Have you ever thought about your safety riding through a long tunnel, a road next to a very steep slope or strolling through ancient temples? If so, we have good news for you. Thanks to a collaborative research effort in the EU-funded GENESI project, the monitoring of the "health" of structures such as bridges, dams, tunnels or any buildings has become more affordable and reliable.

*The Blog Post was written by Markus Korn, Project Officer, DG CONNECT, European Commission

A new wireless, very-low-power, sensor technology allows for the early detection of cracks, degradations and hazardous movements in structures which would potentially save many lives.
What is new? Rather than the costly connecting of each installed sensor to the power supply and the monitoring system using cables (can you imagine cables all over an ancient temple?), wireless sensors can now be attached non-intrusively at any point of a structure. They are powered by battery and connected to each other and the monitoring system via radio signal. The advantages are manifold. The most prominent is that the cost of deploying and maintaining such a system is dramatically less. This should motivate authorities not only to use this technology for new constructions (so as to safeguard lives of workers) but also to install monitoring of structures in those places where it has been so far too costly or technically just not feasible, such as in old tunnels or ancient buildings.

"The wide spread use of this technology has just started", says the project coordinator Prof. Chiara Petrioli " We are now awaiting certification of the technology according to the national regulations". The technology has already proven its merits in several construction projects in Switzerland (the Fribourg road bridge over the River Saane, tunnels and a retaining wall) and in other application areas such as the transport of cultural heritage artefacts. The huge deployment potential of the technology on an endless number of structures could result in a market of tens of billions of Euros. Expecting a ramp-up of business, Chiara has launched a spin-off company  creating already 8 new jobs.  Other project partners have reported similar successes in creating new jobs.

This has been possible thanks to the close academia-industry collaboration, enabled by EU-funded research projects that foster the transfer of the newest leading-edge academic knowledge into industrial applications ultimately creating new jobs and manifold benefits for the European citizens. The academic partners in this project have been the University of Rome La Sapienza as coordinator, together with Universities of Twente, Bologna and Cork. Tre Esse Engineering, STM and SOLEXPERTS have been the industrial players involved.

A success story to be followed!

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19 February 2015
Last update: 
26 February 2015