Communicating with City Infrastructures

Yunus Emre Duyar
March 7th 2015

With the Internet of Things, a growing number of objects have sensors implanted inside them. These sensors help to form a network where objects can communicate with each other and with us. A recent project, named GENESI, might make it possible for city infrastructures to join this conversation as well.

Funded by the European Union, GENESI stands for Green Sensor Networks for Structural Monitoring. The project aims to implant sensors into various components of city infrastructures, which will enable a more efficient way of checking for stability and possible maintenance. These sensors include vibrating strain gauges, displacement meters, pressure sensors, temperature sensors and soil moisture sensors. The electonic devices are designed to harvest power by themselves and they can communicate fresh readings to scientists whenever requested.

A pilot project location for testing these sensors is the underground rail system of Rome. Sensors are placed in certain concrete segments of the railway; they pick up vibration data and forward it to remote servers via a wireless network system. These data can later be used by civil engineers to plan for future maintenance operations.

The obstacles for the project are dark tunnels, where sunlight is not available to provide power to the sensors. This handicap might require some form of battery changing. Since the subway is not  an easy place for humans work, the job might be carried out by drones in the future.

The success of GENESI could will pave the way for more efficient city structure maintenance and could possibly prevent accidents caused by infrastructure failures.

Story and image via Popular Science

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