ECAT is a system for recording and analysing earthworks along highways, for the purpose of planning earthworks maintenance within a corridor or over an entire network. ECAT is based upon the production of a pictorial record of the earthworks, analysed in an objective way to produce a summary
description of earthworks and problems that are becoming visible. Its advantages are speed, completeness of cover and ability to detect early signs of slope deterioration, so that repairs can be put in hand before an expensive slope failure occurs. The system is most appropriately applied in countries where there exists a regime for carrying out regular maintenance, with a commensurate budget, and whose road network is built in terrain where slope failure is a widespread and persistent problem.
During its development ECAT has been used on eleven roads in Colombia, Jordan, Malaysia and Nepal. On the North-South Expressway in West Malaysia it has been incorporated into the maintenance management system by the consultants responsible for the road. Implementation can be either by hiring a consultant to take the photographs and carry out the analysis, or by purchasing the equipment and training a local corps to carry out the surveys and analysis. The second option requires, apart from the investment in equipment and training, commitment by the department (or group of
departments in collaboration) to use the system on a regular basis to monitor earthworks and develop a maintenance strategy around the information that ECAT provides.
ECAT has been developed to a point where its technical components have been demonstrated to work both separately and as a system. It does not currently exist as a standardised package ready for release, partly because of constant advances in the capability of electronic devices over the past decade and partly because of the intermittent nature of trials carried out in different countries during that period. Although ECAT has been developed for roads the system would potentially have application for other linear corridors such as railways, pipelines, catchments around reservoirs, and coastlines. Thus, applications could be directed more broadly towards environmental monitoring. The next stage of development would be the consolidation of
the system into a standardised package or range of packages with recognisable product identity, aimed at specific markets.
Lawrance, C.J.; McKinnon, B.E. ECAT: the Earthworks Condition Assessment Technique. (2000)