As we inch closer to 2024, one area where we can expect more development and spending is with our nation’s infrastructure. Dodge Construction Network suggests following rapid growth in the past two years, nonbuilding/infrastructure construction will increase by 7% overall and some sub-sectors will even grow by double digits—but what role will technology play? Let’s take a closer look.
Due to IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), and other federal initiatives, most public works will continue to expand in 2024. Dodge predicts all but dams and flood control will rise, since this area already saw spending more than double from 2020-2023. Power will also decrease next year, after an estimated 42% increase this past year. Bridges, roads, rail, environmental, sewer, water, and other infrastructure areas will see continued growth in 2024.
Looking at the technology we will use to build all this, we see structural health monitoring will become a top priority for many in order to rebuild our infrastructure while also meeting climate demands. We see ABI Research says structural health monitoring sensors will reach 22.9 million connections by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 18% for wired retrofitted sensors and 28% for wireless retrofitted sensors.
What Is Driving This Demand?
We are seeing a shift in government to move toward more predictive maintenance instead of maintenance after failure approaches like many governments have been doing in the past. ABI points to the example of the 2018 Morandi Bridge collapse, which resulted in 43 casualties and $450 million in damages.
Of course, this is only one example. With the rise in climate change and more extreme weather events, we have seen many natural disasters wreak havoc. This combined with new government funding has cities and municipalities considering how to move forward and be more preventative with our infrastructure in the future.
How Is It Advancing?
Looking a bit deeper at the technology here, ABI says innovation is happening on two fronts. First, it is happening on the hardware edge with a shift to smaller data loggers and DAQs, greater edge processing capabilities, and a more extensive variety of sensors and technologies.
Second, it is happening with the software. Many companies seek an analytics platform, often compatible with other third-party sensors. Vendors also want to see how AI (artificial Intelligence) can improve predictive capabilities and generate more value for asset owners and managers.
Where Will We Have Sensors in Infrastructure?
Interestingly, one of the biggest markets for structural health monitoring sensors is in the rail industry, as this is expected to see increased demand in the next two decades. By digitizing rail infrastructure and monitoring critical areas of concern, such as rail tracks, switches, and slopes, rail operators know when failures will happen and can implement more efficient predictive maintenance strategies.
All in all, there is a big opportunity here to connect our infrastructure to make it safer for everyone in the days ahead. As we forge forward with building next-gen infrastructure, we must consider how sensors will be used to build the safe, secure, and sustainable infrastructure of tomorrow.
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