Computer giant IBM is teaming up with Carnegie Mellon University on a research lab to develop technologies to help governments better manage their infrastructure.
The collaborative lab announced Thursday is part of the Pennsylvania Smart Infrastructure Incubator and is expected to open in the fall at the Pittsburgh school's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
IBM Vice President Wayne Balta said university researchers and graduate students will work with IBM experts and "be at the cutting edge of the way people are going to run their infrastructures."
The goal is to develop technologies, including real-time digital sensors and advanced computer systems, that government officials can use to more efficiently maintain and manage infrastructure, like road and sewer systems, Balta said.
"This is all about the way the world works," Balta said. "At IBM, we've often said the way the world works isn't smart enough to be sustainable."
Balta said a sewer system, for example, might be equipped with sensors and computers that can analyze patterns of sewage flow, so that the system could be maintained more intelligently to avoid costly repairs or renovations.
James Garrett Jr., chairman of CMU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the school has been working for years to develop smart technologies for infrastructure.
"Our goal has been to deploy a variety of sensors to collect significant amounts of new data that can be analyzed and turned into actionable information so that people who build, maintain or manage infrastructure can do so in a more efficient and cost effective manner," Garrett said.
Local, state and federal governments will be invited to partner with the lab on its research, Garrett said.