Important Pointers on Early Detection and Warning Mechanism of Rockfall Radars
Rockfall radars help in determining the distance, velocity, and angle of falling rocks to adjudge their impact on the area, thus helping in risk analysis and evaluation of effects of rockfall. Rockfall radars have, hence, become extremely crucial for construction and maintenance of large infrastructure projects like dams, highways, railway lines, etc. Various studies and experiments have been conducted by engineers and academicians to test and improve the efficacy of rockfall radars.
The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have once again demonstrated how disastrous natural disasters can be. Though such natural calamities can’t be controlled completely, there are numerous ways to reduce their impact. Planned and sustainable infrastructure development, full-proof environmental clearances, predictive analysis methodologies, early disaster-detection and warning systems, quick response mechanisms, etc., are some of the most crucial steps that need to be taken to mitigate the challenges posed by natural calamities. Of all these mechanisms, early disaster-detection and warning systems can be improved the most with the help of new-age technologies. Rockfall radars are a perfect example of how technology can help to predict and warn about an impending calamity. By 2031, the rockfall radar market is predicted to surpass $285.6 million, increasing from $126.6 million in 2021.
Early Detection Through Rockfall Radars
Radars basically work on the principle of radiolocation, i.e., using radio waves to calculate and adjudge the distance, velocity, and angle of a stationary or moving object in reference to the site where the radar is placed. This working mechanism of radars make them a perfect solution for disasters like landslides, avalanches, heavy rainstorms, etc. Not just for natural disasters, rockfall radars can also be employed while building dams, constructing tunnels and railway lines, and in mines to provide data for risk analysis and evaluation of possible effects of anticipated rockfall mishaps.
Take the example of Geoprevent’s ROCYX® Rockfall radar; with a range of more than 1 km and coverage of around 1 sq.km., this system makes use of multiple radars to provide data about the nature of expected rockfall, its impact area, velocity, timeframe of the impact, etc. Moreover, this radar is designed to work perfectly well in different weather conditions including snowfall, fog, and torrential rain.
Hexagon’s RockSpot is another popular radar system which, in addition to the common features, also offers real-time streaming of the monitoring of the expected impact area. Moreover, the radars also provide for automatic georeferencing of tracked rockfalls with the help of embedded navigation systems like GNSS.
Apart from Geoprevent and Hexagon, leading companies of the rockfall radar market like Geobrugg AG, Canary Systems, GroundProbe, etc., have been investing heavily in improving the radio detection and ranging capabilities of their systems to provide for better early detection and warning capabilities. This is especially necessary in the post-pandemic period, wherein there has been a major rise in the rate of construction of various infrastructure projects like highways, dams, and mining activities.
As per a report published by Research Dive, European countries like Switzerland, France, Austria have gone a step further and enacted laws in their corresponding legislatures wherein installation of such tools and technologies has been made mandatory for the construction companies prior to initiating infrastructure projects. Such initiatives and proactive legislations have helped the rockfall radar market to thrive in the Europe region.
Academic Discussions on the Efficiency of Rockfall Radars
The emerging nature of rockfall radar technology has attracted various academicians, engineers, and geologists to conduct studies and experiments on the working of rockfall radars and improving their efficiency. One such study to test the rockfall detection system was done by a six-member team comprising of Geoprevent officials and University of Florence academicians. The team conducted the study on Route SP29, a connecting road to Santa Catarina, Lombardy, Italy; the study found that 60% landslides and rockfall events that occurred on this road caused road closures and 85% of these closures were automatically reopened by the real-time rockfall detection system with the help of Doppler Radar technology.
Thus, through emergent technologies like Artificial intelligence, geospatial mapping using infrared camera and drones, and efficient rockfall radars, the risks and damage associated with natural and anthropogenically induced calamities can certainly be reduced. Other countries should follow the suit of the above-mentioned European countries and enact legislations to further the cause of rockfall radars so as to instill public confidence in large infrastructure projects.
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