AMA relies on the ArcGIS solution for everyday operations as well as planning, budgeting and asset management. “We have some 150 distinct layers of information in the system that can be displayed with a variety of base maps, scales and symbols, depending on the particular requirements of the user,” says Darby. “Currently, we have around 60 people viewing, on average, 22 maps per day, or about 26000 map views per month.”

AMA is also using the ArcGIS solution to extend the life of their assets. “Because we now have a more detailed record of each square metre of pavement,” explains Darby, “we can micro-manage our assets to achieve maximum value. For instance, we can accurately measure surface roughness and skid resistance – two indicators of pavement integrity – and enter that information directly into the system quickly and easily. This gives us the ability to closely monitor the effect of traffic on the network and compare the network deterioration – using our own deterioration model - with the forward work program. As a result, we are able to minimise risk while simultaneously reducing unplanned closures and ad hoc repairs which translates into significant savings.”


The overriding benefit for AMA from their ArcGIS initiative has been the creation of a common understanding and awareness across the four operating teams within the AMA: delivery, asset, environment and traffic operations. This has decreased the need for unplanned closures which cost, on average, around $3000 each.

“Forward planning is a huge part of our processes,” says Darby. “With our ArcGIS, anyone scheduling resurfacing, an inspection, a repair or any other initiative can see, at a glance, what else is planned on that particular stretch of roadway so that we can minimise closures and duplication of effort. For instance, we had resurfacing scheduled for 2013 and a revegetation project – which would have damaged the new surface – planned for 2014 on the same section of motorway. With a little flexibility on both sides we have combined the two together, reduced the amount of time the road would be closed and ensured that the new surface wouldn’t be compromised.”

Why the Auckland Motorway Alliance selected Esri’s ArcGIS platform and Eagle Technology

  • ArcGIS had all of the tools ‘out of the box’ to fully address AMA’s requirements;
  • Widespread use of ArcGIS throughout NZ meant that highly-skilled expertise would be available;
  • Eagle’s track record of service delivery and support made the decision ‘easy’.

Benefits for Auckland Motorway Alliance

  • Creates a ‘common understanding and awareness’ across the entire enterprise;
  • Automated updates of Highway Information Sheets will save at least $600,000 over the life of the contract;
  • Minimises the number of unplanned road closures, each of which cost on average $3000;
  • Developed valuable intellectual property that can be utilised in up to 27 motorway maintenance contracts with a potential savings in millions.

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