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Wireless Building Monitoring System (WBMS)


Exponent in partnership with California Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Force 3 has developed a system for monitoring damaged buildings and structures to improve safety in emergency response situations.

The WBMS allows emergency response personnel at an incident site to quickly assess and monitor the stability of damaged buildings and structures throughout the operation. By constantly monitoring the structure for small angular movements, it is possible to provide rescue workers advanced warning of potential collapse. Once the remote sensors are attached to the structure, the system uses precision inclinometers and digital radio technology to provide improved measurement accuracy without putting personnel in harm’s way.

Key Features:

  • Precision Tilt measurement in two axes
  • Modular architecture, multiple sensor and receiver modules capable of monitoring several locations and structures simultaneously
  • Continuous readings - more reliable than transit-based measurements
  • No false alarms from bumping transit
  • Flexible power supply options
  • Adjustable alarm threshold per sensor
  • Hand-held monitor with audio alert
  • Hands free operation with earphone
  • Flexible mounting options
  • Optional Base-station

How It Works:

The remote sensor unit contains two precision inclinometers connected to a microprocessor and digital radio. The angles measured by the inclinometers are converted to a digital format and broadcast to the receiver module. The remote sensor module constantly checks for angles that are beyond a user-selectable threshold value. If the angle of the structure moves beyond the limit, an alarm is sent to the receiver module and the user is notified by an audible alarm and by visual indicator on the display. The hand-held receiver module uses a standard Pocket PC to set up and display the data from the remote sensors. The remote sensors can be quickly mounted to structures of interest and remotely zeroed and calibrated from the hand-held receiver. Unlike typical transit based monitoring schemes, this system offers the advantage of ‘set and forget’ setup. The user is completely free to move about the site and is not tethered by wires.

Disaster Site Management:

Incident Commanders and Safety Officers can take advantage of this highly affective tool to help them forecast structure collapse and increase site safety. The data recording capability is also useful for characterizing ‘normal’ structural behavior. By analyzing the trends in the data, Safety Officers will be able to reduce the number of false alarms without compromising operational safety.

System Specifications:

 Sensor Module Accuracy 

 Inclinometers Accurate to 1/1000th of a Degree 

 Hand-held Computer

 Standard Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) 

 Digital Radio 

 Spread Spectrum, Frequency Hopping

 250 mW Transmit Power (1W Optional) 


 1000 feet (up to 10 Miles with 1W Radio Option) 

 Battery Life

 24 Hour Operation (with Standard Battery Pack)

 7 Day Operation (with Extended-life Battery Pack) 


 Exponent WBMS v. 1.5