Improving the Resilience of Bridge Infrastructure during Flood Events through Sensor Fusion of Inertial Sensors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths


The vulnerability of our built infrastructure to extreme weather events and its tremendous impacts on our society and economy was brought to the fore most recently by the storms of winter 2013/14 in the southwest of UK when the failure of the Dawlish seawall caused the main railway line linking the southwest to the rest of the UK to be closed for nearly two months. During this period, there was chaos on the surrounding roads due to a sudden increase in commuter traffic, leading to significantly longer journey times between the regions to the west of Exeter and the rest of UK. The economic costs of the network disruptions to businesses and local communities were estimated to be nearly £500 million with losses in certain sectors such as tourism extending well beyond the period of line closure. Consequently enhancing the resilience of our built environment to extreme weather events has been highlighted as a major priority and also a difficult engineering challenge by policy makers and infrastructure asset owners, as evident from recent publications such as the ICE's state-of-the-nation 2014 and Transport resilience review.

A major obstacle to characterizing the impact of an extreme weather event on any infrastructure asset is the current inability to measure neither the environmental loading nor the impact of the loading on the as-built structure's condition. Hence, any post-event estimate of an asset's condition is based essentially on results from applying estimated environmental loads to approximate numerical models assumed to be representative of the asset's structural performance. This approach is highly unreliable as both the real loading and the response of the as-built structure may be and is often very different to assumed values. This project aims to eliminate the need for such assessment techniques by measuring directly both the environmental loading and the structure's response to experienced forces. The project will build on the extensive experience in the research group in monitoring full-scale structures, and in interpreting measurements for structural performance assessment. It will focus on measurement of effects of the extreme weather forces that can be experienced by above-ground infrastructure including extreme effects from: wind loads, snow loads, hydrodynamic forces from flooding and tidal/wave loads and thermal effects. It will also develop instrumentation concepts for optimal deployment of sensors for capturing structural response during extreme weather events, and the data interpretation tools to assess performance of assets.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509656/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1783728 Studentship EP/N509656/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2021 Karen Faulkner