Lacking sufficient funds and falling into disrepair, the United States is in the middle of a so-called infrastructure crisis.According to a recent report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), there are 178 million daily crossings on more than 47,000 structurally deficient US bridges. Some four out of 10 bridges need to be replaced or repaired, the association says, including one-third of all interstate bridges.Just like humans, the critical infrastructure on which we depend every day, such as bridges and tunnels, often have life expectancies of 70-80 years and require regular check-ups and preemptive treatment when particular symptoms are identified. Unlike humans, however, electronic health records – a key element of modern healthcare – in the case of critical infrastructure are nowhere to be seen.Building on decades of automotive and infrastructure experience, Israeli start-up Dynamic Infrastructure is seeking to create a healthier, more informed future for the world’s bridges and tunnels.The company’s artificial intelligence and smart image processing technology aims to generate comprehensive and up-to-date health records for critical infrastructure, enabling governments and engineering firms to identify issues, optimize their spending and keep traffic flowing.Dynamic Infrastructure was the brainchild of co-founders Saar Dickman, a former executive at Samsung’s automotive subsidiary Harman, and Amichay Cohen, the current COO of Derech Eretz Highways Management and former CEO of Carmel Tunnels.The company currently has offices in New York, Berlin and the central Israeli town of Kfar Monash, employing a total of 14 individuals.“We found out that there are thousands and thousands of pictures taken along the years, and still being taken today, and pretty much no one is extracting the information from the images,” Dickman told The Jerusalem Post. “Not just for the purpose of indicating the current condition of the bridge, but trying to obtain something more insightful – predicting that a crack or leak will eventually develop into the massive renovation of the bridge.”While infrastructure construction is becoming increasingly advanced and embracing hi-tech solutions, Dickman emphasizes that there is almost no technology implemented for maintenance operations.This, he says, leads to costly and inefficient crisis management rather than predictive management. Unlike road closures, where diversions can be put in place, shutting down structurally deficient bridges and tunnels will inevitably cause traffic chaos.The company collects plans and images captured over years by operations and maintenance staff into a single repository, running advanced artificial intelligence and imaging processing technologies to identify weaknesses and potentially dangerous flaws. The system calculates deterioration rates and is accordingly able to predict major faults.Findings can be viewed by bridge owners and maintenance teams via a cloud-based three-dimensional model, enabling improved collaboration between stakeholders and treatment of defects.
“We provide very conclusive but accessible information,” Dickman said. “If you go back to this old industry, most people are used to working with cables and annual reports. Decisions need to be made.”“We’re not replacing the engineers, but bringing most of the information to their desks,” he said. “They can look at defects, consult with peers virtually, and decide whether they need more pictures or how to fix the defect. It’s all based on image processing and analytics.”Dynamic Infrastructure is currently working with clients managing 30,000 assets, including Haifa Municipality and partners in Michigan, Maryland and Suffolk County, New York.Backed by individuals from Israel and the United States, Dickman explains that the company is well placed to benefit from an overlap between large investment companies and infrastructure asset owners. Potential institutional investors are often also owners of large quantities of relevant assets that can benefit from the company’s innovative technology.
“Owners, states and private owners can collect images from their critical infrastructure, deposit them in our repository and we can run our technologies to put the spotlight on suspicious places,” said Dickman. “Operating expenses go down dramatically because you can plan ahead. We built the system to put everything in one place, help you and tell you where to focus.”