Intuitive decision making for infrastructure strategists

Intuitive decision making for infrastructure strategists

By James Thorne, Civil Engineer and Asset Manager, WSP Opus
Masters of Engineering candidate, University of Canterbury
Co-author and academic supervisor: Dr Eric Scheepbouwer, College of Engineering, University of Canterbury

Who can we trust to make the strategic infrastructure decisions that our country desperately needs? Wisdom tells us to first look to the industry experts. But how well are we cultivating this intuitive expert knowledge? Does the decision-making process hold up to scrutiny and is it conducted in a framework of continuous improvement?

James et al, have tested a method for documenting wastewater network renewal decision making with the aim of supporting continuous improvement in this strategic infrastructure focal point.

The research method includes a survey capturing the intuitive insights of over 40 industry experts to document the collective importance of the various factors considered during the wastewater network renewal planning process.

The ideas presented within apply beyond wastewater networks and hold relevance wherever decision makers are faced with the challenge of complex socio-technical infrastructure systems. In other words, just about everywhere…

This tech paper: 

  • Discovers the complexities of wastewater networks, including socio-technical, network complexity, unknown casualties and missing data. 
  • Addresses intuitive pitfalls surrounding wastewater networks such as transparency, bias, institutional knowledge, and the decision system model. 
  • Provides a quantitative assessment & examples of surveys questions. 

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