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IoT Solution Protects Bridge With LoRa Connectivity

The city of Florence employed Worldsensing connectivity and gateways, along with sensors and installation services from Pizzi Instruments, to track the conditions around its medieval bridge as it fixed a sinkhole.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 17, 2019

In 2016, a sinkhole consumed a row of parked cars 200 meters (656 feet) in length, in the city of Florence, Italy. The depression, located near the Arno River, was caused by underground flooding from a water main break, and it didn't just put personal property at risk—it also endangered the city's medieval Ponte Vecchio arch bridge. With the help of technology, the city moved quickly to resolve the problem, filling the hole without causing any potential damage to the World Heritage Monument stone bridge.

The University of Florence and technology integrator Pizzi Instruments employed an Internet of Things (IoT)-based system from Worldsensing to capture real-time data regarding the conditions of the soil around the bridge's supports, as well as any tilting in the bridge itself, says Albert Zaragoza, Worldsensing's CTO. Since the six-month project was completed three years ago, the company has brought sensor connectivity solutions to tunnel projects by transmitting data about conditions from underground construction endeavors.

The water main break caused erosion on the bank of the Arno River that could put several buildings and the bridge at risk, and repair work could have had further impact. The Florence City Council, together with the Italian Civil Protection, requested that the University of Florence's Geology Department manage the project and ensure the safety of the structures around it. Pizzi Instruments would install a network of geotechnical sensors. The latter selected Worldsensing's Loadsensing solution for wireless collection and data transmission.

Worldsensing has been providing sensor-based data for industries and governments around the world for more than a decade. It deploys construction-monitoring systems, as well as selling its technology for smart cities and mining. In fact, Zaragoza says, the company has 200-plus customers in 60 countries. The firm builds and manages products with local partners that deploy its technology.

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