Toward a Smarter Future: Building Back Better with Intelligent Civil Infrastructure

BY Data-Smart City Solutions • JULY 19, 2021

The United States needs to build better infrastructure. The current repairs and replacements are disorganized and patchwork, resulting in unsafe, costly, and inequitable roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and water systems. A strategic, smart infrastructure plan that integrates digital technology, sensors, and data not only addresses these issues but can mitigate risks and even improve the conditions and structures that shape our daily lives.

By applying data analysis to intelligent infrastructure, which integrates digital technology and smart sensors, we can identify issues with the country’s roadways, buildings, and bridges before they become acute dangers. First, by identifying infrastructure weaknesses, smart infrastructure systems can address decades of deferred maintenance, a practice that has left many structures in perilous conditions. Sensors in pavement, bridges, vehicles, and sewer systems can target where these problems exist, allowing governments to allocate funding toward the neediest projects.

From there, these sensors and other smart technologies will alert leaders to changes or issues before they pose a danger—and often before a human inspector can even see them. The many infrastructure emergencies in the U.S. cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year, so identifying and fixing these issues is a pressing security issue. Further, as the changing climate leads to more extreme weather and natural disasters, the safety and resiliency of the country’s infrastructure is an immediate concern. Sensor systems and other intelligent infrastructure technology can identify and mitigate these problems, saving money and lives.

- Authors Stephen Goldsmith, Betsy Gardner, and Jill Jamieson

Read the full report here.


Want to learn more? Listen to Professor Steve Goldsmith interview co-authors Betsy Gardner and Jill Jamieson, and subject matter expert Professor Luna Lu, about why developing intelligent infrastructure is crucial for helping the United States tackle the challenge of inequitable, inaccessible, and inadequate roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and water systems.

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Data-Smart City Solutions