Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

A Holistic Work Zone Safety Alert System through Automated Video and Smartphone Sensor Data Analysis


This project was inspired by a major gap identified in the literature pertaining to work zone safety monitoring systems that leverage advanced technologies for tracking workers, identifying hazardous situations, and alerting workers of danger. Existing systems target safety hazards that are either external to the work zone (e.g., accidents due to vehicular intrusions) or workers’ internal physical/physiological states (e.g., human-factor ergonomics such as improper or prolonged use of vibrating hand tools). This project presents a holistic approach in which visual and wearable sensor data are used for safety monitoring and alert generation to offer a practical mitigation strategy for both external and internal safety risks. With a major focus on the feasibility of adoption and facilitating maintenance, smartphones were used in this project to provide a ubiquitous platform for data collection and communication. A mobile application was developed to generate an alert when unsafe vibration levels were reached in proximity to a high-vibration power tool such as a jackhammer. Additionally, visual data collected from surveillance cameras were analyzed to detect speeding vehicles approaching the work zone. In either of these situations, a worker with the application running on their smartphone would be alerted of the internal or external safety hazard.

Project Highlights

  • This project is the first systematic approach to evaluate work zone construction workers’ exposure to high-vibration hand tools and associated safety and health concerns, using advanced wearable technologies.
  • Standards for hand-arm vibration (HAV) evaluation are abstract and computationally complex. In this project, such standards have been leveraged to develop a simple, user-friendly smartphone application capable of detecting excessive HAV and alerting workers exposed to it.
  • Additionally, visual data collected from surveillance cameras were analyzed to detect speeding vehicles approaching the work zone. In either of excessive vibration or speeding vehicle approaching a work zone, the workers with the application running on their smartphone will be alerted.

Final Report

05-089 Final Report

EWD & T2 Products

Course modules in CONE 652: Construction Operations Modeling and Technology are available and downloaded here.

Course modules in CIVE: 696 Intelligent Transportation Systems are available and downloaded here.

Student Impact Statement(pdf): Three Master students received funding under this project (Binh Pham, a student in Construction Engineering, Farid Shahnavaz, a student in Computation Science and Sina Salehipour, a student in Construction Engineering). This file contains a statement by all three students as to the impact this project had on education and workforce development.


  • Shahnavaz, F., & Akhavian, R. (2023). A Wearable Safety Alert System for Fieldworkers Exposed to High-Vibration Hand Tools. In EC3 Conference 2023 (abstract accepted – full paper to be submitted)
  • Shahnavaz, F., Salehipour, S., & Jahangiri, A. & Akhavian, R. (2023). A Holistic Work Zone Safety Alert System through Automated Video and Smartphone Sensor Data Analysis. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies (planned – to be submitted in summer 2023)

This research was presented by Farid Shahnavaz, MS student, at the SDSU Student Research Symposium in 2022.

The work was presented in the following meetings:

  • SDSU Research Foundation Board of Directors meeting
  • SDSU College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board Meeting
  • SDSU Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Industry Advisory Board Meeting
  • Texas A&M Department of Construction Science Graduate Seminar Meeting
  • San Diego Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Community of Practice meeting

Final Dataset

The final datasets for this project will be located in the Safe-D Collection on the VTTI Dataverse; DOI: 10.15787/VTT1/U231NM.

Research Investigators (PI*)

Reza Akhavian (SDSU)*
Arash Jahangiri (SDSU)*

Project Information

Start Date: 2020-01-11
End Date: 2022-09-01
Status: Completed
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $150,000
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: 05-089

Safe-D Theme Areas

Connected Vehicles
Big Data Analytics

Safe-D Application Areas

Infrastructure Technology
Planning for Safety
Risk Assessment

More Information

UTC Project Information Form

Sponsor Organization

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States

Performing Organization

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr
San Diego, CA 92182