Monitoring of civil infrastructures is critically needed to track aging, damages and ultimately to prevent severe failures which can endanger many lives. The ability to monitor in a continuous and fine-grained fashion the integrity of a wide variety of buildings, referred to as structural health monitoring, with low-cost, long-term and continuous measurements is essential from both an economic and a life-safety standpoint. To address these needs, we propose a low-cost wireless sensor node specifically designed to support modal analysis over extended periods of time with long-range connectivity at low power consumption. Our design uses very cost-effective MEMS accelerometers and exploits the Narrowband IoT protocol (NB-IoT) to establish long-distance connection with 4G infrastructure networks. Long-range wireless connectivity, cabling-free installation and multi-year lifetime are a unique combination of features, not available, to the best of our knowledge, in any commercial or research device. We discuss in detail the hardware architecture and power management of the node. Experimental tests demonstrate a lifetime of more than ten years with a 17000 mAh battery or completely energy-neutral operation with a small solar panel (60 mm × 120 mm). Further, we validate measurement accuracy and confirm the feasibility of modal analysis with the MEMS sensors: compared with a high-precision instrument based on a piezoelectric transducer, our sensor node achieves a maximum difference of 0.08% at a small fraction of the cost and power consumption.
STRUCTURAL HEALTH MONITORING SYSTEM WITH NARROWBAND IOT AND MEMS SENSORS