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Future-ready Infrastructure

The paradigm of infrastructure operations is shifting to ‘new normal’ now. This is the convergence of civil engineering and information technology. And the outcome will be an infrastructure that stays healthy longer.

An Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in 2013, based on the federal National Bridge Inventory, found that 65,605 were classified as "structurally deficient" and 20,808 as "fracture critical." Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicates significant disrepair and risk of collapse.

Minimizing costs and inconveniences due to structural damage during the entire life-cycle of infrastructure assets requires an in-depth analysis of the causes. The traditional methods of investigation and safety evaluation are now proving insufficient, and the demand for improved information and better understanding continues to increase. Innovative infrastructure technologies can provide this detailed information on structural behavior and help uncertainties associated with material properties and structural capacity to be reduced.

Structural health monitoring using innovative technologies through the entire lifecycle of infrastructure assets may offer many benefits over the traditional manual observation and measurement methods. They are typically much more efficient, have far lower running costs, can operate 24x7, are capable of an extraordinary level of detail and accuracy, and can be implemented across various infrastructure verticals.

Take an instance of this in the Transportation Sector. Looking 20 years ahead, the transportation system will transform significantly, especially with the prevalence of autonomous vehicles. Speeds will be faster, vehicular density will be higher, automation will be greater, safety will continue to be the dominant issue for the sector and communication between the vehicle, passenger and the infrastructure will be critical in enhancing safety and optimizing asset utilization.

So, the paradigm of infrastructure operations is shifting to ‘new normal’ now. This is the convergence of civil engineering and information technology. And the outcome will be infrastructure that stays healthy longer. Or in other words, no more bad report cards!

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