The 2017 overtopping of the dam in Oroville, California resulted in the evacuation of more than 180,000 people. Hoping to avoid a similar event, Seattle City Light initiated major safety reviews of its six dams, including Diablo Dam, one of their three facilities on the Skagit River. They needed to improve survey safety and efficiency to ensure an accurate evaluation of conditions, as well as minimize risks to workers while inspecting the 160-foot-high dam amid a global pandemic. HDR’s team was asked to provide aerial drone services to supplement physical inspections and identify geologic features that would otherwise be difficult to access. They wanted to use the captured data to create a digital twin model of the structure, though the platform they used needed to be able to effectively process more than 82 million survey data points.
After trying multiple potential solutions, they selected ContextCapture and the Bentley iTwin platform to create a digital twin, accurate within two centimeters. The team merged architecture, engineering, and construction data to provide detailed information about the dam’s structure and operations. They can feed the model with additional data and apply artificial intelligence to analyze the digital twin across the lifecycle of the structure, identifying current and future maintenance and repair needs to ensure safety. The digital twin provides a single reference point for the owner to understand the structure and reduces project costs while increasing surveyor safety. By identifying anomalies, they can eliminate potential human error, identify repair criteria, and facilitate decision-making.