Infrastructure managers are becoming increasingly important in the agencies and owners of infrastructure. Throughout the world, centuries of infrastructure investment have resulted in complex, multi-layered systems of existing infrastructure. Maintaining this infrastructure investment is a major task as noted above.
The skills required of infrastructure managers will vary from place to place but have some common elements. Managerial skills for setting priorities, communication with multiple stakeholders, building effective teams and proactive problem solving are always desirable. Technical familiarity with information systems and infrastructure systems is highly desirable, although managers can often rely upon their management team for relevant technical expertise. Developing rapid and effective responses to component breakdowns and extreme events such as floods or earthquakes is also a major role for infrastructure managers.
The background and career paths of infrastructure managers can also vary. Traditionally, many managers rose through the ranks of skilled tradesmen such as mechanics or construction workers. More recently, professional backgrounds in architecture, engineering, or business have become more heavily represented among infrastructure managers. With any background, it is imperative for infrastructure managers to stay current with new technologies and issues affecting their work.
Rather than a holistic overview for infrastructure management, many managers are charged with responsibility for single components or even single attributes of components. For example, Infrastructure systems along a neighborhood street might include:
- Roadway pavement
- Potable Water
- Natural Gas
- Wastewater Sewer
- Storm Sewer
Each of these systems may have separate owner organizations and managers. One system might have multiple managers. For example, the roadway pavement may have different managers for snow removal, routine cleaning and rehabilitation and maintenance. As might be imagined, co-ordination in the management of these different systems may be difficult. The infrastructure managers involved should make special efforts to insure information sharing and co-ordination. For example, roadway rehabilitation could be usefully coordinated with work on other underground utilities to avoid repeated excavations.