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1.5 Pitutsimaniq, networked sensor sentinels for real-time surveillance of infrastructures and ecosystems

Principal Investigators

Michel Allard, Leslie Ann Rusch


Guy Doré, Sophie LaRochelle, Younès Messaddeq


David Conciatori, Ariane Locat

Collaborators outside U. Laval

Anderson S. L. Gomes (Brazil)

Project summary

Pitutsimaniq, network in Inuktitut, captures the essence of this project that targets interconnectivity of infrastructure monitoring systems for immediate benefit to northern communities. Construction, expansion, and land-use planning are required for economic development of a fast-growing population in northern communities, yet they are troubled by climate change and destabilizing permafrost. Communication networks dedicated to monitoring ecosystems and infrastructures could provide tremendous capabilities: real-time observation of climate change impact, hazard detection, early warning of risks, assessment of performance of applied adaptive designs, and enabling fast decision making. Sentinels of change today are isolated silos – sensors and data-loggers patiently gathering precious readings for researchers and users who can access them only a few times a year. Researchers, northern communities and infrastructure owners need real-time surveillance of the environment and infrastructure. Intelligent, interconnected networks of sensors, conveying the latest trends as well as impending cataclysms, can usher in a new era of innovation, an inflection point in the pace of human understanding of climate change, even as that change accelerates. We propose basic research into networks of low-cost sensors endowed with the capacity to read and store data, transmit this information under harsh climatic conditions, and all with minimal energy consumption. Networked sensors covering the whole length of linear transportation infrastructure and the spatial extent of communities will give warning of incipient failures in covered areas by detecting nascent localized heat sources in the terrain. Longer term, innovative fiber-based sensors will be developed for ground temperature, infrastructure behavior, and ecosystem dynamics. These intelligent networking elements will be transplanted into the panoply of innovative Sentinel North sensors developed by other teams, thus providing deeper insight and understanding of the impact on the environment and man-made infrastructure.