University Uses Smartphones to Evaluate Infrastructure


Scientists at the University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri) have recently developed smartphone-based technologies to help monitor the condition of infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

With the United States reportedly receiving a D+ on a scale of A to F by the American Society of Civil Engineers for its deteriorating civil infrastructure, a better monitoring system was needed.

Researchers are saying, based on estimations, that the failure of these civil infrastructure systems could cause a 1 percent reduction in the U.S. GDP. In 2017, that number was $200 billion.

Using various sensors on smartphones, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, cameras and numerous external sensors, scientists will be able to determine the makeup and decline of a road’s surface in real-time.

Once the sensors are plugged into a smartphone, any person would be able to transmit wireless data while driving or riding on a road. The hope is that the large amount of data collected through crowdsourcing will better aid informed decisions about the health of roads and bridges.

“Many of the existing methods to monitor our civil infrastructure systems have technical issues and are not user-centered,” said Amir Alavi, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the MU College of Engineering, who also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering.

“People are looking for smart, cost-effective, scalable and user-centered approaches. With current advances in technology, people can help monitor or detect problems using their own devices, and smartphone technology allows us to do that with civil infrastructure.”

Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair of Flexible Pavement Technology also added, “With a smartphone, we can stitch together many inexpensive measurements to accurately assess things like the roughness or deterioration of a road surface. In a recent project sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), we also showed that it can accurately assess the condition of airport runways and taxiways.”

The study, funded by MODOT, “An overview of smartphone technology for citizen-centered, real-time and scalable civil infrastructure monitoring,” published in Future Generation Computer Systems, covered these innovative solutions, but does not represent the official views of the funding agencies.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Controls; Health & Safety; Infrastructure; NA; North America; PaintSquare; Roads/Highways; Smartphones; Technology

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