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Smart Management for Sustainable Human Environment

Final Report Summary - SMARTEN (Smart Management for Sustainable Human Environment)

“Smart Management for Sustainable Human Environment”
Initial Training Network
(SmartEN ITN)

Introduction
There are increasing concerns regarding the environmental impact of human actions, the use of the environment and climate changes. These are coupled with ageing infrastructure systems, continuously growing and changing demands on the built and natural environments as well as limited financial and depleting natural resources. Until now, research has been focused on the development of proactive risk-based approaches for civil infrastructure reliability and management with benefits in improved performance, safety and cost. However, there are significant uncertainties associated with the various predictive models directly affecting the quality of the decision making mainly due to the limited amount of information available on the condition, demands and actual performance of various systems. Recently, a new generation of miniature wireless sensor platforms which utilize novel digital signal processing has emerged. These can be adopted to obtain large quantities of highly diverse sensor data that are continuously collected over a long period of time from multiple locations providing significant insight on the condition, demands and performance of the system. These developments open up a completely novel area of multidisciplinary research towards the ‘smart’ management of sustainable environment. Even though there are top research institutions working in the field of wireless sensors and others in the civil infrastructure reliability and management, most of the activity is fragmented and there is no significant activity in performing multidisciplinary structured research for developing integrated smart and dynamic systems for effective management of the built and natural environment.

The Network
“Smart Management for Sustainable Human Environment” (SmartEN) is an EU FP7 Marie-Curie funded Initial Training Network (ITN) that aimed to fill a research and technology gap and push innovation through an initial research and training network that focused its activities on the development, effective integration and increased utilisation of emerging technologies in wireless sensors, communications, non-destructive evaluation and proactive management, targeting key issues of current interest to the European Union and internationally in the area of Smart Management of the Human Environment (both built and natural). The SmartEN ITN programme has been coordinated by Prof. Toula Onoufriou, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus. In terms of academic research groups, this consortium included representation from nine organisations with multi-disciplinary complimentary technical expertise distributed across seven European countries and has been augmented by six commercial organisations including both large organisations and SMEs spanning in five European countries. The programme also included nine distinguished scientists from Japan, US, China, Hong Kong and Australia. The programme funded five Experienced Researchers (ERs) and another 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) to PhD level through advanced research training and an interdisciplinary collaborative PhD programme.

Research and Training within the Network
The research performed within SmartEN was organized into four Work Programmes (WPs). Within each WP, Research Themes (RTs) and scopes were considered in terms of scientific and technological advancements, namely:
• Work Programme 1 - Wireless Sensor Networks, covering the research themes: Communication protocols, Distributed OS for Reconfigurable Sensor Networks, Energy Harvesting and Conservation, and Localization.
• Work Programme 2 - Sensor Signal Processing, covering the research themes: Distributed processing and Aggregation, Signal Processing for Event Classification, and Middleware.
• Work Programme 3 - Non Destructive Evaluation, covering the research themes: Optimum Sensor Locations and Requirements for NDE, Combined Monitoring and Inspection Systems, Assessment and Long Term Performance Modelling, Performance Model Updating Based on Sensor Information, and Damage identification.
• Work Programme 4 - Smart Proactive Management, covering the research themes: Proactive Management Strategies, Life Cycle Design and Assessment, and Multi-objective Optimisation.
In order to facilitate integration between the various disciplines and provide a more specific context and focus of the research within SmartEN, a number of Multi-Disciplinary Programmes (MDPs) were also developed. These included four MDPs in Smart Proactive Management of i) Structural systems with focus on tall buildings, ii) Heritage and infrastructure with focus on modern long span bridges and heritage bridges, iii) Transportation infrastructure systems with focus on infrastructure networks, and iv) Urban microclimate with focus on its effect on structure and infrastructure networks.

The SmartEN ITN programme also aimed to equip the young researchers with world-class scientific knowledge and important complementary skills which will help them to become the future leaders in the area of research and development of IP, systems and processes for smart management of the sustainable human environment. Researchers carried out the core of their research work in their host organisations, but they also spent periods of study/work at the site of at least two more ITN participants. The training activities aimed to integrate the different research projects conducted within SmartEN, to establish constant and fruitful communication between young and experienced researchers and, finally, to effectuate the concept of networking. Part of the training actions (mainly those related to background and inter-disciplinary material) were taken at a network level by utilizing well-established and reliable ways. To this end, internal workshops and summer schools, internal tele-conferences as well as specialized workshops and conferences open to external researchers were organized. Visiting scientists, who are world-class experts in their fields, played significant role in these activities. The SmartEN training network also encompassed an extensive postgraduate training and support structure within many of the ITN partners which provided courses relevant to the personal and professional development of the researchers fostering among others vision, creativity, originality, effectiveness and leadership.

Expected Impact
The SmartEN ITN has been a well tailored training programme which aimed to have a significant impact on the immediate and longer term benefits of the individual researchers, of the participating institutions and the European research and competitiveness in this important research area. The training programme enhanced the researchers' capacity to progress in research, as well as their capabilities to work across the SmartEN related disciplines. The SmartEN ITN also promoted networking and cooperation for the institutions involved and worked towards enforcing the academia and industry collaboration. SmartEN established the necessary training programme which developed, in addition to excellent scientists, wide minded people, who can understand, communicate, react, improve situations and systems, be proactive, have cultural training, personal effectiveness and can work efficiently in a diverse and multicultural competitive environment.

The consortium involved partners from eight European countries, each with complimentary expertise in the field of wireless sensor technology, civil engineering, proactive infrastructure management and related technologies. The involvement of these organisations into the SmartEN ITN helped to overcome fragmentation in this area and promote inter-disciplinarity by co-ordinating and networking research activities and making optimum use of shared infrastructures, expertise, financial resources and human resources at a European level. The mobility of the ERs and ESRs brought closer the scientific communities, companies and researchers at a European level. It also distributed knowledge and excellence in different regions of Europe. It is envisaged that the ERs and ESRs will contribute to the expansion of the collaborative network associated with each organisation and to the overall growth of the ITN through initiatives with industry and academia on an international scale.

The SmartEN ITN network has contributed to the European Research Area (ERA) by: (a) supporting transnational mobility (b) demonstrating the openness of the European Research Area to researchers from outside Europe, (c) increasing the number of researchers in Europe (d) offering world-class research training, (e) raising the scientific excellence of the individual researchers, (f) raising the professional status of the researchers and (g) making research work more efficient by pulling together competence, experience, optimal use of research infrastructures and effective dissemination of results. The recruitment strategy was set to encourage women to apply and thus facilitate use of their potential in research. Dissemination of results and public awareness activities included promoting the network at science weeks, in order to attract more young people to research. It is believed that these actions can contribute further towards increasing the number of researchers in Europe and help progress towards the Barcelona target of investing 3% of the GDP for R&D. In addition to the scientific training, the ESRs received training in the key areas of technology transfer and entrepreneurship. The SmartEN fellows have been equipped with all the necessary skills and experience to be actively involved in the field of enterprise and in the creation of spin-out companies, which in turn would help improve Europe’s economy. In addition, the SmartEN ITN programme contributed to the development of a unique research infrastructure in Europe which is a priority for strengthening the European Research Area.
SmartEN ITN aimed to perform top level research for overcoming the scientific and technical barriers which prohibit the wide application of wireless sensor networks for monitoring structures and the environment. The programme performed state-of-the-art multidisciplinary research, addressing key areas of interest towards the smart management for a sustainable environment. At the same time, it created the potential for further interdisciplinary research collaborations and a pioneering, high level and internationally unique European based network with an international dimension that can form the basis for future developments and technology transfer in other related disciplines and areas of applications. The research results of SmartEN together with the potential created from this unique high quality network are expected to improve the European competitiveness bringing Europe to a leading international position. SmartEN has the potential to evolve into a European Multi-Disciplinary Centre of Excellence in Smart Management with key initial application areas in Structural Systems, Heritage and Infrastructure, Transportation Infrastructure Systems, and Urban Microclimate. Furthermore, the new knowledge and technologies developed during the course of the programme are expected to have an impact on other Community societal challenges through the potential for technology transfer. SmartEN will now be established as SmartEN International with its base and core activities firmly established in Europe and lead by the Cyprus University of Technology. SmartEN International will be extended to include a wider range of distinguished experts creating and exploiting its significant potential for new high level research, innovation and dissemination collaborative activities promoting the ‘smart’ agenda across various societal challenges and bringing additional value and benefit for the competitiveness of Europe.

The investment of the EC to SmartEN ITN contributes to the research strategy of Europe not only as far as the scientific quality is concerned but also in all other areas such as the political, educational, gender and heritage and the European citizen quality of life.

Dissemination
A significant number of dissemination actions related to SmartEN were undertaken. Key dissemination actions include the very successful and high profile formal SmartEN launch in the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, the European Commissioner for Education and Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and the Head of People Unit, Marie Curie Actions, the very successful organization of the SmartEN Concluding Conference, several other invited project level dissemination activities at international events, organization of mini symposiums, other publications on international conferences and journals, invited editorship of special journal issues on SmartEN, several articles in national and local newspapers, professional magazines, newspaper and radio interviews, and last but not least the very successful organization of the SmartEN Marie Curie ITN Final Conference.

More information regarding the SmartEN ITN programme can be found at the SmartEN ITN website (http://www.smarten-itn.eu/index.html) as well as by contacting the Network Coordinator, Prof. Toula Onoufriou (t.onoufriou@cut.ac.cy).