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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

On Thursday, February 29th, 2024, The Engineer UK announced the winners of the 2023 Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Awards. The winner under the 'Information, Data & Connectivity' category was the collaborative research initiative titled 'Innovative Pre-Straining Tools and BOFDA Technology Assessment’, a global collaboration involving the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) and the Laing O’Rourke Centre (University of Cambridge) along with the University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka); the University of Oxford,  Access Engineering PLC (Sri Lanka) fibrisTerre Systems GmbH (Germany); the University of Qatar; Epsimon and WSP UK Limited.

This project was led by Dr Kasun Kariyawasam with support from a number of current and former members of Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure (CSIC) at the University of Cambridge including Prof Campbell Middleton, Prof Jennifer Schooling, Dr Cedric Kechavarzi, Dr Xiaomin Xu, Prof Sinan Acikgoz, Dr Sakthy Selvakumaran, Dr Graham Webb, Prof Brian Sheil, Dr Nicky de Battista and Prof Mohammed Elshafie.

This cross-border and cross-disciplinary project was initiated to explore a specific, relatively new Fibre Optic Monitoring technology known as Brillouin Optical Frequency Domain Analysis (BOFDA). Conducting a thorough and critical evaluation of this technology and comparing its efficacy with calibration testing, the team successfully validated the technology's capabilities and established a strong foundation for its global implementation. One of the hallmark innovations of the project was in providing first-of-a-kind experimental evidence on the need for pre-straining fibre optic cables in the compression zones to improve accuracy, and development of a new tool to provide pre-straining of fibre optic cables embedded in reinforced concrete structures.

The impact of the project extended beyond technological advancements. By introducing fibre-optic monitoring to Sri Lanka, a region with a significant infrastructure investment but limited access to advanced monitoring systems, researchers broadened the scope of applicability for these technologies. Additionally, the examination of attachment mechanisms for fibre-optic cables addressed critical aspects of maintaining the integrity of monitoring systems, especially under challenging environmental conditions.

Beyond technological innovation, the project’s impact also extends to capacity-building efforts. By training students and industry professionals, the project team have ensured the effective implementation and sustainability of these technologies. This focus on skill development creates a competent workforce capable of applying advanced monitoring technologies across diverse infrastructure projects, amplifying the project's long-term significance in civil engineering and infrastructure management.


Read more in The Engineer. The Engineer magazine, which was first launched in 1856, established C2I awards to celebrate cutting edge technology-led engineering collaboration across a range of different engineering disciplines and sectors.

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