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Andrew Ridley: The need for an international instrumentation and monitoring focus

The International Symposium on Field Measurements in Geomechanics (FMGM) was recently described as the best conference you’ve never heard of, but in 2022 the event is coming to London and will provide opportunities for engineers, instrument manufacturers and service providers alike.

andrew ridley

andrew ridley

Andrew Ridley is managing director of Geotechnical Observations and is leading the organising committee for FMGM 2022

The symposia deal with the use of instrumentation by civil engineers, geotechnical engineers, mining engineers, engineering geologists and geophysicists to measure the in-situ properties of soils and rocks and to monitor the performance of geo-engineered structures by taking measurements.

For instrument manufacturers and service providers, the FMGM symposia are key international platforms for communication and presentation of new products and services.

Applications covered by papers at the events include dams, foundations, tunnels and other underground openings, embankments, natural slopes, land reclamation, mining facilities, repositories for industrial or nuclear waste, offshore structures and field testing to determine soil and rock properties.

The symposia are held every four years with the most recent one held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 2018 and now it is the turn of London to host the 11th event in 2022.

I am hoping that the UK’s hosting of the symposium will mark a step change for FMGM, which until now has been run in an informal way. In a relay-like manner, the responsibility for the symposia has been handed over from one group to the next, essentially based on personal relationships and friendships. Chairpersons of previous symposia and their professional associates have functioned as a de-facto secretariat. There have not been any fixed procedures or even statutes on how to proceed with the symposia in the future or how to organise FMGM as a whole. This de-facto arrangement has functioned well during the past 35 years but there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so in the future. The British Geotechnical Association recently agreed to incubate a new FMGM secretariat and the process of establishing an executive committee to take on the responsibility of decision making has begun.

I am aiming for the UK’s hosting of the event to formalise the process with an enduring secretariat that could add a level of professionalism to the events and maintain momentum in the industry between the symposia. I also feel a permanent secretariat could explore the feasibility of establishing an international FMGM society or a technical committee on field measurements as part of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

This is an exciting opportunity for the instrumentation and monitoring industry to take the lead and I’m calling on you to support both the event and the ongoing efforts to formalise professionalisation of the sector. Use this new blog to post your thoughts and spread the message!

  • Andrew Ridley is managing director of Geotechnical Observations and is leading the organising committee for FMGM 2022


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