Ambitious startup closes the gaps for Suffolk bridges

Span cam: The Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays, spanning Shinnecock Bay and ready for its closeup.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A multinational startup offering artificial intelligence-based maintenance solutions for bridges and tunnels is deploying throughout Suffolk County.

Dynamic Infrastructure – purveyor of a smart software platform that compares past and current inspection reports and contrasts old and new visual scans to catch evolving defects in bridge and tunnel structures – has successfully completed a Suffolk County Department of Public Works tryout, involving a single county bridge. Now, the New York City-based startup, which also maintains offices in Germany and Israel, is turning its unique AI attention to 74 other bridges spanning gaps across Eastern Long Island.

The company’s proprietary technology – which provides real-time risk analysis of bridge and tunnel structures and automatically triggers alerts when changes are detected in operating conditions – is currently being deployed countywide, with dozens of inspections slated to be completed by the second quarter of 2021, according to Dynamic Infrastructure co-founder and CEO Saar Dickman.

That’s a fairly ambitious goal for the 2018 startup, which has made ambition a corporate cornerstone: Dynamic Infrastructure is currently conducting projects in Michigan and Maryland – and in Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Israel, with more than 900 bridges and tunnels currently under AI inspection, or scheduled to be.

Saar Dickman: Priorities.

In August, the company announced implementation of a new monitoring program with Netivei Israel, a state-owned, not-for-profit national transportation infrastructure company operating under Israel’s Ministry of Transportation. Through that program, Dynamic Infrastructure will ultimately monitor as many as 1,600 Netivei Israel assets, including bridges, culverts and “sign bridges,” the structures suspending exit and information signs above highways.

Other Dynamic Infrastructure clients range from national to state to municipal transportation departments, as well as private companies and public-private partnerships. Collectively, according to the company, they operate roughly 30,000 assets in various states of operation, from sound to defunct.

That’s an impressive sum, but it pales compared to the 56,000 U.S. bridges deemed “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration in its 2016 National Bridge Inventory. Those busted bridges – laid end-to-end, long enough to stretch halfway across North America – were a major contributor to the D+ grade the United States earned in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

Enter Dynamic Infrastructure’s decision-making software-as-a-service product, which continuously processes past and present inspection reports, sniffing out unexpected changes. The system also facilitates cloud-based monitoring by remote humans – including live feeds and real-time comparisons with “visual medical records,” fed to mobile devices from drones and laser scanners – and sounds the alarm when things go awry.

The idea is to help operators catch structural anomalies before they become large-scale failures – an obvious safety win for travelers and operational win for infrastructure owners, with additional bottom-line benefits through streamlined maintenance expenditures.

In Suffolk, the DPW will use the countywide analysis to prioritize maintenance of its aging asset infrastructure – “actionable intelligence at their fingertips,” according to Dynamic Infrastructure Board of Directors member Kevin Reigrut, a former executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

“The system allows any operator, inspector or maintenance engineer to … decide if, when and how the daily maintenance and maintenance projects should be conducted,” Reigrut added.

Dickman, who founded Dynamic Infrastructure with Israeli tunnel-industry veteran Amichay Cohen, said the SaaS product is ideal for a county like Suffolk, where tight budgetary constraints must factor into pressing maintenance schedules.

“Counties and districts which face challenging budget issues can now benefit from a broad scope of capabilities that in the past were only available to larger agencies,” the CEO said in a statement. “Just by analyzing the visuals in past and current inspection reports, our cloud-based service provides clear and immediate actionable maintenance insight.”

 


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