Bridges have enormous impacts on society. Historically, having a bridge meant that you can trade a new business with the other side, increasing prosperity. Bridges give shelter when it is raining and if you are down on your luck, you might even sleep under a bridge. Even in mathematics, bridges play a role given the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem. For many people a bridge is a way to get, for instance, across a river. When a bridge is out of order for a considerable amount of time, as happened a while ago in my hometown, it is a nuisance for many people. Bridges are made of all kinds of materials like for example wood, stone, concrete, steel or a combination of these. Even a cardboard bridge is an option. But did you know that a 3D printed bridge will soon appear in Amsterdam?
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. Think of it as an inkjet printer but then in 3D adding layer upon layer of for instance plastic in order to create something. For many people 3D printing, if associated at all, is associated with printing at home. You know what I’m talking about, one of those square boxes, for instance an Ultimaker, that will allow you to print out neat little plastic figurines or a chess piece. But it’s not the kind of printing I’m talking about here. I’m also not talking about the services of Shapeways, who offer 3D printing as a service. Simply upload your 3D model, or select one from the catalog, make some changes and send it off to the printers with the final product delivered to your doorstep. Ideal for a “unique” present. Although, now I come to think of it, shapeways is more in line with what I’m talking about. I’m talking about printing a bridge almost completely using industrial 3D printers, sturdy enough to withstand the elements, and a constant stream of people crossing the bridge.
This bridge is not merely a bridge, it is a smart bridge. It will become part of the city, of course, but it also will be part of the smart city. The bridge will be equipped with sensors that will measure a number of indicators. For instance the number of people crossing the bridge on an hourly basis. It will measure how much the bridge moves based on the weight. Ideal for the city of Amsterdam, the launching customer for the bridge. A city with its own Chief Technology Officer and a city that prides itself on becoming a smart city more and more. The bridge becomes instrumental in determining the flow of people (citizens and tourists) inside the city.
Events and Dashboards
Although I do not exactly know how the bridge will send data I can image a way it could do it: using stream technology. Simply define the data stream coming from the bridge and the kind of analysis you would like to do. For instance aggregate daily numbers of people crossing. You can even do alerting when the number of people crossing within a certain timeframe (e.g. 1 hour) reaches a certain threshold and you would like to be notified.
Of course, every (new) bridge should have an API, giving you and other interested parties the open data that would be of interest. To manage the API, a smart city needs a smart API Manager with the right capabilities. If you are unsure what these capabilities are, check our API Selection Guide.