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In this paper, we present the design, implementation, and experimental evaluation of a wireless sensor network for real-time structural ldquohealthrdquo monitoring. We use simple custom-built gages to detect cracks in critical structural elements. The main data reports require no structural analysis for interpretation, have a low data rate, and are naturally resilient to loss. We show how a variety of low-cost, off-the-shelf data acquisition/communication devices can be used to support remote monitoring by a control center. The heterogeneous hardware is accommodated by the use of open technology standards and a software architecture that is portable, modular, and highly configurable. We present an experimental evaluation of our structural-assessment network done using a full-scale three-story reinforced concrete building that was tested under lateral forces emulating forces induced by earthquakes. Our results show that a set of 12 strategically positioned sensors achieved a 100% detection rate for cracks crossing sensors and a zero false-alarm rate (in the sense that all signals exceeding a preset threshold were traced to cracks exceeding a specified total width).
Date of Publication: Nov. 2009