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MIT's new sensor system monitors building health over time

The system, which tracks a structure’s response to vibrations, is like a Fitbit for buildings

By analyzing the sounds of structure, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a computational model for determining a building’s stability. Just as a Fitbit or smartphone can capture personal health data, the MIT system measures building vibrations picked up by strategically placed accelerometers. It then parses those movements to detect any changes to the structure’s integrity.

Researchers have been testing out the system on MIT’s 21-story Green Building, designed by I.M. Pei in the 1960s. The building was outfitted with 36 vibration sensors in 2010. The team created a virtual replica of the building and its materials, complete with physics models for how the structure should sound when, say, a large truck drives by. The models were calibrated and adjusted based on the sensor data to understand the building’s structural integrity in response to seismic vibration.

“The broader implication is, after an event like an earthquake, we would see immediately the changes of these features, and if and where there is damage in the system,” Oral Buyukozturk, a professor in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering tells MIT News. “This provides continuous monitoring and a database that would be like a health book for the building, as a function of time, much like a person’s changing blood pressure with age.”

Via: MIT News