A difficult road lies ahead for civil engineers

IBM helps civil engineers manage the repair of aging infrastructure

By | 3 minute read | August 6, 2019

An actual freeway in Virginia where automomous vehicles are being tested now.



This month, we celebrated the engineering triumph of the first manned mission to the moon. When they lifted off from the lunar surface, the Apollo crew left a few items behind, including the descent stage for the vehicle that got them there. If scientists’ predictions are correct, this artifact of human exploration will likely remain in the Sea of Tranquility for 10 to 100 million years.

While aerospace engineers worked diligently to make John F. Kennedy’s challenge a reality, civil engineers hunkered down on another great challenge from a President. They were building the magnificent system of interstate highways initiated by Dwight D. Eisenhower. This intricate network was designed to connect the entire nation. It includes over 50,000 bridges and 41,000 miles of roads from sea to shining sea. It was a monumental undertaking that continues to serve us more than 50 years later. But there’s a problem. It’s starting to fall apart. When reinforced concrete was introduced, engineers believed it would last over 1,000 years. But estimates were optimistic, and in some places, the material started showing signs of wear after only a decade of use.

This is just one of the reasons why IBM is working so closely with civil engineers to implement maintenance programs. We want to help them protect our infrastructure and provide safety to those who depend upon it.

We pay a high cost for aging infrastructure

Current estimates are that 9.1% of bridges in the US are structurally deficient, and that USD 6.9 billion has been lost due to traffic delays resulting from structural problems on our roads.To restore the nation’s immense infrastructure will require an innovative and comprehensive approach to asset management and maintenance

Recently, we spoke with Craig Truempi of ATEK about many topics. Among them was the application of asset management for vertical industries, and the recent introduction of Maximo® for civil infrastructure. Craig told us, “I love this idea of taking a system like Maximo that covers many industries. And to be able to provide customization that will make it easier for civil infrastructure people to deploy.”


IBM Maximo now includes a specialized solution for civil infrastructure

IBM® Maximo® has been used by many different industries for decades. Recently, IBM introduced a specialized version to help protect critical civil infrastructure through preventive and targeted maintenance. With Maximo in place, government agencies can extend the life of highways, bridges, tunnels and railways using digital monitoring for early warning signs of potential issues. The result is not only better quality and greater safety, but a reduction in the high cost of inspection and repair.

This new Maximo solution, developed in collaboration with Sund & Bælt, consolidates numerous sources of data to help identify and measure the condition of assets. Among the information that is collected is near real-time IoT data generated from sensors placed on structures, wearables from workers, stationary cameras and drones, and weather data from The Weather Company. Combining and analyzing all this information, the system detects cracks, rust, corrosion and displacement vibrations and stress. Organizations overseeing these structures can model, map and monitor each asset and perform rapid assessment to prioritize maintenance operations.

Thus, with the help of IBM Maximo tools for civil infrastructure, they can ensure that compliance and regulatory obligations are met, and that their assets can be safely used by the public.

We’ve got a long way to go. IBM Maximo can help get us there.

The strength of our nation depends upon a solid infrastructure with strong, reliable transportation routes. And while we dream of reaching the stars, we’ve still got a long way to go here back on Earth. When you consider that the amount of cement used in our interstate highway system is enough to create six sidewalks to the moon, you can easily understand the monumental scope of the task lies ahead of us.

Civil engineers are hard at work to restore our nation’s infrastructure. IBM is proud to be assisting them in their efforts.

Learn more about IBM Maximo for civil infrastructure.