Pinoy-made building ‘health’ monitor makes formal debut

A Filipino-developed system that could monitor the “health” of a building was launched on Monday, Sept.2, in Pasay City.

Officials from the DOST and Mapua University lead the launch of the USHER system at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay

For a more economical price, building owners and government agencies can now purchase USHER (Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording System), an apparatus developed through a research funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Jan Gavina, project development officer III of USHER, said the equipment was developed by at least 30 researchers and professors from Mapua University in Manila.

“The idea came from the SmartBridge project that we previously developed also through DOST’s funding. The SmartBridge could monitor the ‘health’ of a bridge. So we further developed that into something that could monitor the ‘health’ of a building,” he said.

Gavina added that monitoring the “health” of a building is necessary, as the government requires safety certification of buildings after a magnitude 6 earthquake, for instance. He clarified that monitoring the building’s “health” or “heart beat” could be done with or without a strong earthquake.

“Monitoring its ‘health’ would help the (building’s) owner determine if it could withstand a strong earthquake,” he said.

He said Filipino building owners used to import the accelerograph, a strong-motion instrument or seismograph, or simply an earthquake accelerometer.

“That (imported equipment) is costlier, about P1.2 million. Also, it doesn’t provide the analysis. USHER, on the other hand, costs P700,000 for the equipment. We have partner structural engineers who can read the analysis for the clients. The price would depend on their agreement,” he explained.

The data or analysis from USHER is accessible through the cloud. Thus, both the structural engineer and the building owner could access this anytime. In case there is no Internet connection, data can also be retrieved from the equipment.

In case of power interruption, on the other hand, Gavina said USHER has a rechargeable battery that could last up to eight hours.

Gavina said a building owner would only need to place the USHER inside the infrastructure, in a secured place or vault, so it could not be moved intentionally. Normally, the engineer would put it in an isolated area or where there are fewer people. The equipment would then sense motion of the structure

The USHER would alarm and would send warning signs to the owner, too, according to Gavina. “If there would be an earthquake, it would only take about two hours before the structural engineer could get the analysis,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gavina said the development of USHER started in 2016. Base on tests, the equipment’s lifespan is 10 years, he added.

Gavina also said there are 12 government agencies that have been installed with USHER this year. “There was no cost for those government agencies. The cost is part of the research grant from the DOST,” he said. — Ma. Cristina Arayata (PNA)

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