Improving Infrastructure with IoT Monitoring & Repair Technology

January 28, 2020

Infrastructure failures are no joke. From potholes to corrosion to cracking concrete, deteriorating infrastructure can mean costly repairs or dangerous accidents. IoT can go a long way toward monitoring structural integrity, saving costs and lives.

Monitoring Environmental Conditions for Bridges

The US currently uses sensors on a number of bridges to monitor safety conditions and collect data on daily strain. These factors may include load distribution, vibrations, temperature, corrosion, bridge movement and crack detection.

Most notably is the St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minnesota that was installed with 500 sensors to monitor load and environmental strain. St. Anthony was built to replace the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge, which collapsed unexpectedly.

Connecting New Hampshire to Maine, the Memorial Bridge was recently equipped with 40 sensors to monitor stress conditions and lift behavior. Additional sensors gather tidal data beneath the bridge where the turbine that powers the project’s sensors sits.

The University of Florida is installing sensors on bridges to monitor conditions during extreme weather. This data could influence future bridge designs and management following the collapse of the I-10 Twin Span Bridge during Hurricane Katrina.

Analyzing Road Deterioration

No one likes potholes. They’re a hazard for drivers and costly for cities to repair.

Like most cities, Memphis relied on citizens to report potholes, but officials realized there were more issues than reported. Through cameras attached to the city’s buses and machine learning that identifies potholes in the captured video, the city can repair potholes far more quickly and efficiently than before. The city hopes to also use the technology to identify weather patterns that cause potholes to grow larger so they can be closed before they expand.

Kansas City uses traffic cameras to take pictures and analyzes data related to traffic volume, weather and other conditions that may deteriorate a road. Based on predictive algorithms, the city performs road maintenance before an issue occurs, which is more cost effective than waiting for potholes to appear.

The ePave project, still in development, would place sensors underneath roads to monitor for pavement breaks and potholes, alerting officials as soon as they occur. The sensors could also track conditions such as moisture and pressure that could cause problems, allowing for predictive action.

Monitoring Train Cars, Passengers and Tracks

As the use of public transportation increases around the world, train technology continues to advance – monitoring passengers, trains and tracks.

France has added sensors to their railways to monitor track conditions such as temperature, stress and weight. This allows them to perform maintenance as soon as issues are detected, reducing costs and downtime.

Germany uses sensors to monitor the wheels on their trains, giving them alerts on wearing parts. This provides a timely and economical alternative to often inaccurate manual inspections.

Augmented Reality is being tested at London Bridge station to identify track faults and assist repairs in real time. Sensors on tracks gather data which is transmitted to a software system and enabled on a head mount display. The system should minimize train delays and maintenance downtime.

India has rolled out smart coaches for their trains that not only monitor and respond to conditions for passengers but also collect data on track conditions. This technology improves passenger experience and streamlines maintenance.