Autonomous evaluation of ambient vibration of underground spaces induced by adjacent subway trains using high-sensitivity Wireless Smart sensors

Ke Sun, Wei Zhang, Huaping Ding, Robin E. Kim, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The operation of subway trains induces secondary structure-borne vibrations in the nearby underground spaces. The vibration, along with the associated noise, can cause annoyance and adverse physical, physiological, and psychological effects on humans in dense urban environments. Traditional tethered instruments restrict the rapid measurement and assessment on such vibration effect. This paper presents a novel approach for Wireless Smart Sensor (WSS)-based autonomous evaluation system for the subway train-induced vibrations. The system was implemented on a MEMSIC's Imote2 platform, using a SHM-H highsensitivity accelerometer board stacked on top. A new embedded application VibrationLevelCalculation, which determines the International Organization for Standardization defined weighted acceleration level, was added into the Illinois Structural Health Monitoring Project Service Toolsuite. The system was verified in a large underground space, where a nearby subway station is a good source of ground excitation caused by the running subway trains. Using an on-board processor, each sensor calculated the distribution of vibration levels within the testing zone, and sent the distribution of vibration level by radio to display it on the central server. Also, the raw time-histories and frequency spectrum were retrieved from the WSS leaf nodes. Subsequently, spectral vibration levels in the one-third octave band, characterizing the vibrating influence of different frequency components on human bodies, was also calculated from each sensor node. Experimental validation demonstrates that the proposed system is efficient for autonomously evaluating the subway train-induced ambient vibration of underground spaces, and the system holds the potential of greatly reducing the laboring of dynamic field testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSmart Structures and Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


  • Ambient vibration
  • Subway train
  • Underground space
  • Wireless smart sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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