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Habitat Monitoring: Application Driver for Wireless Communications Technology

To appear in the Proceedings of the First ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Data Communications in Latin America
and the Caribbean, 3-5 April, 2001, San Jose, Costa Rica.
Also published as UCLA Computer Science Technical Report 200023, December 2000.

Alberto Cerpa, Jeremy Elson, Deborah Estrin, Lewis Girod
UCLA Computer Science Department
Los Angeles, California 90095-1596

Michael Hamilton
James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
Box 1775
Idyllwild, California 92549

Jerry Zhao
USC Information Sciences Institute
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, California 90292


As new fabrication and integration technologies reduce the cost and size of micro-sensors and wireless interfaces, it becomes feasible to deploy densely distributed wireless networks of sensors and actuators. These systems promise to revolutionize biological, earth, and environmental monitoring applications, providing data at granularities unrealizable by other means. In addition to the challenges of miniaturization, new system architectures and new network algorithms must be developed to transform the vast quantity of raw sensor data into a manageable stream of high-level data. To address this, we propose a tiered system architecture in which data collected at numerous, inexpensive sensor nodes is filtered by local processing on its way through to larger, more capable and more expensive nodes.

We briefly describe Habitat monitoring as our motivating application and introduce initial system building blocks designed to support this application. The remainder of the paper presents details of our experimental platform.

Keywords: low-power wireless, sensor networks, testbeds, applications

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Next: Introduction