Smart Roads – wireless sensor networks for Smart Infrastructures

A billion dollar business opportunity

Worldwide governments spend a huge amount of money on transport infrastructure. In the U.S., the infrastructure budget stands at 2.4 percent of GDP while Europe invests still more – 5 percent of GDP. Other countries spend even more in infrastructure costs every year: China will invest around nine percent of GDP on roads, power lines and bridges in the near future.

Large-scale investment is well underway. Europe is already on track to create a sustainable transport network with a project called “Connecting Europe Facility, aimed at increasing the benefits of pan-European freight and passenger traffic infrastructure projects. This Fund will have a capital of 40 billion euros and an additional 10 billion euros available from the Cohesion Fund. It will finance projects in transport, energy and information technologies. Over the next seven years, Europe will invest around €22bn solely in transport infrastructure. The U.S. is set to double infrastructure funds and will spend $476 billion through 2018 on highway, bridge and mass transit projects.

The use of sensors can contribute to these projects by creating a series of smart applications that may lead to a better and safer world. Throughout the years, many transport infrastructures-bridges, tunnels or viaducts-have collapsed due to natural disasters or because of poor maintenance. One of the best examples is the bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 that killed 13 people and injured 145. In 2008, this bridge was re-built using a sensing system to collect data regarding structural behavior and corrosion.

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Source: Libelium