The owl, quietly watching, analyzing, and thinking
Collapsed Bridge in Montreal
The device on simulated concrete of cardboard.
Throughout my life, the news has been littered with stories of bridges collapsing and infrastructure decaying all across the continent. You have probably seen them too. The quality of our infrastructure is a major challenge which smart cities could address.
But did you know that repairing and replacing all this infrastructure (in particular anything with large amounts of steel or cement ) is a major contributor to greenhouse gases? Globally, cement is responsible for 7% of all emissions and construction overall accounts for 23%. Reducing our need to construct would go a long way towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, curbing climate change, and lowering the particulates in the air.
What it does
One of the major causes of bridges decaying before their time is unexpected environmental factors such as a far wider range of temperatures (a consequence of climate change). As temperatures rise, materials expand. As temperatures fall, materials contract. This is what leads to cracks in concrete and stone.
Where this technology comes in is that it tracks the temperature fluctuations at the specific point where the material is to allow for highly precise modeling of when it should be checked for smaller cracks. Smaller cracks are orders of magnitude cheaper to repair than larger cracks.
How I built it
It was built with an ESP32, Google Compute Instance with Flask, Grafana, and a variety of other technologies which I am too tired to mention. I tried to include an Uno and camera as well, but that did not get far given the time alloted.
Challenges I ran into
Poor Wifi prevented the downloading of much of anything in the way of libraries. A lot of work needed to be done on the cloud.
What's next for The Bridge Owl
We shall see.