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The Future of Infrastructure

Tomorrow’s infrastructure needs to be resilient and connected if we ever intend to fulfill the objectives of its users—and simply that needs to be built today. AI, (artificial intelligence) ML (machine learning), cloud computing, the IoT (Internet of Things), and digital twins can be applied in myriad ways, constructing and designing the most massive and impressive infrastructure of the future.

With more than 80,000 centerline miles of highway and more than 14,000 employees statewide, TxDOT (Texas Dept. of Transportation) has a vision to provide mobility, enable economic opportunity, and enhance the quality of life for Texans.

To meet these goals, it has launched its Bridge Digital Delivery Initiative for all new bridge projects effective June 1, 2022, which is part of a larger Digital Delivery Initiative that also includes road and highways.

This initiative includes the Digital Delivery of Digital Twin models for bidding and construction projects using 3D models created during the design process. The use of intelligent 3D models enables better designs to ensure project intent and faster constructability reviews, reducing change orders and requests for information.

Even more, Digital Delivery will help TxDOT project designers to create and review numerous design alternatives and what-if scenarios. This in turn allows for better constructability reviews and optimization of project costs.

For the Bridge Digital Delivery Initiative, which launched earlier this summer, TxDOT is using Bentley Systems’ OpenBridge software, which enables modeling, analysis, and design for bridge engineers. The technology enables DOTs to accelerate workflows and improve project deliverables from conceptual model to design and construction.

This is simply one example. The NYSDOT (New York State Dept. of Transportation) used a digital twin as the primary construction document on a project to replace the aging 138th St. Bridge in the heart of New York City. Here it helped identify and resolve costly issues prior to construction.

Beyond bridges, digital twin can also help build water infrastructure and other civil infrastructure, helping restore dilapidating structures in our towns, while also building much-needed new city centerpieces.

Now is the time to build our next-generation of infrastructure—and technology will be key in order to build it in a way that is efficient and provides the data needed to every stakeholder in the process. I am not sure we can wait to make big moves with our infrastructure. We need to embrace the technology we have today in order to build a better tomorrow.

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