Fiber optic sensors (FOS) have significantly evolved and have reached their market maturity during the last decade. Their widely recognized advantages are high precision, long-term stability, and durability. But in addition to these advantageous performances, FOS technologies allow for affordable instrumentation of large areas of structure enabling global large-scale monitoring based on long-gauge sensors and integrity monitoring based on distributed sensors. These two approaches are particularly suitable for damage detection and characterization, i.e., damage localization and to certain extent quantification and propagation, as illustrated by two applications presented in detail in this paper: post-tensioned concrete bridge and segmented concrete pipeline. Early age cracking was detected, localized and quantified in the concrete deck of a pedestrian bridge using embedded long-gauge FOS. Post-tensioning of deck closed the cracks; however, permanent weakening in a bridge joint occurred due to cracking and it was identified and quantified. The damage was confirmed using embedded distributed FOS and a separate load test of the bridge. Real-size concrete pipeline specimens and surrounding soil were equipped with distributed FOS and exposed to permanent ground displacement in a large-scale testing facility. Two tests were performed on different pipeline specimens. The sensors bonded on the pipeline specimens successfully detected and localized rupture of pipeline joints, while the sensors embedded in the soil were able to detect and localize the failure plane. Comparison with strain-gauges installed on the pipeline and visual inspection after the test confirmed accurate damage detection and characterization.