Forecasting for Infastructure

Planning for infrastructure or facilities requires a long-term horizon since buildings usually have a design life measured in decades. However, the further ahead we look and the more dynamic and complex the environment, the harder it is to have forecasts that can be trusted and are useful for planning.

Forecasting projects require consideration of a number of questions. How long are we planning for? Is there any reason to extend the planning horizon for longer than the usual 25 years? How will the buildings be used? Will the introduction of new technologies and improved process efficiencies lead to a significant change in the way the facilities are used? What is the current demand for buildings and facilities? What events might occur in the future that will affect this demand? Do these events contribute to a long term growth, or do they just represent a 'spike' in demand? Who are the major users of the facilities? Are they likely to change over time? And perhaps most importantly, how must the planning allow for these uncertainties?

A recent project completed by Data Analysis Australia provides an example of how these questions can be handled. The Department of Justice requested forecasts for the Albany Court (Great Southern Region). Data Analysis Australia has had a longstanding relationship with the Department, and over the years has completed forecasts for most major metropolitan Courts.

Ultimately, the Department required a report giving the bricks and mortar issues of how many courtrooms and associated facilities such as interview rooms, judicial chambers and custody cells would be needed to cope with demand for the next thirty years.

In order to paint a picture of the current courts system in Albany consultations were undertaken with all major stakeholders. This provided rich first hand information on the local economy and social makeup, factors that can influence crime, and the relationship between Albany court, the prison and Community Justice Services. Most importantly, an understanding was gained of how current facilities were restricting the efficient function of the courts.

The Data Analysis Australia population model was also updated to show population movements within and out of the region and the demographic makeup of the local population. This model, unique to Data Analysis Australia, gives detailed breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity. In conjunction with Court data from the Departments data warehouse and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it could forecast likely numbers of offences at future dates.

Once the number of offences had been forecast, the efficiency with which these could be handled by various numbers of courtrooms could be considered. This took into account how matters are listed for courtrooms and the functions of the various jurisdictions using the Court. The final product was a report that gave the number of courtrooms and facilities necessary for the next thirty years, together with when they would be needed. This provided a base for the planning of the actual facility.

Data Analysis Australia has recently been awarded the contract to complete forecasts for all remaining Western Australian regional courts. For more information on forecasting, please contact Data Analysis Australia at daa(at) or phone 08 9468 2533

December 2003