Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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PhDTalks | Flood Risk Mitigation through Smart Levee Solutions based on Fiber Optic Sensors: An Applied Case Study in Emilia-Romagna

28 November 2023 @ 17:15 - 18:30

Our next PhDTalks Seminar will be held on Tuesday 28th november in Fassò Room (Building 4A), from 5:15 pm to 6:30 pm CET

PhDTalks is a series of seminars and discussions between PhD students. The events are aimed at providing a place to network and get in contact with many of the projects developed in our department. 

Speaker Manuel Bertulessi will talk about “Flood Risk Mitigation through Smart Levee Solutions based on Fiber Optic Sensors: An Applied Case Study in Emilia-Romagna”

At the end of each event a small refreshment funded by the department will be available. 

You can watch the event online by clicking here.


The Smart Levee concept is an increasingly emerging practice applied to the monitoring of the serviceability and stability of riverbanks, a strategic asset for flood risk management in lowland areas. The levee smartness is given by a network of different kinds of sensors installed on site that, through a data interpretation layer, provide continuous information about the health conditions of the structure and its response to external solicitations. This approach can bring a strong improvement to the efficiency of the maintenance procedures, as well as to the surveillance procedures during flood events. We adopt this concept by conceiving an anti-erosion levee sensing revetment, based on the integration between a geomat reinforced with double twist wire mesh and Polymeric Fiber Optic Sensors (PFOS). The project, financed by the Agency for Territorial Safety and Civil Protection of the Emilia-Romagna Region, has been supported by Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, University of Padua (DICEA), Officine Maccaferri Spa ed Optosensing Srl. Lab experiments and finite element modeling have been performed to select the best coupling solution of PFOS to the reinforced geomat, hence design the layout of the sensing revetment. A prototype of this technology has been installed, both landside and riverside, on a 25 m linear length portion of the levee bank of the Grizzaga creek in Fossalta, by the town of Modena in Emilia-Romagna Region. This area hosts one of the most critical nodes of the fluvial network of the region and was hit by floods frequently in the past. The experimental site has been also equipped with some agronomic and geotechnical sensors to investigate the mechanical behavior of the levee when it is subjected to external solicitations – e.g. those caused by a flood event – hence, improving the response of the monitoring solution. Moreover, we designed and installed below sensing revetments placed riverside a testing system based on a set of pneumatic cushions that will be used to exert locally controlled soil deformation. The system successfully passed an important stress test during the heavy flood events that hit the Region in May 2023, detecting properly all the evolution of the flood wave. Further investigations are still ongoing, both with on-site tests and laboratory activities to characterize the sensibility of the monitoring solution to different kinds of possible solicitations.

Speaker’s bio

Manuel is a PhD student in Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering (37th cycle) at Politecnico di Milano. He got his MSc Degree in Environmental and Land Planning Engineering in 2019 at Politecnico di Milano.
Manuel’s research activity deals with the conceptualization of innovative monitoring solutions based on Fiber Optic Sensors for critical hydraulic infrastructures.
In his free time, Manuel loves travelling and hiking.


28 November 2023
17:15 - 18:30
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