Smartphone data from motorists could help detect when a bridge needs urgent repairs

Maintenance of bridges is very expensive. There are 600,000 of them in the US, and the organizations that own and maintain them could easily pay $50,000 for the sensors alone, with additional costs due to the need to maintain them and analyze the data. that they create. Smartphones are a much cheaper option.

However, much work still needs to be done to make this technique a reality, said Ahmet Emin Aktan, a professor of civil, architecture and environmental engineering at Drexel University who was not involved in the study. . He believes it will be a long time before the technique is widely adopted.

Aktan hopes visual inspection will remain the main method for bridge monitoring for the next 10 to 20 years, because both sensors and smartphones can generate data that is harder to interpret than engineers can understand. see with their eyes. Even mundane things like weather or a change in traffic loads can affect how structures behave and move, which can then affect data. For example, they become harder when the weather is colder.

But ultimately, he said, it’s likely the industry will want to use a combination of that visual observation with data collected from smartphones.

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