An innovative wireless sensor network (WSN) based on Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) technology for 3D accurate superficial monitoring of ground deformations, as landslides and subsidence, is proposed. The system has been designed and developed as part of an European Life+ project, called Wi-GIM (Wireless Sensor Network for Ground Instability Monitoring). The details of the architecture, the localization via wireless technology and data processing protocols are described. The flexibility and accuracy achieved by the UWB two-way ranging technique is analysed and compared with the traditional systems, such as robotic total stations (RTSs) and Ground-based Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (GB-InSAR), highlighting the pros and cons of the UWB solution to detect the surface movements. An extensive field trial campaign allows the validation of the system and the analysis of its sensitivity to different factors (e.g., sensor nodes inter-visibility, effects of the temperature, etc.). The Wi-GIM system represents a promising solution for landslide monitoring and it can be adopted in combination with traditional systems or as an alternative in areas where the available resources are inadequate. The versatility, easy/fast deployment and cost-effectiveness, together with good accuracy, make the Wi-GIM system a possible solution for municipalities that cannot afford expensive/complex systems to monitor potential landslides in their territory.
Keywords: Ultra-Wide Band; ground instability; landslide; monitoring; time of flight; two-way ranging; warning system; wireless sensor networks.