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Structural Health Monitoring of Buildings Using Smartphone Sensors

Kong, Qingkai and Allen, Richard M. and Kohler, Monica D. and Heaton, Thomas H. and Bunn, Julian (2018) Structural Health Monitoring of Buildings Using Smartphone Sensors. Seismological Research Letters, 89 (2A). pp. 594-602. ISSN 0895-0695. doi:10.1785/0220170111.

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This article presents the results of a shaker test of the Millikan Library in Pasadena, California, using sensors inside smartphones to demonstrate their potential usage as a way to monitor health states of buildings. This approach to structural health monitoring could allow many more commercial and residential buildings to be monitored because it removes the cost prohibitive nature of traditional seismic arrays and the complexity of deploying the instruments. Recordings from the smartphones during the shaking show high correlation with those from a reference sensor in the building, illustrating that the phones can capture the shaking even when not fully coupled to the floor. The fundamental translational frequencies for the east–west and north–south directions and the torsional frequencies of the building can be extracted from single phone recordings. As we compare the displacement derived from the phone recording by double integration to that from the reference sensor, both phase and amplitude match well. Signal‐to‐noise ratio is improved further by stacking records from multiple phones. These test results demonstrate the ability to extract the fundamental translational and torsional frequencies, and absolute displacements from upper levels of buildings shaken by small local earthquakes. This work builds on the ongoing MyShake project—a global smartphone seismic network.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Heaton, Thomas H.0000-0003-3363-2197
Bunn, Julian0000-0002-3798-298X
Additional Information:© 2018 Seismological Society of America. Published Online 10 January 2018. Data and resources: Data for the shaker tests are available via request to This project is funded by Deutsche Telecom Silicon Valley Innovation Center, and by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5230 to UC Berkeley. In the analysis of the data, ObsPy (Beyreuther et al., 2010; Megies et al., 2011) and mtspec package were used (doi:10.5281/zenodo.321789); we thank the authors. We also thank Lucy Yin, Anthony Massari, Kenny Buyco, and other students and staff for setting up the shaker tests. The authors thank the four anonymous reviewers; their comments greatly improved this article.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Deutsche Telecom Silicon Valley Innovation CenterUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationGBMF5230
Issue or Number:2A
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180124-085543414
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Qingkai Kong, Richard M. Allen, Monica D. Kohler, Thomas H. Heaton, Julian Bunn; Structural Health Monitoring of Buildings Using Smartphone Sensors. Seismological Research Letters ; 89 (2A): 594–602. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84498
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Jan 2018 17:26
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:20

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