PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Innovative Infrastructure System Assessment Technology

Scalable Sensor Network Platform
Wireless sensor networks are increasingly becoming a promising and affordable solution to monitor and control attributes of the physical environment. For example, battery-operated self-configuring wireless sensor networks can be used to monitor civilian infrastructure such as buildings and bridges, help improve quality of life by offering living assistance, enhance the productivity of industrial automation, perform surveillance for homeland and office security, and to conduct smart asset management. Since sensor nodes can sense multiple physical variables, they can also serve as a bridge to interface the physical world with the virtual world. For instance, data about the environment and the movement of people or objects can be tracked. If any values match interests expressed by others (with appropriate authorization), the corresponding events can be communicated over a virtual network to arbitrarily long distances.

This project aims at extending the next-generation version of the FireFly sensor hardware platform developed at Carnegie Mellon University to support a large-scale wireless sensor network that can be deployed across large geographical areas (like a campus). The new generation of FireFly sensor node consumes less power than earlier generations and also has additional memory. These nodes with processing, storage and communication capability must be interfaced with sensors of interest to a campus. A robust multi-tiered network architecture will also be built. In addition, support for metropolitan-area time synchronization using RDS (Radio Data System for VHF/FM broadcasting) will be explored. A dual-radio system for doubling the bandwidth available to each node will also be studied. Since many of these sensor nodes will be battery-operated, battery lifetimes are a very important consideration. The project will also explore software and communication techniques to manage power consumption.