AT&T is testing a structure monitoring solution with sensors that can monitor bridge stability and alert officials if they become unsafe, reported Mashable.
Suitable for everything from foot bridges to those that support rail and vehicle traffic, the battery-operated sensors take readings every eight hours, and monitor such things as crack width, temperature, joint movement and changes in angle. Data then is delivered to the IBM cloud via AT&T's LTE network.
Some customers, including cities, will purchase and manage the systems themselves, while others can opt to buy and have AT&T manage the systems.
When the American Society of Civil Engineers released its infrastructure report card in 2017, it gave the U.S. a "D" grade, which has remained consistent since 1998. Despite the poor grade, a RAND Corp. report published in December 2017 stated that even with a maintenance backlog and some quality issues, U.S. infrastructure is not crumbling.
Infrastructure is a hot topic again, especially because of President Donald Trump's forthcoming infrastructure bill, part of which was leaked earlier this week. An AECOM report, which includes survey data from more than 500 professionals worldwide, details the challenges the industry faces such as funding and an innovation deficit, which includes the need to stay up to date on the latest technology. New technologies and tools, like AT&T's sensors, can help to alleviate concern around bridge safety, and help governments stay proactive to prevent a disaster like the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August 2007.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to infiltrate more industries, construction is embracing it more and new technologies are all around. For example, Triax's Spot-r EquipTag can transmit real-time data about workers' and equipment's activity, location and safety to Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform. IoT is only going to continue to grow in use; Credence Research predicts the IoT market will surpass $2 trillion by 2023.
IoT tools are contributing to the rise of smart cities as well. State leaders are hoping to make Illinois the first "smart state." As part of that quest, local governments throughout the state can upgrade their street lights to LED fixtures through Illinois’s joint purchasing program. The fixtures can be equipped with Wi-Fi and sensors for IoT technologies.
Meanwhile, Toronto, Canada, is on its way to establishing a 3-million-square-foot "digital city" project, led by Sidewalk Labs LLC, that will showcase smart and connected infrastructure and buildings.