Sensors embedded in critical infrastructure such as bridges could help to monitor for cracks, tilts, shifts and other potentially dangerous problems, say AT&T executives.
AT&T is on a mission to fix elderly and decrepit US infrastructure. Almost half of the nation’s bridges are more than 50 years old, executives at the telco reckon, and many roadways and railways aren’t assessed frequently enough, often because they’re situated in remote locations.
With that in mind, they’re testing a new structure monitoring system, as part of the company’s wider IoT-focused smart city work. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, executives said that all kinds of bridges can be monitored with this system, from simple footbridges to those supporting railways and roads.
Cracks, tilts and shifting
AT&T’s Smart Cities Structure Monitoring product will see selected infrastructure equipped with sensors to remotely monitor cracks tilts and shifting, for example, and to issue alert triggers in response to significant events – such as subsidence or even earthquakes, presumably. The sensors will take readings once every eight hours before transmitting their data to IBM’s cloud for analysis, via AT&T’s LTE network.
According to the company, this will help improve safety and planning, reduce the need for manual inspections and enable near real-time monitoring of structures over the internet. Smart Cities Structure Monitoring will join a growing suite of products in this area, which also includes solutions for smart cities, smart energy and smart irrigation.
AT&T’s ‘spotlight cities’ update
AT&T launched its Smart Cities organization in the fall of 2015 and has tested its smart cities framework in a number of cities throughout the US – or ‘spotlight cities’, as it likes to call them.
Atlanta, Georgia, was one of the first to sign up as an AT&T spotlight city. To date, 200 sensors have been added to previously installed LED streetlights in key area of the city, which aim to help local authorities address issues including traffic flow, parking optimization and gunshot detection.
In Dallas, Texas, meanwhile, AT&T has teamed with the Dallas Innovation Alliance to create a living lab in the city where solutions to sustainability and parking can be explored. And, in the city’s historic West End, the city has installed new smart lighting solutions using connected LED and intelligent controls, which used 25% less energy in the first 90 days post-installation.
Finally, in Montgomery County, Maryland – an area where many people travel daily into Washington DC for work – AT&T has worked with public transport providers to help them keep commuters informed about transit delays; for example, by installing WiFi on targeted buses and bus shelters.