Infrastructure

As the Secrets were being developed, it was discovered all the barriers to infrastructure development mentioned in “The Overview” could be resolved by focusing on two questions:

  • Who should serve as the Asset Champion?
  • What format do you roll out any infrastructure planning process?

Asset Champion

As the Secrets evolved, the attributes for the Asset Champion evolved with it. The Asset Champion needs to:

  • Be unbiased and consistent in all its interactions with ALL stakeholders to the infrastructure asset
  • Treat all stakeholders to an asset with an even-hand
  • Focus on providing the best solution without bias for technology
  • Supervise the testing and design of all technology solutions without bias
  • Have an extensive background in development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets.
  • Perform all development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance without bias to any one stakeholder or solution.
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to the successful implementation of any infrastructure plan, knowing the time frame for oversite could extend for up to 30 or more years
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to work with government regulators
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to search, source, and work with a variety and types of funding alternatives

 

Format for Rollout

The format had to provide an environment which could:

  • Provide oversite to an infrastructure asset for its full useful life. This could extend up to 30 or more years
  • Bring the brightest minds together to solve complex infrastructure problems in a non-competitive manner
  • Facilitate the numerous transactions to an asset in a transparent and timely manner
  • Facilitate the ongoing monitoring and feedback mechanisms necessary to maximize the performance of an asset for its full useful life without bias
  • Provide procurement processes customized for each public sector organization, which satisfies all necessary bylaws, regulations, and procedures of that organization.
  • Facilitate flexible and attractive funding alternatives to a variety of asset types and sizes
  • Facilitate attractive pricing for contractors and vendors, which not available anywhere else
  • Facilitate project results on-time and under budget
  • Facilitate and encourage continual improvement in process, risk mitigation, and asset sustainability

 

Potential Solutions

Even if a public sector organization finds ways to overcome the limitations of “silo-effect” problem solving, most organizations still lack the experience and understanding of infrastructure to be able to effectively make risk mitigation and sustainability plans.  They also lack the in-house experience with infrastructure projects to be able to simplify the process down into smaller “bite-size” components to make decisions faster and easier. For so many reasons, an in-house Asset Champion does not satisfy the rigorous requirements to manage these assets for up to 30 years.

 

Many people who have construction project experience may think that an engineer or general contractor could fulfill at least the Asset Champion role.  Unfortunately, their perspective is much too limiting. As both engineers and contractors are part of for-profit entities hired by a stakeholder to the project, an engineer or general contractor will have competing objectives to many of the stakeholders to the infrastructure asset and will not be able to remain unbiased.  For a variety of reasons, the engineer and general contractor cannot fulfill the numerous rigorous requirements necessary for implementing the 6 Secrets.

 

IGNITE Infrastructure Association

Historically, for-profit entities such as consultants and large contracting firms have dominated infrastructure, which are for-profit entities. The mandate of for-profit entities is to make profit, which is not always in alignment with the best interest of taxpayers and other stakeholders to an infrastructure asset.

As research into the 6 Secrets evolved, it became clear the two questions could be satisfied with one solution. An independent, member-based, nonprofit known as IGNITE Infrastructure Association Inc was created to act as the Asset Champion and the mechanism to roll-out the infrastructure plan. Only a member-based, nonprofit entity, whose sole focus was infrastructure assets, could satisfy these very rigorous requirements.

The mandate of IGNITE focuses on performing all activities solely to serve its members. Its members are the public sector organizations and the organizations which work with infrastructure such as engineers, funders, vendors, and contractors. IGNITE acts as the “glue” between government departments and other stakeholders. As it is the purpose of IGNITE to serve all its members fairly, it treats all these stakeholders to an infrastructure plan with an even-hand. Using this approach, the public sector organization aligns much better with taxpayer needs of maximizing value and minimizing cost. Only a nonprofit entity avoids conflict of interest and can treat all parties with an even hand.

These secrets were developed, field-tested, and proven to work during the last 10 years. Check out more information on IGNITE.

The Secrets: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


As it is IGNITE’s mandate to serve its members, it often does so by providing solutions members require.  Sometimes situations arise where IGNITE can help a member fix mechanical process flow or simply find a solution to a complex infrastructure problem. IGNITE is often approached by an organization with a seemingly unsolvable challenge. Alternatively, the challenge may appear impossible because of high costs.

Rarely does an opportunity present itself that can positively change the way the world operates.   IGNITE now has an opportunity to do just that. For over 100 years, every construction project has used 110 to 347 volts to power its lighting switches, which in turn powers lights.  Certain levels of voltage can be dangerous.  To an untrained individual, a seemingly simple task of changing a light bulb can result in an accident.

As with many things, there is often a better way, and this is one of them.  With the advent of LED lighting, higher voltages can be exchanged for much lower and safer voltage levels.  LED lighting systems can be designed for 24 volts.  This voltage level is safer because it mitigates the danger of electrical shock. Lower voltage also requires lighter wire. Going to lighter wire saves resources and lowers cost for lighting installation by as much as 50%.

The world has not yet adopted this lower voltage opportunity, but the IGNITE Team has an opportunity to design and implement such a project in a new apartment complex. As it has with other infrastructure initiatives, IGNITE is creating a New Way Forward for lighting in the 21st century.

“Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behavior, alter economics,

and transform lives.”

― Heather Simmons

Congratulations to Wiikwemkoong, an IGNITE member, on its development of a long term energy plan.   Many perceive an energy plan as adopting LED lighting and energy-saving heating equipment.  That is part of it, but a complete energy plan needs to include energy use for other types of infrastructure within a community.

 

Just replacing lights will save money, but what about the long-term effects on operating costs? IGNITE believes a complete energy plan must review every aspect of how a community or organization operates. This review process inevitably finds opportunities to reduce energy costs and increase efficiencies.  Sometimes operational efficiencies include ways to simplify energy use. Simplification may include finding ways to reduce the number of lighting fixture types.

 

Through a collaborative process with Wiikwemkoong, IGNITE was able find ways to reduce the community’s use of 100 different fixture types down to less than 50.  Simplification makes maintenance easier and more cost effective because there are fewer spare parts. It also reduces service costs by simply speeding up the service process.  This simple design exercise will benefit the community for many years to come.

 

 

“You have to change your thinking if you desire to have a future different from your present.”

― Germany Kent

Prior to working with IGNITE, a member could not find a solution for its HVAC equipment at one of its facilities, which was in desperate need of replacement. They reached out to several vendors, including the manufacturer of its existing equipment, and no one would provide pricing or show any interest in the project.

Once this public sector organization became a member, it asked IGNITE to work closely with them to solve this problem. IGNITE, in collaboration with the member, managed all aspects of procurement for new equipment, and it also secured contractors to install the equipment.  It had all the equipment delivered and installed. Throughout, IGNITE was in constant communication with the member to ensure complete transparency and to ensure the member was included in all pertinent decision-making.

Besides procurement, IGNITE helped the member secure funding for the project, created and managed the project budget, and kept up-to-date project accounting. This is an example of the type of service public sector organizations are eligible to receive as members of the IGNITE Infrastructure Association.

 

“The primary focus of IGNITE is to serve its membership by delivering

attractive privileges which facilitate infrastructure renewal.”

Imagine custom lights at no extra cost! Every infrastructure project has its unique challenges, which creates an opportunity for either a great story or a horror story.  One of our members was planning a lighting retrofit in their main administration building when it realized they had a problem. The member wanted completely new fixtures for the entire building, but if it replaced all the light fixtures with new ones and the new fixtures happened to be smaller than the former fixtures, then it would require painting the ceiling in nearly a hundred rooms.

Naturally the IGNITE team jumped in to find a solution.  As IGNITE views its contractors, vendors, and manufacturers as important participants in completing an infrastructure project, it collaborated with its lighting sources to find a fixture that would eliminate the need to paint. No fixture could be found that would cover the same area from anywhere across the globe, so IGNITE reached out to one of its manufacturer Resource Members to ask a favour.  The favour was to build a custom fixture and get it UL certified and DLC listed, which was no small cost or expense.  The Resource Member agreed to help and even delivered the fixture at virtually the same cost as the previously quoted units.  A special thanks from IGNITE to BJ Take Inc. for going the extra mile.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

― Elon Musk

One of our member projects included reducing the electricity consumption in the local community arena.  As we collaborated with the project team, they told us it was also important to fix any electrical issues as we encountered them.

 

It’s always exciting when one of our members gets a great win, and the Arena project was a great win for the community. The Arena got amazing new lights for the entire building. This lighting retrofit reduced the annual power cost attributed to lighting by nearly 70%. By working closely with the electrical contractor and the project team, we vastly improved the lighting quality throughout, but particularly over the bleachers and ice pad.  After the lighting change, there were areas of the ice pad with at least twice as much light quality, which virtually eliminated previously dimly lit areas on the ice surface. We also worked closely with the electrical contractor to fix a few nagging electrical issues. All this was done with a neutral impact to the member’s operating budget. Feedback from the community has been very positive.

 

Taking control of aging infrastructure is a challenge for any organization. What IGNITE offers its members is a means of simplifying the process to address the present issues affecting public sector infrastructure.  IGNITE provides access to all the resources required to not only get the job done presently but to future-proof the asset by ensuring the long-term operating costs are considered for every aspect of the project.

 

“As soon as you open your mind to doing things differently, the doors of opportunity practically fly off their hinges.”

― Jay Abraham, The Sticking Point Solution


Planning for the long-term is a relatively new concept for many public sector organizations. During the last several decades, various groups have promoted its importance to organizations of all sizes. Although it is encouraging public sector organizations are becoming aware of the need for long-term planning for infrastructure, to ensure the truly, long-term success of an infrastructure plan, the Asset Champion must direct the Project Team to focus on sustainability and risk mitigation at each phase of the asset’s useful life.

Sustainability

For an infrastructure asset to be truly sustainable, it must provide significant energy, economic environmental, and educational benefits to all stakeholders associated with the asset. Sustainability goals need to be defined by the Project Team under the guidance of the Asset Champion early in the infrastructure planning process. The Asset Champion assists the Project Team to adopt and ultimately satisfy the agreed upon sustainability goals through the implementation of the organization’s infrastructure plan. Part of a sustainable asset plan must also include budgets which are predictable, affordable, and planned years in advance.

Risk Mitigation

Managing infrastructure assets involves significant risk. To ensure the success of an infrastructure plan, the Project Team must focus on managing or mitigating as much of this risk as possible. The Project Team under the direction of the Asset Champion must develop a risk mitigation strategy for all stages of the useful life of an asset. To ensure the effectiveness of a risk mitigation strategy, asset risk must continually be monitored and assessed.

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As part of the MAPLE project, IGNITE committed to providing Wiikwemkoong youth with hockey equipment through the Wiikwemkoong Minor Hockey Association.

An IGNITE Team member found a used sporting equipment bank in Calgary who was very interested in supporting the MAPLE project. In late 2017, Comrie Sports Equipment Bank sent 22 pallets of gently used sports equipment by truck to Regina. Comrie provided all this equipment and transportation to Regina for free! Once the equipment arrived in Regina, IGNITE arranged with Manitoulin Transport to pick up the equipment. Manitoulin, which is a resource member to the IGNITE Program, generously donated a portion of the shipping cost to help this project become a reality.

A few months later, Wiikwemkoong Minor Hockey Association held a large event in the rink to make this equipment available to the local community. This initiative was only successful because of the generous financial support of Comrie Sports Equipment Bank and Manitoulin Transport.

The IGNITE Team is very proud of what was accomplished through this team effort, and we trust the community youth will enjoy many hockey games with this equipment!

Every school year as spring turns into summer and temperatures soar, we see television news reports of school children and staff members suffering in the heat at schools.  A lack of essential upgrades to school heating and cooling systems are the culprit.  In 2018, the Toronto District School Board reported 78% of its schools lacked air conditioning.  As one measure to address the uncomfortable high temperatures, schools have set up cooling centers in large spaces in each facility, but these measures cost a lot and the funding comes directly from the Board’s repair budget, which is already stretched thin.