Portuguese researchers devise disaster-warning technology

Portuguese researchers devise disaster-warning technology

A group of five university researchers have come up with a pioneering new system for pin-pointing disasters before they happen.
It is just the kind of technology that could have saved the tragedy at Entre-os-Rios in 2001 when 59 bus passengers were killed when a bridge collapsed over the River Douro.
RemotWatch involves using satellite remote sensing and can detect “even the slightest shift” in man-made structures.
Not only will it save millions of euros by doing away with the need for old-fashioned monitoring measures, it can also be developed to the point where it will detect faults in natural structures, like cliffs, dams, bridges – even roads – nipping tragedy in the bud, and protecting lives.
The extraordinary new system has been devised by researchers at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro.
Lead scientist Joaquim João Sousa told Expresso that RemotWatch will be able to hone in on “slides of just millimetres in dams, roads, bridges or other man-made structures, in any part of the world”.
Thus far, the project has been financed with €250,000 by ADI (the Portuguese innovation agency) and QREN, and it has linked up with engineering company Norvia. It hopes to have a prototype ready for testing by 2015, and then, says Sousa, it can “go global”, for use in real time.