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Monitoring in the digital age
24/1/05
Has Keynetix hit upon the elusive Internet "killer-application" with its new web-based geotechnical monitoring system?

The heady days of the dotcom boom are but a distant memory. And while very few people have got rich on the back of the Internet, it certainly hasn’t gone away.

Use of the Internet is still increasing exponentially, more people have broadband connections, and web-based applications are beginning to emerge where the benefits are so great that you genuinely wonder how you ever got by without them.

One such case is monitoringpoint.com, a web-based remote geotechnical instrumentation monitoring system developed by Keynetix.

Development started four years ago, when researchers at University of Southampton were studying ground movements during construction of the Ashford box as part of the first phase of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The project generated a huge volume of monitoring data and, partly because it was a research project, these data had to be shared by a large number of organisations based in a variety of locations. Initially the Southampton team uploaded the data loggers into an Excel spreadsheet and this was simply emailed to the interested parties.

But after about six months, and as the database built, the process became very clunky. The shear size of the spreadsheet files made emailing and interrogating the data very slow.

Southampton’s Dr David Richards mentioned the problem to former post-graduate research colleague Dr Roger Chandler, now Managing director at Keynetix. Out of this, Keynetix and Southampton University started looking at the potential of storing the data on a web server, accessible through a browser to anybody authorised to do so.

The beauty of the approach is not just instant accessibility from anywhere with an Internet connection; but when you want to look at trends and generate graphs, you need only to pull down the data that you are interested in. Critically this means you don?t have to pull in the whole dataset first.

Initial development was “on the basis that it seemed like a good idea” says Chandler, and this work sowed the seeds for what has become monitoringpoint.com.

When you consider that the database for the Ashford box project is now in excess of two million data readings, the benefits become obvious.

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