Infrastructure safety is not solely a matter of conception. During their life-span, man-made structures can sustain ground and structural deformation caused by natural or human forces. If excessive, these deformations can threaten the infrastructure’s health, and potentially result in catastrophic consequences. Declining infrastructures and accelerated urbanization, especially the development of underground space, are aggravating this hazard. Recognizing this threat to public safety, Dr Peifeng Ma is developing an innovative satellite radar capable of continually monitoring infrastructural dynamics from space. His final objective is to provide governments with the means to timely discover abnormal deformation for carrying out maintenance and avoiding possible risks.
« Like human’s health condition, infrastructural health should also be examined regularly to prevent potential hazards », explains Dr Peifeng Ma. Before a building or a railway collapses, slow deformation often occurs. However, detecting these subtle but abnormal deformations is a challenging undertaking, especially considering such alterations can happen over long periods of time and amount to less than a few centimeters. What Dr. Peifeng Ma is developing is a modern tool able to constantly monitor these small changes from space with millimeter precision and over spans of days to years.