A dam downstream disaster can cause significant damages to infrastructures and even the population. That’s why a dam monitoring program is highly recommended to ensure safety for successful construction and operation.
Experts use structural instruments and geotechnical instrumentation such as piezometers to gauge dam site conditions like pore pressure monitoring, water level control, filling, and drawdown. Other instruments include pendulums, inclinometers, vibrating wire strain gauges, joint meters, earth pressure cells, and crack meters.
Artificial Intelligence For Dam Monitoring
With advanced technology, experts can now use artificial intelligence (AI) in dam monitoring, locating risky dams to prevent disaster and ensure dam safety. AI technology uses intelligent computer programs, mimicking human perception and spatial reasoning. Geospatial artificial intelligence (GeoAI) integrates geospatial studies, which is the study of information technology to understand places, processes, and people of the earth.
Below are the important reasons why AI is important for dam monitoring:
1. Predict And Prevent Dam Disasters
Dam monitoring AI technology enables operations to have a clearer picture of the different dam changes arising over time. This technology keeps dam owners ahead of any factors that could affect the integrity of dams. AI is one of the most efficient predictors of embankment (mounted earth) dam deformations.
Experts can use AI to predict whether the heavy rainfall may result in dam failure, preventing a dam disaster. Artificial intelligence can be used to determine the likelihood of moisture and circulation patterns to translate into rainfall.
A dam disaster prediction also takes into account dam heights, storage capacity, and runoff calculations. Along with elevation maps, all of these parameters help predict whether the heavy rainfall could lead to dam overtop. On the other hand, demographic data show the critical infrastructure and population at risk of the dam downstream.
2. Prioritization Of Dam Maintenance
As years pass by, dams continue to age. Climate change increases heavy rains, flooding, and possible dam overflow. Most dams are also older than their design lifespan.
Maintenance of old dams is a major source of concern because the failure of the spillway can lead to evacuation of thousands of people and disruptions to the water supply. In addition, dam repair costs millions or even billions of dollars.
With the use of AI, experts can determine the risky dams that need prompt maintenance, so they can prioritize them for repairs. Being proactive in this area could help maximize the resources that dams bring.
3. Create Effective Dam Safety Protocols
AI provides relevant data, which serves as a guide for dam owners. This technology can be used in mapping the electricity generation, transportation, population, and wastewater treatment infrastructure. These things could be affected if the dams aren’t maintained.
4. Have Accurate And Reliable Dam Simulation Models
In a review on AI methods application for dam and reservoir models, researchers explain that optimal water use of dams and reservoir systems can only be attained with reliable and accurate simulation models. Effective dam operations could identify rules to meet water demand.
AI techniques can help develop optimal regulations for dam operation. This innovative technology can forecast reservoir inflow and evaporation, which are major components of dam simulation.
5. Gather Accurate And Precise Data
AI opens doors for sophisticated analysis of geospatial data and satellite imagery for a risk-based approach to monitoring dams with accuracy and precision. With a geospatial AI solution, dam operators can remotely monitor dams at scale. They can plan, prioritize, and optimize investment in critical infrastructures.
Data science teams of dam companies can apply effective machine learning technology and AI algorithms. In this way, they can interpret source data to come up with more meaningful output, promoting sustainable dam construction and operation. These technologies drive better business insights used in risk assessment and automated and frequent dam updates.
6. Remote, Scalable, And Cost-Effective Dam Monitoring
Dam monitoring promotes empowered dam operations for diverse protection of water resources. Operators can use AI to manage dam integrity and safety remotely. They can track unusual changes such as moisture, vegetation, and ground motion.
Advanced AI, along with multiple data feeds and satellites, provides a more comprehensive dam condition analysis, building a unique and accurate dam picture over time. Here’s how AI promotes remote, scalable, and cost-effective dam monitoring:
- Build A Full Risk Dam Profile: Dam operators can use AI tools to gain accurate insights by looking at historic and current dam views, prompting alerts on anomalous activity during site inspections. AI can monitor all dams, making it an ideal tool for remote dam locations.
- Track Issues Between Dam Surveys: Dam operators can use AI to correlate trend data, ensure millimeter accuracy, and send alerts of unusual changes.
- Deployment To The Right Place: Dam operators can help identify risk areas accurately through collective data gathering for direct investigation and deployment of maintenance teams.
7. Minimize Personnel Safety Risks
Dam repair maintenance and constructions involve underground activities like mining. Workers are exposed to dangers like suffocating gas, cave-ins, dust explosion, and collapses. In addition, storing and transporting explosives used in tunneling and rock blasting is dangerous.
AI can help minimize safety risks to dam workers. Accurate dam monitoring detects movements based on historical dam events to determine if personnel deployment is practical and safe. Dam owners and operators can easily see trends at more frequent intervals than traditional survey strategies. It also minimizes safety risks on dam sites.
Dam monitoring with the help of AI can help reduce accidents in dam construction and operation. Inspections and precautionary measures promote greater productivity of operators.
Artificial intelligence is an indispensable dam monitoring tool experts can use to predict and prevent dam disasters. This technology can help prioritize repairs in high-risk areas. In addition, based on previous and present entered calculations and certain dam disaster parameters, AI can help experts analyze the likelihood of dam failure or downstream to carry out safe evacuation early.
In addition, geospatial AI dam monitoring provides accurate data, precise forecasting, and personnel safety. Dam owners and operators should consider incorporating AI technology in monitoring during dam construction and day-to-day operations, especially in times of heavy rainfall and other potentially disaster-causing events.
Richard Waltz is a dam operator. He has been in the dam business industry for over two decades. Richard is an advocate of dam monitoring powered by artificial intelligence and other dam technologies. He shares his expertise through guest posting. During his free time, Richard loves playing basketball and watching action movies.