UC Berkeley, EBMUD announce new research center at Richmond Field Station

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UC Berkeley, EBMUD partner on new research and innovation center at Richmond Field Station
Civil and environmental engineering professor Kenichi Soga hosts EBMUD staff at UC Berkeley's Richmond Field Station in preparation for launching the new Center for Smart Infrastructure. (Photo by Adam Lau, Berkeley Engineering)

A new research and innovation center, called the Center for Smart Infrastructure, is being established at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station and intends to use cutting-edge technology to address infrastructure challenges posed by natural hazards, climate change and aging facilities, according to the university.

Researchers at the Center for Smart Infrastructure “will develop and use remote sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence tools, as well as other emerging technologies, to better inform decision-making among utilities and government agencies,” the university stated in a recent article.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is partnering with U.C. Berkeley on one of the center’s first projects: the construction of a “large-scale, fault-rupture pipeline testing facility,” the university reported.

The new center’s founding member, UC Berkeley professor Kenichi Soga, has developed advanced sensor technologies that can monitor infrastructure for vulnerabilities over great distances, such as EBMUD’s 4,000 miles of water pipelines.

“This is an exciting partnership,” said Clifford Chan, EBMUD general manager and civil engineering alumnus of UC Berkeley. “We have more than 4,200 miles of water lines in earthquake country, so this is clearly a strategic investment for EBMUD, but we also expect that the research generated from this center will benefit water and wastewater utilities everywhere.”

The EBMUD is providing $1.5 million to fund the research, which has already begun. EBMUD will additionally collaborate with UC Berkeley staff to develop an undergraduate course on utility infrastructure and operation and management.

Read the university’s full article here.

Augmented reality software shows water pipeline testing structures in place in the Center for Smart Infrastructure. (Image courtesy of Dimitrios Zekkos, UC Berkeley)
Photo of Kenichi Soga courtesy of Adam Lau/UC Berkeley
Photo courtesy of Adam Lau/UC Berkeley