Smart Infrastructure

Smart Infrastructure

SIF128 Smart Infrastructure

Project Manager: Cheryl Gomez

Smart Infrastructure: Linking Facilities and Laboratories: This project proposes to build a testbed for Smart Infrastructure research. Funding is provided for software and wages/salaries of faculty, staff, and students.

BoV Approved: December 2017

Project Dates: 2/27/2018 – 2/26/2022

Total Funding: $2,036,500

Executive Summary

In addition to being a top-tier research institution, UVA is a substantial economic force in Virginia, a sophisticated customer for technology solutions, and an effective proxy for a large corporate campus, an industrial plant, and a small city. Further, an underrecognized area of strength at UVA is its management of facilities and operations. This award proposes research that leverages this unique suite of characteristics and strengths to implement a smart-infrastructure, wireless-sensor research testbed (“living lab”) on top of UVA’s already sophisticated facilities to transform the design of next generation cities. The award will enable research, design, and implementation of the core testbed technology comprising distributed sensors, wireless networking, and cloud based data management and analytics. It will also seed three representative projects that use the testbed, positioning them for success soliciting large external research funding support. Finally, this award will establish a new and unique capability at UVA as a self-sustainable Smart Infrastructure research initiative spanning Operations, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Information Technology, two pan-University Research Institutes, the Applied Research Institute, the Licensing and Ventures Group, and commercial partners.

Current Status: Completed


The Smart Infrastructure Testbed (SIT) developed in this project incorporates wireless sensing and data collection technology in a full stack solution to support research and design of Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Wireless sensors provide detailed insight and actionable data in industrial and urban settings, which can then improve efficiency, lower costs, increase sustainability, and improve people’s experiences. The core testbed technology developed in this project spans three tiers: distributed sensors, wireless networking, and cloud-based data management and analytics. These tiers support decision making from real-time sensor data. The award also established representative projects that use the testbed in conjunction with UVA’s Facilities Management, including space tracking in the Link Lab, steam trap monitoring in the heat plant, and machine health monitoring in various locations around Grounds. Connecting UVA’s research programs and infrastructure with its own Operations makes a clear statement about UVA’s commitment to real impact. For example, the example applications in the SIT testbed have shown direct operational cost savings from the efficiency improvements they enable. This testbed for smart infrastructure is primed to grow to monitor UVA’s own facilities, while simultaneously providing researchers, students, and the larger Commonwealth community a unique capability for developing next generation smart-industrial and smart-city technologies.

This award supported advances in underlying technology areas for smart-city monitoring in UVA’s Link Lab. For example, wireless sensors in the Link Lab monitor temperature, light levels, occupancy, and air quality. These sensors are part of several funded studies and generate rich, real-time data that feed into the new cloud platform (the SIT Cloud) and are fundamental for cutting-edge smart-cities research. Many of these sensors are powered by energy that is harvested from the environment, such as indoor light, to avoid the use of batteries. Additionally, this project supported new research on low power integrated circuits at the Link Lab that dramatically lower the power consumption of the electronics in the wireless sensors. These custom chips enabled a new body-heat powered wearable physiological sensor that connects to the SIT system, demonstrating that custom self-powered systems can use the testbed to deliver data to the SIT Cloud. The SIT Cloud itself uses a modernized, scalable architecture to support data ingest, storage, visualization, and analytics. Taken together, the Smart Infrastructure Testbed provides a groundbreaking capability at UVA that can continue to scale and grow, increasing research impact and ultimately providing a resource for the broader research community.