In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of cool new products and services applying IoT technology, ranging from fitness trackers to home automation. All of these technologies are improving our quality of life in many ways. However, we believe the beauty and power of IoT will be in applications that leverage the technology to protect individuals, save lives and create safer environments for ourselves and those we care most about. One such application is in the monitoring and maintaining of our nation’s infrastructure.
In the U.S., there are over 100,000 miles of levees, 607,830 bridges, 84,000 dams, and 900 ports that move 2.3 billion tons of cargo. These critical civil infrastructures drive our economy and improve our quality of life by connecting people, businesses, and communities. Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure conditions and repair needs called the ASCE report card. They give America’s infrastructure a letter grade, and in 2013, they rated America’s infrastructure a D+.
To think about maintaining the nation’s entire infrastructure is mind-boggling and maybe it is the enormity of our infrastructure system that has lead to its decline and deficiencies. The current process for monitoring these structures is extremely labor-intensive. For this reason, it is impossible to have a full comprehensive view in real-time of the current status of all critical structures, creating “blind spots” and posing safety risks.
Consider the impact IoT technologies can have on infrastructure in the coming years. With the advancement and declining cost of sensors and networking, monitoring of infrastructures can now be done in real-time in a cost-effective way. Smart infrastructures of the future would provide alerts of potential failures, comprehensive views of current statuses, analytics describing the optimal time for repairs, alerts of potential failures and a real-time view during natural disasters. Think about the impact this level of intelligence could have provided during disasters such as hurricane Katrina.
Last week we announced a contract with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center for the development of a smart infrastructure system leveraging our IoT platform, Egburt. Egburt can provide a real-time, comprehensive view of civil infrastructure states, eliminating blind spots and enhancing the decision making process. IoT applications such as this are more than just providing a cool new IoT product. This is building the Internet of things that matter: saving lives and reducing public safety risk.