The black box after an explosion
Scientists have developed a new “black box” recorder that will assess the state of buildings following earthquakes, explosions and fires.
The RECONASS project has been put together by a team at Anglia Ruskin University alongside colleagues from the UK, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Greece and Italy and is based on a smart monitoring system, which measures structural movement following natural disasters or terrorist attacks.
The device works by having a local positioning system (LPS) that includes sensors providing information about the condition of the building by measuring the displacement of structural elements. These updates could provide invaluable information to disaster management agencies and emergency services during search and rescue missions.
"In the same way that an aircraft’s black box can survive a crash, this system is being designed to withstand the most extreme conditions following a disaster or terrorist attack and continue transmitting data."
Professor Hassan Shirvani, Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Hassan Shirvani, director of Anglia Ruskin University’s Engineering Analysis Simulation and Tribology Research Group, is leading a team that has designed some of the sensors as well as the packaging to protect them.
He explains: “The system is equivalent to a black box recorder for a building. In the same way that an aircraft’s black box can survive a crash, this system is being designed to withstand the most extreme conditions following a disaster or terrorist attack and continue transmitting data.”
It is envisioned that in the initial stage following an incident or disaster, the sensors will report back to the emergency services telling them whether the building is safe to enter. Then, once the rescue phase is over, they can provide structural reports to help planners decide whether to renovate or demolish the building.
It is hoped following further developments RECONASS could be used in any building or structure of strategic interest such as hospitals, schools, government buildings, airports, harbours, bridges and the headquarters of large organisations.