RIMS 2023 in Ōtautahi Christchurch was two solid days of collegial energy. There was a palpable passion for both technical brilliance and big-picture planning. We came together with a shared goal – Leave No One Behind.

Our speakers and delegates came through with remarkable insights and an appetite for knowledge. We departed with our cups filled with purpose, enriched knowledge, and a sense of collaboration.

Common themes across the board included:

  • The power of a richer data picture to better communicate and design for the future.
  • Harnessing technology to build that picture. Like drone use for hard-to-access areas, and systems with near real-time data.
  • Well-informed forward planning for people and the planet. What we can do to contribute to climate resilience and better cultural considerations.

We identified areas for growth in:

  • Cross-silo communication and collaboration.
  • Robust short-term tactics, mid-term planning and long-term goals. Vitally, having an action plan beyond three-year cycles.
  • Wider adoption of universal tools like AMDS.
  • Continued innovation to streamline workflow. This will enable us to work better in a funding-constrained environment.

RIMS Forum began with a mihi whakatau. Our MC, comedian, actor and singer Pio Terei MNZM acknowledged the sad loss of Tony Lange. Many worked in the RIMS community worked with Tony for years. From the way people spoke of Tony, it was clear he is a much-loved colleague, who had lived a joyful and impactful life.

The Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger followed Pio, and commented that Leave No One Behind is a great way to think about roading and transport. He asserted that we must adapt and change, to tackle the challenges ahead.

Our amazing RIMS organiser, engineer and COO of IDS NZ Gemma Mathieson encapsulated the atmosphere in three gorgeous words – “I love data”. She also acknowledged that this was the second RIMS in the financial year, due to COVID. And the turnout was great!

Our sage CEO Murray Pugh encouraged delegates to take the knowledge gained from RIMS Forum’s two jam-packed days and apply it in practise. “It’s all about connecting communities.”

Graeme Norman, managing director at Thinkproject, highlighted the challenges we have ahead of us. The reality is that infrastructure is underinvested, and under-resourced. So, we must look after our intelligence, manage it well, and pass it on. “I hope everyone comes out of RIMS with your glass three-quarters full of knowledge that you’re ready to turn into action”.

Our holistically astute board member Steve Browning said something truly beautiful. “Who are we not leaving behind? Our ancestors. Those who gave us what we have today, and put us in the position we are in today. While we look to where we go in the future, we are building on the mahi of the past creators and guardians of our infrastructure”.

He also provided a fantastic acrostic “poem”:

Resilience, for our people and for our infrastructure, how do we get some more?

Importance, in a world full of distraction, what are the most important things we need to focus on?

Money, even if you own a Swiss bank, this is getting harder to come by! What gives when our purchasing power drops?

Simplicity, in an ever more complex world, how do we get back to basics and keep it simple.

The first keynote speaker was Nicole Rosie, Waka Kotahi’s CEO. She gave a solid and comprehensive speech on futureproofing our land transport system. “Roading and transport infrastructure is the backbone of New Zealand and the base of the Maslow hierarchy of needs. So when vital networks break, vital emergency services struggle to get through. Like with the one-two punch of the Auckland anniversary flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. We need to focus on what will actually make a difference, and bring communities along with us. Apply the 80/20 rule where 80% of results come from 20% of the best actions”.

This is just an initial taste of RIMS 2023! Watch this space for more on the invigorating two days. Including—emerging talent presenting their latest findings; subject matter experts did deep dives on pressing topics like how we can reduce greenhouse gasses; we had presentations on the best-in-class tools and technical developments; we celebrated with a charity casino night; and we were all moved by the inspiring motivational guest speakers.

Big thanks to our RIMS organising committee, conference team, sponsors, and our IPWEA NZ team. And of course our delegates, for making RIMS Forum the Aotearoa roading asset management event of the year.

Author: Tammy Kuo