We present an alternative to visual inspection for detecting damage to civil infrastructure. We describe a real-time decision support system for nondestructive health monitoring. The system is instrumented by an integrated network of wireless sensors mounted on civil infrastructures such as bridges, highways, and commercial and industrial facilities. To address scalability and power consumption issues related to sensor networks, we propose a three-tier system that uses wavelets to adaptively reduce the streaming data spatially and temporally. At the sensor level, measurement data is temporally compressed before being sent upstream to intermediate communication nodes. There, correlated data from multiple sensors is combined and sent to the operation center for further reduction and interpretation. At each level, the compression ratio can be adaptively changed via wavelets. This multi-resolution approach is useful in optimizing total resources in the system. At the operation center, Support Vector Machines (SVMs) are used to detect the location of potential damage from the reduced data. We demonstrate that the SVM is a robust classifier in the presence of noise and that wavelet-based compression gracefully degrades its classification accuracy. We validate the effectiveness of our approach using a finite element model of the Humboldt Bay Bridge. We envision that our approach will prove novel and useful in the design of scalable
nondestructive health monitoring systems.