Article Instrumentation & Monitoring

Introduction to the AGS Instrumentation and Monitoring Working Group (I&MWG)

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In March last year an international Instrumentation and Monitoring (I&M) Conference in London concluded with a Ground Engineering Round Table debate intended to identify matters within the I&M sector that needed attention.

It became apparent that there were key areas of concern about the need for education, training, and qualifications.

Taking an active part in the Round Table debate was Jonathan Gammon, Non-Executive Director and Advisor at I&M specialists Geotechnical Observations Limited and a Past-Chairman of AGS.

Jonathan believed that AGS was well-placed to take forward the matters discussed and subsequently submitted to AGS a proposal for the formation of an Instrumentation and Monitoring Working Group (I&MWG). AGS’s Executive approved the proposal towards the end of 2019 and invited Jonathan to be its Leader.

The role of I&M
“It’s easy for those of us directly involved in I&M to understand the importance of I&M” Jonathan recognises “but I hope the following diagram – my “GeoWheel©” – illustrates just how important it is:

The GeoWheel© is a means of:
• showing how ground engineering can be divided into distinct activities and how these activities interact,
• introducing Clients to the scope and range of services available to them,
• showing the nature, ownership, and progression of reports that are generated during a project’s lifecycle, and
• identifying key areas of “know-how” required of staff seeking professional qualifications such as Incorporated Engineer (IEng), Chartered Engineer (CEng), and Chartered Geologist (CGeol)

The four activities beyond the rim of the GeoWheel© (e.g. Project Management), hold steady the dynamics of the GeoWheel©.

The “R&D” activity that features at the hub of the GeoWheel© is short-hand for a range of activities such as Advanced Numerical Modelling Physical Modelling, Innovation, and the like … as well as Research & Development.

I&M lies at the hub of the GeoWheel© – indeed, forms its axle – and is therefore critical to both the rotation and the stability of the diverse activities around the GeoWheel© and those neighbouring activities at the hub itself.

I&M relates not only to geotechnical engineering and engineering geology but also to tunnelling, environmental engineering (including contaminated land and environmental monitoring), and structural engineering.”
It is important to note that the GeoWheel© does not identify the necessity to consider I&M on a Whole-Life basis, taking in long-term as well as baseline requirements. These may extend well beyond construction or implementation and include asset management, decommissioning, and demolition, as appropriate.

The Aims of the I&MWG
The importance of I&M, the need for it to be placed on the education curriculum, the need for formal programmes of training, and for there to be recognised qualifications for all those involved in I&M are the key drivers of the Aims of the I&MWG:
• To promote geotechnical, structural, and environmental instrumentation and monitoring (I&M) to the geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and wider ground engineering community.
• To raise awareness to clients, asset owners, their professional advisors, and related parties, of the need for baseline (i.e. pre-implementation/construction), project implementation, and post-implementation I&M for all types of projects and asset management.
• To be a focal point for the education and training of those engaged, or seeking to be engaged, in I&M including, but not limited to: the design and manufacture of instruments and related software and research and development, the design of and specification of I&M, the procurement of I&M, the installation of instruments, and the interpretation and presentation of I&M and related software.
• To identify and define an appropriate data format to effect the transfer of I&M data for interpretation, analysis, and presentation.

These Aims are contained in the “Terms of Reference and Modus Operandi” document as a necessary feature of the proposal to form this new Working Group.

The document then sets down how these Aims are to be achieved through the Group’s Activities, by:
a) promoting the activities of the I&MWG to the AGS Membership and to the wider industry.
b) maintaining a watching brief on I&M activities of the wider national and international engineering and related communities, and reporting these to the membership.
c) organising and running I&MWG initiatives and events on behalf of AGS.
d) being involved closely in the drafting and reviewing of national and international standards, codes of practice and other definitive guidance.
e) being represented on national and international Technical Committees, and the like, in addition to d), above.
f) being pro-active at all levels of education and technical and professional training.
g) establishing and promoting recognised qualifications for all those engaged in I&M work.
h) striving to become a leading national authority on I&M matters affecting the AGS Membership and the wider industry.

Promotion of the I&MWG within AGS and the Founding Members of the I&MWG
Existing Members of AGS were contacted to identify individuals who could be the Founding Members of the I&MWG. “My ambition was initially to establish what I saw as a “critical mass” of at least ten members forming the I&MWG”, reports Jonathan.

The Founding Members of the I&MWG are:
Jonathan Gammon Geotechnical Observations Limited [I&MWG Leader]
Neil Atkinson Arcadis
Paul Bailie Arup
Katharine Barker Campbell Reith
Tom Birch Geotechnics
Philip Child Bentley Systems
Chris Crosby Bridgeway Consulting
Emma Leivers Geotechnical Engineering
Mario Markos Miletic Fugro
Rachel Monteith BuroHappold Engineering
Andrew Ridley Geotechnical Observations Limited
Alice Shrubshall BuroHappold Engineering

“In time, and as we work our way through our planned activities, the size of the Group will grow, probably to a maximum of 20 members”.

Promotion of the I&MWG beyond current AGS Members
Some companies and organisations who are actively involved with I&M, including public and private sector Client organisations and institutions such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), are not Members of AGS.

The I&MWG has also been brought to the attention of a wider audience as a result of articles published by Ground Engineering on its website “This is a welcome opportunity to thank Michaila Hancock at GE, in particular, for her articles about I&M and the I&MWG.” Jonathan adds.

First Meeting of the I&MWG and Current Status of Aims and Activities
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the first meeting of the I&MWG took place online on Friday 24 April 2020.

With reference to the Aims and related activities:
a) Action relating to promotion of the Group has already been described in this article. Although the cancellation of the AGS Members Conference in April prevented an introduction to the I&MWG taking place at that time, this article is intended to make up for that lost opportunity.
b) Concerning wider national and international communities, contacts have already been established with various organisations and individuals. These include leading I&M practitioner John Dunnicliff, author of the world-famous book “Geotechnical Instrumentation for Monitoring Field Performance”, who asks the I&MWG to acknowledge “the importance of human factors in geotechnical and structural monitoring programs”. A proposal to form a parallel I&MWG at AGS in Hong Kong was surprisingly unsuccessful although AGS(HK) have identified a point of contact with their existing Working Groups. A favourable response has been received from the British Tunnelling Society to contribute to revisions to their “Tunnelling Specification” and “Monitoring Underground Construction” documents.
c) A one-day AGS seminar (“Critical Links in Ground Engineering”), was planned by AGS at the time the I&MWG was formed. Scheduled initially for 15 July, a postponed date for this event in November is currently being sought, at which time it is likely to take the form of a webinar (c/o Caroline Kratz at AGS).
d) Regarding standards and the like, AGS’s revision of the “Yellow Book” – the UK Specification for Ground Investigation – will now include input from the I&MWG. BSI’s BS5930:2015+A1:2020 “Code of Practice for Ground Investigations” has just been published and includes a section on I&M.
e) Relating to Technical Committees, I&MWG member Andrew Ridley is Chairman of the ISSMGE’s Technical Committee TC220 “Field Measurement in Geomechanics” and is a member of the ISO’s Technical Committee ISO/TC182/WG2 “Monitoring in Geotechnical Engineering”. Andrew is also Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 12th FMGM Symposium to be held in early September 2022 at Imperial College, London.
f) g), and h). The I&MWG has already been represented at training events [f)] including a British Drilling Association Seminar and it plans to extend its engagement with education and technical and professional training and the establishment of recognised qualifications as soon as possible.

The I&MWG will be contributing to an AGS initiative relating to Procurement as influenced by the Institution of Civil Engineer’s “Project 13” and encompassing related issues such as Specifications and NEC4 (and its application, for example, to Ground Investigation).

Matters such as data format and management will be tackled in conjunction with AGS’s Data Management Working Group and there are other examples of where an ability to engage directly with another AGS Working Group will be to the I&MWG’s advantage.

And now there is a new matter needing the I&MWG’s attention: The impact of COVID-19 on I&M in the future.

Contact for the I&MWG
To contact or register interest in the I&MWG, please email