Bridges are critical to the operation and functionality of the whole road networks. It is therefore essential that specific data is collected regarding bridge asset condition and performance, as this allows proactive management of the assets and associated risks and more accurate short and long term financial planning. This paper proposes and discusses a strategy for collection of data on bridge condition and performance. Recognizing that risk management is the primary driver of asset management, the proposed strategy prioritizes bridges for levels of data collection including core, intermediate and advanced. Individual bridges are seen as parts of wider networks and bridge risk and criticality assessment emphasizes bridge failure or underperformance risk in the network context. The paper demonstrates how more reliable and detailed data can assist in managing network and bridge risks and provides a rationale for application of higher data collection levels for bridges characterized by higher risk and criticality. As the bridge risk and/or criticality increases planned and proactive integration of structural health monitoring (SHM) data into asset management is outlined. An example of bridge prioritization for data collection using several bridges taken from a national highway network is provided using an existing risk and criticality scoring methodology. The paper concludes with a discussion on the role of SHM in data collection for bridge asset management and where SHM can make the largest impacts.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.