The process of implementing a damage detection and characterization strategy for engineering structures is referred to as Structural Health Monitoring (SHM). Here damage is defined as changes to the material and/or geometric properties of a structural system, including changes to the boundary conditions and system connectivity, which adversely affect the system's performance.
The SHM process involves the observation of a system over time using periodically sampled dynamic response measurements from an array of sensors, the extraction of damage-sensitive features from these measurements, and the statistical analysis of these features to determine the current state of system health. For long term SHM, the output of this process is periodically updated information regarding the ability of the structure to perform its intended function in light of the inevitable aging and degradation resulting from operational environments.
After extreme events, such as earthquakes or blast loading, SHM is used for rapid condition screening and aims to provide, in near real time, reliable information regarding the integrity of the structure.