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The Age of Smart Infrastructure

Infrastructure and technology are blending together, creating infrastructure and infrastructural management more responsive and intelligent.
May 4, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"A similar pattern is emerging today, experts say, for what is being called smart infrastructure - more efficient and environmentally friendlier systems for managing, among other things, commuter traffic, food distribution, electric grids and waterways. This time, the crucial technological ingredients include low-cost sensors and clever software for analytics and visualization, as well as computing firepower.

Wireless sensors can now collect and transmit information from almost any object - for instance, roads, food crates, utility lines and water pipes. And the improved software helps interpret the huge flow of information, so raw data becomes useful knowledge to monitor and optimize transport and other complex systems. The efficiency payoff, experts say, should translate into big reductions in energy used, greenhouse gases emitted and natural resources consumed.

Smart infrastructure is a new horizon for computer technology. Computers have proven themselves powerful tools for calculation and communication. The next step, experts say, is for computers to become intelligent instruments of control, linking them to data-generating sensors throughout the planet's infrastructure."

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Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in The New York Times
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