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Design of a flexible and reliable gateway to collect sensor data in intermittent power environments
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Communication: Services and Infrastucture, Telecommunication Systems Laboratory, TSLab.
University of Cape Town.
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of 18th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The development of a wireless sensor network (WSN) gateway is challenging for sites where limited infrastructures lead to frequent power shortages and and network unreliability. In this paper we presents a low-power, low-cost, 802.15.4 and 802.11 compatible solution which uses open source software to meet local conditions. Using the SunSPOT motes on a system which is mostly platform independent, our system is based on the Fox embedded Linux board and equipped with a USB flash drive and a USB WiFi adapter. The system can be solarpowered, and the results of a solar system design are presented. All the hardware components are available off-the-shelf and are easy to assemble. We conclude that our system is preferred for applications in remote areas, where a stable power supply and a reliable network infrastructure are lacking. Furthermore, it can be used to extend the range of wireless sensor networks by layering a network of long range motes above islands of low range motes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Embedded Linux, Hardware components, Local conditions, Long range, Low Power, Network infrastructure, Open Source Software, Platform independent, Power shortage, Power supply, Remote areas, Sensor data, Solar system design, Solar-powered, USB flash drives, Computer operating systems, Electric power supplies to apparatus, Open systems, Routing protocols, Sensor networks, Solar system, Wireless sensor networks, Wireless telecommunication systems, Gateways (computer networks)
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-27160DOI: 10.1109/ICCCN.2009.5235298ScopusID: 2-s2.0-70449101124OAI: diva2:375149
Available from: 2010-12-07 Created: 2010-12-07 Last updated: 2010-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Wireless Sensor Networks for Development: Potentials and Open Issues
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wireless Sensor Networks for Development: Potentials and Open Issues
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) provide a way to bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual worlds. They promise unprecedented abilities to observe and understand large-scale, real-world phenomena at a fine spatial-temporal resolution. Their application in Developing Countries is evenmore interesting: they can help solve problems that affect communities. The number of potential applications in such an environment is huge: water monitoringand crop modeling are just two examples.

This thesis will analyze the potential of WSNs in Developing Countries, and tackle three of the main problems that their deployment poses:

1. Power. Power consumption is an important issue in deployments. For WSN nodes this is a well-addressed issue. Most commercial solutions today assume that WSN gateways (the devices that provide the interface between the nodes and the network infrastructure) will encounter ideal scenarios in terms of power when deployed. In a Developing World scenario, the gateway must operate with bounded energy supplies. The gateway should have sufficient stored power to save sensed data with high probabilities of service interruptions due to power loss.

2. Connectivity. Network connectivity in many Developing Countries is unreliable. Data gathered by the sensor nodes (motes) must therefore be stored safely in the gateway and transferred when a network connection is available. WSN deployments can encounter different network topologies such as wired, wireless and mesh, and should be flexible enough to interact with each of them. A two layer architecture with long wireless links above a wireless sensor network is a practical alternative for providing connectivity in the access network.

3. Quality of WSN links. To implement reliable and robust sensor networks, we need to understand the variation of link quality and battery behavior in a real world environment. Low-power transmitters have a limited range, and it is important to understand communication patterns. Energy is the scarcest resource of WSN motes, and it determines the lifetime of WSNs. Motes are meant to be deployed in various environments, including remote and hostile regions; consequently, they must use little power and one need to make sure that all batteries last the same amount of time. Also, battery level has an impact on routing.

There is still research to be carried out to make WSNs suitable for deploymen tin Developing Regions. Following the most recent developments of sensor networks, this thesis discusses what ICT4D researchers could do to accelerate the dissemination of this new technology and proposes prototype solutions for some of the three problems mentioned above.

These include:

Efficient link quality models. Link quality models are important tools upon which the deployment of wireless sensor networks depends. They allow the selection of efficient working parameters that enable the information collected by sensor networks to be routed efficiently from WSN nodes to a sensor base station. Using two testbed WSNs based on two different technologies, we analyzed spatial and temporal behavior of link quality and derived good working parameters for sensor network deployments. These parameters have been used in related works to design new routing protocols for sensor networks.

Robust and flexible gateways. Building upon the assumption that a WSN gateway to be deployed in developing regions should be designed at low cost with battery backup to maintain a continuous supply of electric power in absence of power grid, we proposed in this thesis two low-cost solutions that 1) meet low-power consumption and high storage capabilities constraints 2) are based on web technologies and (3) allow long range deployment for information dissemination. These solutions are developed around two smart board systems.

Long wireless links. Besides power energy limitations, limited range is one of the main factors which has delayed large scale deployments of wireless sensor networks. Building upon the assumption that next generation sensor networks will be employed in multilayer network environments with a WiFi gateway network layered above islands of sensor networks, we presented the deployment of several long wireless links. These prototypes revealed that long distance links can be a practical, inexpensive alternative for connecting wireless sensor networks while providing access to Internet in Developing Countries.

Water quality management. We developed a water quality monitoring system to de deployed in Malawi. Water quality measurementadds another dimension to the issue of power consumption of the WSN system since one has to take into account the contribution of the energy consumed by the water quality sensors in the overall energy consumption of the water monitoring system. As low-power sensors for water quality are not yet commercially available, we proposed an energy consumption minimization strategy where a wake-up mechanism that triggers sleeping/wake-up modes is used to reduce energy consumption.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2010. vii, 77 p.
Trita-ICT-ECS AVH, ISSN 1653-6363 ; 10:08
National Category
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-27172 (URN)978-91-7415-823-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-12-14, Sal/ Hall C1, KTH-Electrum, Isafjordsgatan 26, Kista, 10:00 (English)
QC 20101207Available from: 2010-12-08 Created: 2010-12-07 Last updated: 2010-12-08Bibliographically approved

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