Keynote Lecture – Sensor Aided Health Assessment of Critical Infrastructure Systems
The United States has thousands of miles of levee systems and 43 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with levees. The continued functionality of these distributed systems is critical for the millions of people who live behind these structures and the further millions of people that depend on the clean drinking water supplies and hectares of agriculture protected by this flood-control infrastructure. Unfortunately, the risk of floods in these areas is steadily increasing as rising sea levels are resulting from climate change. The integrity and reliability of the flood-control infrastructure are essential components to homeland safety and sustainability of urban cities. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives the condition of our nation’s dams and levees grades of D and D–, respectively. The failure of such systems due to natural or man-made hazards, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, deterioration, or terrorist attacks, may have monumental repercussions with dramatic and unanticipated consequences on human life and the country’s economy. The failure of levees during hurricane Katrina and subsequent catastrophic flooding of New Orleans is a highly illustrative example of the consequences of levee failure. Coastal and waterfront communities in the United States and countries worldwide are reinforcing their protective systems by building higher levees and dikes. But in many areas where communities are built immediately behind the system, simply increasing the size of the structure is not a sustainable solution. Presently, most levee health assessments are based on periodic field inspections. A remote sensing-based health assessment of this flood-control infrastructure that can identify weak sections and impending failures can be a key to the sustainability of flood-control systems. This framework relies on long-term continuous monitoring techniques that are minimally intrusive. The planned system would provide a long-term and continuous assessment of the health of soil-structure systems, allowing stake holders to prioritize repairs and rehabilitation efforts.