The National Center for Research on Earthquake
Engineering yesterday announced that it has developed the nation’s first real-time fiber monitoring system capable of sending out a warning if it detects abnormal geological behavior around bridges.
There are more than 28,000 bridges across the nation and millions of people use them each day. This results in a high rate of deadly accidents on bridges that have been damaged by natural disasters, the center said, citing the 921 Earthquake in 2000, which destroyed more than 100 bridges in central Taiwan, and the collapse of the Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋) in Greater Kaohsiung during Typhoon Morakot in 2009.
Lee Cheng-kuang (李政寬), an associate researcher at the center, said that people patroling bridges during natural disasters is difficult and unsafe, but is the primary monitoring method. Some of the country’s newer bridges are equipped with electronic monitoring devices, but they only have partial coverage because they are very costly to install and maintain.
The center’s new monitoring system is capable of sending data about a bridge’s stability through a computer network, allowing administrators to be updated in real time and enabling them to direct traffic signals to warn pedestrians and drivers of any danger.
“The best feature of the new system is that between 30 and 40 sensors can be installed on one fiber cable, meaning that the system can stretch over almost an entire bridge and so monitor every dilatation joint,” he said, adding that the system is highly accurate and less expensive to maintain.
The mechanism is also highly versatile and can be applied on different types of bridges or overhead roads.
For example, the Dazhi Bridge in Taipei would require just six fiber cables to monitor its 43 critical points, the center said, adding that the system is now being tested on the Dazhi Bridge and may be also be installed on the high-speed railway and MRT lines.