CORDIS - EU research results

Satellite-based Observation of Land Infrastructure Deformations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SOLID (Satellite-based Observation of Land Infrastructure Deformations)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

Critical infrastructures management is becoming one of the key issues in the approach to sustainable development of modern countries. In the developed countries, most of the infrastructure networks, like highways and railways, as well as ports, airports, high voltage power lines, oil & gas pipelines, have been built decades ago and are subject to ageing, obsolescence and natural hazards. In this framework, structural health monitoring is representing one of the most valuable tools for the decision-making process concerning maintenance of critical infrastructures. Precise and timely measurements of the displacements of critical infrastructure are highly valuable to engineers and infrastructures managers, because they enable them to compare the real-world behaviors against theoretical models in order to monitor and maintain the health of vital infrastructures. The ability to detect and react to potential problems before they develop helps in the short-term maintenance and long-term renewal, in the reduction of insurance costs and in the prevention of catastrophic failures that may result in injury, death or significant financial loss.
This project aims to respond to this challenge by paving the way for market introduction of an innovative end-to-end service based on high-precision, cost-effective GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) sensors for the continuous monitoring of critical infrastructure. The objective is a feasibility study to develop a business plan to confirm the potential market and benefits, identify application fields and estimate the investments needed for designing, building and running an operative end-to-end monitoring service. The business plan also considers intellectual property management, sales channels to reach the market and economic metrics for the service pricing and delivering.
The work performed during the feasibility study aimed to deeply analyze the following aspects:
• design and deliver an intelligent sensor network, installed permanently on the critical infrastructure to monitor, with characteristics of low cost per sensor, higher reliability and durability in operational environment, energy efficiency and high capacity of data transfer through different channels as radio, fixed, wireless and satellite links;
• design and deliver solutions customized on the specific needs of each industry segment, by integrating, when required, additional equipment to respond to industry challenges;
• improve the measurements accuracy everywhere in different areas of the world by exploiting the evolution of GNSS technology;
• enhance the proprietary software platform, both data computation side and management side, in order to run tens of thousands measurement points;
• engage and deliver the monitoring service directly, at first to industry leaders in their markets;
• engage and recruit a partner network to deliver the monitoring service to medium-small private entities and public institutions in the domestic and foreign markets;
• engage and develop scientific collaboration with high-level universities and institutions in order to integrate intelligent sensor networks with health monitoring methods and algorithms in order to design and deliver a fully automatic decision support system.

Technical activities done:
• joint experiments with Politecnico di Milano to validate the precise positioning methods and algorithms used by GeoGuard, which were compared with top-edge scientific solutions (paper on Journal of Surveying Engineering, in press);
• collaboration with Proteco Group ( to deliver the monitoring service on the market, branded "GeoGuard". GReD and Proteco have jointly designed a new monitor unit, named "GeoGuard Monitor Unit (GMU)" to realize the intelligent sensor network;
• pilot tests:
o with Terna Rete Italia S.p.A. ( monitoring the stability of four towers of high-voltage power lines to detect, with an accuracy below one centimeter, abnormal movements of the tower;
o with Enel S.p.A. ( a first test on a hydroelectric dam in Italy, for a one year period, to detect with an accuracy of few millimeters the position of a set of points on the dam ridge and surrounding slopes (including a landslide), to detect abnormal movements;
o with Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A. ( a first test on one highway bridge in Italy, for a three years period, to detect with an accuracy of few millimeters the position of points on the bridge deck in relation to its deformation, due to land movements;
o with Municipality of Vernazza: a first installation for a landslide located in Liguria (Italy), one of the region most exposed to hydrogeological risk;
• early stage collaboration with STMicroelectronics ( for the adoption of additional sensors with characteristics of low cost, lightness, higher reliability in operational environment and energy-efficiency.

Sales channels searching: mainly to recruit a partner network to deliver the monitoring service to medium-small entities on domestic and foreign markets, both private and public entities.

Marketing activities: branded the monitoring service as "GeoGuard", published a first brochure and created a new website ( Further, GReD was selected, with GeoGuard as flagship solution, by the H2020 Jupiter Project to attend the ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) World Congress 2015 in Bordeaux ( as one of the most innovative 20 SMEs in Europe for intelligent transportation systems. GReD was also selected by the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation to be awarded the Keys to Japan, a European Commission-funded initiative to develop a detailed and personalized entry plan for GeoGuard in the Japanese market.

Organizational alignment: started the process to mobilize the tangible and intangible resources to ensure the efficiency and performance of the company organization, including Proteco processes and resources, to perform the monitoring service to run tens of thousands measurement points.

Intellectual property management: in consideration of the importance of this aspect for the success of this initiative, we specifically requested H2020 coach activities on this topic. The focus was on IPR, starting from the evaluation of the different options in term of protection (brand, algorithms and sensing hardware concept) and different areas of the world.
The feasibility study permitted to gather useful and interesting information concerning market context and socio-economic impact, market size, market penetration strategy and positioning over time and competition analysis.
Market context and socio-economic impact: economic growth requires adequate infrastructure in order to meet its full potential. Yet the imperative to invest more in infrastructure comes at a time when many governments are highly indebted and face competing calls on their scarce resources. Without the necessary infrastructure from transport systems to electricity grids and water pipelines, the economies cannot meet their full growth potential, thus economic and human development suffers. Further, there are additional costs for making the infrastructure resilient to climate change and its effects, e.g. landslide, ground subsidence, etc. The end-to-end monitoring service, subject of this business action, is an innovative and effective tool for the decision making process; in particular concerning maintenance of critical infrastructures for both short-term operations and long-term renewal, natural hazards and for "early warning" noticing in order to prevent catastrophic failures that may result in injury, death or significant financial loss. The savings coming from a better exploitation of the existing infrastructure capacity, rather than investing in costly new projects, have been estimated in several markets.
Market size: we analysed the industry segments size in terms of infrastructure length and number of total sites, at three different scales (World, Europe, Italy), in four different industries (Energy & Utilities, Transportation, Oil & Gas and Government). The global market size in terms of number of sites addressable for the continuous monitoring service has been estimated considering specific attributes. Further, the market size can be extended to social infrastructure such as cultural heritage sites, stadiums, hospitals and education centres. Their potential market has not been evaluated in this feasibility study, but it is very relevant for an end-to-end continuous monitoring service.
Market penetration strategy and positioning over time: this analysis permitted to understand markets and geographical areas to primarily address in order to maximize the successfulness of the action.
Competition analysis: at the present time, practical use of structural health monitoring system is limited due to the unavailability of specialized data acquisition equipment, as well as to the high cost of generic, wired instrumentation, coupled with high installation costs. In this sense, the pilots started with the aforementioned big companies demonstrated a high interest of the market in our solution.
GeoGuard installation example on an electricity tower
GeoGuard daily position time series example
GeoGuard installation example on a dam
GeoGuard Monitoring Service Logo
GeoGuard Brochure