The sky’s the limit for DAMSAT at NCE Techfest Awards

We’re over the moon that our DAMSAT team has won two prizes at the New Civil Engineer’s Techfest Awards: Technology Provider Trailblazer and Technology Leader Trailblazer.

DAMSAT harnesses satellite technology to remotely monitor water and tailings dams. The system helps to reduce the risk of failure of these structures and protect people and ecosystems downstream of dams.

New Civil Engineer’s TechFest, supported by Construction News, is a unique forum to discover innovative ideas from across the industry. Following a year where technology has been more important than ever, the TechFest awards celebrate the industry’s achievements in embracing change.

Craig Goff, technical director at HR Wallingford said: “At HR Wallingford, we believe that the sky’s the limit when it comes to using space technology to solve the world’s most pressing problems. These awards are a wonderful platform to showcase how the latest innovation in space data can be applied to dam monitoring to safeguard communities and livelihoods around the world.”

Developed by HR Wallingford, DAMSAT uses satellite Earth Observation techniques – including the analysis of spectral responses from satellite images and signals from navigation satellite systems – combined with real-time in-situ monitoring devices.

The technology can monitor and predict a host of safety indicators including: dam movement; leakage and pollution; and water level changes. Extensively piloted on over 30 tailings and water dams in Peru, DAMSAT is designed with the user in mind, offering a suite of individual modules that can be selected to best suit the particular dam and users’ needs.

Opportunities to employ the leading-edge monitoring are considerable. Globally, nearly 60,000 dams are registered with the International Commission for large Dams (ICOLD), which are estimated to hold 16,201 km3 of water – the same volume as around 6.5 billion Olympic-sized swimming pools.

DAMSAT’s development was funded by the UK Space Agency.

Image caption: HR Wallingford’s Marta Roca and Craig Goff (far right) collect the TechFest Award alongside the NCE’s Rob Horgan

New paper: Satellite data for dam safety monitoring

A journal paper on satellite data for dam safety monitoring, written by a team from HR Wallingford, has been published in the ICE’s Dams & Reservoirs journal. 

The paper – written by Craig Goff, Eleanor Aindsco, Ye Liu and Marta Roca – gives an overview of the different types of satellite datasets and infrastructure relevant to dam safety that are currently available, explains the complex processes of converting raw satellite data into useable information and summarises the advantages and disadvantages of each data type.

The information presented by the authors is based on experience gained undertaking a three-year, £4 m research project to investigate and combine many types of space data to improve the monitoring of dams.

Further information:

Satellite imagery data comparison tool showing a dam site in Peru monitored by a regulator.