The bridge to smart technology


The St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed during rush hour into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007, has been rebuilt using sensors and other electronics that constantly monitor the concrete for any weaknesses or structural damage. As Business Week notes, the St. Anthony Falls Bridge is "one of the smartest' bridges in the U.S." Engineers not only used technology in the planning, design, and construction to rebuild ahead of schedule, but added sensors that track maintenance needs, monitor weather conditions and automatically trigger an anti-icing system to prevent the roadway from freezing over.

"The technology is about speed, it's about quality, and it's about efficiency," said Jon Chiglo, the civil engineer who managed the $234 million project for the Minnesota Transportation Dept.

During the next five years, the United States could spend more than $500 billion on infrastructure through the new stimulus package and a separate transportation bill that Congress will approve later in the year.

This will open the door for smart technologies to emerge to make it possible to build roads, bridges, mass transit systems, schools, hospitals and electric grids that are faster, better and more efficient. Technology companies such as IBM, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, may have a lot to gain from investments in smart infrastructure.

For more on smart technology:
- see this article

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