Wireless sensor networks for permanent health monitoring of historic buildings

Daniele Zonta, Huayong Wu, Matteo Pozzi, Paolo Zanon, Matteo Ceriotti, Luca Mottola, Gian Pietro Picco, Amy L. Murphy, Stefan Guna, Michele Corrà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the application of a wireless sensor network to a 31 meter-tall medieval tower located in the city of Trento, Italy. The effort is motivated by preservation of the integrity of a set of frescoes decorating the room on the second floor, representing one of most important International Gothic artworks in Europe. The specific application demanded development of customized hardware and software. The wireless module selected as the core platform allows reliable wireless communication at low cost with a long service life. Sensors include accelerometers, deformation gauges, and thermometers. A multi-hop data collection protocol was applied in the software to improve the system's flexibility and scalability. The system has been operating since September 2008, and in recent months the data loss ratio was estimated as less than 0.01%. The data acquired so far are in agreement with the prediction resulting a priori from the 3-dimensional FEM. Based on these data a Bayesian updating procedure is employed to real-time estimate the probability of abnormal condition states. This first period of operation demonstrated the stability and reliability of the system, and its ability to recognize any possible occurrence of abnormal conditions that could jeopardize the integrity of the frescos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-618
Number of pages24
JournalSmart Structures and Systems
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2010


  • Bayesian analysis
  • fiber optic sensors
  • historic construction
  • structural health monitoring
  • wireless sensor network


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