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Smart Infrastructure: A smart future for cities

Smart infrastructure systems can monitor, analyze, and act based on collected data. Let’s explore the various types and essential components of these intelligent systems!

Technological advancements and the Internet of Things (IoT) now embrace not only individual components but entire cities and infrastructures. This leads us to the concept of smart infrastructure, which refers to technologically advanced systems capable not only of collecting and analyzing data but also making decisions with minimal human intervention.
Supporting these intelligent infrastructures are software, applications, and a BIM IoT platform with immense potential. These platforms, in particular, integrate IoT sensors into the BIM model, transforming it into a dynamic system that reacts in real-time to events generated by IoT devices!

Let’s explore together the essential components and key benefits of smart infrastructure!

What are Smart Infrastructures?

We are increasingly hearing the term “smart” associated with construction. Consequently, the concepts of smart buildings and smart cities are becoming popular. In this context, how do infrastructures fit in, and how do we define smart infrastructure?
Smart infrastructure encompasses buildings, roads, bridges, energy distribution networks, and resources with advanced technology, enabling the collection and real-time sharing of data. These data are utilized to enhance the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of both the infrastructures and the entire city.

In simpler terms, a smart infrastructure can be described as a system capable of monitoring, measuring, analyzing, communicating, and acting based on data collected from specific sensors.

Smart infrastructures derive their potential not only from their technology but also from four key principles:

  1. Data: the quantity and quality of data collected is the foundation for intelligent system operationn;
  2. Analysis: after acquiring data, the crucial next step is analyzing the collected information. This analysis influences the subsequent decision-making process;
  3. Feedback: a data feedback cycle is fundamental for any intelligent system. Based on feedback from data collection and analysis, actions are taken to enhance the smart system;
  4. Adaptability: this principle is typical of intelligent systems that adapt not only to current demands but also to future needs.

What are the essential components of Smart Infrastructure?

Now that we have a detailed understanding of smart infrastructure, let’s explore the essential components within such a defined system.
A smart infrastructure encompasses several other equally smart elements, including:

  • Smart Buildings intelligently integrate various physical systems, increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste, optimizing resource use, and simultaneously lowering maintenance costs;
  • Smart Mobility reduces congestion and promotes greener, more economical, and faster transport options. Most smart mobility systems use big data collected from various mobility models to optimize traffic conditions;
  • Smart Energy management relies on sensors, advanced meters, renewable energy sources, digital controls, and analytical tools to automate, monitor, and optimize energy distribution and usage. These systems balance the needs of stakeholders—consumers, producers, and suppliers—and optimize the network’s operation and use;
  • Smart Water management system uses technology to save water, reduce costs, and improve the reliability and transparency of water distribution. The system analyzes real-time flow and pressure data to detect anomalies (such as leaks). Users simultaneously receive real-time updates on the network’s status and other relevant information that aids in water and cost savings;
  • Smart Waste Management systems can classify waste types directly at the source and develop methods to optimize recycling and recovery. The main benefits include increased collection efficiency, proper separation, and the reuse and recycling of waste.
Digital Twin of a Building: Data and Information

Digital Twin of a Building: Data and Information

How many types of Smart Infrastructures exist?

Different types of smart infrastructure can be classified based on the level of control and automation they possess. Therefore, based on the degree of human intervention in the decision-making process of an intelligent infrastructure, we can distinguish:

  • Semi-Intelligent Infrastructure: This infrastructure collects and records data on various aspects, including its usage, structural behavior, and environmental conditions, but lacks the ability to make decisions based on the obtained information. Examples include maps recording a city’s pollution or vehicle traffic;
  • Intelligent Infrastructure: This type of infrastructure has a higher degree of automation than the previous one. It not only collects data but also processes and presents it to support the decision-making process, which still falls within the realm of human responsibility. An example of this infrastructure is traffic detection with simultaneous notification to drivers, who make decisions regarding it;
  • Smart Infrastructure: This infrastructure collects data, processes information, and dynamically intervenes, adapting to changing conditions autonomously, without human intervention;
  • Smart Networks: As the term suggests, this infrastructure is an intelligent network that efficiently incorporates the behavior and actions of all connected users.
  • Smart Buildings: Smart buildings are characterized by highly advanced technology that enables the automation of many internal processes, such as heating, ventilation, lighting, and security.
Smart building

Smart buildings

What are the advantages of Smart Infrastructures?

It is evident that smart infrastructures, along with their intelligent components, offer enormous advantages in managing cities and meeting the needs of their inhabitants. Let’s explore these advantages, or at least the main ones:

  • Sustainability: Smart infrastructures and their intelligent components ensure the sustainable use of all managed resources. This helps, for example, in efficient waste, water, or energy management;
  • Safety: Technologies, sensors, and all the smart aspects of infrastructures enhance user safety by avoiding human errors, predicting natural disasters, and planning responses to unforeseen events;
  • User Interaction and Empowerment: Smart infrastructures improve user experience and provide services that adapt to changing consumer needs;
  • Reliability: This involves reducing system downtime and unforeseen problems, allowing organizations to continue providing services with maximum reliability;
  • Optimization of Decision-Making Processes: Smart aspects of infrastructures collect data and information, supporting and enhancing the subsequent decision-making process. An example of this advantage could be knowing the traffic status, public transport, and parking spaces to plan better routes, both public and private;
  • Time and Cost Savings: Intelligent systems enable organizations to optimize resources, thus saving time and costs. An example in this regard is the control of electrical consumption, which provides economic and environmental benefits simultaneously.

Buildings, infrastructures, and entire smart cities obviously require equally intelligent management to perform at 100%. However, there’s no need to worry because the tools available to professionals also follow a decidedly smart path. Therefore, my advice is to try the health monitoring software for free, which will allow you to preserve the integrity and safety of your buildings by monitoring them in real-time and integrating BIM, GIS, and IoT sensors.