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Satellite Applications Catapult: asset monitoring using satellite and IoT technologies - update

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Back in November 2017, we introduced you to the AMSIT Bridges project, which uses data collected from reflectors strategically placed on various structures in the city of London to monitor condition and movement.

This is a collaborative project with the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) including partnering with the monitoring of buildings during tunnelling works undertaken for the Bank Station capacity upgrade.  Bringing together two Innovate UK funded initiatives cooperating to deliver real innovation. The academic research work is additionally supported by the EPSRC, National Physical Laboratory, Laing O’Rourke and the German Aerospace Centre.

Complex city ecosystems

Our cities are a complex mix of diverse ecosystems, institutions, people and goods. Disruption to the infrastructure of one part of the city ecosystem (such as transport networks, water supply and drainage, or energy systems) affects local economies and the delivery of key services, but also the lives and livelihoods of individual people within cities.

Not everyone understands or notices what infrastructure is, but we all take notice when roads are closed, trains are cancelled, when there is no electricity or when the water stops flowing from our taps.

To keep cities moving infrastructure asset owners need to better understand the condition and structural health of their assets as the environment around them changes. Closures and failures have highlighted the importance of structural health monitoring as a tool to aid infrastructure owners and managers.

New and emerging technologies provide opportunities to improve the way assets are monitored.

Black and white satellite image showing bridges over the river Thames in London from above.
Comparison of InSAR satellite data and long-term monitoring. Photo courtesy of Satellite Applications Catapult

The science bit

In commissioning this project, the Centre for Digital Built Britain wished to support work and make use of Satellite and IoT technology on the remote condition monitoring of key infrastructure.

The primary method of satellite measurement is Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), which has the capability to provide wide-area, high density and remote measurements of movement. By complementing this technology with ground-based loT and sensor instrumentation, the project will measure the environmental effects (such as temperature), and structural behaviour (such as expansion and rotation) to investigate how InSAR can support and complement existing monitoring methods.

Waterloo bridge London viewed from the river
Installation of corner reflectors for the monitoring of Waterloo Bridge (London, UK). Photo courtesy of Satellite Applications Catapult

This work will help shape future BIM developments in understanding how such data sets can be leveraged by the construction and asset monitoring sectors, looking towards more dynamic forms of data management.

Within this project, 3 major experiments were carried out to verify the suitability of the proposed approach:

  1. Comparison of InSAR satellite data and long-term monitoring (through displacement gauges and total station surveying) of the buildings in the region of the tunnelling working taking place as part of the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade (London, UK), subject to potential damage due to subterranean works. This is in partnership with CSIC and their project partner, London Underground.
  2. Installation of 12 corner reflectors for the monitoring of Waterloo Bridge (London, UK), currently being monitored with in-situ instrumentation by Westminster Council. This will feed into long-term monitoring plans for this and other bridges along the Thames Tideway tunnelling scheme for extension of this work supported by Laing O’Rourke and Thames Tideway.
  3. Feasibility and scientific study with 3 configurable corner reflectors at National Physical Laboratory (London, UK)
Tripod reflector standing on a grass surface with a traffic cone to one side
Configurable corner reflector at National Physical Laboratory (London, UK). Photo courtesy of Satellite Applications Catapult

Mission accomplished

The installation has successfully performed in all locations and now the team from Satellite Applications Catapult, the University of Cambridge and National Physical Laboratory is regularly acquiring data with high-resolution SAR sensors, specifically Cosmo Sky-Med (Italian Space Agency) and TerraSAR-X (German Aerospace Center) to validate the experiments.


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