Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) has enjoyed robust interest for the last several decades, although large-scale adoption by owners, designers, and contractors is evolving much more slowly. The speed of technological development and the digitization of every aspect of our professional and personal lives will drive SHM into the mainstream and elevate the expectations owners have regarding asset management. More owners will begin to see the value of targeted SHM to understand the performance of their physical assets and to respond more quickly to disruptions.
The emerging generation of sensors is capitalizing on the ubiquity of Internet access to utilize existing IT networks as the backbone of the data acquisition system replacing dedicated and costly hardware. Sensors of all types will become as simple to set up and network as printers scattered throughout an office space. The result will be a sharp decline in instrumentation costs and complexity while increasing data accessibility. As sensors have become network devices, their data is increasingly uploaded to the cloud in real time, allowing almost instantaneous access to raw data, trends, and analytics.
The result of this SHM evolution will ultimately be integration with other monitoring systems. Modern operators have moved to Ethernet-based video surveillance, continuous digital monitoring of HVAC systems, and automated process controls. The integration of these systems will allow for asset managers to register unexpected structural behavior and immediately correlate that event to video footage, weather data, and process records. The result will be improved situational awareness, faster reaction times, and better outcomes.