The Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation System (PRIME): Enabling Intelligent Earthworks Management

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Engineering Geology

Abstract

Project Partners: Arup, Atkins, Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency, Geosense, High Speed Two, Highways England, ITM Monitoring, Kier, National Grid, Network Rail, Rail Safety & Standards Board, Scottish Canals, Transport Scotland.

The Challenge: The development of the Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation (PRIME) system is driven by the increasing rate and severity of failures in flood defence, transportation, and utilities earthworks. This is due to aging assets (many canal and rail earthworks are over a hundred years old) and more extreme weather events (e.g. the extreme rainfall during winter 2013-14 & 2015-16). Asset failures are enormously expensive, costing hundreds of millions of pounds per year in the UK alone, not to mention risks to human health and disruption of transport systems, utilities and the wider economy. Assessment of the condition of geotechnical assets is essential for cost effective maintenance and prevention of hazardous failure events. Early identification of deteriorating condition generally allows low cost preventative remediation to be undertaken (post failure interventions are typically ten times more expensive) and reduces the risk of catastrophic failures. Conventional approaches to condition monitoring are often inadequate for predicting earthwork instability. They are heavily dependent on surface observations - i.e. walk-over surveys or airborne data collection. These approaches cannot detect the subsurface precursors to failure events; instead they identify failure once it has begun. There is growing recognition among infrastructure asset owners, managers, and consultants that automated monitoring technologies have the potential to reduce these costs and risks by providing continuous condition information and early warnings of failure.

Aims & Objectives: The primary objective is to deliver a new remote condition monitoring and decision-support system for assessing the internal condition of safety critical geotechnical assets. This will be realised by implementing a fully automated software workflow for data analysis and information delivery, building upon the recently developed PRIME hardware platform. The integrated PRIME system (i.e. hardware & software) will combine emerging geophysical ground imaging technology with wireless telemetry, 'big data' handling, and web portal access. It will form the basis of a new generation of intelligent decision-support technology capable of 'seeing inside' vulnerable earthworks in near-real-time using diagnostic imaging methods routinely used in medical physics. By the end of this project, the software and hardware will be demonstrated to technology readiness level (TRL) 7 at new and existing stakeholder sites, ready for commercialisation and use by the wider stakeholder community.

Benefits: The key benefits of PRIME to asset owners include cost savings through minimising unnecessary renewals and providing early warning of failure events, time savings associated with fewer manual site visits, and risk reduction by preventing dangerous earthworks failures, and minimising the need for people to enter potentially hazardous operational environments. Geotechnical monitoring providers, consultants & contractors will benefit through new cutting-edge geotechnical monitoring services and, for the first time, near-real-time volumetric subsurface monitoring information.

Key Deliverables & Outputs:
- New software to fully automate PRIME data processing and information delivery - including a web-based decision support dashboard.
- Demonstration of the complete PRIME system at existing rail and waterways pilot sites, and new highways, power transmission and flood defence sites - establishing TRL 7 (demonstration in an operational environment).
- A commercialisation strategy agreed with project partners to ensure technology translation to the stakeholder community.

Duration: 18 months

Cost: £183,000 (at 80% FEC)

Planned Impact

Impact will be achieved through delivery of state-of-the-art low-cost remote subsurface monitoring technology to project partners. This will provide near-real-time operationally relevant asset condition information and early warning of poor earthwork condition and potential failure events.

Outcomes and change to current practice: The primary outcome will be a new decision support approach for monitoring safety critical geotechnical assets. This will be realised by producing a fully automated software workflow for data analysis and information delivery, building upon the recently developed PRIME hardware platform. By the end of this project, the software and hardware will be demonstrated to technology readiness level (TRL) 7, proven at new and existing stakeholder sites, and ready for commercialisation and use by the wider stakeholder community. The availability of low-cost PRIME technology will enable a step-change in practice towards proactive asset management, reducing the current dependency on manual site visits and surface inspections. Specifically, our stakeholder partners have identified that PRIME would be used for targeted site or asset scale monitoring activities including: (1) long term monitoring of high risk or critically important structures (e.g. at major transportation junctions, confluences or interchanges); (2) short term monitoring to determine whether intervention is required; and (3) monitoring to verify the success of remedial activities.

Benefits: The key benefits of PRIME to asset owners include cost savings through minimising unnecessary renewals and providing early warning of failure events, time savings associated with fewer manual site visits, and risk reduction by preventing dangerous earthworks failures and minimising the need for people to enter potentially hazardous operational environments. Geotechnical monitoring providers, consultants and contractors will benefit through new cutting-edge geotechnical monitoring services that incorporate, for the first time, high-resolution volumetric subsurface monitoring information. (See letters of support for further evidence).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We are developing a geophysical system designed to monitor the internal condition of vulnerable or 'at-risk' geotechnical infrastructure earthworks (e.g. cuttings, embankments and dams). The project has enabled us to: (1) demonstrate the newly developed hardware in a range of operational settings - including monitoring road, rail, canal and flood defence infrastructure; (2) develop a new automated data processing scheme to enable us to handle the large volumes of data generated by the system; (3) identify potential routes for commercialisation of the technology.
Exploitation Route We are actively exploring (1) providing commercial services using the technology and (2) licensing the technology to external parties.
Sectors Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Transport

 
Description Information from PRIME monitoring activities are now being used by project partners to make decisions about (1) the management of their geotechnical assets and (2) future investment decisions in the area of infrastructure monitoring.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Global Challenges Research Fund
Amount £5,141,662 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P02095X/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 12/2021
 
Description AMRITA - India 
Organisation Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences
Country India 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Reconnaissance trip in advance of installation of landslide monitoring system.
Collaborator Contribution Hosting project staff and collaborating with the installation of new landslide monitoring technology.
Impact Too early.
Start Year 2017
 
Description ARUP 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact Ongoing - project just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description ATKINS 
Organisation WS Atkins
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact Ongoing - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Canal & River Trust 
Organisation Canal & River Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Advice and expertise on the stability of geotechnical assets. Information on new and emerging technology that will be potentially beneficial to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution Steerage of technology development project. Provision of test site for technology demonstration. Provision of data and information. Health and safety advice and support for technology installation at demonstration site.
Impact New geophysical monitoring instrument (PRIME). New demonstration site on operational railway. New monitoring data arising from the test site. Conference papers.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Environment Agency 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Steering group member, provision of test site, site support and logistics.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description HS2 
Organisation High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact On-going - project only just starting.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Highways England 
Organisation Department of Transport
Department Highways Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member, provision of test site, site support and logistics.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description ITM Monitoring 
Organisation ITM Monitoring
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Kier 
Organisation Kier Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member. Pilot site support and logistics.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description National Grid 
Organisation The National Grid Co plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member, provision of pilot site, site support and logistics.
Impact On-going - project has only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Network Rail 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Advice and expertise on the stability of geotechnical assets. Information on new and emerging technology that will be potentially beneficial to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution Steerage of technology development project. Provision of test site for technology demonstration. Provision of data and information. Health and safety advice and support for technology installation at demonstration site.
Impact New geophysical monitoring instrument (PRIME). New demonstration site on operational railway. New monitoring data arising from the test site. Conference papers.
Start Year 2013
 
Description RSSB 
Organisation Rail Safety and Standards Board
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Scottish Canals 
Organisation Scottish Canals
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Advice and expertise on the stability of geotechnical assets. Information on new and emerging technology that will be potentially beneficial to the partner.
Collaborator Contribution Steerage of technology development project. Provision of data and information.
Impact New geophysical monitoring instrument (PRIME). Conference papers.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Transport Scotland 
Organisation Transport Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project leader.
Collaborator Contribution Project steering group member.
Impact On-going - project only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Title Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation System 
Description A new low-cost low-power geophysical ground imaging and monitoring instrument. The IPR for the system is owned by BGS. 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Commercial monitoring work using the new system has been undertaken.
 
Description CIRIA/NERC-ERIIP Webinar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A showcase of NERC-funded innovation projects that take the outcomes of existing research and translate these into industry-relevant information and tools to help UK infrastructure identify environmental risks, assess their impacts on infrastructure and develop solutions. This webinar will focus on the risks posed by geological hazards to infrastructure. I presented on PRIME technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ciria.org/CIRIA/Navigation/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=E17701
 
Description Energy Networks Association - Invited Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk to Energy Networks Association Working Group, Horseferry Road, London, to discuss PRIME technology in relation to flood risk to energy networks. Audience include National Grid and representative of most of the UK energy supply companies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited attendance at the Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum, CIRIA Offices, London, 07/02/17 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to attend the Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum to discuss a new project set up by CIRIA called 'Deterioration and degradation modelling of infrastructure assets'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2017
 
Description Invited keynote lecture at the 4th International Workshop on Geoelectrical Monitoring, Vienna, 23/11/17 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chambers, JE, Wilkinson, PB, Meldrum, PI, Uhlemann, S, Gunn, D, Kuras, O, Inauen, C, Swift, R, Merritt, A, Whiteley, J, 2017. KEYNOTE LECTURE: Geophysical characterization, monitoring and early warning of slope failure: a review of methodological developments at the Hollin Hill landslide observatory. GELMON 2017 - 4th International Workshop on Geoelectrical Monitoring, 22-24 November, Vienna, Austria.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation given at the EAGE Near Surface Geoscience 2018 'Geophysics in Support of Infrastructure Planning' Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Chambers, JE, Meldrum, PI, Wilkinson, PB, Uhlemann, S, Swift, R, Inauen, C, Kuras, O, Abbott, S, Butler, S, Whiteley, J, Kendall, JM, 2017. Monitoring the condition of infrastructure earthworks and slopes using low-cost low-power autonomous electrical resistivity tomography technology. EAGE Near Surface Geoscience 2018, Workshop - Geophysics in support of infrastructure planning, Malmo, Sweden, September 2017. (Invited Presentation).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation to the NERC Knowledge Exchange Network 'Seeing inside the subsurface - an introduction to the Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation System', Portsmouth, 25/05/18 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk given to NERC KEN.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited talk 'Remote condition monitoring of geotechnical assets: an introduction to the Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation (PRIME) System', given at the Arup offices, London, 21/03/17. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk given to the geotechnical staff at the Arup offices in Bloomsbury, London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Overview of KE Fellowship - presented to the NERC Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme (ERIIP) Board, London, 16/01/17 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to provide an overview of my KE fellowship to the ERIIP board.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017