Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring and Evaluation (PRIME) system

Ground Engineering Award
PRIME system

PRIME is a low cost system specifically designed to monitor through remote operation, for deployment on 'at risk' geotechnical assets (e.g. embankments, cuttings and dams). PRIME combines emerging geophysical ground imaging technology with innovative data telemetry, web portal access and intelligent monitoring. It develops the basis of a new generation of 'smart' earthwork technology capable of imaging the internal physical condition of infrastructure earthworks using diagnostic methods routinely used in medical physics.

The PRIME system uses electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) technology, a non-invasive geophysical technique that enables the imaging of the subsurface. It uses renewable solar energy to power the 10W requirement of the system, enabling it to run without mains electricity.

Using PRIME, it is possible to monitor the internal condition of infrastructure assets at near real time, with both a high temporal and spatial resolution. It monitors the moisture content of the asset and can track ground movement, whilst its interface with point sensors allow it to respond to changes in conditions by increasing the temporal resolution of its monitoring schedule.

PRIME assists with decision support by giving near real time updates of the condition of an asset, providing an early warning of failure. This allows stakeholders to predict, rather than just respond to incidents involving critical infrastructure. In recognition of these benefits, PRIME won the 2016 Ground Engineering Product and Equipment Innovation Award.

In addition to geotechnical applications, PRIME can also be used for monitoring geohazards (e.g. landslides) and groundwater processes (e.g. contaminant transport). These applications are backed up by a wealth of experience in the geophysical tomography team.

Project partners


For further information, please contact Jonathan Chambers, geophysical tomography team leader.