Vibration-based monitoring of civil infrastructure: Challenges and successes

James M.W. Brownjohn, Alessandro de Stefano, You Lin Xu, Helmut Wenzel, A. Emin Aktan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

293 Citations (Scopus)


Structural health monitoring (SHM) is a relatively new paradigm for civil infrastructure stakeholders including operators, consultants and contractors which has in the last two decades witnessed an acceleration of academic and applied research in related areas such as sensing technology, system identification, data mining and condition assessment. SHM has a wide range of applications including, but not limited to, diagnostic and prognostic capabilities. However, when it comes to practical applications, stakeholders usually need answers to basic and pragmatic questions about in-service performance, maintenance and management of a structure which the technological advances are slow to address. Typical among the mismatch of expectation and capability is the topic of vibration-based monitoring (VBM), which is a subset of SHM. On the one hand there is abundant reporting of exercises using vibration data to locate damage in highly controlled laboratory conditions or in numerical simulations, while the real test of a reliable and cost effective technology is operation on a commercial basis. Such commercial applications are hard to identify, with the vast majority of implementations dealing with data collection and checking against parameter limits. In addition there persists an unhelpful association between VBM and 'damage detection' among some civil infrastructure stakeholders in UK and North America, due to unsuccessful transfer of technology from the laboratory to the field, and this has resulted in unhealthy industry scepticism which hinders acceptance of successful technologies. Hence the purpose of this paper is showcase successful VBM applications and to make the case that VBM does provide valuable information in real world applications when used appropriately and without unrealistic expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-95
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Bridge
  • Building
  • Case study
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Tower
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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