RedZone: Underground Asset Management through Robotics
Justin Starr, CTO
While the media is abuzz with news about the poor performance of the public infrastructure and utilities, there is little mention of the underground infrastructure. “With the lack of attention, sewers and other underground infrastructure, is a ticking time bomb,” says Justin Starr, CTO, RedZone Robotics, highlighting the magnitude of impending damage. Owing to several challenges including budget constraints, most municipalities fail to do periodic maintenance, drawing stiff penalties from the Environmental Protection Agencies and other regulators. “Our goal is to give municipalities the data they need to ensure their wastewater collection systems are not at risk of catastrophic failure. Nobody wants a sinkhole on their watch.” A pioneer in the underground wastewater utilities management space, RedZone is aiding municipalities to triage wastewater systems and plan for the future. The company offers a fleet of data acquisition robots, a cloud-based ICOM asset management software, and a suite of wastewater analytics to help municipalities inspect wastewater systems and make smart decisions in planning, repairing, and rehabilitating the underground assets as efficiently as possible.
RedZone’s robots—Responder, Profiler, and Solo—allow municipalities, private operators of wastewater systems, and engineering firms to take a proactive stance by providing them the required data to make informed decisions. The Responder and the Profiler systems collect information from multiple sensors to create a comprehensive view of a pipeline’s interior. These robots utilize lasers extensively to measure corrosion, wall loss and deformation, and use sonar to check debris underneath the water flow and estimate any required cleaning. On the other hand, Solo, an autonomous sewer inspection crawler navigates a system without human intervention and collects360 degree video data continuously.
The data produced by these robots can be injected into ICOM to run custom analytics and draw conclusions about the status of a wastewater system. Due to ICOM’s scalable Azure-based backend, this inspection data can also be tied to other sources like weather or census data to predict failure based on other trends or variables.
We want to help municipalities make smarter decisions about their underground assets
“While we sell robots, we are also able to deploy them as a service,” says Starr, enabling RedZone to apply its solutions to large, medium and small municipalities. He adds, “If a municipality wants to purchase robots to complete multiple inspections, we are happy to accommodate. Similarly, we can perform inspections on demand, and load data into ICOM for subsequent analysis.” RedZone recently completed 11 contracts with Utilities, Inc. one of the largest privately-owned operators of wastewater utilities in the U.S., to manage wastewater collection systems they had acquired. As part of the inspection program, RedZone’s ICOM enabled the customer to compare numerous systems in various states like Illinois, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Florida with a common baseline. As a result, the corporate division of Utilities, Inc. could compare multiple systems across a common framework to make better decisions about what was and wasn’t working at the corporate level.
RedZone offers an added value that is unique in the industry. At the end of an inspection project with a municipality, RedZone provides a free trial subscription of ICOM for data analytics. The company has also started to distribute a demo-version of ICOM to universities and civil engineering firms to work with their municipal customers and showcase the benefits of this affordable software package. In addition, RedZone’s training portal is helping people that specialize in wastewater asset management to understand the advantages of ICOM and better comply with regulatory requirements.
Always on the look out to push the limits of technology, RedZone aims to continue evolving its robotic platforms with higher resolution cameras and advanced software. RedZone is working on modernizing its deployment of SQL backend and making ICOM completely mobile, all while expanding its geographic footprint.
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