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Smart Infrastructure Think Do Tank


The center develops and tests emerging technologies such as intelligent systems and networks, remote sensing and monitoring, and data analytics for decision-making. It houses a large-scale testing facility to develop intelligent infrastructure system components and trial smart construction and maintenance methods using remote monitoring and robotics technologies. The center also has a computer simulation and data analytics facility to examine the resiliency of infrastructure systems in terms of aging, energy management, climate change and cascading failures using the state-of-the art big data and AI tools. We address challenges in areas including but not limited to:

  • Infrastructure Replacement, Renewal, and Maintenance
  • System Operations
  • Natural Resources
  • Climate Change
  • Disaster Response & Emergency and Community Preparedness
  • Sustainability and Resilience


One of the greatest challenges facing civil engineers in the 21st century is the stewardship of aging infrastructure along with creation of new infrastructure that the society demands. The existing infrastructure requires monitoring and remedial interventions when new infrastructure is created nearby, and the high cost of replacement often leads to a desire to extend the asset’s life. Furthermore, existing infrastructure are placed under increased load and usage than they were originally designed.

Another challenge is developing response strategies when a catastrophic event occurs. Infrastructure systems face a multitude of hazards that must be assessed, communicated, and managed appropriately. Designing, construction and maintaining linear infrastructure systems such as power supply, buried pipelines, roads, and flood defense embankments are challenging because a break within one system can not only disrupt the operation of the whole system but also lead to cascading failures of neighboring infrastructure systems.

The past engineering design philosophy has been rigid and based on a demand prediction given at that time. That is, civil engineering structures are often fixed in space and time (e.g., 120-year design life) and provide independent services for transportation, energy supply, water, sewage and communication without any appreciable linkage. Each of these elements is operated with different business models, is guided by different performance metrics, and deals with systems that involve different degrees of interconnectedness and time scales in terms of ageing and requirements for repair and maintenance.


How do we rehabilitate or create our infrastructure in a sustainable and resilient manner so that future generations do not suffer the infrastructure challenges we are currently facing? To achieve this, we need to better understand the performance of our infrastructure both during construction and throughout its design life, and understand how the infrastructure functions as a system. An effective use of existing and new smart monitoring systems with a better understanding of how infrastructure is used and systems interact would lead to the realization of resilient and adaptable infrastructure systems. The aim of CSI is to make a change in the infrastructure industry in providing innovative solutions to realize resilient adaptable infrastructure systems with ‘intelligence for life’.

  • to make a change in infrastructure design, construction and maintenance in creating adaptive infrastructure with ‘intelligence for life’, and
  • to develop community resilience against natural/manmade hazards through robust resilience planning and design as well as building public trust in how the infrastructure is managed and used.

Main Activities

Expert Evaluation of Opportunities and the Development of Sector Roadmaps

The Center develops a series of technology sector roadmaps for the current industry challenges such as environmental systems, infrastructure management, community engagement, utility operations, and financial responsibility by involving a multi-disciplinary group of experts from relevant research fields, constructors, manufacturers, developers, owners, and service providers. These would be in focused areas such as smart sensors and smart data management tools.

Managed University/Industrial Interface to Build Critical Mass

The Center develops a new Smart Infrastructure industrial community of technology developers, end users and sector consultancy experts. Broad industrial support from both large and small companies has been sought and the Center fosters this community by organizing knowledge transfer and networking events.

Practical Technology Demonstration

The Center aims to promote early commercialization via practical technology demonstration. One key aspect of the Center approach is to develop a prototype and demonstrate it at a field site early in the project life-cycle. Prototype implementation involving real applications in representative environments is key within this sector to enable trialing and fine-tuning of new technologies, and thereby leading to early commercialization. The core business of the Center will therefore be the demonstration of new innovations in real projects and applying them to real infrastructure.

Training and Outreach

The Center develops training and outreach programs to support full realization of the technology potentials. They aim at overcoming conservatism as the major inhibitor to the adoption of innovative technologies in the construction and infrastructure sector.

Highly Skilled

RISE has been identified as a strategic multidisciplinary research theme for Berkeley Engineering. We aim to create a new generation of engineers that is both socially sensitive and technologically equipped. The RISE initiative focuses on the following areas:

Zero or negative carbon systems: Our systems must be efficient, rely on renewable energy, eliminate greenhouse gases, and withstand hazards. New thinking is needed to integrate systems, innovate technology, work with policy drivers, and understand behavior changes. Our aging infrastructure offers a chance to study innovative designs in situ.

Autonomous infrastructure and construction: Autonomy can revolutionize how we design, construct, and operate infrastructure. Robotics, sensing, and data analytics are being used to optimize resources and construct and operate infrastructure. Autonomy enables insights into the functioning of the built environment that were previously unattainable, paving the way for new business models that leverage data for greater efficiency.

Smart and equitable infrastructure: The transition to zero-carbon infrastructure must be equitable. We need to involve communities in developing long-term solutions and integrate organizational and informal infrastructure into the existing framework. Scientific and technological advances can help us create more inclusive, fair, and sustainable infrastructure.

Adaptive and resilient communities: Adaptation is crucial for sustainable living. Our communities and infrastructure must adjust to environmental shocks. New materials, rapid construction techniques, and complex modeling are essential for true resiliency.