New urban infrastructure management in a matured metropolis
Osaka Prefectural Government, Japan

The Problem

During the period of rapid economic growth of Japan, which began in the mid 1950s, a large number of urban infrastructures were developed in Osaka to answer to the strong needs of its residents and industries. For example, 46 percent of the current major bridges (15 meters or longer), about 380 bridges, were built during the period between 1950 and 1970. These massively developed urban infrastructures supported the people’s lives, distribution of goods and economic activities, and contributed to population growth and economic development during the high-economic growth period. However, there was a very low awareness of proper infrastructural maintenance in both public and private sectors. At that time, if cracks were found, they were repaired; if a part gets too old, then they are replaced. There was action only after something happens. These urban infrastructures, in time, will get too old. According to our estimation, since these bridges will be 60 years old or older in 2030, 354 billion yen (4.6 billion US dollars) will be needed to renovate them within a span of 20 years between 2010 and 2030. For rivers, ports and harbors, if their renovation costs of 90 billion yen (1.2 billion dollars) are combined with the maintenance cost, a total of 840 billion yen (10.9 billion US dollars) will be needed. Especially for 2029 alone when the number of renovation works is expected to reach a peak, 170 billion yen (2.2 billion US dollars) will be necessary, which is about nine times the current cost of 20 billion yen (260 million US dollars). As population is declining, there is economic stagnation, and it is getting difficult to get tax revenues, it is highly probable that we will not be able to address these massive maintenance needs. Under these circumstances, it is vital and urgent for us to take steps to maintain urban infrastructure for a longer time, making it a safe and attractive thing for residents, and to further equalize the renewal investment for longer period of time.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
We have created a new infrastructure management system with the aim of maintaining “for a longer time, wise and carefully” urban infrastructures and make them safe and attractive. To accomplish this, we have implemented three major creative measures. First, we shifted the emphasis of maintenance from corrective maintenance to preventive maintenance. Instead of conducting a repair work after something happens and renewal after the infrastructure gets completely old, we have employed the concept of conducting frequent inspections and minor repair works before complete deterioration in order to extend the life-span of the infrastructure. Second, we have introduced systems such as infrastructure inspection using the latest technology and creating a database system. Based on latest management technology, we identify items that need maintenance and methods to extend the life-span of the infrastructure which enable the implementation of appropriate and timely maintenance. Third, we have adopted a mechanism that would increase the awareness of local residents through beautification and tree planting activities, thus having them participate in maintenance, unlike before when only the administration was concerned with the maintenance. The effect of this management system is a reduction of public finances by 330 billion yen (4.3 billion US dollars) in the next 20 years and reduction of burden on the environment (saving about 40 percent of natural resources) which has been a global concern. About 50,000 people and 500 groups have participated in the activities to extend the life-span of infrastructures such as cleaning roads by removing dirt and gravels which may damage roads etc. and painting bridges to prevent deterioration. Currently, this effort is not limited to direct collaboration for the beautification and tree planting activities to extend the life-span of urban infrastructures like roads etc. but has been also extended to the broader issues including regional safety, education, aging society and how to attract more people. Furthermore, this effort has been developed to Japan’s first, new community-initiated project to revitalize Osaka named “SHODOU OSAKA - New collaboration style with residents, focusing on thanks and smiles -” and contributed to fostering civic pride and to improving social capital.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
While the prefectural fiscal status was becoming serious, we recognized that the maintenance method of urban infrastructures needs to be fundamentally reviewed. Under these circumstances, the new infrastructure management started in 1999 by setting up a “Working Group for the Bridge Repair Plan Review”. This working group consists of prefectural staff members who are in charge of urban infrastructures’ renewal and maintenance. The working group established the first database in Japan to store inspection requirements and other data required for asset management. This database is the predecessor of the “New Infrastructure Management” system. In 2002, we started to study method of asset management (life cycle cost management) for the first time in Japan. In 2007, the bridge repair plan for further durability was established for the first time in Japan. We received a great deal of cooperation from Professor Kobayashi of Kyoto University and Professor Furuta of Kansai University who created the revised version of the asset management method of the United Nations. The “New Infrastructure Management” is a major pillar for collaboration with local residents. This concept started with an innovative proposal from staff members of Osaka Prefecture who were engaged in local affairs for many years. This proposal made us reconsider the modality of collaboration. Collaboration used to be initiated and requested by the government, so collaboration itself became the purpose. We had not reached to the extent of encouraging voluntary activities of local residents. In this situation, the staff members in charge returned to the original meaning of collaboration that collaboration is a tool to make people smile and for the local residents to make the region attractive and comfortable. We encouraged local residents to focus on the original function of “collaboration” and started implementing “Adopt Road Program” and the “Adopt River Program” which would lead to voluntary activities of beautification and cleaning of roads and rivers etc. In order to extend these voluntary activities to the maintenance of a broader range of infrastructures and to the entire Osaka Prefecture, an industry-academic-government project team was established with the participation of organizations which support these activities, such as regional organizations, schools, companies, and design firms. Currently these activities have been creating a big boom with a brand name of “SHODOU OSAKA”.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
In order to establish the infrastructure managing system, we used two strategies. The first is through discussions by staff who worked on-site and the sharing of what they know with other staff of the government. The on-site staff, knowing very well the actual situation were afraid that it will be difficult to provide safety and comfort to the citizen in the future if the government will fail to properly replace urban infrastructures in accordance with their deteriorations. They made a working group and incorporated the outcome of their discussions to their plans and reported them to the executive managers’ meetings. By this, they succeeded to change the way of thinking toward the urban infrastructure policy from “corrective maintenance” to “preventive maintenance.”
The second is branding strategy to enlarge spontaneous local activities to prefecture-wide and multi-generational activities. The staff in charge of this project thought that establishing and promulgating a brand that makes the project’s concept easy to understand and enhances familiarity to it would become a key to enlarge local movement of making residents smile to prefecture-wide movements. The staff collaborated with a design company that showed full approval of the concept, and they made a catch phrase, “SHODOU OSAKA,” and also made a logo design for it. By making garbage disposal bags and T-shirts under uniformed design in the effort of promulgating the “SHODOU OSAKA” brand, they succeeded in the visualization of the essence of collaboration utilizing the power of design. This enlarged the movement to a prefecture-wide movement.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
There were two steps to implement the new infrastructure management. The first started in 1999. In 1999, the staff in charge made up a working group and inspected urban infrastructures by types such as bridges and so on using the newest technology. After spending four years of study, information about deterioration levels, repair histories and other information were accumulated and recorded in a database that enabled central management. In order to make collaboration new partnership between residents and the government, we made specific programs for infrastructures by types as the first step; the “Adopt Roads Program” for roads maintained by the Osaka Prefectural Government was introduced in 2000 and the “Adopt Rivers Program” that induces residents’ spontaneous local activities to cleanup of rivers was also had introduced in 2001.
The next step was the forecasting of deterioration of urban infrastructures by types and adding this information to the accumulated information in the former step. In 2007 the bridge repair plan for extended durability was established for the first time in Japan. According to the plan, based on forecasting of deterioration, maintenance method had shifted from the corrective maintenance to preventive maintenance aiming to extend the life of urban infrastructures. At the same time, the “Adopt Road Program” and the “Adopt River Program” were developed in 2010 to include not only maintaining roads and rivers but also promoting activities to plant flowers along the seashore and on the street corners with the participation of about 500 associations and a total 50,000 participants. Furthermore, after 10 years of the activities, we recaptured the essence of these varieties of collaborative activities as “making ourselves smile” and “making others smile.” Then we had built initiatives to make prefecture-wide involvement of the “SHODOU OSAKA” under the slogan of “Osaka, toward a city full of smiles.” Now we are trying to expand the activity by making a logo design more familiar to the younger generations.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
There were two obstacles confronted. The first was the absence of concrete methods on how to forecast the deterioration of urban infrastructures and how to repair them. The Osaka Prefectural Government overcame the obstacle by a very practical approach; forecasting deterioration curves from the deterioration characteristics of existing infrastructures and repairing them according to their deterioration characteristics.
The second was the insufficient motivation of government staff and residents to care for urban infrastructures by collaboration between the government and residents since they had strong notion that maintenance of urban infrastructures belongs to “public works.” In order to change the above belief of government staff and residents, the Osaka Prefectural Government steadily promoted the “Adopt a Road Project,” the “Adopt a River Project” and other activities through which residents made their living areas more attractive and comfortable by themselves. Further, the Osaka Prefectural Government made the residents understand the importance of voluntary participation to various activities to contribute to the improvement of their living areas, such as clean ups of urban infrastructures, by branding “SHODOU OSAKA” in 2010. As a result, a total 50,000 residents participated in the activities so far indicating that great changes in the consciousness of both government staff’ and residents.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The cost to build a database for urban infrastructures using newest technology amounts to a total 220 million Yen (2.85 million US$) for just building a database and 100 million Yen (1.29 million US$) for annual inspection, but we could cut costs and level them by reinforcing them beforehand according to their deterioration instead of repairing after their collapse.
As for “SHODOU OSAKA,” the movement to collaborate with residents, the network of the movement has spread to regional associations, schools, NPOs and private companies without spending any public money and the system in which each stakeholder acts and collaborates spontaneously based on its advantage has been established. The Osaka Prefectural Government has also established an original system to assist these regional activities within its seven regional branch offices. Besides, the Osaka Prefectural Government sold the garbage disposal bags and the T-shirts made under uniformed design for “SHODOU OSAKA” and delegated a portion of the sales to the cleanup activities in the regions to support the activities. Furthermore, the Osaka Prefectural Government collected a special charge of 115 million Yen (1.3 million US$) from private companies for its road maintenance expenses from the “Naming Rights of Pedestrian Overpasses Project.” It was the first project in Japan to sell naming rights of pedestrian overpasses and appropriate the charge to maintenance budget for roads under management of the Osaka Prefectural Government.
Owing to financial resources mentioned above and extended life of urban infrastructures, the total estimated maintenance budget for 20 years hereafter amounts to 510 billion Yen ( 6.6 billion US$) is reduced by about 40%, or 330 billion Yen. Adding to it, the project contributes to level annual replacement expense that amounts to 170 billion Yen (2.2 US$) at its maximum and lowers maintenance cost to 26 billion Yen (340 million US$) annually.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
New infrastructure management secured continuity in the following two points.
The first was that maintenance expenses were reduced and leveled by implementing preventive maintenance. During the severe financial situations of the government, we enabled local residents to continue to provide safe and attractive urban infrastructures because we succeeded in reducing maintenance expenses through extending the life of infrastructures.
The second was that we secured the continued motivation of citizens for voluntary participation through branding strategy, which was developed by collaboration among private companies, educational/research organizations, government offices, and local residents/NPOs. Traditional collaboration activities were the government-led style, which residents participated on request from government. Thus, it had a negative effect in that only some citizens participated and when those citizens were too old to participate, collaboration activities had to stop. However, due to the branding of “SHODOU OSAKA” ~ A new collaboration style with residents, focusing on thanks and smiles ~ and its dissemination implemented by collaboration among private companies, educational/research organizations, government offices, and citizens/NPOs, we succeeded in gaining many participants. The collaboration was more than a trend. Thus, the “SHODOU OSAKA” collaboration activity became a movement in Osaka. In order to lead this movement to the future, we worked to build an image and promote it effectively so that younger generations will also be able to easily participate in the activities. As a result, many elementary, junior/high school, and university students took part.
These approaches show that Japan/Osaka is the first nation/prefecture in Asia to achieve a rapid growth through urban infrastructure improvement and is a good example of new urban infrastructure management in a matured metropolis. In addition, these efforts can be imitated and disseminated as solutions against deterioration problems of infrastructure which Asian countries and eventually all the countries of the world will face in the future.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
There were three lessons that we have learned. The first one was the importance of a hands-on approach. Our staff launched the working group from their own motives to link the accumulation and maintenance methods of the facilities database, aiming to increase the life of the facility, and formulated a system based on the emphasis of field activities such as designing inspection outlines (plan). Thus, the system became universally accessible and is continuously renewed.
The second was the importance of participation from various fields when collaboration was implemented. As for community collaboration, we aimed to cause the collaboration movement through “Gathering Forces”, meaning that each individual force was brought together. Thus, we encourage that every single citizen will be involved in public service in various levels and forms. In addition, with regards to relations with private companies, we learned more advanced business models such as creating social solutions and community values rather than the traditional Corporation Social Activities.
The third one was that collaboration has the potential to expand activities into various kinds of fields. The bond between community/private companies and the government became stronger and the circle of those partnerships grew not only in the field of urban infrastructure but also in various other fields such as disaster prevention and education. Together with this, every staff realized again the importance of management methods of the facilities as well as constructing facilities. Furthermore, thanks to these efforts, we succeeded in various collaboration activities for the beautification and greening of the urban infrastructure such as roads. In addition, we developed a safe community, education, aging problems’ solutions and a dynamic Osaka, and eventually “SHODOU OSAKA” project. It is the nation’s first revolutionary Osaka vitalization project by a community. These efforts also contribute to foster civic pride and improve social capital.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Osaka Prefectural Government, Japan
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Toshihiko Asai
Title:   Assistant Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +81- (0) 6-6944-6771 / +81- (0) 6-6944-6773
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   2-Chome, Ohtemae, Chuo-ku,
Postal Code:   540-8570
City:   Osaka City
State/Province:   Osaka Prefcture
Country:   Japan

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