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Checking For Potholes, Bridge Safety: Comcast Project To Connect Smart Devices In Pittsburgh

WeMake Milano
An Internet of Things device from a tech workshop in Milano, Italy. Pittsburgh is one of a dozen cities that will be implementing a network platform that makes it easier for IoT devices to talk to each other.

The internet and cable company Comcast has chosen Pittsburgh for its new networking platform, MachineQ, which purports to offer quicker and more energy-efficient options for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT technology is the interconnectivity of objects through tiny implanted data-sending machines.

Alex Khorram, MachineQ's general manager, said the technology is meant to connect devices that help a dozen cities operate. Before Pittsburgh, it was field tested in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago.

In Philadelphia, a MachineQ-enabled startup is building prototype devices that can be installed on bridges to collect information on health and safety, Khorram said.

Another company is working on a device that would attach to vehicles and help determine the frequency and location of potholes.

“Gather this information when people are just driving around and your wheel goes down into a pothole,” Khorram said. “That data is sent to the cloud, and they can tell the city where to go and look for potholes before someone has to call them.”

Right now, Khorram said MachineQ is being used only by commercial entities, who are partnering with tech organizations. He anticipates about 50 percent of interested Pittsburgh groups will have implemented MachineQ by early 2018.

“The demand has been great in terms of both big and small companies alike,” Khorram said. “It’s enabling a whole new set of applications that traditionally have never been doable.”

Photo: WeMake Milano/Flickr.