Footstep detection in urban seismic data with a convolutional neural network

Srikanth Jakkampudi, Junzhu Shen, Weichen Li, Ayush Dev, Tieyuan Zhu, Eileen R. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Seismic data for studying the near surface have historically been extremely sparse in cities, limiting our ability to understand small-scale processes, locate small-scale geohazards, and develop earthquake hazard microzonation at the scale of buildings. In recent years, distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology has enabled the use of existing underground telecommunications fibers as dense seismic arrays, requiring little manual labor or energy to maintain. At the Fiber-Optic foR Environmental SEnsEing array under Pennsylvania State University, we detected weak slow-moving signals in pedestrian-only areas of campus. These signals were clear in the 1 to 5 Hz range. We verified that they were caused by footsteps. As part of a broader scheme to remove and obscure these footsteps in the data, we developed a convolutional neural network to detect them automatically. We created a data set of more than 4000 windows of data labeled with or without footsteps for this development process. We describe improvements to the data input and architecture, leading to approximately 84% accuracy on the test data. Performance of the network was better for individual walkers and worse when there were multiple walkers. We believe the privacy concerns of individual walkers are likely to be highest priority. Community buy-in will be required for these technologies to be deployed at a larger scale. Hence, we should continue to proactively develop the tools to ensure city residents are comfortable with all geophysical data that may be acquired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-660
Number of pages7
JournalLeading Edge
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geology


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