Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre


Prof. Andrew Whittle, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT


ReStructure is a collaboration between Cogent Labs and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre that investigates the feasibility of applying wireless sensing technology to the monitoring of civil infrastructures. Initially, this work is being carried out in the context of support structures for temporary excavations for Tube stations in Singapore. During the project, Cogent will develop a wireless sensing network for load monitoring.

This network will be deployed during an excavation to collect data streams of structural loading, allowing Cogent to investigate the potential of in-network intelligence to improve network lifetime and integration of measurements with structural models in real-time.


The designs of Temporary Earth Retaining Systems (TERS) for deep excavation projects (such as Tube stations) are based on analyses that predict the expected structural loads and ground/wall movement during construction. Strict regulations on ground deformations are imposed in Singapore to minimise risk associated with construction and damage to adjacent structures and facilities, causing increased project costs.

TERS performance is monitored throughout construction to ensure a match with predictions. Surveys and instrumentation are used to measure subsurface movements, pore pressures and load on the structure. However, the cost of instrumentation limits the scope of monitoring to small numbers of measurements, constraining how useful these measurements can be: performance is acceptable if measurements remain below pre-set thresholds.

The overall aim of this research is to integrate recent advances in computational analyses and the design of low cost wireless sensors in order to develop a capability for ‘real-time’ data interpretation and prediction. Field monitoring data will be used to update and re-evaluate model predictions during construction to offer a real-time observational framework that can reduce risk while enabling more creative and cost effective designs of TERS.

Within this project, Cogent is investigating the feasibility of applying wireless sensor networks (WSNs) to the monitoring of civil engineering work, through two goals: i) developing capabilities to acquire structural measurements with a WSN; and ii) determining how best a WSN can be designed to respond to informational needs versus environmental constraints. The work will be validated through lab tests and deployments on excavations in Singapore.

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