Activities and Deliverables



1-A: Requirements for Remote Sensing Based Geotechnical Asset Management System including Types of Geotechnical Assets and their Conditions that need to be assessed in Different Transportation Environments - Download!

2-A: Candidate Remote Sensing Techniques for the Different Transportation Environments, Requirements, Platforms, and Optimal Data Fusion Methods for Accessing the State of Geotechnical Assets - Download!

3-A: Evaluation of the selected remote sensing techniques to assess the state of geotechnical assets and performance validation with historic geotechnical data. - Download!

4-A: Report & Demonstration of Performance rating of geotechnical assets using remotely measured displacement - Download!

5-A: A Review and Demonstration of the Geotechnical Asset Management Decision Support Sysem (GAMDSS) - Download!

6-A: Cost benefit analysis of a proactive geotechnical asset management system using remote sensing. - Download!

7-A: Implementation framework of the key project tasks for State DOTs/operator/owners, and 7-B: Outreach activities - Download!

9-A: Draft Final Report - Download!



Activities-1 & 8: Technical Advisory Committee and Kickoff Meeting
Activity-1 is the formation of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), building from the contacts established from previously funded OST-R projects (Phase I-IV) where appropriate, with guidance and approval of the Program Manager. It is anticipated that membership will be drawn from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and will be charged with evaluating the project approach, recommending methods and equipment, reviewing the results, and recommending outreach opportunities for dissemination of research findings. The TAC will be tasked with guiding the proposed research to ensure that the proposed course of action meets the needs of transportation agency stakeholders, as well as accomplishing the objectives of the research initiative. We propose to have two in-person TAC meetings (Activity-1: first meeting & Activity-8: second meeting) to be hosted at MTRI in Ann Arbor, MI or at another convenient location for the project team and TAC members. Periodic virtual meetings with TAC and the project team could also be used to gain additional inputs on a schedule recommended by the sponsor.
Activities 1 & 8 Output(s):
  • Creation of TAC
  • At least two meetings with the TAC.
  • Reporting on TAC recommendations and feedback.
  • Periodic virtual meetings with TAC to update the progress and obtain feedback.
Activities 1 & 8 Deliverable(s):
  • TAC meeting reports will be included in the quarterly reports.


Activity-2: Create, Publish, and Maintain a Project Website
As a critical activity of outreach and project communication, we will create, publish, and maintain a project website for the entire duration of the project. The link to the website will be included to the Commercial Remote Sensing And Spatial Information Program website (http://www.rita.dot.gov/rdt/remote_sensing.html) from the outset of the project. The website will be used to communicate and share results and progress with the sponsor, TAC, and other stakeholders interested in application of remote sensing for sustainable geotechnical asset management along the Transportation Infrastructure Environment.
Activity 2 Output(s):
  • Project website, created and maintained for the entire duration of the project.
Activity 2 Deliverable(s):
  • A summary of the operating web page and its look and design will be included in the first quarterly report of the project.


Activity-3: Conduct Survey of State DOTs/Operators/Owners
The team will initiate a survey to state DOTs, railway operators, and pipeline owners to solicit additional information regarding the needs of geotechnical asset management along the transportation environment. The survey will be intended to gather information on the needs of the users and the intended use of the geotechnical asset management system, types and conditions of geotechnical assets that need to be managed (such as retaining walls, slopes, rockfall, embankments etc.), concepts and constraints of operation, requirements of performance, database, and visualization of results. The survey will also aim to understand the limitations of DOTs/Operators/Owners for remote sensing based geotechnical asset management in terms of funding, infrastructure, and remote sensing expertise. Understanding the limitations will be crucial to develop a financially sustainable implementation framework. When required, the team will follow up survey responses with additional questions. The rate of response to the survey will be used as an evaluation criterion for the activity.
Activity 3 Output(s):
  • Improved understanding of the user’s needs/requirements for the geotechnical asset management system.
  • Understanding of the limitations of the users in implementing a remote sensing based system.
Activity 3 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 1-A: report “Requirements for remote sensing based geotechnical asset management system including types of geotechnical assets and their conditions that need to be assessed in different transportation environments”


Activity-4: Identifying the Candidate Remote Sensing Techniques
The team will list the candidate commercial remote sensing techniques likely to be able to meet the needs of the users in different transportation environments for geotechnical asset management. This will include defining the spatial and temporal resolution requirements, appropriate sensor and platform, potential data fusion, data size, storage, and processing requirements. Based on the options available, the team will investigate and document fully the applicability of three sensor types: optical, LiDAR, and InSAR from different platforms: satellite, airborne, UAV airborne, and terrestrial. The objective of this activity would be to shortlist the remote sensing technique(s) that would provide most promise to meet the requirements of the transportation industry to assess the state of geotechnical assets. As an example, the remote sensing technique that provides highest accuracy in monitoring retaining wall may not be the best for monitoring rockfall or embankment. Higher rating will be assigned to techniques that will be useful to monitor multiple geotechnical assets.
Activity 4 Output(s):
  • A comprehensive documentation of the commercial remote sensing techniques that can be used for geotechnical asset management along with a ranking of those most likely to be useful in the final system.
  • Recommendation of remote sensing techniques that will be used in the subsequent activities with detailed justification of why alternate technologies are not pursued.
Activity 4 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 2-A: report “Candidate remote sensing techniques for the different transportation environments, requirements, platforms, and optimal data fusion methods for accessing the state of geotechnical assets”


Activity-5: Field Verification and Evaluation
Given the list of candidate remote sensing techniques, the research team would perform comprehensive evaluation of the data products from these techniques to validate how accurately these observations represent the conditions of the geotechnical asset. For this activity, the research team would utilize the remote sensing data previously collected by the partners (MDOT, AKDOT, Alyeska, and Union Pacific Railroad) with focused new field data collections when necessary. The research team will test the processing of the remotely sensed data that will enable the extraction of relevant characteristics to assess the condition of geotechnical assets (such as displacement rates). The measurement characteristics and accuracies obtained by the different remote sensing methods (and different platforms, where applicable) will be compared to evaluate the InSAR, LiDAR, and optical results. The processing algorithms will include both established, internal tools and commercial software. The accuracy of the remotely sensed measurement will be compared to ground truth data obtained by field observations, including data from inclinometers and survey-grade GPS measurements from sites instrumented by our project partners. Finally, the applicability of remote sensing observation in extreme conditions such as vegetated areas, steep slopes etc, will also be evaluated.
Activity 5 Output(s):
  • Comparison of the candidate remote sensing techniques for geotechnical asset management, in terms of field accuracy, ease of processing, data handling, and its applicability in extreme site conditions.
  • Selection and recommendation of processing tools and algorithms to extract the needed information to monitor the geotechnical assets.
Activity 5 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 3-A: report “Evaluation of the selected remote sensing techniques to assess the state of geotechnical assets and performance validation with historic geotechnical data”


Activity-6: Performance Modeling and Condition Assessment
Activities 4 & 5 will help to identify the remote sensing sensor(s) and platform(s) that would provide cost effective monitoring of displacement of geotechnical assets along the transportation environment. Further, activity 6 will focus on interpreting how these displacements relate to the state of the asset. Depending upon the geology, geometry, groundwater condition, age, deterioration etc., the state of the geotechnical asset would vary for the same observed displacement. For example, a displacement of 10cm on a steep slope would be more hazardous compared to a shallow slope assuming both slopes have similar geologic material. Therefore, in this activity, the research team would identify the key variables for each of the different geotechnical assets that need to be considered together with the remote sensing observation to access the state of the asset. Further, based on these key variables and the remote sensing observation, a decision tree will be developed to model the state and performance of the asset. The validity of the model to predict the state of the geotechnical asset will be rigorously validated using historic remote sensing data and field observations of asset condition obtained from the partnering transportation agencies (AKDOT, MDOT, Alyeska, and UPRR). Once validated, the model will be developed as an open source Geotechnical Asset Rating Tool (GART) that can be utilized by the transportation agencies to access the state of their geotechnical asset using remote sensing input.
Activity 6 Output(s):
  • Relation between remotely sensed observation and the state of the geotechnical asset.
  • Critical variables beside the remote sensing input needed for performance modeling and condition assessment of geotechnical assets
Activity 6 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 4-A: A report titled “Performance rating of geotechnical assets using remotely measured displacement”
  • Deliverable 4-B: A demonstration of how the displacement measured using remote sensing along with other site variables can be used to access the condition of geotechnical assets along the transportation corridor “Performance modeling of geotechnical assets using remote sensing inputs: A geotechnical asset rating tool (GART)”.


Activity-7: Develop Queryable Decision Support Visualization
The primary task under Activity 7 will be to complete a geospatial Geotechnical Asset Management Decision Support System (the GAMDSS) that incorporates both hazard and risk assessment information. The GAMDSS will need to incorporate hazard data collected by the project’s remote sensing methods, as well as data available from collaborators collected with existing methods. The previously described hazard categories will drive the evaluation and communication of the risk assessment that the GAMDSS will include. We are planning on building from the open and modular Bridge Condition Decision Support System (BCDSS) that was designed and coded by the MTRI team members with guidance of civil engineers and TAC input for the Phase II Bridge Condition (Ahlborn) project. This same BCDSS is now also being adapted for use in the Phase IV “Automated Scour Detection Arrays using Bio-Inspired Magnetostrictive Flow Sensors” (Swartz) project. Previously, we have demonstrated the capability to integrate pre-existing tabular data, new remote sensing data, derived condition indicators, and user queries in a web-based client with a strong GIS mapping focus (Figure 4.1 shows an example of what the GAMDSS interface could look like, using the BCDSS as the framework). Input on the requirements for GAMDSS functionality from the project’s Technical Advisory Committee will be critical for success. Evaluation of commercial software tools for decision support will also be important; these can augment or replace in-house open source DSS tools if they are sufficiently advanced and flexible, although the main purpose will be for comparison purposes to ensure that the best GAMDSS functionality is being developed. While the requirements process will need TAC input, we anticipate several risk factors that will need to be addressed with GAMDSS functionality. These include displaying risk factor data such as traffic impedance, environmental impact, emergency lifeline priority ranking (is it a low-traffic or high-traffic area?), and benefit/cost factors, where these data are available. Integrating and displaying LiDAR, InSAR, optical, and GIS data will be likely be needed, depending on technology progress. Displaying risks by location and highlighting changes in geotechnical assets over time should help provide short-range and long-range planning capabilities that users are likely to need. We will present these initial ideas to the TAC for their input.
Activity 7 Output(s):
  • A practical demonstration of a Decision Support System able to meet the project’s geotechnical asset management needs
  • A user-friendly interface that includes integration of remote sensing data, analyzed results, hazard categories, and risk data.
Activity 7 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 5-A: A report describing the requirements of the GAMDSS based on project expertise and TAC input, entitled “Geotechnical Asset Management Decision Support System Requirements.” (Due by 12 months)
  • Deliverable 5-B: A report detailing the GAMDSS software acquired or developed during this project, entitled “A Review of the Geotechnical Asset Management Decision Support System (GAMDSS).” (Due by 24 months)


Activity-9: Cost-benefit Analysis
An important element to convince the transportation agencies to adopt a proactive geotechnical asset management using remote sensing would be the cost-benefit analysis. In this activity, the research team would develop a cost-benefit analysis that would evaluate the financial benefits of having a proactive geotechnical asset management system that incorporate remote sensing technologies compared to the traditional reactive or “worst-first” approach of maintenance. The basis for the proactive geotechnical asset management is to implement project planning and selection on the basis of “most-at-risk” asset. The cost-benefit analysis will be performed in terms of life-cycle cost savings. This will be computed using specific site examples from the different transportation environments (Highway, Railway, & Pipelines).
Activity 9 Output(s):
  • Life-cycle cost saving of a proactive geotechnical asset management system using remote sensing.
Activity 9 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 6-A: A report titled “Cost benefit analysis of a proactive geotechnical asset management system using remote sensing”


Activity-10: Remote Sensing Implementation Framework
For the State DOTs and other end-users, adopting a new approach for geotechnical asset management using remote sensing may require significant changes that include modifications to both how an agency obtains information on geotechnical assets and how the information is used for decision making. Therefore, providing an implementation framework on how the remote sensing based geotechnical asset management system can be practically adopted will be extremely important for the successful utilization of this method by transportation agencies. The research team will develop the implementation framework considering the limitations of the State DOTs in terms of funding, infrastructure, remote sensing expertise (obtained from activity-3), and the cost-benefit analysis (activity-9). The implementation framework will provide guidance and strategies on how the remote sensing based geotechnical asset management system can be implemented for few critical sites as well as for the entire transportation network. The implementation framework will also highlight the open-source decision support tool for performance modeling (Activity-6) and the decision support system for the visualization of hazard and risk (Activity-7), and how it can be used by the transportation agencies.
Activity 10 Output(s):
  • Practical guidance for transportation agencies to implement a remote sensing based geotechnical asset management system
  • Guidance on how to implement for few sites as well as for an entire transportation network
Activity 10 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 7-A: A report titled “An implementation framework of the key project tasks for State DOTs/operators/owners”


Activity-11: Comprehensive Outreach Activities
The comprehensive outreach will be a key activity of this project. The objective of the outreach activities will be to demonstrate the cost-benefit and viability, and to describe the implementation framework of remote sensing based geotechnical asset management to stakeholders and other end-users. To achieve this objective, we will complete an extensive and well-planned outreach program with multiple components. A key component will be holding meetings and interactive web sessions with stakeholders and other partners whom we have identified through the project as being end users of our geotechnical asset management remote sensing technologies and tools. Experience from previous CRS&SI projects will be incorporated to enhance the outreach. This includes traveling and presenting to likely end users, which we plan on integrating with our planned projects efforts in Alaska, Utah, Michigan, and elsewhere. As project travel must be efficient, we will also summarize our work in a logical set of technology implementation white papers that will be posted to the user-friendly project web page. Peer-reviewed papers (at least two) are also planned. To ensure that both identified and potential end users understand the value and cost-benefits of the activities as the project develops, we will also regularly write a series of descriptive blog posts available on the project’s web page. The project website will be maintained for the duration of the project and will provide a clear link to the Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Technologies web page at http://www.rita.dot.gov/rdt/remote_sensing.html. The project web page will be designed similarly to ones such as the USDOT\OST-R Bridge Condition Remote Sensing page at www.mtti.mtu.edu/bridgecondition and the USDOT\OST-R Unpaved Roads page at www.mtri.org/unpaved that have worked well for reaching out results and objectives on previous CRS&SI phases. Another component will be developing a professional quality interactive promotional video, with the assistance of Michigan Tech's Cin/Optic Communications and Media Enterprise Team (http://blogs.mtu.edu/cinoptic/about/), that can be distributed freely using online distribution through social media and a DVD to the end-users. An example of an interactive video for asset management produced with help from Michigan Tech can be viewed at the following link http://mdotcf.state.mi.us/public/asset_management_training/. Our experience indicates that this would significantly facilitate end-users in visualizing the functioning of the key tasks of this project and communicate this information to the management to initiate implementation. The video will highlight the cost savings of a proactive geotechnical asset management system and demonstrate the implementation framework of the key project tasks. The list of agencies reached through this activity and the number of presentations made will be used as an evaluation criterion for our outreach efforts. Also included as part of the outreach efforts will be presenting at relevant and appropriate agency meetings, committees, workshops, and conferences, both directly and through web meetings as possible. Previous experience has shown the team that being willing to present at TRB committees, AASHTO topic meetings, state or regional-specific workshops, professional conferences, and other stakeholder outlets is important to facilitating the process of end users understanding and adopting remote sensing technologies as part of their methods. We recommend continuing and extending this pattern through this project.
Activity 11 Output(s):
  • Outreach to the stakeholders to maximize the implementation of project deliverables and to illustrate its benefits to the transportation community, including:
    1. Stakeholder end-user outreach meetings, onsite where possible to present the cost-benefit of a proactive geotechnical asset management system and demonstrate the implementation framework.
    2. Technology implementation white papers, posted to project web page
    3. Peer-reviewed papers in journals focused on technology end users
    4. Descriptive blog posts so known and potential end users can understand project progress and the value of results and methods
    5. User-friendly project website
    6. Professional outreach video made available through social media and as a DVD
    7. Presentations to relevant meetings, committees, workshops, and conferences to help ensure likely and potential end users have the opportunity to understand and learn directly about the project results and how they can be implemented.
Activity 11 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 7-B: A report describing the specific outreach components completed as part of activity 11, including descriptions of the results identified in the seven-part comprehensive outreach program described in the activity outputs.


Activity-12 - 14: Reporting and Publication
The project team will produce the quarterly reports summarizing the technical status of each task, problems encountered if any, and the future plans. The quarterly reports will also highlight the critical milestones achieved. The final report will include accomplishments for each task, obstacle encountered, and how they were overcome. The final report will also include detailed description of the key results and findings of the each activity, narrative of the implementation framework, description of the decision support tools (Deliverable 4-B & Deliverable 6-B), and outreach and implementation efforts resulting from this project will also be described. The key research findings from this project will be communicated to the stakeholders through relevant peer-reviewed international journal publication. The peer-review process would ensure that the project results are cutting edge and relevant. The timely submission of detailed clear reports and dissemination of key research findings through peer-reviewed publication and popular press articles will be used as an evaluation criterion for the activity.
Activities 12-14 Output(s):
  • Regular and clear communication of project progress to the sponsor and stakeholder community.
Activities 12-14 Deliverable(s):
  • Deliverable 8-A: Quarterly progress reports, quarters 1-8 inclusive.
  • Deliverable 9-A: Final report
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