The remote-sensing tech revolutionizing geotechnical engineering

ASCE Reads is a regular series on Civil Engineering Source highlighting the latest titles from the ASCE Library, giving you an in-depth look at cutting-edge research and innovations in the civil engineering industry.

Geotechnical engineers have never had the array of technological options available for monitoring embankments, dams, and slopes they do today.

That’s good – but also complicated – news.

Staying current with the latest developments in the field can be difficult. Picking the right option for your project from among those latest developments is even more challenging.

The ASCE Geo-Institute’s Embankments, Dams, and Slopes Technical Committee developed a book to help solve these problems.

Remote Sensing for Monitoring Embankments, Dams, and Slopes: Recent Advances, GSP 322 provides information about how to select, install, and implement monitoring networks to assess EDS risks. The authors – Timothy D. Stark, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE; Thomas Oommen, Ph.D., M.ASCE; and Zhangwei Ning, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE – recently collaborated with Civil Engineering Source for some key takeaways:

Biggest advantages to employing remote-sensing technology

Remote sensing can occur 24/7 without having to be physically onsite.

InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) has day-and-night as well as all-weather sensing capabilities that penetrates clouds.

Data can be quickly processed and transmitted electronically.

Alert thresholds can be established so stakeholders are automatically notified when collected data exceeds a threshold.

The high spatial resolution allows capturing the spatial variability of the measurement of interest.

How this technology has changed the industry in recent years

Increased use of satellites.

Increased number and types of sensors.

Greatly improved spatial and temporal resolution of the sensing.

Most impactful recent advancements in this technology

Unmanned platforms or devices that can be quickly deployed at a site with a wide range of technologies.

Technologies include different imagery, e.g., thermal, optical, and reflective, and LiDAR.

Cloud storage where vast amounts of data can be stored and accessed quickly by people anywhere in the world.

New technologies or devices that you’d especially recommend to geotechnical engineers

Terrestrial laser scanners.

Unmanned aerial platforms or devices equipped with an optical camera and a LiDAR device.

Satellite-based InSAR for infrastructure monitoring.      

Remote-sensing technologies integrated into civil engineering curriculums at colleges and universities.  

Learn more about the book.

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