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  E. How Buildings May Some Day be Self-Tagging

Narrator: This is Science Today. Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, are collaborating on technology to make buildings, bridges and other structures ‘smarter’. As part of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS, program, engineer Steve Glaser is working with smart dust motes – or tiny sensor devices – to monitor a building’s structural integrity.

Glaser: It allows us to analyze the expected ground motions more accurately than the techniques being used today. This would allow us to predict the motions that our structures will see, which is very important for proper design.

Narrator: In the future, Glaser says thousands of smart dust motes could be placed in a building to render them ‘self-tagging’ in the case of damage.

Glaser: Because the big economic cost of an earthquake isn’t necessarily the immediate damage, you would have to clear out all public buildings until engineers can come an inspect. That might be six to eight months, a year, which is a tremendous loss not only to the company, but to the people who aren’t getting paid.

Narrator: For Science Today, I’m Larissa Branin.