Structures, water, computers, languages and people (not necessarily in this order)

Bridge Management Systems

The management and conservation of bridges in a transportation network is a duty that every concessionaire, both public and private, has to fulfil in compliance with the various regulations on the subject. It is therefore vital to manage and store the information about these structures in order to devote the available budget to the most deficient ones.

Figure 1. Three possible strategies.

But the fact is that the most used Bridge Management Systems (BMS) typically rely on closed source modules that are difficult to customize for special bridges and advanced evaluation methodologies. Furthermore, it is difficult, when not impossible, to extend such systems to incorporate the latest information technology for applications such as bridge health monitoring. Probably one of the most popular closed BMS is Pontis that can be purchased at $30.000/license.

Figure 2. BMS developed by 4emme (Italy)

On the other side, Oregon Department of Transportation and Prof. Michael H. Scott are developing an Open BMS since October 2007. The open system will be able to utilize finite element model updating strategies for state-of-the-art applications in reliability-based bridge rating. The result is expected to be released next October.
If someone from the Administration reads this blog, please never ask for close BMS because does not ensure free competition.

Related: Pontes e preocupações relativas (António Aguiar).


  1. Great post! There has been much news about defective bridges in the States (of course everybody knows about the collapse in Minnesota by now), and even when they don't crash, it often happens that bridges that are crumbling (with pieces falling off, etc) are reported to the state department of transportation by motorists, rather than engineers doing an analysis. I'd love to hear more about monitoring strategies that don't involve human beings.

  2. Great post with a lot of information.

    Thanks and all the best.