A Smart Structural Health Monitoring System for Cable-Supported Bridges

Many sea-crossing bridges connect islands in the Korean peninsula to the mainland. Photo of Gwangan Bridge in Busan is courtesy of KICT.

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Korean engineers develop a structural monitoring and measurement system that can manage multiple cable bridges in Southeast Asia.


There are many cable-supported bridges in the Republic of Korea because of its topography. The Korean peninsula has more than 3,000 islands, and many sea-crossing bridges connect some of these islands to the mainland. Incheon Grand Bridge, which links to the Incheon International Airport, is the longest bridge (total length) in the country and the fifth longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Over the years, Korean engineers have developed the technology and know-how for designing and constructing cable-supported bridges as well as systems for structural monitoring and measurement.

Armed with local expertise and experience, Korean bridge contractors have started to expand their operations toward the overseas market, mainly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Contractors however faced difficulties in the field of structural monitoring and measurement because the systems they use were previously applied only to Korean bridges.

The Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT), a government-funded research institute, has developed a smart structural measurement and monitoring system to support and improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized Korean construction contractors who are targeting the overseas market for expansion. The system is currently provided in English for versatility, but the language can be changed or other languages may be added. KICT is eyeing cable-supported bridge projects in Brunei and Malaysia for the initial application of this technology.

Why is a structural monitoring system important?

It is a tool that helps ensure the structural integrity and safety of the infrastructure. The system can improve maintenance efficiency and secure safety by comprehensively analyzing design data, construction history, and measurement data analysis results.

Currently, a number of cable-supported bridge construction projects are in progress in Southeast Asia. However, the structural monitoring and measurement system used is often not easily customized to local conditions and various environments nor is it user-friendly.

What system was developed by KICT?

KICT developed a smart bridge management and maintenance system that can integrate and manage individual measurement systems of multiple cable bridges. It considers overseas technology localization and aims to advance measurement data analysis technology. As a user-friendly, GUI-based standard platform, this technology is easy to operate and intuitive to support information for decision-making, so nonprofessionals can perform measurement management monitoring more easily.

What makes it a smart system?

The bridge monitoring system, which was mainly used for Korean bridges, is built for each individual bridge, so its functions include system expansion (addition of sensor types, removal, change of result display method) and setting of reasonable standards based on measurement data. In addition, data quality improvement (data filtering) functions were not implemented as only the simple display of collected data was supported.

The smart monitoring system developed by KICT can change functions according to the needs of the user, and it proposes a reference value set based on the collected data rather than the measurement standard value that was set according to the structural design. Therefore, when the bridge structure does not show normal movement, the system is designed to recognize it and notify the user. Since each sensor has different signal characteristics due to differences in static/dynamic measurement methods and sensor measurement methods (vibration-based, load-based, etc.), data filtering and analysis techniques must be individually applied accordingly. As described above, the system can freely apply the relevant techniques according to the site construction conditions, so that even in the case of a bridge in which a number of sensors of various types are installed, it is possible to implement the function.

What kind of data can it gather and monitor?

This system can fully operate its functions at the project site when the construction and monitoring system is completed. In the case of a site under construction, it is possible to select and apply only the necessary functions. During bridge construction, environmental factors, such as temperature and wind speed at the site, are mainly measured, as well as the inclination of the pylon and the tension occurring in the cable. Structural safety can also be reviewed.

In the case of a bridge in operation, data are collected in various ways, depending on the design and applied monitoring system. In addition to the temperature gradient and tension, data such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), structure vibration, vehicle load, and strain can be acquired. The developed system has the ability to check how the structure is responding to structural behavior according to daily environmental changes through these data and to detect and notify the user when unusual movements occur.

What makes it easily customizable and implemented? How can it integrate data from multiple bridges?

The developed system is modularized, and necessary functions can be added or removed according to the user's request. That is why it can be applied to various types of bridges and their monitoring systems, and basically, the system can be applied regardless of any equipment configuration (sensor type and its manufacturer). The system is designed to be operated remotely using an online communications network (e.g., wireless, wired, optical) and can be built to monitor multiple bridges in one system on the premise that an appropriate database is established. In principle, the existing SCADA system can also be linked or integrated with this system through the system integration stage but this depends on the configuration of the SCADA system.

Where is this smart technology being used?

The signal analysis algorithm developed for this smart monitoring system was applied to the measurement data analysis of Incheon Bridge. In addition, this system is applied to the measurement system of Dolsan Bridge (cable-stayed bridge) and Namhae Sulli Skywalk (Cable-supported structure) located in Yeosu.

The system application was completed in the year 2021 and is ready for operation. The technology was initially scheduled to be applied to the construction of cable-supported bridges in Brunei and Malaysia. However, project execution was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) website.

Ki-Tae Park
Senior Research Fellow, Department of Structural Engineering Research, Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology

Ki-Tae Park’s main research fields are the development of Internet of Things-based structural health monitoring technology and its use for the efficient maintenance of aging infrastructure. He received his doctoral degree in Structural Engineering from Yonsei University in the Republic of Korea.

Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT)

The Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology contributes to the development of the Korean construction industry, improves quality of life standards, furthers national economic growth, and improves social welfare. It promotes original technology in the fields of land, infrastructure, and construction.

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