Health First!

Health First!

At a time when geospatial technologies will play a pivotal role in propelling India’s economic ascent towards a $ 5-trillion economy, Arahas Technologies, with a lineage spanning over two decades, is pioneering geospatial and AI-powered solutions. Apart from structural health monitoring (SHM), the...

At a time when geospatial technologies will play a pivotal role in propelling India’s economic ascent towards a $ 5-trillion economy, Arahas Technologies, with a lineage spanning over two decades, is pioneering geospatial and AI-powered solutions. Apart from structural health monitoring (SHM), the company has left an indelible imprint on sectors like smart cities, utilities, renewable energy and ESG (environmental, social and governance). Now, why is it important to ensure SHM, especially in high-rises? How can AI and advanced infrastructural monitoring tools make structures safer? Many cities and regions in seismic zones amplify the urgency of this issue. Arahas advocates the integration of advanced health monitoring technology into building structures. To gain an insight into how this new-age technology strengthens the structural integrity of buildings and prioritises the safety and well-being of occupants in a world where intelligent infrastructure is paramount, R SRINIVASAN spoke to Saurabh Rai, CEO, Arahas. Excerpts: What is the market potential for SHM and disaster mitigation? The market potential is substantial and growing, driven by several key factors including urbanisation, regulatory changes, and increased awareness of disaster risk management owing to the high incidence of natural disasters like earthquakes. Indicators of market potential are: Infrastructure investment: The Government’s substantial allocation towards infrastructure development correlates to the need for SHM systems. Projects like highways, high-speed rail networks and dams require ongoing monitoring to ensure structural integrity. Real-estate growth: With the real-estate sector booming, there is a heightened need for SHM to guarantee the safety and durability of these investments. Smart Cities Mission: As part of this initiative, there is a focus on sustainable and safe urban development, which includes the deployment of SHM systems in public buildings and critical infrastructure. Please tell us about the startup since inception, including the inspiration behind it. Starting an SHM platform as an initiator for Arahas can be a transformative business venture, particularly in regions like India where demand for such technology is rapidly increasing owing to urban development and the need for disaster-resilient infrastructure. The inspiration for an SHM startup often stems from a combination of technological passion and the recognition of a societal need. For instance, through research we have noticed a significant gap in how existing buildings and infrastructure are monitored and maintained, especially in areas prone to natural disasters. Innovations in IoT, sensors, AI and data analytics provide new opportunities to enhance traditional SHM methods, inspiring tech-savvy entrepreneurs to apply these technologies in practical, impactful ways. The platform is developed in collaboration with Quakelogic, a USGS partner, and the plan is now to ensure regulatory compliance, to ensure the product complies with local and international standards for construction and safety, and continual learning and adaptation to stay updated with advancements in technology and changes in the regulatory landscape to keep the product relevant and competitive. With the right team and technology support, we can grow to meet the critical needs of modern urban development, provided the private and public sectors accept and encourage such technological advancement to protect human life. How can AI ensure structural safety in seismic zones? AI can play a pivotal role in enhancing structural safety in seismic zones by leveraging data-driven insights, predictive analytics and automated response systems such as: Pattern recognition: AI algorithms are adept at identifying patterns in data that may indicate weakening structural integrity or an imminent seismic event. This can include slight shifts in the building posture, microcracks or increased vibration levels that humans may not easily detect. Predictive maintenance: By predicting potential points of failure, AI enables pre-emptive maintenance or reinforcement of structures, potentially preventing catastrophic failures during earthquakes. Seismic data interpretation: AI algorithms can quickly process vast amounts of seismic data from multiple sources to detect early signs of earthquakes. These algorithms improve over time, learning from new data to refine their predictive capabilities. Automated alerts: Once a potential earthquake is detected, AI systems can automatically alert the connected infrastructure and public. For example, slowing down trains, shutting off gas lines and opening emergency shelter gates to minimise damage and prepare for impact. Structural simulation: AI can model the behaviour of buildings under various stress conditions, helping engineers design more resilient structures. Optimisation algorithms: AI can help optimise building designs by iterating through numerous configurations to find the most effective design for dissipating seismic energy. Risk modelling: AI models can help identify areas most at risk in urban settings, allowing for targeted strengthening of infrastructure. Scenario planning: Planners can use AI to simulate the impact of various developmental and environmental scenarios on a city’s earthquake resilience, for better decision-making. As case studies, what were the structural integrity challenges in Howrah Bridge and SJVN projects? The implementation of an SHM platform on Howrah Bridge in Kolkata serves as a significant case study. This project is aimed at monitoring the bridge’s structural integrity in real time. By installing advanced sensors and establishing a centralised data analysis system, it can detect anomalies, predict potential issues and alert maintenance teams accordingly. This proactive approach allowed for enhanced monitoring, preventive maintenance, improved safety and informed decision-making, showcasing the effectiveness of SHM technologies in managing critical infrastructure. Both the Howrah Bridge and SJVN’s Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station are examples of engineering marvels that have faced significant challenges. In each case, continuous monitoring, regular maintenance and adaptive management practices have been crucial in addressing issues of structural integrity and operational efficiency. These projects not only support significant economic activities in their respective regions but also serve as benchmarks in their domains, highlighting the importance of sustainable practices and proactive problem-solving in infrastructure management. The issues: Corrosion: The proximity to the saltwater of the river exacerbates this problem, affecting the longevity and safety of the structure. Overloading: Howrah Bridge was designed to handle a specific amount of traffic. However, the exponential growth in both pedestrian and vehicular traffic has put additional stress on the structure. Geological issues: The hydro project is in the Himalayan region, which is geologically unstable and prone to landslides and earthquakes. The region’s geology presented challenges during the excavation of tunnels and construction of the dam. Environmental concerns: Large-scale hydro projects often face criticism for their environmental impact, including changes in local ecology and displacement of communities. The solutions: Regular maintenance: To combat corrosion, Howrah Bridge undergoes regular maintenance and painting. High-performance, anti-corrosive paints are used to protect the steel components.Traffic management: Restrictions have been put in place to manage the load on the bridge, including bans on heavy vehicles during peak hours. Advanced engineering techniques: The hydro project utilised advanced engineering and geological assessment techniques to ensure stability. This included comprehensive geological surveys and the use of modern technology in construction to adapt to the challenging Himalayan terrain. Environmental and social mitigation measures: SJVN has implemented several environmental and rehabilitation programmes aimed at minimising the impact on local communities and ecosystems. These include afforestation programmes, wildlife conservation efforts and comprehensive rehabilitation plans for displaced communities. In view of 0.2 million hours of training provided to state and Central Government clients on IT or GIS-related projects, tell us about the skill shortage in this sector. The training of 200,000 hours for government clients is a testament to the ongoing need for upskilling in the IT and GIS sectors. Given the strategic importance of these fields in areas ranging from urban planning and disaster management to national security, it is crucial that both the public and private sectors invest significantly in skill development. This will not only address the immediate skill shortages but also ensure a robust, adaptable and tech-savvy workforce capable of navigating future challenges in these dynamic fields.

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