Special Issue "Natural and Technological Hazards in Urban Areas: Assessment, Planning and Solutions"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 July 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. George D. Bathrellos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Climatology, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, ZC 15784, Greece
Interests: natural hazards; urban planning; geomorphology; modeling
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Hariklia D. Skilodimou
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Climatology, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, ZC 15784 Athens, Greece
Interests: natural hazards; urban planning; geomorphology; modeling; GIS
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Konstantinos G. Chousianitis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Observatory of Athens, Institute of Geodynamics, Athens, Greece
Interests: tectonic geodesy; earthquake seismology; GMPEs; seismic hazard; earthquake-induced landslides
Dr. Charalampos Vasilatos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Geology and Geo-Environment, Department of Economic Geology and Geochemistry, Athens, Greece
Interests: geochemistry; soil pollution control and remediation; hazardous waste, water and wastewater treatment; traditional and novel functional materials and environmental applications

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural hazard events and technological accidents are separate causes of environmental impacts. Natural hazards are physical phenomena active in geological time, while technological hazards result from actions or facilities created by humans. In our time, combined natural and man-made hazards have been induced.

Overpopulation and urban development in areas prone to natural hazards increase the impact of natural disasters worldwide. Additionally, urban areas are frequently characterized by intense industrial activity and rapid poorly planned growth that threatens the environment and degrades the quality of life. Therefore, a proper urban planning is crucial to minimize fatalities and reduce the environmental and economic impact that accompanies both natural and technological hazardous events.

This Special Issue focuses on:

  • all atmospheric, hydrologic, geologic and geomorphologic hazardous natural phenomena that potentially affect human life and activities in urban areas,
  • technological hazards such as salinization, desertification, fires, water and soil pollution/degradation, land use changes, climate changes, waste, civil disturbances, dam failure, hazardous materials incidents, pipelines, radiological events and transportation in urban areas.
  • mapping, hazard and risk assessment, prevention, protective actions,
  • hazard treatment, risk management technology, land use planning,
  • innovative technologies, concepts and approaches for hazard mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Dr. George D. Bathrellos
Dr. Hariklia D. Skilodimou
Dr. Konstantinos G. Chousianitis
Dr. Charalampos Vasilatos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • urban areas
  • natural hazards
  • technological hazards
  • hazard and risk assessment
  • mapping
  • planning
  • solutions

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Natural and Technological Hazards in Urban Areas: Assessment, Planning and Solutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8301; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158301 - 25 Jul 2021
Viewed by 456
Abstract
Natural hazards are extreme natural phenomena whose associated consequences can lead to damage of both the natural and man-made environment [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Article
Spatial Distribution and Evaluation of Arsenic and Zinc Content in the Soil of a Karst Landscape
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6976; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13126976 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 437
Abstract
Karst features such as polje are highly vulnerable to natural and anthropogenic pollution. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the soil quality in the Ioannina polje (north-west Greece) concerning arsenic (As) and zinc (Zn), and delineate their origin as well [...] Read more.
Karst features such as polje are highly vulnerable to natural and anthropogenic pollution. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the soil quality in the Ioannina polje (north-west Greece) concerning arsenic (As) and zinc (Zn), and delineate their origin as well as compare the As and Zn content in soil with criteria recorded in the literature. For this purpose, the geomorphological settings, the land use, and the soil physicochemical properties were mapped and evaluated, including soil texture and concentrations of aqua-regia extractable As and Zn. The concentration of elements was spatially correlated with the land use and the geology of the study area, while screening values were applied to assess land suitability. The results reveal that 72% of the total study area has a very gentle slope. This relief favors urban and agricultural activity. Thus, the urban and agricultural land used cover 92% of the total area. The spatial distribution for As and Zn in the soil of the study area is located on very gentle slopes and is strongly correlated with the geological parent materials and human-induced contamination sources. Arsenic and Zn can be considered enriched in the soil of the area studied. The median topsoil contents (in mg kg−1) for As (agricultural soil 16.0; urban soil 17.8) and Zn (agricultural soil 92.0; urban soil 95.0) are higher compared to the corresponding median values of European topsoils. Land evaluation suitability concerning criteria given from the literature is discussed. The proposed work may be helpful in the project of land use planning and the protection of the natural environment. Full article
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Article
A Proposed Theoretical Approach for the Estimation of Seismic Structural Vulnerability of Wastewater Treatment Plants
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4835; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13094835 - 25 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 509
Abstract
The assessment of seismic vulnerability is critical for lifelines such as wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) because failures may result in environmental degradation, deterioration of water quality and human diseases development. The main scope of this research is the testing and application of a [...] Read more.
The assessment of seismic vulnerability is critical for lifelines such as wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) because failures may result in environmental degradation, deterioration of water quality and human diseases development. The main scope of this research is the testing and application of a rapid, simple methodology for assessing the seismic structural vulnerability (SSV) of WTPs (according to the qualitative method Rapid Visual Screening), using structural variables as indices of these infrastructures. An original new method involving the assessment of the SSV of thirteen steps (four for a sample set of WTPs and nine for an individual one) is introduced following systematic literature retrieval. The analysis highlights twenty one factors that may determine the SSV of WTPs: three factors involving general characteristics, five factors involving seismicity and geotechnical data, six factors involving technical data (including structural data) and seven additional factors about WTPs’ materials (concrete and the steel reinforcement of concrete frames). The structural data is analyzed to six additional factors. The implementation of the proposed methodology constitutes a simple, rapid methodological approach for assessing the SSV of WTPs using unique factors that were pinpointed and identified for the first time in this study. Full article
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Article
Flood Hazard Assessment Mapping in Burned and Urban Areas
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4455; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13084455 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 526
Abstract
This study proposes a simple method to produce a flood hazard assessment map in burned and urban areas, where primary data are scarce. The study area is a municipal unit of Nea Makri, a coastal part of the eastern Attica peninsula (central Greece), [...] Read more.
This study proposes a simple method to produce a flood hazard assessment map in burned and urban areas, where primary data are scarce. The study area is a municipal unit of Nea Makri, a coastal part of the eastern Attica peninsula (central Greece), which has been strongly urbanized and suffered damage from urban fires in 2018. Six factors were considered as the parameters most controlling runoff when it overdraws the drainage system’s capacity. The analytical hierarchy process (AHP) method and a geographical information system (GIS) were utilized to create the flood hazard assessment map. The outcome revealed that the areas with highest flood hazard are distributed in the eastern and southern parts of the study area, as a result of the combination of lowlands with gentle slopes, torrential behavior of the streams, streams covered by construction, increasing urbanization and burned areas. The uncertainty and the verification analyses demonstrate a robust behavior for the model predictions, as well as reliability and accuracy of the map. Comparing the existing urban fabric and road network to the potential flood hazard areas showed that 80% of the urban areas and 50% of the road network were situated within areas prone to flood. The method may be applied to land use planning projects, flood hazard mitigation and post-fire management. Full article
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Article
Flood Risk Assessment in Urban Areas of Southern Taiwan
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3180; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13063180 - 14 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 704
Abstract
A flood risk assessment of urban areas in Kaohsiung city along the Dianbao River was performed based on flood hazards and social vulnerability. In terms of hazard analysis, a rainfall-runoff model (HEC-HMS) was adopted to simulate discharges in the watershed, and the simulated [...] Read more.
A flood risk assessment of urban areas in Kaohsiung city along the Dianbao River was performed based on flood hazards and social vulnerability. In terms of hazard analysis, a rainfall-runoff model (HEC-HMS) was adopted to simulate discharges in the watershed, and the simulated discharges were utilized as inputs for the inundation model (FLO-2D). Comparisons between the observed and simulated discharges at the Wulilin Bridge flow station during Typhoon Kongrey (2013) and Typhoon Megi (2016) were used for the HEC-HMS model calibration and validation, respectively. The observed water levels at the Changrun Bridge station during Typhoon Kongrey and Typhoon Megi were utilized for the FLO-2D model calibration and validation, respectively. The results indicated that the simulated discharges and water levels reasonably reproduced the observations. The validated model was then applied to predict the inundation depths and extents under 50-, 100-, and 200-year rainfall return periods to form hazard maps. For social vulnerability, the fuzzy Delphi method and the analytic hierarchy process were employed to select the main factors affecting social vulnerability and to yield the weight of each social vulnerability factor. Subsequently, a social vulnerability map was built. A risk map was developed that compiled both flood hazards and social vulnerability levels. Based on the risk map, flood mitigation strategies with structural and nonstructural measures were proposed for consideration by decision-makers. Full article
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Article
Level of Contamination Assessment of Potentially Toxic Elements in the Urban Soils of Volos City (Central Greece)
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2029; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13042029 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 544
Abstract
A three-year study, designed to record the level of potentially toxic elements within the urban complex in the city of Volos, Greece, was carried out between 2018 and 2020. For the needs of the aforementioned study, 62 surface (0–15 cm) soil samples were [...] Read more.
A three-year study, designed to record the level of potentially toxic elements within the urban complex in the city of Volos, Greece, was carried out between 2018 and 2020. For the needs of the aforementioned study, 62 surface (0–15 cm) soil samples were collected each year (i.e., 186 samples in total) from an urban area of 3.65 km2, and the average value of pseudo-total metal concentration was measured. Soil pollution indices, such as the contamination factor (CF) and the geo-accumulation index (Igeo), were estimated regarding each of the metals of interest. The respective thematic maps were constructed, and the spatial variability of the contamination degree was displayed. Higher values of the CF and Igeo were obtained near the heavy traffic roads and beside the railway station, the bus stations, and the commercial port. The maps based on the pollution indices, along with the database that was constructed using the appropriate mathematical tools of geostatistical analysis, may be a useful tool for monitoring, prediction, and continuous verification of contamination in the urban soils of Volos city. Full article
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Article
Research on the Construction of a Natural Hazard Emergency Relief Alliance Based on the Public Participation Degree
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2604; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12072604 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 860
Abstract
At present, in light of new situations and the new task of natural hazard response, effective public participation in emergency relief has become an urgent task that can reduce economic losses and casualties. The purpose of this paper is to construct a natural [...] Read more.
At present, in light of new situations and the new task of natural hazard response, effective public participation in emergency relief has become an urgent task that can reduce economic losses and casualties. The purpose of this paper is to construct a natural hazard emergency relief alliance and analyze the mechanisms and dynamics of public participation. In this study, methods based on a multi-agent system were adopted, and we used different participants as heterogeneous agents with different attitudes and resources. Using four different processes, namely participation proposals, negotiation interval, negotiation decision-making function, and participation strategy, we comprehensively construct an emergency relief alliance for natural hazards. In addition, the dynamic public interaction process is analyzed and a construction algorithm is given. The experimental results show that the proposed method has better performance in alliance formation efficiency, negotiation efficiency, and agent utility. The research results illustrate that the public’s attitudes and resources influence the construction of emergency relief alliances; a greater degree of public participation contributes to a more efficient alliance formation. The findings of this study contribute to the promotion of public cooperation and improvement in the efficiency of natural hazard emergency relief. Full article
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Article
The Formation Mechanism and Influence Factors of Highway Waterfall Ice: A Preliminary Study
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4059; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11154059 - 27 Jul 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1460
Abstract
Highway waterfall ice hazards usually happen in cold regions. However, minimal research has addressed this so far due to its multidisciplinary nature. In this study, ground water monitoring tests were conducted for 2.5 years to study the relationship between ground water level changes [...] Read more.
Highway waterfall ice hazards usually happen in cold regions. However, minimal research has addressed this so far due to its multidisciplinary nature. In this study, ground water monitoring tests were conducted for 2.5 years to study the relationship between ground water level changes and waterfall ice hazards. To explore the internal factors that lead to highway waterfall ice, gradation tests, penetration tests, and freezing tests were conducted which revealed that coarse-grained particles can enhance the permeability of aquifers. Further, volume expansion of free water freezing in a closed system is the main reason for pore pressure increasing aquifers in research areas. Furthermore, to understand the formation mechanism of highway waterfall ice further, a mathematical model of saturated coarse-grained soil at the state of phase transition equilibrium was obtained. This indicates that the essence of the aquifers’ freezing (coarse-grained soil) in the waterfall ice area is the freezing of closed water. Finally, based on the abovementioned findings, the formation process of waterfall ice is defined as three stages: The drainage obstruction stage, the soil deformation stage, and the groundwater gushing stage, respectively. This definition can provide significant guidance on further research that focuses on prevention of highway waterfall hazards. Full article
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Article
A Bayesian Network-Based Integrated for Flood Risk Assessment (InFRA)
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3733; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11133733 - 09 Jul 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1435
Abstract
Floods are natural disasters that should be considered a top priority in disaster management, and various methods have been developed to evaluate the risks. However, each method has different results and may confuse decision-makers in disaster management. In this study, a flood risk [...] Read more.
Floods are natural disasters that should be considered a top priority in disaster management, and various methods have been developed to evaluate the risks. However, each method has different results and may confuse decision-makers in disaster management. In this study, a flood risk assessment method is proposed to integrate various methods to overcome these problems. Using factor analysis and principal component analysis (PCA), the leading indicators that affect flood damage were selected and weighted using three methods: the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), constant sum scale (CSS), and entropy. However, each method has flaws due to inconsistent weights. Therefore, a Bayesian network was used to present the integrated weights that reflect the characteristics of each method. Moreover, a relationship is proposed between the elements and the indicators based on the weights called the Integrated Index for Flood Risk Assessment (InFRA). InFRA and other assessment methods were compared by receiver operating characteristics (ROC)-area under curve (AUC) analysis. As a result, InFRA showed better applicability since InFRA was 0.67 and other methods were less than 0.5. Full article
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Article
The Spatiotemporal Distribution of Flash Floods and Analysis of Partition Driving Forces in Yunnan Province
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2926; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11102926 - 23 May 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1178
Abstract
Flash floods are one of the most serious natural disasters, and have a significant impact on economic development. In this study, we employed the spatiotemporal analysis method to measure the spatial–temporal distribution of flash floods and examined the relationship between flash floods and [...] Read more.
Flash floods are one of the most serious natural disasters, and have a significant impact on economic development. In this study, we employed the spatiotemporal analysis method to measure the spatial–temporal distribution of flash floods and examined the relationship between flash floods and driving factors in different subregions of landcover. Furthermore, we analyzed the response of flash floods on the economic development by sensitivity analysis. The results indicated that the number of flash floods occurring annually increased gradually from 1949 to 2015, and regions with a high quantity of flash floods were concentrated in Zhaotong, Qujing, Kunming, Yuxi, Chuxiong, Dali, and Baoshan. Specifically, precipitation and elevation had a more significant effect on flash floods in the settlement than in other subregions, with a high r (Pearson’s correlation coefficient) value of 0.675, 0.674, 0.593, 0.519, and 0.395 for the 10 min precipitation in 20-year return period, elevation, 60 min precipitation in 20-year return period, 24 h precipitation in 20-year return period, and 6 h precipitation in 20-year return period, respectively. The sensitivity analysis showed that the Kunming had the highest sensitivity (S = 21.86) during 2000–2005. Based on the research results, we should focus on heavy precipitation events for flash flood prevention and forecasting in the short term; but human activities and ecosystem vulnerability should be controlled over the long term. Full article
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Article
An Earthquake Fatalities Assessment Method Based on Feature Importance with Deep Learning and Random Forest Models
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2727; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11102727 - 14 May 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1585
Abstract
This study aims to analyze and compare the importance of feature affecting earthquake fatalities in China mainland and establish a deep learning model to assess the potential fatalities based on the selected factors. The random forest (RF) model, classification and regression tree (CART) [...] Read more.
This study aims to analyze and compare the importance of feature affecting earthquake fatalities in China mainland and establish a deep learning model to assess the potential fatalities based on the selected factors. The random forest (RF) model, classification and regression tree (CART) model, and AdaBoost model were used to assess the importance of nine features and the analysis showed that the RF model was better than the other models. Furthermore, we compared the contributions of 43 different structure types to casualties based on the RF model. Finally, we proposed a model for estimating earthquake fatalities based on the seismic data from 1992 to 2017 in China mainland. These results indicate that the deep learning model produced in this study has good performance for predicting seismic fatalities. The method could be helpful to reduce casualties during emergencies and future building construction. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of Vegetation Restoration along an Expressway in a Cold, Arid, and Desertified Area of China
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2313; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11082313 - 17 Apr 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 895
Abstract
Vegetation restoration plays a significant role in the restoration of expressways in the arid zone of China, but we still do not know which soil and vegetation types are most effective. We investigated soil particle size (SPZ), volume weight of the soil (VWS), [...] Read more.
Vegetation restoration plays a significant role in the restoration of expressways in the arid zone of China, but we still do not know which soil and vegetation types are most effective. We investigated soil particle size (SPZ), volume weight of the soil (VWS), soil water content (SWC), total porosity of soil (TP), soil organic matter (SOM), water erosion (WrE), and wind erosion (WdE) of eight sites (S1–S8) and evaluated them using the gray correlation method (GCM). Based on our results, the average SWC of the treatments ranged from 9.6% to 18.8%, following the order S4 > S5 > S8 > S6 > S3 > S7 > S1 > S2. The average SPZ of soils in S1, S2, S4, S5, S6, and S8 was larger, ranging from 0.23 to 0.68 mm, while that of soils in S3 and S7 was smaller, ranging from 0.01 to 0.09 mm. The TP in different treatment areas ranged from 50% to 60%, which is not conducive to soil and water conservation. The SOM levels varied widely among the different soils and were always below the threshold levels established by the second National Soil Census, rendering the soils not suitable for plant growth. The WrE (36–80 t/ha) was greater than the WdE (7–24 t/ha). In general, to achieve high soil and water conservation outcomes in this area, S1 and S7 offered the best protection benefits in terms of soil and water conservation. Full article
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Article
The Importance of a Dedicated Monitoring Solution and Communication Strategy for an Effective Management of Complex Active Landslides in Urbanized Areas
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 946; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11040946 - 13 Feb 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1417
Abstract
Over the last decades, technological development has strongly increased the number of instruments suitable for landslide monitoring. For large landslides, monitoring systems are organized in complex and multi-instrumental networks aimed at controlling several representative physical variables. The management of these networks is often [...] Read more.
Over the last decades, technological development has strongly increased the number of instruments suitable for landslide monitoring. For large landslides, monitoring systems are organized in complex and multi-instrumental networks aimed at controlling several representative physical variables. The management of these networks is often a complicated task that must consider technological aspects, data-sets processing, and results publication. We developed a new hybrid system focused on capturing and elaborating data-sets from monitored sites and on disseminating monitoring results to support decision makers. With respect to other available monitoring solutions, we emphasized the importance of technological aspects and a correct communication strategy, which represents the last fundamental step for a correct use of collected data. Monitoring results are often published in a difficult and not user-friendly way because they are intended for technicians with adequate background. Such an approach may be inefficient, especially during emergencies, when also non-expert people are involved. Additionally, this system consists of early warning application, which integrates a threshold-based approach and a failure forecasting modeling. The presented approach represents a possible improvement for a more sustainable management of active landslides that could have a strong impact on population and infrastructures in particular in highly urbanized areas. Full article
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Review

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Review
A Review of Underground Pipeline Leakage and Sinkhole Monitoring Methods Based on Wireless Sensor Networking
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4007; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11154007 - 24 Jul 2019
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2272
Abstract
Major metropolitan cities worldwide have extensively invested to secure utilities and build state-of-the-art infrastructure related to underground fluid transportation. Sewer and water pipelines make our lives extremely convenient when they function appropriately. However, leakages in underground pipe mains causes sinkholes and drinking-water scarcity. [...] Read more.
Major metropolitan cities worldwide have extensively invested to secure utilities and build state-of-the-art infrastructure related to underground fluid transportation. Sewer and water pipelines make our lives extremely convenient when they function appropriately. However, leakages in underground pipe mains causes sinkholes and drinking-water scarcity. Sinkholes are the complex problems stemming from the interaction of leaked water and ground. The aim of this work is to review the existing methods for monitoring leakage in underground pipelines, the sinkholes caused by these leakages, and the viability of wireless sensor networking (WSN) for monitoring leakages and sinkholes. Herein, the authors have discussed the methods based on different objectives and their applicability via various approaches—(1) patent analysis; (2) web-of-science analysis; (3) WSN-based pipeline leakage and sinkhole monitoring. The study shows that the research on sinkholes due to leakages in sewer and water pipelines by using WSN is still in a premature stage and needs extensive investigation and research contributions. Additionally, the authors have suggested prospects for future research by comparing, analyzing, and classifying the reviewed methods. This study advocates collocating WSN, Internet of things, and artificial intelligence with pipeline monitoring methods to resolve the issues of the sinkhole occurrence. Full article
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