Intelligent dikes strike alarms themselves

New monitoring technology detects damage in good time

Dam near St. Petersburg © Siemens
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Siemens is now developing a new monitoring technology to detect damage to dikes early, together with its partners. With the help of sensors, the stability of the protective ramparts on the meter should be closely monitored.

From the measurements, a self-controlling software can predict dangerous situations, so that measures are taken in good time. Currently, a practical test of the system at the Livedijk in the Dutch Eemshaven runs.

136 million cities protected by dikes

Worldwide, 136 million cities near the coast must be protected by dikes. The pressure on these protective walls is growing, because climate change tends to increase sea levels, or more storms are expected. To secure so far dikes are increased or removed. But this is only a time saving.

Another strategy is to analyze dikes to identify fractured parts. For example, "smart ramparts" could predict breaks or effects of floods.

Learning software

For dyke monitoring, the Siemens experts use software to monitor production facilities and equip them with new parameters. These are determined from measurements on test dikes that have been deliberately destroyed in various ways. For example, the dike's backside may have been eroded. This was the trigger for the disaster at the 1953 North Sea storm surge. Another attempt simulated water that drilled a tunnel through the dike, as happened, inter alia, in the tsunami in New Orleans. display

Now the software at Livedijk is learning to interpret the measurement data of the sensors correctly under real conditions. In order to include seasonal influences such as rainfall or wind directions in the evaluation, this practical test takes two years.

Goal: global monitoring system

Other project partners are working on alarm possibilities, for example via all registered mobile phones or navigation devices in the endangered region.

As a next step, researchers will provide embankment sections in Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg with the early-warning system and monitor critical changes via an Internet-based software platform. In the long term, they want to connect all protective earths worldwide to this platform and thus create a global monitoring system.

(Siemens, 18.01.2011 - DLO)