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The historical records that describe the failure of mining dams and derivatives show the occurrence of several tragic events in the last decades, pointing to a tendency of changing events from developed countries to developing countries, since in these countries, the mining activity is very significant, as, in Brazil, it is, therefore, essential to rely on the use of technology to prevent this type of tragedy.
The recent socio-environmental disaster in Brumadinho-MG [48-60], Brazil, in January 2019, turns on a yellow light, making an analogy with traffic, in relation to how to prevent this type of disaster from occurring again, in the same direction in which ways should be implemented and developed together with several alerts of possible new dam disruptions in regions like this, still taking into account the occurrence of similar episodes such as the one in Mariana[6l-63], in November 2015, corresponding to 4years before with respect to the Brumadinho tragedy, in the same Brazilian state; however, particularly technology could have helped to prevent or at least minimize catastrophes of these proportions.
Which in this sense is evidently clear why disaster response is needed with IoT structure, since this type of disaster can be avoided with the use of IoT devices and sensors, as previously mentioned in previous sections, which capture proximity, accelerometer, temperature, humidity, and several other properties of the environment in which they are installed, carrying out monitoring and supporting the prevention of natural disasters of this type.
In addition to the flaws in the dam structure itself, analysts point out that there was a failure to immediately communicate the situation to employees and those close to them. Initially, when there is some kind of failure at the dam that could cause life-threatening, a strong beep would be released, and entertainment would not occur. This reality, although undeniably tragic, brings us lessons and makes us think of new technological solutions that are not so active that prevent disasters such as instantaneous communication of risks like the next people.
Thinking of a context that never expects disasters to occur and that fewer people suffer or inhabit the use of applications that use disaster notification notifications, it is necessary to think of technologies that stick together in the human body and within people’s field of vision. Thus, one of the alternatives would be the free distribution of wearable and functional devices from companies subject to disasters. One of the alternatives would be the real time of the monitoring data of a bracelet or smartwatch that would be delivered to employees at the time of their admission to the company, being its mandatory daily use. In addition, these devices can be used periodically for maintenance. If this proposal is already in reality in the context of the city of Brumadinho, the alerted employees capture, through vibration, light signals released by their wearable devices, in order to encourage people to read on the screen of their watches or who were as well as what is the escape protocol must have been adopted.
Failures in quality and safety systems in companies are not new, as the 20th century was marked by the Chernobyl disaster. This catastrophic nuclear accident occurred between April 25 and 26, 1986, in nuclear reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat, in northern Soviet Ukraine, close to the border with Soviet Belarus. The plant had suffered a power overload during a capacity test. The cooling system stopped working, which generated an overheating of the core, which reached very hot temperatures. If at that time, wearable technologies were already as common as today, the proposal presented here, where the warnings are triggered in real time and in order to attract attention, perhaps alive ones could have been spared.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Brumadinho’s social, environmental, and ecological disaster will be the only one to occur in this century or the next. Thus, the best solution is to invest in intelligent technologies, which can also be applied in other contexts such as mining, oil and natural gas platforms, chemical industries, thermal nuclear plants, among others.
Nowadays, there are technological solutions based on sensors integrated with IoT devices that help prevent sliding on hillsides and hills from multiple angles, considering that people are surrounded by technologies that have been revolutionizing and developing in several areas, pointing out solutions for assistance and management of numerous activities. Thus, landslides are ruptures of a rock or landmass that are always preceded by various types of “preruptures,” since the magnitude of these prerupture deformations depends on the type of rock or soil involved, which employing the current sensor technology that would be spread over the dam forming a network that would be able to measure and detect any type of abnormality, considering the most different vibrations from truck traffic to dynamite explosions, being measurable, w'hich allows managing this type of incident. In other words, the secret to managing landslide risks is forecasting; however, it can only be done if the earth movement or, more importantly, the acceleration of the landmass can be measured millimetrically constantly.
Looking at the specific case of the broken barriers in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais (MG), drone technology could have been a great potential, enabling the inspection of assets quickly and efficiently and allowing the detection of nonconformities and risks in advance, which would open premise to find and implement effective solutions. Considering that the traditional method of measurement involves sending inspectors or engineers to the field frequently, or even monitoring by piezometers and water level indicators, with two meters generally being installed at points far from each other, where only it is possible to see the water level in the places where these sensors are located; however, between one instrument and another, something unusual may be happening, or even daily, for measuring the movement of the earth with theodolites, which is a manual and expensive process. What led and until today, these tailings dams are managed through manual monitoring systems, involving periodic visits to selected points along the dam, performing manual measurements with a variety of instruments, most of which are level meters of water, piezometers, or inclinometers, which concerns that this type of measurement does not produce enough data to carry out evaluations in a consistent manner with respect to the performance of the embankment dam.
As some advantages in the use of drones capture images with very high resolution, adding the use of computer vision and AI that help in the identification of structural flaws with superhuman precision, even considering that the IoT present solutions that can make the process of preventing more dynamic, inexpensive, and effective slips with respect to the use of geotechnical sensors that emit an infrared signal, which is reflected in mirrors strategically installed in the monitored area, making these intelligent sensors manage to capture even small earth movements, covering an area 360 degrees and up to kilometers long. With the respective approach that monitors dams effectively, daily and accurate measurements must be carried out, and in this philosophy, the technology provides without exhaustion.
In addition to speed, centimeter accuracy, and image processing efficiency, drones can use the most varied and accurate sensors, performing in the context of dams, routine inspections with thermal sensors pointing out areas with signs of leakage and being able to generate alerts for employees and nearby communities, since failures in tailing dam structures can be caused by different factors, in addition to the most common ones related to anomalous behavior of the material used to build the dam, overloads, or even problems with the drainage mechanisms resulting increase in water pressure and consequently loss of resistance. In this sense, piezometric sensors provide accurate information about water pressure in tubes and tanks, and it is still possible to use sensors to measure the horizontal displacement of the soil in-depth, in an automated way using an inclinometer, for example.
Still taking into account that after the tragedy of a rupture, in addition to the thermal sensors pointing out areas with signs of leakage-generating alerts for security measures to be taken, such as the evacuation of places and cities, preventing the loss of human lives, these sensors could be used to support finding victims, based on the identification of temperatures that are not homogeneous with clay.
Another possibility of using sensors to prevent dam ruptures is the waste meters which measure the water level in the dam monitoring the settlement processes in the surroundings and walls, as well as the use of IoT devices with wireless GPS sensors, w'hich can be installed at strategic points on hills and slopes, enabled with cloud-based algorithms performing calculations with respect to the exact location of each device informing its movement, based on its initial fixed location, allowing daily measurements to be made in several points in a risk area, with no line of sight or cabling requirements, or even human intervention on the site, setting up alerts for significant movements that may indicate a greater risk of landslides.
In addition, with the advancement of connected sensors, originating from initiatives linked to IoT, other continuous monitoring devices for both dams and other types of assets can be adopted, linked to warning systems, with audible and visual signals, as long as there are technologies that mix the use of inclinometer and accelerometer sensors in combination w'ith drones capturing centimeter-precision images linked to intelligent management and control systems pointing out even the slightest signs of terrain movement.
Which shows that nowadays with the technological advent of IoT, there is an infinity of applications available for use in different segments, considering the smart devices for weather forecasting, since heavy rains are one of the main causes of this type of incident, this type of sensors are useful in preventing slippage.
At a public administration level, sensors at meteorological stations are able to measure variables such as wind speed and rain, since when predicting a large volume of rain in a risk area, it is possible to make decisions regarding evacuation of the area or other security measures, in order to avoid major tragedies, for example, considering that this type of data obtained by these sensors is critical in relation to the monitoring and planning of climatic scenarios in dam maintenance actions with respect to the context of changes in increasingly unstable weather patterns.
Thus, the combination of technologies is essential for a careful assessment of risk scenarios, especially those involving greater complexity.