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Sensors (Basel). 2015 Jan 29;15(2):2980-98. doi: 10.3390/s150202980.

Citizen sensors for SHM: use of accelerometer data from smartphones.

Author information

1
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027, USA. mfeng@columbia.edu.
2
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027, USA. yf2290@columbia.edu.
3
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027, USA. mizuta.masato@gmail.com.
4
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027, USA. eo2327@columbia.edu.

Abstract

Ubiquitous smartphones have created a significant opportunity to form a low-cost wireless Citizen Sensor network and produce big data for monitoring structural integrity and safety under operational and extreme loads. Such data are particularly useful for rapid assessment of structural damage in a large urban setting after a major event such as an earthquake. This study explores the utilization of smartphone accelerometers for measuring structural vibration, from which structural health and post-event damage can be diagnosed. Widely available smartphones are tested under sinusoidal wave excitations with frequencies in the range relevant to civil engineering structures. Large-scale seismic shaking table tests, observing input ground motion and response of a structural model, are carried out to evaluate the accuracy of smartphone accelerometers under operational, white-noise and earthquake excitations of different intensity. Finally, the smartphone accelerometers are tested on a dynamically loaded bridge. The extensive experiments show satisfactory agreements between the reference and smartphone sensor measurements in both time and frequency domains, demonstrating the capability of the smartphone sensors to measure structural responses ranging from low-amplitude ambient vibration to high-amplitude seismic response. Encouraged by the results of this study, the authors are developing a citizen-engaging and data-analytics crowdsourcing platform towards a smartphone-based Citizen Sensor network for structural health monitoring and post-event damage assessment applications.

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