Record Storms Cause Billions of Dollars in Damage, Stoke Infrastructure Fears; Innovative Inspection Tech Offers Triage Solution
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Unprecedented weather events in recent years have added to US infrastructure woes. But Doug Thaler of Infraspect says robotic inspection methods and nondestructive technology offer solutions for triaging infrastructure weakness and repairs before the next major storm hits.
Clearwater, FL (June 26, 2018)—With total damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria totaling roughly $365 billion1, the 2017 hurricane season was the costliest on record in the U.S and revealed the dilapidated state of US Infrastructure, which was completely unprepared to withstand the onslaught of such epic storms. The upcoming 2018 hurricane season could be even more destructive, however, raising fears about the disaster it could wreak on the region’s already-crumbling infrastructure.
2017’s unprecedented storms put the US’s failing infrastructure into perspective, as they devastated everything from roads to water supplies to cell coverage. In Florida, Hurricane Irma left over six million people without power for weeks2. Hundreds of thousands in Texas were left without clean drinking water and basic sanitation after Hurricane Harvey3.
And, with over 50 inches of rain falling in Houston alone, roads and bridges were inundated and washed out, collapsing or disappearing into sinkholes. This impeded emergency vehicles and supplies during recovery and slowed travel and commerce in the state for months4,5.
Governments and their infrastructure were woefully unprepared to handle weather of such magnitude.
These events were extraordinary, but a changing climate means such storms will only be more common, inflicting greater damage on the country’s failing infrastructure. The number and intensity of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are estimated to more than double by the end of the century6, an increase which, coupled with continually rising sea levels (estimated at an inch per decade7), could spell disaster for coastal communities. Government officials at all levels are beginning to realize that action must be taken to prepare for future events to save lives and are racing to come up with the funding and resources needed to repair their roads, bridges, power lines, and flood control systems.
To quickly assess and triage the repairs and investment needed, engineers are turning to new robotic methods of inspection, such as Drone & Robotic Infrastructure Inspections to dramatically reduce the time and cost associated with evaluating structures, and ground-penetrating radar, which lets engineers see fill under roads and scan for potential collapses. Infraspect’s nondestructive technology (NDT) allows engineers to thoroughly inspect and evaluate the integrity of roads, bridges, dams, and other critical infrastructure, seeing inside concrete and steel by taking what are essential “MRI type inspections”. This allows inspectors to assess corrosion and structural weakness before they develop into larger risks to the public. Officials can then determine which repairs are most critical to minimizing the impact of upcoming storms and allocating funds and resources fast. Such an approach can transform the way in which governments evaluate and plan for infrastructure repairs and could save millions of dollars in the process.
“It is critical that the country’s infrastructure receives the attention and repair it needs before the next natural disaster occurs,” says Doug Thaler, President of Infraspect. “New inspection technologies are an efficient method for officials to evaluate the state of their infrastructure, establish priorities and allocate funds for urgent repairs, and take action before tragedy strikes. These types of modern and robotic inspections due to their cost efficiency and lower disruption to traffic and the public should be adopted by the DOT for the regular biennial inspections vs the current visual methods. The inspections will be more accurate, faster, and much more cost-efficient. Most importantly, utilizing this technology could save dozens of lives.”
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Infraspect’s robotic inspection methods and NDT are the first of their kind and have positioned the company as the leader in high-tech solutions for evaluating infrastructure and extending its service life. It provides quantitative data and images of structural damage and corrosion for governments and officials to act on before they worsen, averting closures, disasters, and unnecessary repair costs.
An infrastructure crisis of herculean proportions now exists within the U.S. At every level, the U.S. government is struggling with how to repair, replace and maintain the nation’s aging bridges, roads, water management systems, and more. Infrastructure failures could have a significant impact on daily life if action is not taken. Metropolitan, state, and federal departments of transportation (DOTs) do not have the funds to replace aging infrastructure and are looking for ways to prolong service life.
Infraspect (Infraspect) is a robotics manufacturer and professional services engineering company that delivers infrastructure inspection condition assessments using reliable and accurate imaging based on geophysical nondestructive testing (NDT) and robotic technologies. Based in Clearwater, Florida, Infraspect has developed its technologies and services to detect early-stage infrastructure degradation and deterioration in concrete and steel structures. From bridges to utility or communication towers and other public/private infrastructure, Infraspect technologies deliver “next generation” alternatives to disrupt markets that still use manual inspection methods.
1. Uria, Daniel. “Record 2017 hurricane season cost $370B, hundreds of lives.” UPI.com, November 30, 2017.
2. Chappel, Bill. “Power Outages Persist For Millions In Florida, Georgia, And Carolinas After Irma.” NPR.com, September 13, 2017.
3. Samuels, Alex & Pollock, Cassandra. “Beaumont loses water supply after flooding from Harvey.” Texastribune.com, August 31, 2017.
4. Ibrahim, Ala’a. “Texas officials see the long road from Harvey for the state transportation network.” Texastribune.com, September 5, 2017.
5. Jansen, Bart. “Texas has 53,488 bridges. Here’s the toll Harvey is expected to take on those.” USAToday.com, August 30, 2017.
6. Center For Climate and Energy Solutions, “Hurricanes and Climate Change.” C2es.org. November 21, 2017.
7. Miller, Brandon. “Satellite observations show sea levels rising, and climate change is accelerating it.” CNN.com, March 13, 2018.