These days, sensors in concrete and remote-monitoring systems can allow municipalities to better monitor and manage infrastructure on a consistent basis. Not only that, but the same technology used for long-term maintenance can also be used to ensure quality and safety of structures throughout the construction process.

Being able to monitor the structural viability of bridges, roads, and other critical infrastructure systems during construction can lead to greater safety and security at the jobsite—not to mention allow for ongoing maintenance and repair of the structures after construction is completed.

How does it work? Sensors in the concrete send data to software so construction teams can generate reports about the structure. The sensors can communicate if the structure is safe and secure. Once construction is completed, the same technology can provide post construction load and event monitoring.

This approach to building and construction can extend the life of infrastructure and save a significant amount of money in the long run. Some cities are beginning to examine the financial viability of such technology and are looking for ways to cost effectively use systems to better manage infrastructure.

One recent announcement comes from ThingWorx, www.thingworx.com, Exton, Pa., and Smart Structures, www.smart-structures-inc.com, Southampton, Pa.

ThingWorx is a provider of software and Smart Structures offers wireless solutions for monitoring. Together the companies will deliver the technology needed to monitor bridge pilings, foundations, and other concrete structures, ultimately reducing costs and improving safety.

The Smart Structures’ SmartPile Embedded Data Collector technology compiles information from wireless embedded sensors in concrete and sends the data to software for monitoring purposes.

During construction, the technology is used to ensure safety. Through a dashboard, users can review and generate reports based on the data. The sensors also have the ability to detect corrosion, erosion, and other indicators of structural deficiencies.

This type of technology can improve a number of challenges that exist in managing and monitoring infrastructure today. Today many structures are managed based on a break-fix schema. If a bridge breaks, the city fixes it. But with this technology, a structural deficiency can be detected sooner and fixed prior to even breaking. This approach will allow bridges and other infrastructure to remain viable much longer, reducing costs for cities in the long run.

The value for construction teams is very apparent—improved safety at the jobsite. With sensors in concrete, supervisors will know if the structure is stable and crew members can proceed accordingly. Interested in learning more about how technology is advancing for monitoring and maintenance of infrastructure construction projects? Check out the upcoming July/Aug issue of Constructech magazine, which details high-tech advances in the PSII (Pennsylvania Smart Infrastructure Incubator) at Carnegie Mellon University, www.cmu.edu, Pittsburgh, Pa.