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  • Introduction
  • Environmental Challenges in Developing Countries
  • 1.1 The Millennium Development Goals and the Environment
  • 1.2 The Importance of Environmental Monitoring
  • 1.3 Agriculture
  • 1.3.1 Rationale
  • 1.3.2 Potential Applications
  • 1.4 Air Pollution and Traffic
  • 1.4.1 Potential Applications
  • 1.5 Water Quality Monitoring
  • 1.6 Agriculture and Water in India: a Brief Historical Perspective
  • 1.7 India’s Agriculture Today
  • 1.7.1 Facts and Figures
  • 1.7.2 A Recent and Growing Concern: Water Scarcity
  • 1.7.3 The Specific Case of Karnataka
  • 1.8 India Today: the Current Institutional Framework
  • 1.8.1 States and Central Government
  • 1.8.2 Local Institutions
  • 1.9 Conclusion
  • New Opportunities for Environmental Monitoring and Agriculture
  • 2.1 Usual Techniques
  • 2.1.1 Stand-Alone Sensors
  • 2.1.2 Laboratory Analysis
  • 2.1.3 Remote Sensing
  • 2.1.4 Telemetry
  • 2.2 Wireless Sensor Networks
  • 2.3 Design Dimensions in Environmental Monitoring
  • 2.4 Where Do WSNs Stand?
  • 2.4.1 Wireless Networking
  • 2.4.2 Self-Organization
  • 2.4.3 Efficient Power Management
  • 2.4.4 Modularity
  • 2.4.5 Web-based Data Management
  • 2.5 Sensors and Agriculture
  • 2.5.1 Soil Moisture
  • 2.5.2 Soil Salinity and PH
  • 2.5.3 Climatic Variables
  • 2.6 WSNs in Agriculture
  • 2.6.1 Vineyard Temperature Monitoring
  • 2.6.2 Potato Disease Prevention
  • 2.6.3 Tomato Disease Prevention
  • 2.6.4 Cattle Monitoring
  • 2.6.5 Paddy Field Monitoring
  • 2.6.6 Discussion
  • WSNs and Developing Countries
  • 3.1 Existing WSN Projects
  • 3.1.1 Groundwater Arsenic Contamination Assessment in Bangladesh
  • 3.1.2 SenSlide, A Sensor Network Based Landslide Prediction System
  • 3.1.3 Wireless Sensor Network for Water Quality Management
  • 3.1.4 Flood Detection System for Honduras
  • 3.1.5 Road Surface Condition Monitoring
  • 3.1.6 Other Work
  • 3.2 A New Tool for Developing Regions?
  • 3.2.1 Assets
  • 3.2.2 Challenges
  • Wireless Sensor Networks for Marginal Agriculture in India
  • 4.1 Project, Consortium and Funding
  • 4.2 COMMON-Sense Net: a Decision-Support Tool for Agriculture
  • 4.3 Setting the Context
  • 4.3.1 The Pavagada Region
  • 4.3.2 The Chennakeshavapura Village
  • 4.3.3 Type of Agriculture
  • 4.3.4 Marginal Farmers
  • 4.4 A Survey and Analysis on Farmers’ Needs
  • 4.4.1 Survey Methodology
  • 4.4.2 Summary of Results
  • 4.4.3 Interpretation and Motivation
  • 4.5 Use Cases and Related Environmental Data
  • 4.5.1 Crop Modeling
  • 4.5.2 Water Conservation Measures
  • 4.5.3 Pest and Disease Prediction/Prevention
  • 4.5.4 Water Management for Deficit Irrigation
  • 4.6 Design Guidelines
  • 4.6.1 Technical Point-of-View
  • 4.6.2 Scientific Point-of-View
  • 4.6.3 Economical and Sociocultural Point-of-View
  • 4.7 Methodology: Science and Farmers
  • System Design and Implementation
  • 5.1 Design Options
  • 5.1.1 Data Generation Strategy
  • 5.1.2 Data Transport Strategy
  • 5.2 Design Choice: Overview
  • 5.3 Embedded Probes
  • 5.4 Wireless Sensor Network: Data Collection Subsystem
  • 5.4.1 Radio Range
  • 5.4.2 Power Consumption
  • 5.5 Hybrid Network: Data Transit Subsystem
  • 5.5.1 WiFi Bridge
  • 5.5.2 GPRS Bridge
  • 5.5.3 Performance Evaluation
  • 5.6 Data Management and Processing
  • 5.6.1 Tables
  • 5.7 A Web-based Tool
  • 5.7.1 Data Display
  • 5.7.2 Network Statistics
  • 5.7.3 Commands
  • A Wireless Sensor Network Toolkit for Rural India
  • 6.1 Changins
  • 6.2 Chennakeshavapura
  • 6.3 Issues of a Rural Deployment
  • 6.3.1 Hardware Issues
  • 6.3.2 Probe Assessment
  • 6.3.3 Power Management
  • 6.3.4 Environment
  • 6.3.5 Power and Telecommunications Infrastructure
  • 6.3.6 Connectivity Issues
  • 6.4 Human Issues
  • 6.5 System Overview
  • 6.6 Lessons Learned
  • Making the Invisible Audible
  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 State of the Art
  • 7.2.1 WSN deployment and Maintenance Support
  • 7.2.2 Sonification
  • 7.2.3 WSNs and their End-Users
  • 7.3 Sonification for Sensor Networks
  • 7.3.1 Applications
  • 7.3.2 Advantages
  • 7.3.3 Challenges
  • 7.3.4 Signal and Noise Metaphor
  • 7.4 System Design
  • 7.4.1 System Model
  • 7.4.2 Tool and Scenarios
  • 7.4.3 Protocols
  • 7.4.4 Sonification Mapping Strategy
  • 7.5 Initial Exploration: User Survey
  • 7.5.1 Description
  • 7.5.2 Results
  • 7.6 Prototype Implementation
  • 7.6.1 Prototype Description
  • 7.7 Experimental Validation
  • 7.7.1 Comparable Graphical Interface
  • 7.7.2 Experimental Design
  • 7.7.3 Participants
  • 7.7.4 Results
  • 7.8 Discussion
  • Usability and Usefulness of the System
  • 8.1 Charting the Paradigm Shift
  • 8.1.1 Choosing the Target Population
  • 8.1.2 Goal and Methodology
  • 8.2 Experiment Results
  • 8.2.1 Questionnaires
  • 8.2.2 User Activity Logging
  • 8.2.3 Debriefing Meetings
  • 8.3 Discussion
  • 8.3.1 Usefulness
  • 8.3.2 Usability
  • 8.3.3 Use
  • 8.3.4 Sectoral Analysis
  • Building a Knowldedge Society with the Use of WSNs?
  • 9.1 Experimental Technology for Social Change?
  • 9.2 Design/Implementation Gaps
  • 9.3 Knowledge Creation, Context and Knowledge Assets
  • 9.4 Apprenticeship & Participatory Methods to Develop ICT Capacities
  • 9.5 From Theory to Practice
  • Conclusion
  • Future Work
  • References





´ ` Ingenieur Diplome en Systemes de Communication (M.Sc.), ´ ´ Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Suisse ´ de nationalite suisse

jury: ` Prof. Jean-Pierre Hubaux, directeur de these Dr. Pearl Pu Faltings, presidente de jury Prof. H.S. Jamadagni, rapporteur ´ Prof. Andre Mermoud, rapporteur Dr. Kentaro Toyama, rapporteur

Lausanne, EPFL 2008


In this dissertation, we explore the potential of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) in an original context, the small agriculture of Developing Countries (DCs). Our goal is to confront an emerging technology with a concrete problem of world-wide dimensions, the sustainability of farming for small land-holders living in conditions of water scarcity. Based on a survey about information needs, we design a series of precise use cases, provide system design, implementation and deployment guidelines for the technology, present a toolkit including an original interface to wireless sensors for non-specialists, and bring to the attention of the research community the lessons we learned in the process. In the first part, we present the environmental challenges faced by the developing world and identify relevant applications of environmental monitoring in this context. Then, we proceed with a review of the technology of environmental monitoring in the broad context of agriculture and formally present the opportunity represented by WSNs. Finally we show how this can be applied to addressing a crucial problem of DCs, namely rural poverty. The second part of the dissertation is devoted to the collaborative design of a decision-support tool for marginal agriculture using wireless sensor networks. We first describe a survey that was made in 2004 in three villages of Karnataka, India. The results highlighted the potential that environment-related information has for the improvement of farming strategies in the face of highly variable conditions, in particular for risk management strategies (choice of crop varieties, sowing and harvesting periods, prevention of pests and diseases, efficient use of irrigation water etc.). The results were used to identify potential use cases for an environmental monitoring system for agriculture, and to make crucial design decisions for this system. At this point, we present our toolkit in detail and proceed with its assessment. Deployment issues are covered in detail, as they are critical for the success of such a system. The results of our field deployments, both in Switzerland and in India, highlighted the potential of the technology and demonstrated its applicability in the field. However, the direct use of this technology by the farmers themselves did not foster the expected participation of the population. This made it difficult to develop the intended decision-support system. The third part of this dissertation addresses the lessons learned and their consequences for upcoming experiments and deployments. We take the following position: Currently, the deployment of WSN technology in developing regions is more likely to be effective if it targets scientists and technical personnel as users, rather than the farmers themselves. We base this finding on the lessons learned from the COMMON-Sense system deployment and the results of an extensive user experiment with agriculture scientists, which is extensively described. We also took steps to make the deployment and maintenance of wireless sensors easier. Their limited resources, indeed, make them a challenging tool to handle in the field. In particular, they lack a proper display, which makes them difficult to deploy and to manage, once they are deployed. Accordingly, we present Sensor-Tune, a light-weight deployment and maintenance support tool for wireless sensor networks. This tool is based on an auditory user interface using sonification. Sonification refers to the use iii

and we describe a user experiment that we conducted in early 2008. In a conclusive part.of audio signals (mostly non-speech) to convey information. we go beyond the mere technology and technology use. by advocating an original use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the context of developing countries. agriculture. Keywords: tem. We then justify our design choices. we present the prototype that we built. Finally. We believe our demand-driven approach for the design of appropriate ICT tools that are targeted at the resource poor to be relatively new. sustainable development. which is the first reported attempt to put a multi-hop wireless sensor network deployment in the hands of non-specialists. In order to go beyond a pure technocratic approach. toolkit wireless sensor networks. sys- . We explore the potential of this approach. participatory methodology. developing countries. in particular how it allows users to overcome the inherent limitations of visual interfaces. we adopted an iterative. and present typical WSN applications where sonification can be particularly useful.

nous pr´ sentons les d´ fis environnementaux que doivent e e e relever les pays en d´ veloppement. les p´ riodes de semailles et de moisson. Nous d´ fendons le choix suivant: pour l’instant. Notre but est de confronter cette technologie en devenir avec un ` probl` me concret aux enjeux mondiaux. et nous identifions des domaines d’applications pour le monitoring e de l’environnement dans ce cadre. Puis. Les r´ sultats nous ont servi e ` a identifier des cas d’utilisation pour un syst` me de monitoring de l’environnement pour l’agriculture e marginale. l’utilisation directe de cette technologie par e e des agriculteurs indiens n’a pas b´ n´ fici´ de la collaboration esp´ r´ e de la population. nous montrons comment appliquer ces technologies a un probl` me e e ` crucial des PDs. e ` La deuxi` me partie est consacr´ e au design participatif d’un outil d’aide a la d´ cision pour la petite e e e ´ ` agriculture (ou agriculture marginale) bas´ sur les RCSFs. Pourtant. la pr´ vention ee ` e e des maladies et des parasites ou l’utilisation efficace de l’eau d’irrigation. plutˆ t que des agriculteurs. Certaines d´ cisions cruciales quant au design en d´ pendent aussi directement. parce qu’elles sont critiques pour le succ` s d’un tel syst` me. impl´ mentation et d´ ploiement. ainsi que sur une exp´ rience-utilisateurs men´ e aupr` s de scientifiques de l’agriculture. e e e ee e ` le d´ ploiement du syst` me d’aide a la d´ cision pr´ vu s’est av´ r´ difficile. e e e e ´ Les r´ sultats de nos d´ ploiements.R´ sum´ e e Dans cette dissertation. en Suisse comme en Inde. Nous couvrons e ı ` e en d´ tail les questions de d´ ploiement. e e e e v . e ´ A partir d’une etude de terrain sur les besoins en information de populations rurales du Karnataka (Inde du Sud). En cons´ quence. nous d´ crivons une etude a e e laquelle nous avons particip´ en 2004 dans trois villages du Karnataka. Tout d’abord. e e Dans la premi` re partie de la dissertation. avec le choix des vari´ t´ s a cultiver. A ce stade. ont mis en evidence le potentiel des e e RCSFs et d´ montr´ leur application sur le terrain. a savoir la petite agriculture dans les r´ gions arides des pays en e e d´ veloppement (PDs). Finalement. Cela concerne en particulier la gestion e du risque. e e ´ nous pr´ sentons egalement notre “boˆte a outils” et l’´ valuation que nous en avons faite. e nous attirons l’attention de la communaut´ scientifique sur les lecons que nous avons apprises dans le e ¸ cadre de ce projet de d´ veloppement et coop´ ration. nous avons concu une s´ rie d’applications pr´ cises. pour lesquelles nous fournissons les ¸ e e d´ tails de design. nous explorons le potentiel des r´ seaux de capteurs sans fil (RCSFs) dans e un contexte particulier et original. Les r´ sultats obtenus ont mis en e e ´ evidence le potentiel de l’information environnementale pour l’am´ lioration des strat´ gies agricoles dans e e ` un climat semi-aride soumis a des fortes variations saisonni` res. Finalement. Nous basons cette recommendation sur nos propres o d´ ploiements. e e e e ee La troisi` me partie de cette dissertation aborde les leons apprises et leurs cons´ quences pour exp´ riences e e e ` et d´ ploiements a venir. le d´ ploiement de RCSFs dans e e e des r´ gions en d´ veloppement a plus de chance d’ˆ tre efficace s’il est dirig´ vers des utilisateurs sciene e e e tifiques ou techniciens. Nous pr´ sentons aussi un syst` me incluant une intere e e e e face originale qui permet de mettre des capteurs sans fil dans les mains de non-sp´ cialistes. a savoir la pauvret´ rurale. nous passons en revue l’´ tat de l’art de cette technologie dans e le contexte plus large de l’agriculture et pr´ sentons formellement la fenˆ tre d’opportunit´ ouverte par e e e ` les r´ seaux de capteurs.

Pour d´ passer une approche purement technocratique. En cons´ quence. un outil de support au d´ ploiement e e e e e ` et a la maintenance de capteurs sans fil. Leurs ressources limit´ es. Nous justifions e ˆ nos choix de design et pr´ sentons des applications typiques pour lesquelles la sonification peut etre e particuli` rement utile. En e ` e ` e particulier. pays en d´ veloppement. agriculture. ce qui les rend d´ licats a d´ ployer et a g´ rer une fois e qu’ils sont d´ ploy´ s. nous avons adopt´ une e e e d´ marche it´ rative et une m´ thodologie participative. Nous explorons le potentiel de cette approche. et qui constitue a notre e e e e connaissance la premi` re tentative de mettre un r´ seau sans fil auto-organis´ entre les mains de none e e sp´ cialistes. nous pr´ sentons le prototype que nous avons d´ velopp´ en laboratoire.exp´ rience que nous d´ crivons en d´ tail. et e e e e ` d´ crivons une exp´ rience-utilisateurs que nous avons men´ e au d´ but de 2008. en font un outil difficile a g´ rer sur le terrain. e En conclusion. d´ veloppement durable. nous allons au-del` des consid´ rations purement technologiques en pr´ conisant une a e e utilisation originale de l’information et des technologies de la communication (TIC) dans le contexte des pays en d´ veloppement. en particulier comment elle permet de surmonter les limitations inh´ rentes aux interfaces visuelles. Cet outil est bas´ sur une interface-utilisateur auditive utilisant le e concept de sonification. e e e ´ Nous avons egalement pris des mesures pour rendre le d´ ploiement et l’entretien des capteurs sans e ` e fil plus facile. e e e Mots-cl´ s: e syst` mes e r´ seaux de capteurs sans fil. Enfin. e e e . nous pr´ sentons Sensor-Tune. en effet. La sonification consiste en l’utilisation des signaux audio (essentiellement nonverbaux) pour transmettre de l’information. ils n’ont pas un affichage graphique.

I am thankful to the staff of LCA: Danielle Alvarez. and for supporting and encouraging me whenever fear or discouragement where looming over me. T. Finally. I want also to pay tribute to the Sensorscope group at LCAV (Thomas Schmid and Henri DuboisFerri` res. Jamadagni. Dr. Prabhakar and M. Jean-Pierre Dupertuis and Marc-Andre L¨ thi for keeping the computing inu frastructure up and running. not only professionally. In particular. The work presented in this thesis was supported by the National Competence Center in Research on Mobile Information and Communication Systems (NCCR-MICS) and by the EPFL-SDC Fund. I am grateful for this support. Special thanks go to my friend Andr´ Pittet and his wife Catherine. Most of all. who unveiled for me a tiny portion of the Great Indian Novel. and for the interest they expressed for my research. and later Guillermo Barrenetxea). for their e unconditional hospitality. many thanks to Seshagiri Rao. support and encouragement during all my studies. Michal Piorkowski. I had the opportunity to collaborate with wonderful people.Acknowledgements I want to thank first my advisor. Angela Devenoge. I want to express my gratitude to the members of my thesis committee. but at a personal level as well. vii . During my PhD. for sharing my deepest moments of joy. Dr. Prof. Sheshshayee. my gratitude goes to my family for their love. I am particulary indebted to my successive office mates.S. and for guiding me during all my time at EPFL. e Many thanks to my colleagues at LCA for making this PhD such an enjoyable experience. Pearl Pu. their incomparable insight and their constant support during my stays in India. Kentaro Toyama. as well as Philippe Chammartin. Holly Cogliati.V. thank you my love. Andr´ Mermoud. the “giant on whose shoulders I stood”. Professor Jean-Pierre Hubaux. Prof. Sandra. H. who made these years an exceptional learning experience. and Patricia Hjelt for helping me with all administrative issues. as well as the president of the committee. His trust and help in all aspects of the PhD never faltered. Jun Luo and Julien Freudiger. for allowing me to pursue this exciting and original research topic. for the e time and effort that they invested in criticizing my dissertation. for bearing with me in such a friendly way.S.


Bangalore.Main Abbreviations CEDT: CSN: DC: ICT: ICT4D: IISc: MICS: NCCR: NGO: SDC: WSN: Centre for Electronics Design and Technology COMMON-Sense Net Developing Country Information and Communication Technology Information and Communication Technologies for Development Indian Institute of Science. India Mobile Information and Communication Systems National Center of Competence in Research Non-Governmental Organization Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Wireless Sensor Network ix .


. . 1. 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 5 6 7 7 7 8 9 10 10 12 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 17 17 17 18 18 18 18 19 20 20 21 21 22 23 . .1.6 Agriculture and Water in India: a Brief Historical Perspective 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . .4.8 India Today: the Current Institutional Framework . 1. . . . . . . 1. . 2. . . . . . .3. . . . .4 Telemetry . . . . . .1 The Millennium Development Goals and the Environment . . . . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Remote Sensing . . . . . . . . . . .3 Efficient Power Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. .5 Web-based Data Management . . . . . . .8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Where Do WSNs Stand? . . . . . . . .1 Stand-Alone Sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Facts and Figures . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . 1. .3 Design Dimensions in Environmental Monitoring . . . . . . . .7. .2 A Recent and Growing Concern: Water Scarcity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . .4 Air Pollution and Traffic . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . . .8. . . . . . . . . 2. . .1 Potential Applications . .2 The Importance of Environmental Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 India’s Agriculture Today . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . 1. . . . . . 2 New Opportunities for Environmental Monitoring and Agriculture 2. . . . . . . . .1 States and Central Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . .4. . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . .5 Water Quality Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Modularity . . . .2 Potential Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Laboratory Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . xi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Local Institutions . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . 1. 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Conclusion . . .2 Self-Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Wireless Sensor Networks . . . .1. . . . 2. . . . . .Contents Introduction 1 Environmental Challenges in Developing Countries 1. .3 The Specific Case of Karnataka . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Rationale . . .1 Wireless Networking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Agriculture . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Usual Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .2 Water Conservation Measures . .2 Summary of Results . . . 2. . . . . .3 Tomato Disease Prevention . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . .1 Crop Modeling . . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Vineyard Temperature Monitoring 2. . . . . . . . . . . . 3. 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . Consortium and Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . .3 Setting the Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 The Chennakeshavapura Village . . . . . . . . . .6 Discussion . . 3. . . . .1. . . . . . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . .3 Interpretation and Motivation . . . . . 2. . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Potato Disease Prevention . .6. . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 A Survey and Analysis on Farmers’ Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . 4. . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . .3. . . . . . . . .2 Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Technical Point-of-View . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Other Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Economical and Sociocultural Point-of-View . . . . . . . . . . . WSNs in Agriculture . . . .4. . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wireless Sensor Networks for Marginal Agriculture in India 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Wireless Sensor Network for Water Quality Management .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5. . . . . . . . . . . .1 Survey Methodology . 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . .5. . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . . . . . .1.3 Type of Agriculture . . . . . . . . . .7 Methodology: Science and Farmers . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Road Surface Condition Monitoring .5. . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . .1 The Pavagada Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Scientific Point-of-View . . . . . . . . . 4. . . .6 Sensors and Agriculture . . . . . . . . . .4 Cattle Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Paddy Field Monitoring . . . . . .6. . .3 Pest and Disease Prediction/Prevention . . . . . .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . 3. . .4 Marginal Farmers . . . . . . . . . . . .5. . .1 Soil Moisture . . . . . . . . . . .2 COMMON-Sense Net: a Decision-Support Tool for Agriculture 4.1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. .3 Climatic Variables . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . .5 Use Cases and Related Environmental Data . . . . . . . . 4. 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Water Management for Deficit Irrigation . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 23 25 25 26 26 27 27 28 28 29 31 31 31 32 33 34 35 36 36 36 39 43 43 44 45 46 47 47 50 51 51 52 53 54 54 56 56 57 58 58 59 59 59 3 WSNs and Developing Countries 3. . . .2 SenSlide. . .3. .4 Flood Detection System for Honduras .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6. 4. . . . . 4. . . . . 2. . . . .2 Soil Salinity and PH . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Groundwater Arsenic Contamination Assessment in Bangladesh 3. . . . .5. . . . . . . . .1 Project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Sensor Network Based Landslide Prediction System 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . .1 Assets . . . . . . . . . . .1 Existing WSN Projects . . . . 4. . . . .2 A New Tool for Developing Regions? . . . . .4. . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Design Guidelines . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 GPRS Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Sonification for Sensor Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. . . . .3. . .7 A Web-based Tool . .1 Applications . . . . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . .3 Performance Evaluation . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Signal and Noise Metaphor .2 Power Consumption .1 WiFi Bridge .3 Power Management . . 5. . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . 7. . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Wireless Sensor Network: Data Collection Subsystem 5. . . . . . . . .1 Introduction . . . . . . . 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. . . . .2.6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 System Design . . . .5 Power and Telecommunications Infrastructure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . 61 61 61 62 63 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 71 72 73 74 74 77 77 79 80 80 81 85 86 89 89 93 94 96 97 97 99 99 99 100 100 100 101 102 103 104 6 A Wireless Sensor Network Toolkit for Rural India 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . 6. . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Hardware Issues . .3. . . . . . . . . . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Data Management and Processing . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Radio Range . . 7. . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 State of the Art . .3 Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Lessons Learned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . .3 Issues of a Rural Deployment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Design Choice: Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Connectivity Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Chennakeshavapura . . . . . . . . 5. . . .3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . .1 Tables .3. . . . . . . . .5 System Design and Implementation 5. . 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5. . . . 7. .1 Data Generation Strategy . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Changins . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . .3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . 6. . . . . . . . . . .5 Hybrid Network: Data Transit Subsystem . . . . 6. . .1 Design Options . . . .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. . . . .2 Data Transport Strategy . . . . .1 Data Display . . . . . . . . . .5 System Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . .3 Embedded Probes . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5. . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Human Issues . . .2 Network Statistics . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. .2 Sonification . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . Making the Invisible Audible 7. . . . . . . . . .1 WSN deployment and Maintenance Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . .3. . . .1. . . . . . . . .2 Probe Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Commands . . . . . . . . . . . .3 WSNs and their End-Users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . 6. . . . 7. . . .

. . . . . . . . . Experimental Validation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Usefulness . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . Context and Knowledge Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . 8. 8. . . . . Conclusion 143 Future Work . . . . . . . . . .5 7. . . .2 Design/Implementation Gaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . . .7. . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . .3 Debriefing Meetings . 7. . . . . . . . . .1 Choosing the Target Population 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . .3 Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. . . . . . . . .4 Apprenticeship & Participatory Methods to Develop ICT Capacities 9.6.2 Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Usability . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Sectoral Analysis . .1 Prototype Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prototype Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 System Model . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . .2 Goal and Methodology . . . .3 Knowledge Creation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Use . . . . . . . .2 Experimental Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7. . . . . . . .6 7. . . . . . . . . .5 From Theory to Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . . . . . 9. . . . . .2 User Activity Logging . 7. . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Charting the Paradigm Shift . . .1 Comparable Graphical Interface 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Tool and Scenarios . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Sonification Mapping Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.2 Experiment Results . . . . .1 Experimental Technology for Social Change? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 7.2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Discussion . . . . .5. . . . . . . . 8. 8. . Initial Exploration: User Survey . .1 Description . 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.3 Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 105 108 111 112 112 113 114 114 117 117 118 119 119 120 123 123 124 124 126 126 128 129 133 134 135 135 136 137 137 138 138 140 141 Usability and Usefulness of the System 8. . . .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. .5. . . . . . . . .3. . 9 Building a Knowldedge Society with the Use of WSNs? 9. . . . . . . . . Discussion . .1 Questionnaires . . . . . . . .8 8 7. . . . 143 References Index 145 156 . . 7. . . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . .

In this context. it is legitimate to ask whether the wireless sensing technology can find new niches of applications. In this dissertation. BIS+ 08]. This triple (social. and we seek to determine if -and how. early adopters will have to e demonstrate the gains of using this technology. Throughout this thesis. these networks are viewed as a critical element of the revolution of ubiquitous computing . we investigate the use of the WSN technology in the context of rural development. if not predominant. the first commercial applications of WSNs started appearing on the market. expand and maintain.WSNs can help tackle some of the environmental challenges awaiting the developing countries in the face of globalization and climate change. we explore the potential of such networks in developing countries with a particular use case: environmental monitoring for marginal agriculture. scientific and engineering) challenge is reflected in the choice of projects partners. who come from both 1 . safety (LifeTag [Ray]). Their capacity to organize spontaneously in a network makes them easy to deploy. Whenever physical conditions in a milieu change rapidly over space and time. ea02. rural population. and provides resilience to the failure of individual measurement points. automatic meter reading (Wellspring [Irrb]). But recent technological advances have allowed for the networking of a wide variety of sensors. with the appropriate use of environmental data for agriculture. SDFV. as we aim at solving relevant social problems.Introduction Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) are increasingly considered by the scientific community as the future of Environmental Monitoring: Providing at a low cost the possibility to gather and process all sorts of data with a space and time resolution unimaginable before. independently from any preexisting infrastructure. The search of a “killer application” is by many means still ongoing. To some extent. in the area of home or building automation (Control4 [Con]. The work presented in this thesis aims at broadening the scope in this quest. However. dramatically illustrated by the renewed threat of a worldwide food crisis [Edi08]. and their socioeconomic effect remain to be proven. researchers have also tried to apply WSNs to this new context. If such systems are to be adopted by a wide customer basis. such projects remain rare. they still live in a fragile equilibrium. oil industry and agriculture (¯ ko [Cro]). WSNs allow for real-time data processing at a minimal cost. HomeHeartBeat [Hea]). through wireless networking. The idea of automating the collection of physical data in order to monitor environments is not new. BTB04. who still represent the bulk of the rural population. Despite their rapid urban growth. After a variety of test beds have been reported in the scientific literature [SPMC04. The livelihood of these populations has changed dramatically with the cumulative effects of globalization and the Green Revolution. This work is resolutely multidisciplinary. storage monitoring (ip01 [IP0]). In 2008. DCs have to sustain an important. We investigate whether the WSNs application paradigm can be adapted from ubiquitous computing for mass consumption markets to a decision-support tool for sustainable development in Developing Countries (DCs). The new situation has raised formidable challenges for the small land holders.

Firstly. Chapter 8 focuses on the users again. such as hybrid networks. In this chapter. whose goal is to help decide when WSNs are a suitable option for a given task. The choice of India as a test-case for developing countries might be questioned by some. evaluation that was compiled in the light of two years of operating networks in a rural environment. Chapter 4 is devoted to the user requirements of such an application. providing both the appropriate problem and highly skilled local partners to solve it. In Chapter 3. but it possesses the brain-power and the technological skills to address these problems efficiently. As a consequence. particularly how it allows users to overcome the inherent limitations of visual interfaces. it is an ideal setting for the sort of investigation we wanted to pursue. with a special focus on agriculture. India. we introduce the test case that we chose in order to explore the risks and opportunities offered by WSNs: a wireless sensor network as a support tool for small land-holding agriculture in India. . Several alternatives. we highlight the role of agriculture. and we describe a user experiment that we conducted in early 2008. and draw a brief historical and institutional outline of this sector. and which resulted in the broad definition of WSN applications for marginal agriculture. First we draw a panorama of wireless sensor networks. Hence. Finally. which we detail in Chapter 7. periodic data collection and data on-demand are discussed. especially in a remote areas of a developing country. however. Finally. is a country with two faces. deploying a self-organized wireless sensor network is still a complex process. delay-tolerant networking. In opposition to the rising power of mega-cities. Setting our focus on India as a test-case. Chapter 6 highlights the challenges that are still at hand after all the technical hurdles have been solved. In Chapter 5. we present the state of the art in environmental monitoring. In Chapter 1. It makes it clear that to this day. we highlight the potential of WSNs in developing countries. then identify and explain through them the main assets and challenges associated with this technology. then we give an outline of the new sensing technologies that are relevant in the cropping field. First. and from two cultural backgrounds: India and Switzerland. we set the context by emphasizing the role of the environment in the sustainable development of emerging economies and less-developed countries alike. the life conditions are deteriorating in the countryside. we present the prototype that we built. still home to almost two-thirds of the total population. In Chapter 2.2 INTRODUCTION the academic world and the civil society. we review exhaustively the existing initiatives. This toolkit is based on an auditory user interface using sonification1 . we describe the elements of the toolkit that we propose for the deployment of wireless sensor networks in rain-fed agriculture research. which is the first reported attempt to put a multi-hop wireless sensor network deployment in the hands of non-specialists. we present the design and implementation choices that we made in the course of the COMMON-Sense Net project. the country is by no means alien to the issues faced by developing countries. We proceed to a formal evaluation of the performance of our system. in this case agriculture scientists who gave us their feedback 1 Sonification refers to the use of audio signals (mostly non-speech) to convey information. because this country is emerging as a major economic power of the 21st century. we propose a taxonomy of environmental monitoring. Then we present the survey about farmers’ information needs in which we participated in 2004. We then justify our design choices and present typical WSN applications where sonification can be particularly useful. The lessons learned led us to design original solutions for deployment support. We explore the potential of this approach. We also give a description of agricultural practices that benefit from a precise knowledge of the environmental conditions in and around the cultivated plot.

The societal and methodological issues are covered in Chapter 9.3 on the technology developed in the framework of this project. before we draw a conclusion on the work accomplished so far. and we set landmarks for future developments. We base this claim on the lessons learned from the COMMON-Sense Net system deployment and the results of an extensive user experiment with agriculture scientists. Based on our experience. rather than the farmers themselves. the deployment of WSN technology in developing regions is more likely to be effective if it targets scientists and technical personnel as users. we take the following position in this chapter: Currently. .


the environmental threats affecting DCs are due to a variety of factors. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2. DCs are confronted with severe problems linked with the change of climatic patterns and the increased strain on their water resources caused by a booming population and improving living standards. Already today. Ensure environmental sustainability 5 . Achieve universal primary education 3. to the problem of urban air pollution. and other diseases 7. Endorsed by 189 United Nations member states in 2000. In this chapter. ensuring environmental sustainability while promoting economic growth is more and more regarded as a critical objective. We do not address yet the specific issue of technology. Among them. Improve maternal health 6. as exemplified by the eight Millennium Development Goals [UN 02].1 The Millennium Development Goals and the Environment In general. malaria. although the utility of a network of sensors will become apparent in most of the use cases. the Millennium Declaration lists the eight following goals as the primary targets for an equitable and sustainable human development: 1. to the general health concerns caused by unsatisfactory access to clean fresh water. There is a growing tension between short-term economic development goals and a long-term sustainable environmental policy. we investigate the potential of environmental monitoring in DCs from the perspective of sustainable development.Chapter 1 Environmental Challenges in Developing Countries Developing countries face many challenges on their way to industrialization and economical well-being. Combat HIV/AIDS. the role of emerging economies in the fight against global warming can no longer be ignored [FR07]. As was illustrated by the negotiations that took place during the UN Climate Talks held in Bali in December 2007. 1. from the decrease and degradation of water resources caused by unsustainable agricultural practices. even if their levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita is still significantly lower than those of industrialized nations. Promote gender equality and empower women 4. Reduce child mortality 5.

Develop a global partnership for development In order to highlight the importance of environmental monitoring in developing countries. we claim that environmental monitoring is not anymore a luxury for wealthy societies. ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES 8. Only with this knowledge can timely alerts be issued and appropriate environmental policies be implemented. we show in the following section what role this technique can play in helping to meet at least three of the eight Millennium Goals: • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: A large percentage of the population living in emerging and developing countries is still rural. In a more general sense. along with their relevance with regard to the MDGs listed above. With proper collaboration with the scientific communities concerned with the Millennium Goals. In this case an environmental factor. other relevant use cases can probably be found. so it can be assumed that reducing poverty by providing better means of subsistence in rural areas will decrease mortality. child mortality rates are correlated with poverty levels [Wag02].). • Ensure environmental sustainability: Sustainable development involves pollution monitoring. Information is a key issue in this regard.6 CHAPTER 1. as well as the monitoring and protection of natural resources and the prevention of natural disasters. They tend to be low on the agenda of the countries whose main objective is to build a prosperous economy and to reach higher standards of living [MC]. health professions etc. Of course this list is not exhaustive. is a direct culprit. Poverty and Hunger YES NO ? Child Mortality YES YES YES Environmental Sustainability YES YES YES Agriculture Air Pollution and Traffic Water Quality Monitoring Table 1.1 presents three applications of environmental monitoring that are particularly adapted to the developing countries. such as agronomists. The subsistence difficulties of the poor farmers represent a major cause of both rural and urban poverty. because only a precise knowledge of the environment can lead to a proper assessment of the situation and a clear understanding of the consequences. water quality. because mass migration to the cities results in an increase in unemployment and slum population. As a consequence. etc. Table 1. but a necessity for all. We develop them in detail in the following section. • Reduce child mortality: About 15% of the child mortality in developing countries is due to diarrhoeal diseases. Often the longer term effects of environmental degradation are not well known or understood.2 The Importance of Environmental Monitoring There are several reasons environmental issues are not addressed properly today.1: Environmental Monitoring and MDGs: correspondence matrix . 1. crop management. A better understanding and monitoring of the environmental conditions in which farming is done can make it more profitable and sustainable (irrigation.. hydrologists.

who survive on rainfed farming. Generally speaking. only 17% of the croplands are irrigated. MTY05]. based on the estimated needs of the plant at the corresponding stage of its development. [SOF99]. and the equipment can be manufactured locally [WCS04]. compared to traditional surface irrigation techniques [RTB98]. Furthermore. as well as enhanced soil productivity [HDM+ 06. and on the water available in the soil. systematic monitoring is required for the soil water content in the root zone.).1. Poor farmers around the globe. but also in better preservation of the soil against salinization or water logging. because free access to the fields is necessary throughout the cropping season. where the average land holding does not exceed a few hectares. as trickle irrigation can improve water use efficiency by up to 60 to 80 percent.03 per square meter or US$300 per hectare. [TGCB04]. easily affordable for those growing high-valued crops. depth and salt content of the groundwater. the cost of trickle (or drip) irrigation equipment is US $0. To achieve this.3.2. Better operation and management of irrigation water leads to significant savings and to a more sustainable use of water resources. Indeed. As the optimal irrigation timewindow is small. the amount of water used could be minimized. Large losses occur in conveyance and distribution systems. In the cases where the amount of water is limited. would more than double their average crop yield if they could use irrigation [HDM+ 06]. due to overuse. which would result not only in cost savings. Worldwide. 1. In this situation. Considerable volumes of water are wasted due to inadequate irrigation management. This means that this technique is becoming attractive even for small farmers. it is necessary to minimize intrusiveness. Because of the spatial and time variability of the relevant parameters. . This is especially true if the parcels are fragmented. Finally. climatic parameters. an overview of the fields is necessary to determine the optimal distribution of water. etc. [FotUN06].1 Potential Applications Irrigation Management As the limits of groundwater exploitation are reached. there is a strong real-time component. real-time knowledge of these parameters would allow the farmer to define precisely the time and the amount of water needed at each irrigation. irrigation techniques need to be made sustainable. farmers are beginning to invest in micro-irrigation technologies to conserve water.3. It is estimated that the overall efficiency of agricultural water use is currently lower than 30 % [Wal00].3. [Bra01]. The cost of these technologies has been declining. a community-based management of scarce water resources could lead to a more efficient use of these resources throughout the cropping season. irrigation is frequently responsible for the depletion of the groundwater table and loss of aquifer storage capacity [DC07]. As a result. but they account for 40 % of the global harvest. water management has become vital for agriculture. For example.3 1. which can also lead to water-logging or to soil salinization (10 to 15 % of irrigated lands worldwide) [TM93].3.2 1. AGRICULTURE 7 1. But for this to happen. as is the case in most developing countries. it has been shown that irrigation efficiency in developing countries can be low [MTY05]. More than ever. as well as for other relevant variables (soil temperature. A proper environmental monitoring system for water management in agriculture has demanding requirements.1 Agriculture Rationale Agriculture is by far the human activity that uses the most of freshwater resources (65-70%). continuous monitoring at several locations is necessary.

1. inexpensive soil moisture sensors exist today. However. Contrary to the previous use cases. and to monitor the soil’s water content in order to know when to add water and how much. One major challenge is to develop monitoring tools that can assess precisely pollution levels as a function of the location and the time. The same can provoke waterlogging or. A likely method is to determine significant thresholds in soil moisture as a function of soil.3 Other Applications Many agricultural practices designed to improve productivity in the short-term can have devastating long-term effects. on the contrary. cropping fields may present features of mesoor microclimates [BTB04]. these applications do not necessarily need a fast response.3. e. [RKB04].g. according to the last UN-habitat report. In this way.8 CHAPTER 1. especially in a demand-based system. Intensive use of nitrogenous fertilizers can result into soil acidification [Moo]. Air humidity and temperature are known factors for a variety of crops. According to Romieu et al.2. There are several environmental parameters susceptible to influence the emergence of pests and diseases in plants. crop type and crop growth stage. justifying dense environmental monitoring systems. farmers can schedule more efficiently the application of pesticides and fungicides and limit the associated monetary and environmental costs. improved environmental information is instrumental to its successful implementation. water-table depletion.2 Pest and Disease Control There is an interest in monitoring the probability of occurrence of pests or diseases based on the evolution of climatic parameters (temperature. clear scientific evidence is lacking to define the optimal granularity of measurements. 1. We present appropriate sensors for such measurements in the next chapter. The appropriateness of installing measurement systems in the field for continuous monitoring needs to be carefully examined.2. The question of the time and space variability remains open. if only for research and validation purposes. in order to identify the precise causes of the problem (e. Control of all these phenomena would benefit from enhanced environmental monitoring techniques. ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Because micro-irrigation efficiency depends on the adjustment of water provided to the water demand of the plant. The fine-grained instrumentation of agricultural parcels is hence possible at an affordable cost.4 Air Pollution and Traffic In 2006. Air temperature and humidity can evolve rapidly over time but usually slowly over space. As for soil moisture.g. Soil salinization can be caused by excessive irrigation [TM93]. air pollution is a major concern. “acute respiratory infections (ARIs) are the most common cause of illness and death in children in the developing world”. [MHH+ 96]. however. As shown in the survey on sensors that we present in Chapter 2 (Section 2. humidity. industrial . Soil moisture and leaf wetness often also play a role [AW00]. In many urban areas of developing countries. especially in the mega cities of Asia [HKV02]. it may present high space variability but slow time response. over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. Whereas it is still difficult today to assess the pH of the soil in-situ. Similar approaches have been proposed in the literature [GSR00]. soil moisture). 1. nor high granularity data.5). simple piezometers can be used to monitor the level of the water table. potato fungi [Bag05] or grapevines [CW03].3. Here again.

instrumenting the main crossroads and traffic routes with pollutant sensors would allow for warnings to be issued when pollution levels reach critical thresholds. One would need to design a portable system making it possible to store on the vehicle the data regarding speed.4. modify traffic-lights periods.1 Potential Applications Two different strategies can be adopted. and of the identification of critical periods and zones. light or heavy vehicles’ traffic). [KL07] reported in 2007 on an experiment on air pollution monitoring in Cambridge (U. even if at the moment not all pollutants can be detected. . The real-time data is crucial for decision-making processes. a characteristic quality of fuel.. etc. RPMs and gas emissions. traffic emission factors and local measurements to ponder them.) using lightweight sensors mounted on bikes.1. which was not possible at an affordable cost at the time of their study. to raise the awareness of the authorities and the civil society. enforce limitation of traffic volume during peak periods. Findings are targeted at policy makers primarily.individual cars can have their gas emissions monitored. The requirements for an air pollution monitoring system include several aspects. typical traffic patterns and driving habits. Known locations (such as domiciles or work places) could be equipped with data collection points (also called sinks. The collection of extensive data over time and space is crucial.K.4. at certain crossroads or gas stations). Public vehicles. Such sensors exist today.). etc. A wireless technology seems particularly appropriate to facilitate this transfer. They concluded that “traffic is the major contributor to the plume of pollutants in Bogota” and “that strategies directed to mitigate air pollution might have contradictory effects depending on the pollutant to be tackled”. sensors record the flow data about particle emissions and transmit them over wireless to a data management server. One can instrument cars at the exhaust pipe. On the other side. The whole system would then apply a store-and-forward mechanism that allows vehicles to keep the data in memory until they opportunistically pass near a data collection point (e. These data would have to be transmitted directly to a data management system for processing. Urban air pollution monitoring pursues a double goal. Zarate and Clappier [Zar07] ran such a study in Bogota. The ability to use low-cost automated sensors in order to conduct the needed experiments is crucial. Using modeling tools. interrupting or rerouting the traffic in certain areas. In this model. They also recognized the importance of instrumenting a fleet of cars with sensors in order to obtain a more precise assessment of traffic emissions over time and space for different types of vehicles. in order to assess their impact on the environment in a concrete context: a given city.g. nitrogen oxide. The implications are again for policy making. and possibly for the traffic to be monitored accordingly. either based on instantaneous measurements or longer trends (create one-way streets. taxis and private cars selected on a voluntary basis could be used. and to take appropriate measures.. Another possibility is to instrument with sensors a grid of positions in the city . AIR POLLUTION AND TRAFFIC 9 plants. etc. An unprecedented wealth of data could then be used to refine and possibly adapt existing pollution models. On one side. or base stations). Kanjo et al. 1. and nitrogen dioxide. because it will enable a better understanding of urban air pollution and circulation behavior. which could detect carbon monoxide.typically crossroads in order to see how the emissions evolve over time at different time scales. such as: issuing air quality alerts.




Water Quality Monitoring

In developing countries, diarrhoeal diseases are one of the main causes of child mortality [Wor03]. This high death rate is directly correlated with the lack of sanitation and the consumption of polluted water. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme estimates that “systematic and sustained tracking and review of progress” of the sanitation system is important to “develop policies and programmes at national and city-level targeted to improve services for the urban poor” [UNH]. This primarily concerns biological contamination, mostly by fecal matters, because such contaminations lead rapidly to diarrheal diseases that present high mortality rates, especially among small children. The chemical pollution of water, however, is also a serious environmental hazard, which is harder to track but leads to death by cancer or other diseases several years after exposure, claiming probably hundreds of thousands lives every year [RBE+ 06]. Sensors may be used to sense water quality in the tanks and the distribution networks (as was done in 2007 in Boston for leakage detection [SNM07]). In the large cities of developing countries, these networks are often under-documented. Hence, a dense network of sensors placed in the pipes has the potential to help localize problems such as punctual and diffuse pollution sources or spills. It can also be used as an early warning system, in case of sudden degradation of water quality. In rural areas, water is also directly extracted from wells or streams: these water sources can also be instrumented. In this application, a major design issue is the development of inexpensive and reliable sensors for water quality. More specifically, sensors monitoring biological contaminations -such as detection of faecal bacteria like E. Coli - are necessary. Currently, water analysis is usually performed in the laboratory where samples are cultivated to detect the growth of bacteria. This method is costly, takes time, and does not scale well. What is needed is the development of affordable automated sensors, that can monitor fresh water sources in situ, without manual sampling and laboratory analysis. Methods for this have been developed. E. Coli can be numbered in situ using gene-based remote detection technologies [LCF+ 05]. However, this method is not yet commercially available. Whereas, chemical water sensors exist for pH and a variety of contaminants [RBE+ 06]. The system requirements of water quality monitoring are similar to the previous applications. Time and space variability have to be dealt with, because contamination can occur at any time or anywhere in the distribution network. The real-time aspect is also critical, due to the importance of reacting rapidly in a case of water contamination. Finally, an automated collection is desirable, as pipes and wells are not easily accessible by human staff. As for potential applications, the general strategy would consist in instrumenting water distribution systems at critical points, for both bacterial and chemical risks.


Agriculture and Water in India: a Brief Historical Perspective

In the previous sections, we have identified environmental monitoring applications that are of particular interest for developing countries. Among them, agriculture seems an ideal candidate, because, on one hand it is related to well defined problems, and on the other hand the technology to solve them seems mature enough to be deployed in the field. Now we focus on the special case of India by drawing a historical perspective that highlights the critical needs facing Indian agriculture today. Large scale irrigation has been used for thousands of years throughout Asia, leveraging essentially on two lines of development: at the community level by the design and implementation of local water management infrastructures such as dams and distribution networks, and through the action of emerging powerful states, referred to as the first “hydraulic societies” [Wit57].



At the local level, community irrigation systems were developed, essentially located in mountainous or hilly areas. Those systems were based on the intake from water streams (Himalayas) or on the construction of small tanks (India, Sri Lanka). They required community labor and management to gain access to and share water, and to minimize conflicts. Later on, increased socioeconomic heterogeneity as well as the intervention of the state in the construction or maintenance of weirs has often weakened social cohesion and collective action. Nevertheless, the structures developed in the pre-colonial era serve even today a significant portion of the total irrigated area [BM04]. In the Indus valley, a powerful agrarian society emerged as early as 3000 BC, based on large-scale and government-led irrigation works [Wit57]. This early model of an hydraulic society led to a massive economic development, because it provided a significant increase in food supply, which permitted population growth, urbanization and development of alternative economic activities, such as trading and handicrafts. However, it was always constrained by the availability of the one critical resource it relied on: water. Eventually, its sustainability was threatened by an increase of environmental problems, such as salinity or water shortage, which surfaced due to the intensification of irrigated agriculture. In the words of Barker [BM04], “it is worth noting that many of the ancient systems collapsed because societies could not manage environmental problems”. Under colonial rule, the occupant had to meet two conflicting goals: satisfying local market needs, so as to avoid unrest, and extracting as much surplus as possible. In semi-arid regions, dominant irrigation strategies were to develop protective irrigation for famine prevention in years of drought, which often resulted in suboptimal land productivity [JMW96]. To this day, most large-scale systems in the IndoGangetic Plain are protective irrigation systems , “spreading the water thinly over a large area, regardless of the degree of scarcity experienced” [BM04]. During the Cold War, the main concrete priority was to increase cereal grain production in order to attain food security. This triggered a Green Revolution (use of fertilizer, high-yielding varieties) but also a Blue Revolution (development and expansion of irrigation systems). The highest food-grain prices were reached in the 1960s and 1970s, the same period where about 80% of the dams existing today in Asia were built [McC96]. Since then, however, Asia suffered a sharp decline in investments and large dam construction: cereal grain prices were divided by two. At the same time, construction prices rose, as did the opposition of the environmentalists. During this period, following a top-down approach, public irrigation systems grew faster than the corresponding regulation bodies, resulting in a failure to build community ownership and to foster cooperative behavior at the local level [Hor98], [Jon95]. Foreign consultants promoted designs often inappropriate for the developing-country situation; typically, optimistic design assumptions produced insufficient flows in pipes and led users to destroy facilities . More recently, there has been a surge in private initiatives, as farmers, unsatisfied with government policies and projects started installing tube-wells or pumping from canals and drains. Such initiatives are hard to identify and quantify, as they are not officially acknowledged. Nevertheless, they enhanced the productivity of the public sector’s investment in irrigation. To summarize the effects of the Cold War years, the positive impact of irrigation on poverty reduction and in enhancing rural livelihoods is felt through increased employment, lower food prices, and more stable outputs. There are also multiplier effects and indirect effects. However, an unclear definition of water rights and the unequal distribution of water yielding assets created inequality. Concurrently, large scale irrigation works (typically dams) and unregulated use of groundwater and canal pumping at the micro level represent new threats to the environment [BM04].




India’s Agriculture Today
Facts and Figures

Since the early 1970s India has achieved food self-sufficiency. As reflected by the growing per capita income (USD 450, with purchasing power parity - ppp - USD 2’150), the rural poverty itself is decreasing: today, it reaches 33%, down from 56% in 1973-1974. Even if the agriculture part of GDP is relatively small at around 24%, its share of employment is about 67%. This agriculture remains largely rain-fed (60%). Nevertheless, the irrigation part is growing, as it is needed to sustain the general trend of a shift to a market economy. Although India is using only about 57 percent of its total water resource potential at present, the country is already using about 66 percent of its irrigation potential [oWR00]. Being a vast and monsoon-dependent country, India displays a wide variation across time and space for water resources availability. However, an average can be drawn for the effective water resource potential: 1’122 bn m3 per year. The projections for water requirements are sharply increasing. From 644 bn m3 per year today, likely forecasts assess 784-850 bn m3 in 2025 [Sal04]. As a consequence, one witnesses an increasing supply-demand gap and a continuous decline in per capita water availability (in 1955: 5’277 m3 , today: 1970 m3 [oWR00]). The canal irrigation sector is developed and managed by public agencies. Its importance for distributing water and recharging wells must not be underestimated. However, the inadequacy of the water institutions’ projects and policies, and inequality of water distribution has led to a flourishing of private initiatives, which are mostly centered on exploitation of groundwater. Groundwater irrigation is developed and managed by independent farmers, often illegally. It is estimated that 9.8 million electric and 4.4 diesel pump-sets are scattered across the country, as well as about 10 million dug-wells [Sal04].


A Recent and Growing Concern: Water Scarcity

In rural India, the new era of globalization is marked by a shift from a subsistence society to a market economy. This new economy is characterized by a new pressure on productivity, and by the shift to new, often water-demanding crops, such as cotton for instance. This situation is not exceptional in developing countries, where irrigation demands recently grew to consume well over 70 percent of the total developed water supplies [BM04]. Irrigation expansion has come to an end because developing more of the potentially utilizable water resources is costly. Raising ecological concerns has also led to the abandon of large scale irrigation projects. As a consequence, the attention has turned to the improvement in the management and performance of existing irrigation systems. Concomitantly, India (like the rest of Asia) is experiencing rapid growth in demand for water targeted at non-agricultural uses. The consequence of this global trend is easy to imagine. Within the first quarter of this century, a projected 400 million Indians will live in regions that experience severe water scarcity [SAM+ 98]. This situation is made worse by the sharp increase in the use of groundwater as primary source of irrigation. Today it exceeds surface irrigation and threatens to alter the hydrology of the river basins, and to provoke irremediable environmental damage. While groundwater has contributed much to the growth in agricultural productivity, the over-exploitation of groundwater in the semi-arid regions is affecting both the quantity and quality of water available for agriculture, domestic use, and other purposes [BM04].

a state in which the subsoil water table is located at or near the surface. as well as the salinization of soils [SOF99]. Groundwater depletion. If the land is cultivated this results in a reduced yield of crops commonly grown. Paradoxically.8. 1. on the other hand. But failure to maintain the surface irrigation systems can. The water rights themselves are illdefined. 1. These farmers may be less willing to participate in participatory irrigation schemes. Excess water is accumulated in the root zone of the soil.8. A study by Droogers et al. in turn.1 States and Central Government The water legal framework can be broken down into three components: the law itself. This highlights the potential that innovative practices can have in the area of water management. are becoming increasingly ineffective in addressing water challenges as the country enters an era of water scarcity [Sal04]. the semi-arid area encompassing the main part of Karnataka and part of Andhra Pradesh has probably exhausted its potential for rain-fed agriculture. the central government has the prerogative to resolve interstate disputes and to foster inter-state legal harmonization. As a consequence. INDIA TODAY: THE CURRENT INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK 13 The culprit is often the poor level of public irrigation services [Jon95]. from the International water Management Institute [DSM01] comes to the conclusion that this area belongs to those absolutely needing more irrigation to meet the needs of their growing populations.e. is not a fatality. As a result most community-centered institutions and practices have lost their relevance and gradually disappeared. However. there is a large potential for increasing food production through small-scale water harvesting systems that provide partial irrigation when water is most needed by the crops.7. affect groundwater recharge and increase the cost of pumping as groundwater tables fall. it does not have the means to enforce these decisions because of the present constitutional division of power. Individual rights to both surface water and groundwater are recognized indirectly through land . but a profusion of water-related legal provisions that fail to reflect the current conditions of water scarcity and water conflicts. While States have jurisdiction over waterresources within their borders. There is no separate water law. the British provided a highly centralized institutional framework. which led individual farmers to invest in the acquisition of pumps and to drill wells. Groundwater exploitation increasingly leads to the drying up of wells and rivers.1. which were developed in an era of water surplus. the policy established by the government to achieve the intended goals. A 10 year study in Uttar Pradesh shows that surplus monsoon water can be used to recharge underground aquifers and simultaneously provide farmers with better crop security [SC02]. most water institutions. [Hor98]. Waterlogging can also lead to irreversible soil salinization. Although the State and nationwide governance is often ineffective at tackling the problem globally. it can also lead to waterlogging in other areas. Uncultivated land is limited in its use because of the high subsoil water table. the situation in the villages shows local improvisations that try to cope with the new constraints faced by the population. 1. i.3 The Specific Case of Karnataka It is to be noted that the region of main interest for the COMMON-Sense Net project. especially during the colonial period.8 India Today: the Current Institutional Framework During colonization. and the structure of the administration put in place to reach the target. Unfortunately.

but it fails to set withdrawal limits [Sal04]. However. the institutional trend has been a progressive deterioration in the authority of operating agencies. however. not only are the water rates several times higher than the pumping cost but also the price and non-price discriminations remain pervasive. As for regulatory arrangements. Often. As for water pricing policy. The expanding phenomenon of pump-set rentals is an indication of the existence of surplus pumping capacity. This situation will only get worse because of demographic pressure. it is more and more acknowledged that if the method and level of water rates are such as to capture and convey the scarcity value of the resource. which often resulted in a degradation of the proposed service [Sal04]. they can both induce efficiency and ensure full cost recovery at the same time [Sal04]. local governments such as municipalities and panchayats (village councils) unions also play an important role in the drinking water supply. This marks a shift from water development to performance improvement.9 Conclusion In this chapter. especially as this sector is in crisis. Admittedly. particularly in the case of diesel pump-sets. has been damaged by an inefficient centralization. improved living standards and climatic changes. and management. Today. India among others. The water policy relates to the declared statements. not only because of the water issue. despite the traditional view of water as a public good. it recognizes the role of private sector participation. The water administration framework is more effective.14 CHAPTER 1. . 1. a very ineffective top-down approach is still in place. there are a variety of cooperatively-operated and community managed irrigation activities ranging from lift irrigation schemes in canal and groundwater areas. as the outlook that we have given of Indian farming very well illustrates. There is a groundwater permit system. development. we have sought to emphasize the role of the environment in the social and economic development of DCs. 1. There exists little harmonization between states. It has become urgent to investigate new ways of increasing productivity. Similarly. suffer from increased water scarcity. widely took over. as we saw. Many DCs. allocation. This inheritance from the past. users and stakeholder groups are also encouraged to get involved in cost recovery and management at the outlet and system levels.8. Although the state government has a dominant role. These can help developing a form of water rights in a canal region. ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES rights. it failed to identify the necessary institutional mechanisms and to enforce its recommendations.2 Local Institutions The situation at the local level is characterized by a sense of improvisation and self-organization. Private initiative. and no credible enforcement mechanism at the top-level [Sal04]. The root cause for the sub-optimality of these groundwater markets lies not so much in their economic and organizational aspects but in the legal and institutional vacuum within which they operate at present [Sal04]. however. to water harvesting and sharing arrangements in arid and mountain areas. while irrigation departments have a larger role in the provision and management of irrigation. In view of the monopolistic or oligopolistic tendencies in these markets. because they have no means of verifying fairness of water delivery and there is no clarity or transparency in the operation. of the central and state governments for water-resource planning. One clear symptom of that trend is the destruction of system infrastructure by the farmers. as well as the intended approaches. but because of institutional flaws and infrastructure disrepair. which accentuates discrimination and inefficient water use . Agriculture itself represents a huge challenge in this area.

. We will use rural India as a test-case throughout. In the subsequent ones. their capacity for improvisation is an asset in the search of applications. we investigate the state of the art in environmental monitoring. A bottom-up approach has our preference. which requires enhanced environmental monitoring. CONCLUSION 15 A crucial point is on-the-spot environmental knowledge. Although rural communities suffer from the obsolescence of once thriving commonly-maintained infrastructure.9. it seems appropriate to try and apply new information technologies in order to build a modern infrastructure that farmers can benefit at the local level.1. In this context. In the next chapter. we will see how this can be transposed to the problems specific to developing countries. The crisis of institutions would make a top-down approach ineffectual.


1 2. for two reasons: The price of the sensing technology. Traditionally. More recently. the Green Revolution put to the use advanced fertilizing and irrigation techniques that benefit from improved sensing technologies. due to the low price of labor. and the human cost of manually collecting information from the sensors. More recently. let us examine the current status of environmental monitoring for agriculture. a precise monitoring of the farming environment has always be seen as costly. and leaves a large part to human error. This technique. however. remains attractive in the developing countries. the most widely used today. The close observation of climate-related phenomenons and their effect on soil and crop alike are instrumental in the definition of any efficient cropping strategy. regardless of the context where it is used.1 Usual Techniques Stand-Alone Sensors Inexpensive.Chapter 2 New Opportunities for Environmental Monitoring and Agriculture Before moving to the specific case of the rural areas of developing regions. which has fostered the development of the technique of manual insite reading. portable and reliable sensors for air temperature. However. or irrigation schedules.5) and wireless sensor networks (Section 2. 2. it still limits significantly the time resolution and the responsiveness of the system.3). before presenting concrete test-cases in the domain. we describe the new opportunities for agriculture represented by state-of-the-art sensors (Section 2. More recently. automated sensors have started to appear in the cropping field. be it for crop selection. 17 . especially for soil monitoring. Until the recent advent of wireless sensor networks. atmospheric pressure or humidity have existed for decades. stand-alone sensors with data-logging capability have been developed for a wealth of physical phenomena.1. which is essentially cumbersome and work intensive. however. Attempts at monitoring the cropping field’s environment are as old as agriculture. Sometimes the sensors are connected to a data logger with the ability to store data that can be retrieved at a later stage. choice of sowing and harvesting windows. In this chapter. such systems were cumbersome to deploy and to maintain.

For instance. through the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) data center. It has been shown that even crop yields can be predicted 5 to 13 weeks prior to harvests using remote-sensing techniques [UK98]. Its recent successor is the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS). For this reason. an advanced narrow bandwidth sensor.18 CHAPTER 2. such as temperature. Such a solution is minimally intrusive and allows for the monitoring of wide areas. it only works for electromagnetic radiation. in which . NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE 2. Another limitation of satellite sensing is that the frequency and delay of data depend on the satellite’s orbit. Here a store-and-forward method can be used to send data in bulk.3 Remote Sensing We refer to remote sensing as the use of imaging sensor technologies to assess physical parameters. precise assessment of soil status was made by manual sampling and laboratory analysis. 2.1. in general aboard aircrafts and satellites. 2.1. which means they do not need any preexisting infrastructure. especially if the required space resolution is high. The satellite used to assess soil moisture until recently was the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer). but their use involves considerable extra processing. from which reflectance data are made available at no cost every 8 days by NASA and USGS.4 Telemetry Telemetry using cellular networks such as GSM is widely used today. and because in remote sensing the physical parameters are assessed indirectly – through interpretation of the electro-magnetic spectrum – obtaining complementary data from ground sensors is usually desirable. which has a time resolution of 10 days and a space resolution 10 km. It presents the advantage of wide and rapidly expanding coverage.2 Wireless Sensor Networks A wireless sensor is a self-powered computing unit usually containing a processing unit. It is not suitable for a real-time application if the continuous monitoring of a parameter is needed. which we denote as WSN throughout this document. communication costs are prohibitive for messages sent several times per hour by a large number of sensors over a long period of time. and as a reference technique to assess the performance of in-situ sensors. as do cellular networks such as GSM. including countries or continents. – can be adapted (see Figure 2. nodes can use other wireless sensors as relays. remote sensing can be used to derive drought conditions from electromagnetic radiation. The deeper layers (the root zone) are beyond the reach of such a system. In some cases. at the expense of responsiveness. humidity etc.1. MODIS’ spatial resolution is around 500m [TGS04]. Such a technique is still widely used today for the analysis of chemical and biological contaminants. In particular. we refer to such a network as an ad-hoc Wireless Sensor Network. However.1 as an example). to which a variety of sensing units – typically sampling physical data. For this reason.2 Laboratory Analysis Traditionally. which limits it to phenomena affecting the atmosphere and the shallow layers of the soil (down to 10 cm at most). These sensors automatically organize themselves into an ad-hoc network. The main issue to take into consideration for the use of such systems is the issue of cost. a transceiver and both analog and digital interfaces. Raw images are available on a daily basis. The sensor nodes communicate with each other in order to exchange and process the information collected by their sensing units. 2.

as well as resilient to the failure of individual measurement points.2. Their capacity to organize spontaneously in a network makes them easy to deploy. WSNs allow for real-time processing at a minimal cost. 2. They have decisive advantages. Recently. many design dimensions need to be taken into account before choosing the appropriate technology to deploy.2. Wireless sensors are order of magnitudes cheaper than traditional weather stations connected to cellular networks. In a data-collection model. most analysts rely on Moore’s Law to predict a price per unit of a few US dollars within 5 to 10 years for light-weight applications using cheap off-the-shelf sensors.3. we propose the following dimensions to be the building blocks of any multicriteria decision for a system designer. DESIGN DIMENSIONS IN ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING 19 Figure 2.3 Design Dimensions in Environmental Monitoring In any environmental monitoring application. sensors communicate with one or several base stations connected to a database and an application server that stores the data and performs extra data-processing. Although they remain expensive at the moment (a few hundred US dollars for a typical weather station [BIS+ 08]) because they have yet to evolve from laboratory prototypes to off-the-shelf products.1: Wireless sensor with 2 alkaline batteries. Based on the requirements of typical applications and our own experience. WSNs have raised considerable interest in the computing and communication systems’ research community. and its weatherproof casing case the network is said to be multi-hop. Spatial scale: What is the size of the area to be instrumented? This can vary from single point if the phenomenon is to be observed at a single location. expand and maintain. a connector to 2 soil moisture probes. the network is single-hop. to local if the area spans a few hectares or square . If nodes communicate only directly with each other or with a base station. Whenever physical conditions change rapidly over space and time. such as temperature monitoring in buildings. compared with the technologies previously used to monitor environments via the collection of physical data. The result is available typically via a web-based interface 2.

Responsiveness: What is the time period.2: Typical (Hybrid) Wireless Sensor Network Architecture kilometers. to regional if an entire city or district must be instrumented. We detail these technical characteristics in the following sections. and permanent phenomena. 2. where a single measure is sufficient. and also the price of labor necessary to accomplish these tasks.4 Where Do WSNs Stand? In this section. lasting several months. short-term phenomena. Wireless sensor networks present attractive characteristics when the requirements of one or several of these dimensions are high. countries etc. lasting a few days or weeks. It also makes it possible to retrieve data in real-time from locations . NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE Figure 2. which vary at a time scale in the order of the second or the minute. supposed to last an indefinite time.4. Spatial variability: How many measurement points are necessary to model a given phenomenon over the monitored area? We can distinguish dense phenomena and sparse phenomena. which remain constant several days. weeks or more. both in time and space. and slow varying phenomena. we describe the main technical characteristics and capabilities of WSNs with regard to the design dimensions that we introduced in the previous section.20 CHAPTER 2. where data can be retrieved after an arbitrary long time and real-time systems. within which the environmental information must be made available to the user? We can distinguish off-line systems.). and even to global for larger areas (provinces. As such it enables the monitoring of phenomena of high variability. Time scale: How long must the phenomenon be observed? We can distinguish one-time phenomena.1 Wireless Networking Organizing the sensors into a network allows for real-time collection of a large number of measurement points at a minimum human cost and effort. Non-accessibility: Is the area to monitor remote or difficult to access? Non-Intrusiveness: Must the monitoring system be invisible and non-conflicting with any activity happening in the monitored area? Deployment and Maintenance Costs What is the cost to deploy and maintain the system? This includes the hardware and software costs incurred by the system. 2. seasonal phenomena. Time variability: How fast does the phenomenon evolve over time? We can distinguish fast varying phenomena. with stringent response-time requirements.

. As a result. specifically to recognize which are the nodes that it can hear and talk to over its radio. thus addressing stringent responsiveness and accessibility requirements. extra traffic is exchanged to keep the communicating devices in sync. On the other hand. 2.2. they allow for long-lasting deployments in locations that are difficult to access or where minimum intrusion is required. It reduces the installation costs significantly. we mean that the nodes do not need any configuration in order to be operational once installed. Usually. meaning that each node will choose a preferred parent. each node is programmed to run a discovery of its neighborhood. Upon reception of a beacon. set to 0 by the base station and incremented by 1 at each retransmission. most networks use multi-hop transmissions. each node can have several children.g. and need to use either batteries or energy harvesting techniques such as solar panels [KYH+ 05]. In order to send data in an optimal manner to the base station. or sink. WHERE DO WSNS STAND? 21 that are difficult to access. 2. which is connected to a data management system.4. what is the current temperature at a particular location. etc. A node retransmits a beacon only if its hop-count is smaller than its own. nodes organize themselves spontaneously into a data-collection tree. each sensing node is supposed to send back its information to a basestation. what is the mean soil moisture content in a given area. Each beacon contains a hop-count. Thanks to that.4.4. as it is estimated that typical wiring cost is US$ 130–650 per meter and adopting wireless technology would eliminate 20–80% of this cost [WZW04]. typically thresholdbased alerts or user explicit queries (e. This is known as the data collection paradigm. 2. which are selectively retransmitted by the nodes that receive them. they often cannot rely on the power grid for their energy source. to which it will send its data. In order to reach lifetimes of several months or years. they use low-power radios. The wireless component makes the monitoring system minimally intrusive in places where wires would disturb the normal operation of the environment to monitor. but implement power-efficient schemes at the Medium-Access layer.3.2 Self-Organization By self-organization.1 Medium Access Control At the Medium Access Control layer. WSNs not only use energy-efficient micro-controllers and radios. In order to achieve this. In typical wireless networks.4. A typical example is the Collection Tree Protocol (CTP) defined within the TinyOS operating system for WSNs [FGJ+ ]. a node stores its hop-count as its own if it is smaller than the one it currently has (initially the hop count is infinite). Because WSNs are constrained by size and power consumption. In order to achieve spatial scalability. whereas in synchronized schemes. two large classes of protocols can be identified. the technique is based on a shortest path algorithm using the number of hops to the base station. Asynchronous schemes rely on the nodes coordinating their activity simply by listening to the medium.). In this model. meaning that each node can play the role of a relay between two or more communicating nodes. either temporarily or permanently. Using self-organization reduces notably the maintenance costs and allows for spatial scalability. Several metrics can be used to build the tree.3 Efficient Power Management Wireless Sensor Networks can be deployed in remote or difficultly accessible areas. The protocol typically runs as follows: The base station sends periodical beacons. nodes send data either periodically or as responses to events.

the choice of an appropriate MAC scheme is highly application-dependent. 2.4. This is an issue for: 1. which removes the necessity to send long preambles before the packets. or by using mobile agents to manually bring the sink to the nodes. [SRJB03].2% and claims a lifetime of up to 5 years for a typical data collection application.4. As there is no synchronization. designed and implemented on the Tinynode [tin] platform. In other terms. 1 Time Division Multiple Access . nodes use a TDMA1 -based transmission schedule. nodes go to sleep whenever they are inactive (which in a typical environmental application is most of the time). In a multi-hop data collection environment. Synchronized Schemes In synchronous schemes. Such an approach is hence not adapted to applications with stringent response-time requirements. either by rotating or moving the base station according to a carefully established schedule.3. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE Asynchronous Schemes In this class of protocols. the periods of sleep are perfectly synchronized. communicating nodes send regularly synchronization beacons to prevent their internal clocks from drifting. minimizing the numbers of nodes to deploy by limiting the number of necessary relays.4 Modularity For widely distributed applications – for instance agricultural plots –. will deplete their batteries faster. as in the work on data mules by Shah et al. purely ad-hoc networks are an unsatisfying answer because of the limited range of their radio. They only wake-up periodically to perform their task and to listen for possible incoming packets. ensuring Internet connectivity: a WSN cannot always be deployed close to an Internet access point. [LPP+ 06]. as is done for instance in the Mobi-Route protocol [LH05]. B-MAC is an example of such a scheme [PHC04]. Asynchronous schemes are notoriously simpler to implement than synchronized schemes. the preamble can repeat the address of destination. In order to reduce the cost of overhearing. widely used in TinyOS [tos]. This incurs extra energy for emitting the packet (100% of the energy to emit the preamble) and for receiving it (in average 50% of the preamble) but allows for duty-cycles in the order of 1%. no synchronization is assumed between the nodes. 3. Mobility is a possible answer to that question. nodes that send packets need to send preambles that have a length corresponding to a duration at least equal to the period of sleep. In other words. each node has to maintain two schedules: the schedule set by its parent. relaying all the traffic en-route to the sink. In order to save energy. they have to use a store-and-forward strategy. This way. and the schedule it defines itself for its children.22 CHAPTER 2.2 Mobility for Load Balancing A main concern for multi-hop data collection networks is that the nodes closest to the base station. In any case. The data mule approach is related to the body of work on Delay-Tolerant Networks (DTN) [HF04]. they cannot send directly the data. and to reserve free time-slots for their own use. 2. uses such a scheme. addressing energy issues: servers usually need to be connected to the power grid because of their power consumption requirements. Dozer [BvRW07]. 2. but are less-efficient for applications requiring very low duty-cycles. to advertise which time-slots are available at a certain point in time. achieves a duty cycle of 0. because nodes need to wait for the sink to come to them.

1. 2. Indirect methods consist in assessing this content by computing soil characteristics that change as a function of soil moisture. Generic platforms exist for the collection and display of data in a geographical context. For example. WSNs allow for the collection of an unprecedented wealth of data. we focus on sensors that work in an automated fashion. In general. The storage. which links water volume Vw to the total volume Vt : θ = Vw /Vt (2. mining and processing of these data then becomes an application-specific challenge in itself. As such web-based management can be considered an integral part of a WSN-based environmental monitoring system.11) between the WSN and external modules of the application (typically. etc.5 Web-based Data Management With all the features described above.5. remote sensing. Global Sensor Networks (GSN) [AHS06] and SenseWeb [NLZ07]. weighs them. dries them in an oven (105 o C). [SM05]. come at a reasonable price. mobile computing and advanced information processing and telecommunications. the answer to that problem revolves around the use of bridges (GSM. 2. SENSORS AND AGRICULTURE 23 Hybrid solutions have been widely investigated [LLT03]. accessibility and space scale. the requirements for a data storage and processing system are particularly high for wireless sensing. automatic control.4. miniaturized computer components.5. Modularity allows for an increase in responsiveness. They are used in convergence with other technologies like the Global Positioning System (GPS). Direct Methods consist in weighing explicitly the water contained in a portion of soil. 2. This allows for the partitioning of the network into possibly far-away clusters. each connected to the central server through a bridge.2) . and in deriving the gravimetric or volumetric relative water content. The most commonly used metric is water content per volume θ. because of the amount of data that are collected. The experimenter takes soil samples.1 Direct Method: Gravimetric Method This method is used as a reference to assess the efficiency of other techniques. This quantity is calculated as a volumetric or gravimetric ratio between water and the soil. However. a web-based management and data-processing system). 2. One might argue that this part is not specific to WSNs. Geographic Information Systems (GIS).5. [MLV03]. In the following per-parameter state-of-the-art review. as other environmental systems have the same data display and processing requirements. and infers mass humidity: w = (Mh − Md )/Md (2.2.5 Sensors and Agriculture Sensors have been used in precision agriculture for years.1 Soil Moisture The soil moisture (or soil water) content is defined as the quantity of water contained in the soil.1) There are several methods to assess this ratio. reweighs them. 802. both are web-based tools integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) features for the display of sensing data. and can be easily adapted to an existing system.

Topp and al. water is the by far the one with the highest dielectric constant. of the temperature and of the salt content.1’000. As a consequence. it has several drawbacks: it is destructive. The Capacitive Method. .5) Where c is the speed of light in the void.2 Indirect Methods In-situ sensors are used to assess soil water content indirectly. and infer the capacity from the measure. it is impossible to leave unattended in the field. Capacitive probes typically measure the time needed to charge the capacitor to a predefined value. [TF02] proposed the following equation: θ = (0. 2. A physical parameter correlated with soil moisture is assessed. Among the dielectric methods. Nuclear methods In particular. = ct L 2 (2. there is a relationship between the dielectric constant of the soil and the water content θ.1. As of 2008. and L is the length of the poles between which the signal travels. t is the measured time of propagation.24 CHAPTER 2. which uses the emission of neutrons that are slowed down by the hydrogen particles surrounding the probe. If ρd is not known.4) This relationship is supposed to be fairly independent of the composition of the soil. This method remains the most precise (provided that the drying is well executed). the cost of a commercial TDR probe was typically between USD 500 .5. The slow neutrons are measured by a bore trifluoride detector. And it is not adapted to in-situ measurements. The equipment itself remains costly. It needs the establishment of a calibration curve.3) where ρd is the density of dry soil. The volume humidity can be derived: θ = w(ρd /ρw ) (2. very localized. However. This method remains the most precise in-situ measurement. Dielectric methods Among all the constitutive elements of soil.5 2 − 292 − 530) 10−4 (2. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE where Mh is the weight humid and Md is the weight dry. and empirical formulas are used to convert the result into actual water content or hydric pressure. However. it is possible to assess the volume with the Archimedes method. at around USD 10’000 apiece [NMDvI07]. determines the dielectric constant by measuring the capacity of a capacitor made of electrodes and of the soil as dielectric medium. it uses radioactive material. labor-heavy and slow. the neutron probe. its capacity increases and so does the time necessary to charge it. which is a function of the dielectric constant of the medium where it travels. and ρw is the density of water.043 3 − 5. When a capacitor is introduced into wet soil. the Time Domain Reflectometry Method uses the propagation time of an electric signal. As a consequence.

Air Temperature and Humidity Many commercially available sensors exist for this.2 Soil Salinity and PH In the current state of the technology. it is impossible to ignore elements of little interest. The resulting probe is buried in the soil. sulfates or chlorides. 2 Its cost in 2008 was around USD 30 apiece . The Resistivity Method. The sensors we took into consideration take a simple AC or DC current input.5. The SHT75 is a digital temperature and humidity sensor2 that has a relative error of ±0. and they usually come at an affordable price [sms]. There is a wide variety of probes using the fequency domain reflectometry method. and of ±2% in humidity. Instead. In Frequency Domain Reflectometry. which cost between 5 and 30 USD. and provide either a digital or analogous (voltage) response.2. Salinity indicates the total concentration of soluble elements. and we focus our attention on inexpensive sensors that can be easily adapted to analogous or digital channels of a custom data logger (or a wireless sensor). Moreover. In particular. all the sensors described below have been tested in the context of a wireless sensor network deployment [SDF]. Changes in soil moisture can be detected by changes in the circuit operating frequency. Watermarks typically have a 10% error margin. there are no commercially available in-situ soil nutrient sensors. ∆V the predefined voltage differential.5. make them an attractive option. The observed margin of error was around 4% [Rou08]. uses a resistor embedded in a semi-porous material. although the rate of faulty probes is reported on web-forums to be quite high (up to 30%) ∆V = 2. which at the proper concentration are important nutrients for the plant. where the semi-porous material comes little by little in a water-potential equilibrium with the surrounding soil. The experimental results via dataloggers [NMDvI07] or wireless sensors [Rou08] are encouraging. phosphates or potassium [Phi08]. the ECH2O sensors are available at a price of around USD 80. Soil salinity and pH in-situ sensors exist on the market today [Mat04]. We have had experience with the SHT75 manufactured by Sensirion.3◦ C in temperature. it is not possible to assess separately in-situ the different chemical components of the soil. such as carbonates. the output a voltage. However. and commercial products are likely to appear in the years to come. The shortcoming of these methods is their inability to discriminate between the components. Their simple mode of operation: the input is a short pulse of DC. PH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the medium and as such indicates the availability of nutrients to plants.3 Climatic Variables We restrict ourselves to the usual components of a weather station. 2. Gypsum blocks and watermarkT M sensors are examples of such probes. the use of electrochemical sensors yielded promising results in the recent past [LNTN+ 07]. the capacitor is connected together with an oscillator to form an electrical circuit. As an example. SENSORS AND AGRICULTURE 25 Q(t)d (2. such as nitrates.5. To the best of our knowledge. t the time to reach this differential and Q an exponentially decreasing function.6) A Where A is the surface of the capacitor. and to know their respective concentrations. In fact. using similar electrical methods as described in the previous section about soil moisture. [SCH07] [OI67]. salinity and pH are measured. some promising technologies are under development.

However. 48 nodes were deployed over a period of more than 6 months in an Oregon vineyard.e. Precipitations Here again. indicating a risk of frost. reporting temperature every five minutes. However. the climate is a microclimate. Davis proposes an anemometer3 assessing wind direction and speed at an accuracy of ±5% in speed and ±7◦ in direction. Among the most popular products in the scientific community. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE Wind velocity and direction Many commercially available sensors exist.. There are no examples of commercial applications to date. there are many rain gauges to choose from on the market. and 3 leaf nodes for each of them • Average lifetime 6 weeks for the backbone nodes. are entering their maturity phase as this thesis is being written.6 WSNs in Agriculture Wireless sensor networks.26 CHAPTER 2. Using an ethnographic approach. which were running at a 20% life-cycle. 16 backbone nodes. The Davis Rain Collector4 is advertised as a high-accuracy tipping bucket. they first assessed the needs of vineyard managers. • Organization Intel Research • Application Vineyard fine-grained temperature monitoring • Deployment duration 6 months • Distance between nodes 15 to 25 meters • Size of the network 48 nodes. Burrell et al. Variation in fruit maturity within a management block (i. • Networking platform Mica2 [xbo] • Sensing platform Sensirion SHT • Performance 77 % packet delivery rate 3 4 Cost: around USD 120 (2008) Cost: around USD 75 (2008) . Field work was conducted by Beckwith et al. before designing and deploying a system in the field. [BBB04].6. if any. The history of the temperature variations throughout a cropping season are especially critical. in recent years a number of investigations have been conducted by scientists in realistic agricultural settings. 2. intrablock heterogeneity) is a well-known phenomenon and vineyard owners adapt their harvesting strategy accordingly. alarms were sent when the temperature decreased below 0. Beckwith. Experimentally.1 Vineyard Temperature Monitoring In 2004. a light-weight sensing and communication system necessitating little. network configuration and maintenance. Their work was motivated by the primary importance of temperature in the development of grapes to ensure wine quality. Because of the costs of environment monitoring. The results were logged in a centralized way and could be displayed on a map and retrieved on a per-sensor basis. 2. most vineyard owners have so far used single sensors for this purpose. its performance was assessed at ±10% [SDF].[BTB04]. [BTB04] reported on the use of sensor networks for integrated management of a vineyard. Moreover. at the vineyard scale.

2. Humidity is an important factor in the development of the disease. however.R.5 meters • Size of the network 7 nodes • Average lifetime Not calculated (1 year claimed) • Networking platform Sensicast • Sensing platform Sensirion SHT71 (air temperature and relative humidity). relative humidity and CO2 concentrations within optimal limits.6. The development and associated attack of the crop depends strongly on the climatological conditions within the field. “phytophtora is a fungal disease which can enter a field through a variety of sources.L. • Application Lofar • Application Fungus management in a potato field • Deployment duration 1–2 months • Distance between nodes 15–30 meters • Size of the network 150 nodes (pilot study 12) • Average lifetime Not disclosed • Networking platform Mica2 [xbo] • Sensing platform Sensirion SHT • Performance Not disclosed 2. WSNS IN AGRICULTURE 27 2. Both temperature and whether or not the leaves are wet are also important indicators. Nemo S. Picotech PT100 platinum resistance thermometer (soil temperature) • Performance Not disclosed .3 Tomato Disease Prevention Mancuso and Bustaffa deployed in 2006 a small wireless sensor network in order to monitor the emergence of certain diseases in a greenhouse: gray mould.R.6. Baggio [Bag05] presented the initial results of the Lofar project in the monitoring of microclimates in a crop field.” The goal of the WSN deployment is to predict the emergence of the disease and to schedule fongicide treatment only when needed. The authors only reported on the pilot study. The deployed WSN monitored humidity and temperature in order to better fight phytophtora in a potato field.L • Application Tomato disease monitoring • Deployment duration Unknown • Distance between nodes 6. • Application Rinnovando S. leaf mould and powdery mildew.5–12. The full-size network has not been deployed yet. In Baggio’s words.6. The goal of the deployment was to explore the potential of WSNs for the control and maintenance of temperature.2 Potato Disease Prevention In 2005.

In their words.5 Paddy Field Monitoring Hirafuji et al.6. They report on the deployment of a network of 5 nodes in paddy fields. Cattle were equipped with collars containing a GPS receiver for positioning and a wireless transceiver similar to a wireless sensor. two projects have addressed the possibility of using WSNs to monitor cattle in a farm [BHSA+ 07]. which can be tracked at different locations. Bishop-Hurley et al.6. such as wireless broadband communication and high-resolution image-monitoring technology. “specific data such as images of emerging rice blast are indispensable to revise the prediction system”. [BHSA+ 07]. a Wi-Fi based wireless sensing platform that was applied in settings as various as Earth observation. tested in-situ the responsiveness of cattle to electrical and audio stimuli designed to modify their behavior and prevent them from crossing a line in an experimental alley. However. • Organization Japanese National Agricultural Research Center • Application Paddy fields Monitoring • Deployment duration Unknown • Distance between nodes < 100m . [RW06]. Radenkovic and Wietrzyk [RW06] explore the potential of wireless sensor networks for nationwide cattle monitoring systems. developed the concept of Field-Monitoring Server. urban image monitoring and agriculture [HNK+ 07]. The goal was to design a virtual fencing application replacing expensive wired fences in extensive grazing systems. The sensed data here is the positioning of the animal. Each wireless sensor acts as an extended RFID collar storing the identity and health status of the animal. such as pasture or farm buildings. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE 2. Each collar communicated to a base station connected to a server responsible to analyze the received signals and to generate the appropriate cues. concrete results on how to process this information and for what benefit have not been published yet. Taking an agnostic approach to the current view on WSNs.28 CHAPTER 2. • Organization CSIRO • Application Virtual fencing • Deployment duration punctual experiments • Distance between nodes 0-40 meters • Size of the network 25 nodes • Average lifetime Not calculated • Networking platform Proprietary • Sensing platform GPS receiver • Performance Not disclosed 2. Each location is equipped with a base station opportunistically recording the information from the collars as the animals come into its range. The system was so far evaluated through extensive rounds of simulations. they contend that agricultural monitoring systems need enhanced capabilities.4 Cattle Monitoring Recently.

A possible explanation is that the wireless sensor networking is just reaching its maturity phase.3: Summary of WSN agriculture-related projects • Size of the network 5 nodes • Average lifetime Unknown (solar energy used) • Networking platform Wi-Fi • Sensing platform Unknown • Performance Unknown 2.6 Discussion Precision agriculture has been using state-of-the-art sensors for decades. [BCI+ 08]. However. [ARE05] have finally demonstrated the feasibility of deploying and maintaining such networks for periods of time in the order of a few months. In all these applications.6.e. continuous .2. vineyard and paddy field monitoring. Although it is generally admitted that fine-grained environmental monitoring holds great promise for agricultural sciences. and in most cases needed to be properly validated in this new (wireless) context of use. which makes them easy to use.3. Two of the projects deal with early detection of diseases. In this section.5 – 12. Firstly. the capacity of networked sensors to report events in real-time is leveraged. one with prediction of frost. and one with virtual fencing (i. 2. A closer look at the individual projects leads to the following observations. Seminal works on WSNs in environmental monitoring in general [SPMC04]. usually air temperature and humidity. The projects are summarized in Fig. the possibilities offered by environmental monitoring were limited due to the infrastructure and the labor costs it incurred. A possible explanation is that such sensors come as standards on most platforms.5 m Air and soil temperature Battery Unknown (1 year claimed) None 25 0 – 40 m Position (GPS) Battery Unknown Wi-Fi 5 – 10 100 m Unknown Solar energy Unknown Figure 2. In two occurrences. related projects are still few in the scientific literature. the type of soil moisture probes simple and inexpensive enough to be adapted on wireless sensors necessitated until recently the design of special data acquisition boards. event-detection emerges as a strong theme in the envisioned applications. we have presented four typical projects in the area of wireless sensor networks for agriculture. Such endeavors were a prerequisite to the collection and analysis of the amount of data necessary to develop useful applications for agriculture. Whereas. redirecting cattle when they risk to leave their grazing area). WSNS IN AGRICULTURE 29 Status Architecture Bridge Size (number of nodes) Radio range Data sensed Energy source Node life-time Vineyard temperature Full deployment (6 months) Multihop WSN (backbone and leaves) None 48 15 – 30 m Air temperature Batteries ~ 6 weeks (battery failure) Potato disease Tomato disease Cattle monitoring Paddy monitoring Pre-deployment (2 months) 2-Tier Network • Clustered WSN • Server bridge Pre-deployment Multihop WSN Prototyping Single-hop WSN Prototyping Mesh Network None 12 (150 expected) 15 – 30 m Air temperature Air humidity Unknown Unknown None 7 6. Another observation is that most of the projects were focused on few and simple data measurements.6..

where solar energy is not directly available. Tim Wark et al. as solar panels would be problematic to install on cows’ collars. But for the time being. because of their size and the effect of vegetation on solar energy collection over time. this time scrutinizing the use of WSNs in this context. and the scalability challenges raised by WSNs to this day. The tomato disease prediction application is aimed at greenhouses. we set our sights on Developing Countries again. This indicates both the investigative nature of the experiments. as proper commercial tools are soon going to be in the hands of agricultural scientists. In vineyard monitoring. batteries are used in most cases. Beckwith et al. In all cases. The goal is to provide the user with enhanced information that lets him take his or her own decision. [BTB04] acknowledge resorting to a planned network configuration rather than a self-organizing one. most of the networks focus on sensing rather than actuating. 6 and 7 of the present document relate our own efforts in the development of such a toolkit. in the short or long term. To summarize briefly. in the order of a few tens of nodes in the largest case. which are primarily aimed at research rather than production. however. deployed in 2007 a network of 16 of such nodes equipped with ECH2O soil moisture probes in order to observe the effects of irrigation on agricultural plots [WCS+ 07]. have yet to be disclosed. Chapters 5. the constraint was to deploy light-weight sensing nodes on the vines themselves. This situation is likely to change. we can consider these projects as proofs of concepts. and drawing lessons from existing deployments (see Chapter 3) before proposing our own problem statement and design (Chapter 4). the size of the networks remains small. Finally. As for a power source.30 CHAPTER 2. for different reasons. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND AGRICULTURE monitoring is also used to adapt farming strategies. Similar concerns were probably considered by Bishop-Hurley et al. Such an approach would not scale to large networks. . Solar panels would be difficult to adapt in this situation. Secondly. for deployment facilitation. whose transposition to commercial products will be the measure of success in years to come. The results of the experiment. namely an audio or electrical stimulus. In particular. spatial and time fine-grained resolutions are perceived as a critical improvement.. Only for cattle monitoring is the sensor coupled with an actuator.

We have also seen that some pilot projects exist in the area of agriculture as well. typical applications of WSNs include home automation. These projects are still few. which concerns millions of people. Such applications are often targeted at and tailored for industrialized countries. and sometimes do not go beyond the design and simulation stage. and that the incidence of death by cancer will be approximately 3’000 cases per year. Every day. CENS. identifying both opportunities and challenges brought by these systems. This chapter explores existing initiatives and.1. This situation. we outline the characteristics of several WSN projects in developing countries. Say Ramanathan et al: ”A full understanding of the factors controlling arsenic mobilization to ground water is lacking. We briefly describe their aim and focus. deployed a sensor network in a rice field in the area of Dhaka. However. the Bangladeshi population living in the Ganges Delta consumes water that is contaminated with arsenic. represents a major humanitarian disaster in the making. from them. and their effect on development issues remains to be proven. draws some design guidelines. which requires dense spatial sampling.” In order to verify this hypothesis. But researchers have also tried to apply WSNs to issues that concern the developing countries.1 Groundwater Arsenic Contamination Assessment in Bangladesh The CENS unit of UCLA is involved in the deployment of a WSN in Bangladesh. As of today. with the goal of better understanding the presence of arsenic in groundwater [RBE+ 06]. consisting in attempts to apply state-of-the-art wireless sensing research to developmentrelated problems. In the case of arsenic contamination. a current trend can be observed. A current working hypothesis in some regions is that the influx of dissolved arsenic to ground water is greatly enhanced where irrigation for rice cultivation provides the primary source of aquifer recharge. If nothing is done.1 Existing WSN Projects In this section.Chapter 3 WSNs and Developing Countries As we mention in the introduction. and we summarize their technical characteristics. it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people every year will be affected by diseases such as arsenicosis and skin cancer. daily or longer period variations in the concentrations of 31 . The authors justify the usage of a network by the heterogeneity of soil. 3. in collaboration with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and MIT. such projects remain few. 3. forest fire prevention or monitoring of industrial processes.

and gradually removing redundant sensors from a deployment to go from dense to sparse deployments. SenSlide’s approach to measure slope stability is to combine observations from a large number of distributed inexpensive wireless sensors connected to one-axis strain gauges. GPRS bridge • Sensing platform: unknown • Results obtained so far: observation of daily cycles in geochemical parameters • WSN added value: space and time variability of soil contaminants 3. data needs to be sampled periodically to help earth scientists collect trend information over time. ammonium. they deployed 48 sensors in the field for a period of 10 days. A Bayesian statistical approach is used to link the data of a sensor patch to the imminence of a landslide. also introduced the concept of a wireless sensor as a shared resource.32 CHAPTER 3. ammonium.1. and pH). For this approach to be effective. STM+ 07] designed. pH and arsenic • Deployment duration: 10 days • Distance between nodes: unknown • Size of the network: 3 pylons. each deployed at a different depth (1.reduction potential. meaning that several users should be able to benefit from one single sensor. temperature. In this model. making it difficult to proceed to wide deployments.11b access point. In particular.reduction potential. Los Angeles • Application: groundwater arsenic contamination assessment • Data monitored: soil moisture. chloride. carbonate. so that the necessary resources can be minimized. calcium. But the lifetime . they highlight the paradox between the criticality of water quality concerns and the fact that analysis is still primarily conducted in a laborious manner by physical collection of a sample that is analyzed back in a laboratory. In contrast. nitrate. the sensor itself becomes a possibly mobile resource. the authors deployed three pylons containing 3 complete suites of sensors (soil moisture. simulated.5. carbonate. • Organization: University of California. Sensor sharing encompasses two contexts of use: moving a smaller number of sensors around in a deployment to emulate density. Ramanathan et al. nitrate. calcium. oxidation.40 meters. Water depth was monitored through a pressure transducer at the base. oxidation. The authors claim that even such a limited experiment allowed for the observation of daily trends in several redox active geochemical parameters [RLL+ 07]. and built a laboratory test-bed of a landslide prediction system via wireless sensor networks using 2-axis strain gauges to predict landslides. The usual approaches to detect rocky landslides involve drilling 20 – 30 meter holes into the surface. WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES pollutants were of primary interest in order to understand the underlying mechanisms of contamination. specifically the increasing strain in the rocks. In this model. 802. temperature. geologists assess the optimal sensor-separation to be 30 . A Sensor Network Based Landslide Prediction System Sheth et al. 48 sensors • Average lifetime: 10 days • Networking platform: Crossbow Mica2. chloride. 1. Both sensors and installation are costly. and 2 meters below ground). by reusing it over time and space. [STM+ 05. In early 2006.2 SenSlide. In total. The strategy is to observe the cause of the landslide.

Zennaro et al. University of Colorado. EXISTING WSN PROJECTS 33 of the network must not be adversely affected by frequent sampling. The network is envisioned to be single-hop. with a periodic data collection paradigm. the project completed the initial system design and implementation phase.1.11 bridges. • Organization: Microsoft Research. as well as simulation results for larger systems up to 400 sensor nodes. • Organization: Royal Institute of Technology.1. validated and calibrated. water reduction/oxidation (redox) and turbidity . The overall goal of this project is to develop an infrastructure that will be used to measure water quality using Wireless Sensor Networks. As a direct consequence. All the probes used in the network were tested. automated fault recovery is a major theme in the system design. Redundancy is used throughout the network architecture. Mumbai • Application: landslide prediction • Data monitored: strains in rocks • Deployment duration: not deployed yet • Distance between nodes: 30-40 meters (projected) • Size of the network: patches of 600 nodes (65 nodes deployed in the laboratory so far) • Average lifetime: 4 months (projected) • Networking platform: Telosb from moteiv [tel] • Sensing platform: single-axis strain gauge (manufacturer not specified) • Results obtained so far: simulation of the operation of a full-scale network. laboratory tests run on 65 nodes • WSN added value: diversity provided by the dense deployment of inexpensive sensors 3. Throughout 2007. A laboratory testbed of 65 sensor nodes was used. The next phase consists in the deployment of the system in the catchment area of the Mudi Dam.3 Wireless Sensor Network for Water Quality Management In 2007. Samples are going to be collected once per day. undertook a project on water quality management in Malawi [ZYFP07]. Indian Institute of Technology. The point measurements made by individual sensors are propagated to a set of “base stations” that are connected to GPRS and/or 802. implementation and deployment of an innovative wireless sensing application. and on the dissemination of results. Because the network is to be deployed in a remote region without easy access to technology and expertise. which spans about 1 km2 . as well as a very low sampling-rate data-collection network. The project focuses both on the design. Boulder.3. SenSlide shares features of a rare-event detection network. The primary objective of this work is to provide a distributed sensor system that is robust against failures. A prototype of the system should be deployed in-situ during an upcoming monsoon season. Stockholm • Application: water quality monitoring • Data monitored: pH.

the authors contend that statistical computerized methods extend the prediction time to up to 48 hours. physical measurements of these variables. for which analog 144MHz radios with a custom modem were used. As for the physical variables.1. They derive the necessity of developing integrated warning and evacuation systems that take into account the specific technological. appropriate coverage of the area at risk. the authors emphasize the importance of creating local partnerships and of relying on local knowledge. 3. From the technology point-of-view the main issues they address are: protection of the system from environmental and human damages. POssibility to raise alarms automatically. Inter-cluster communication necessitates a radio-range of up to 25 km. The Aguan River basin was chosen as deployment site. As for the model. sensors calibration and testing • WSN added value: automated data collection for continuous monitoring. a country repeatedly hit by heavy rainfalls and devastating hurricanes in recent years. Another important point is the questioning of the usual approach of developing and testing the system in the lab before deploying it in the field. hence justifying the use of a network of sensors reporting autonomously to a centralized processing unit. and a computational system to run the variables through the model. The authors claim that such a strategy is likely to lead to a failure of the end-product. effective prediction and electricity supply. For the authors. 8 km radius clusters are organized as local single-hop networks in the 900MHz band. they created a partnership with a Honduran non-governmental agency. WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES • Deployment duration: not deployed yet • Distance between nodes: 200–300 meters (with relays in between) • Size of the network: 4 nodes (first phase. Taking a holistic approach.4 Flood Detection System for Honduras Basha and Rus [BR07] began from the realization that natural disasters have aggravated effects in developing countries. community alert. an understanding of the relevant variables that this model requires as input and output. as it constitutes a particularly exposed area. communication of this data to the computation locations. authority notification. monitoring has to run continuously during critical periods at critical points. As for coverage issues. For prediction to be effective. prediction entails a model of the physical system.while remaining maintainable and accessible by nontechnical personnel . because of the lack of infrastructure and the absence of well established procedures and responsibilities.34 CHAPTER 3. Say Basha and Rus: “The complexity of these systems and the need for autonomy within the context of a developing country . Basha and Rus address the problem by subdividing the necessary actions in four tasks: event prediction. In their case.” The authors focus their attention on the design and implementation of a flood detection for Honduras. Among the lessons learned from the project. and community evacuation.provides a challenge not often solved within developed countries. OBS-3+ for turbidity sensor [DAI] • Results obtained so far: software and hardware design and implementation. social and political constraints of this context. planned in 2009) • Average lifetime: upcoming (solar powered) • Networking platform: Sun SPOT [Sun] • Sensing platform: Ionode for the pH and redox sensors [ion]. they decided to focus on water pressure sensors to monitor the evolution of river level. They opted instead for a hybrid approach of trial . much less the developing. the authors designed a two-tier architecture.

• Organization: University of Colombo. since the sensors can be powered by the bus battery. A delay-tolerant solution is appropriate in this case. EXISTING WSN PROJECTS 35 and error. The authors plan to adapt GPS receivers to the wireless sensors. Sri Lanka • Application: road surface monitoring • Data monitored: vertical and horizontal acceleration • Deployment duration: not deployed yet (preliminary field tests conducted) • Distance between nodes: variable. [ZKSS07] started from the realization that in Sri Lanka “one of the main reasons for the deteriorated condition of the road system is the lack of continuous monitoring of the surface condition. where the system was partially tested in the lab. the sensor-equipped buses use the very roads that the authors want to monitor. The authors are currently developing an analytical model for this. which is mounted on buses belonging to the public transport network. Lifetime is not a serious issue in this case. This way. Precise positioning of the sensors over time is also mandatory.” They designed BusNet. • Size of the network: prototype phase • Average lifetime: unknown (Buses provide power) • Networking platform: proprietary .1. distributed data collection 3. Nodes act as data mules and bring back data to a centralized collection point. because the data gathered on road surface condition are not needed in real time.1.3. and transferred once a day to a collection point at the bus Main Station. a delay-tolerant sensor network for monitoring the road surface condition. Up to 25 km between clusters • Size of the network: • Average lifetime: unknown (solar panels) • Networking platform: proprietary • Sensing platform: unknown • Results obtained so far: design and early deployment tests • WSN added value: autonomous. The data are stored while the bus is on the road. Road surface conditions are assessed through the use of accelerometers.5 Road Surface Condition Monitoring De Zoysa et al. and maintenance can be performed regularly when the bus is at the Main Station. then deployed in the field as it was. before going back to the lab to address the specific issues discovered in-situ. • Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology • Application: flood monitoring • Data monitored: water pressure (river level) • Deployment duration: not deployed yet (preliminary field tests conducted) • Distance between nodes: up to 8 km in a cluster. The critical point for the usability of this system is the ability to translate the acceleration data into actual information about the road condition.

2.2 A New Tool for Developing Regions? From the perspective of the specificities presented by Developing Countries. with the aim to deploy an environmental monitoring system at a later stage [JM02]. infrastructure and habitat monitoring. to protect and maintain infrastructures. both in Vietnam and Ethiopia. and can be added. The nodes themselves are the network. Dargie and Zimmerling investigated the scope and usefulness of specific WSN application domains in the context of developing countries [DZ07].1 Assets The potential that distributed. Most of them are highlighted by the projects described in the previous section. they advocate their use for environment. Automation of data collection 4.6 Other Work InteleSense [Int] is deploying water and weather sensors and to integrate them with public health data to research links for water-borne illness. and to prevent undesirable occurrences”. Their work focused on simulation studies. They identified a link between signal attenuation and climatic conditions. moved or removed in a seamless fashion. WSNs have a . 3. 3. The possibility of instrumenting phenomena continuously for extended periods of time is often mentioned. The challenges and opportunities presented by WSNs in this particular context are deeply influenced by its geographical. Similar high level work has been conducted by others (e.1. agricultural management and disaster prevention. economical and cultural features. Being specifically designed at the hardware and software level for low power operation. WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES • Sensing platform: MicaZ • Results obtained so far: design and early deployment tests • WSN added value: autonomous. we can list: 1. they do not propose any design or design guidelines at this stage.2. Flexibility of the solution 3. 3. Among the expected benefits. social. as early as 2001 [EGPS01]. there are general lessons to be drawn from the projects described in the previous section (see Fig. Easiness of deployment and maintenance 2.36 CHAPTER 3. wireless solutions present for environmental monitoring was highlighted by Estrin et al.1.1 for a summary).g.1 Deployment and Maintenance A recurring intended benefit of WSNs is their independence from any preexisting infrastructure. However. High space. Unattended operation 5.and time-resolution at a low cost 3. using parameters collected from the environment. distributed data collection 3. Accordingly. [PHL07]). They concluded that wireless sensor networks have “the potential of aiding developing countries to carefully utilise scarce resources. Johnson and Margalho studied wireless transmissions in the Brazilian Amazon.

and figures suggest almost tripling the rural coverage by 2010 [CTT06]. which also incur extra communication costs. even local connectivity is a challenge for resource limited devices such as wireless sensors. sometimes totally obsolete. [ZYFP07]. WSNs are also supposed to be configuration and maintenance free.000 villages out of a total of 650.3. Cellular coverage is still partial at best. The easiness of deployment and operation is repeatedly mentioned as a major argument by the designers of existing projects [RBE+ 06].11b) GPRS 48 sensors 3 access points < 100m Wi-Fi (802. their radio range will vary from 50 to a few hundreds meters in outdoor conditions.2. depending on the platform. the existence of a reliable infrastructure is often questionable.2 Flexibility An environmental monitoring system often does not operate autonomously. It communicates with data storage and management systems. On the front of telecommunications. in developing countries. A NEW TOOL FOR DEVELOPING REGIONS? 37 Arsenic detection Location Status Bangladesh Full deployment Landslide prediction India Simulation Laboratory deployment 2-Tier Network • • Multi-cluster WSN Server bridge Water quality management Malawi Laboratory testing Flood detection Honduras Laboratory testing Field pre-deployment 2-Tier Network • Road Monitoring Sri Lanka Laboratory testing Architecture 3-Tier Network • Multi-cluster WSN • Inter-cluster access point • Server bridge Multihop WSN • Unknown 4 nodes (projected) 200–300 m (projected) pH Redox Turbidity Multicluster WSN Server bridge Delay-Tolerant Network Bridge Size Radio range Wi-Fi (802. The electricity supply infrastructure itself can often not be taken as granted. the traditional land-line infrastructure is usually old. an access point to the traditional public switched telecom network (PSTN) or to the Internet is needed. the nodes being able to organize spontaneously into a network and to work unattended until failure or energy depletion. [STM+ 07]. [BR07]. with alert dissemination infrastructure. once again. However. The argument is that. for instance. although this situation is quickly changing. The example of India. with daily power cuts lasting several hours being the rule in most rural areas. etc.1: Summary of WSN projects in developing countries longer autonomy than cellular-phone networks used for telemetry.2. For this. Moreover. whether fields outside of villages will be satisfactorily covered remains uncertain. is telling.1. 3. In India.000. GSM operators claim to have coverage in 100. Pure ad-hoc wireless sensor networks cannot provide global connectivity.11b) GPRS 65 (deployed) 600 (projected) 30 – 40 m (projected) Rock strains Proprietary (144MHz) Unknown 8 km (in a clsuter) 25 km (between clusters) Water pressure Unknown 30 – 40 m Data sensed Energy source Node life-time Soil moisture Temperature Carbonate Calcium Nitrate Chloride Ammonium pH Arsenic Solar panel 10 days (deployment duration) Acceleration Battery 3 – 4 months (projected) Solar panel Unknown Solar panel Unknown Car battery Unknown Figure 3. This means that for . Typically.

3. fine grained data. [SPMC04]). few people would remain during a hurricane. 3.5 High Resolution Wireless Sensor Networks allow for the collection of data at a high spatial and temporal resolution [EGPS01].2. the nature of the problem involves measuring the river and surrounding area during heavy rains. WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES applications necessitating sparse networks with a large coverage. and is repeatedly mentioned as a major asset. but similar problems can easily be transposed to other applications.1. or. [ASSC02]. 24-hour a day manual monitoring is always costly. once the network is installed. the level of technical expertise that can be expected in rural areas of developing regions. Direct human intervention is today the primary resort for environment monitoring in developing countries. In particular. [STM+ 07]. However. However. This is generally taken for granted by the existing projects. if it does not come at a higher cost.1. Yet it is at these times that the measurements are most needed. For phenomena presenting a high variability in these two domains. such monitoring is usually ill-adapted to fast response-time requirements. their flexibility allows wireless sensor networks to act as a module in a larger system.2. [BR07]. or potential agriculture crop damage. Second. Contaminants’ concentrations in the soil are shown to vary due to the heterogeneity of the soil. The communities upstream that would need to perform the measurements and/or the communication of those measurements have almost no connection to the communities affected by the flooding. as described in Chapter 2.4 Real-time Response The capacity to collect and process data automatically on the flight is especially attractive for alert-based systems. Basha and Rus pinpoint typical obstacles that would make such an approach unreliable in the case of a flood detection system: “The geographic area involved hinders any form of volunteer-based system. Although paying someone may allow for night-time measurements. deploying a wireless sensor network remains to this day a specialist’s task. In this case. the user needs to be warned as soon as a monitored environment threatens to drift from its desirable state [STM+ 07]. will always be considered welcome if it can filtered out on-demand. more precisely. [ZYFP07]. especially if that hurricane affects their own community with small-scale flooding. hybrid solutions need to be provided.3 Unattended Operation “Human infrastructure” is a possible source of concern [BR07]. they will emerge as a primary option for environmental monitoring in developing countries. see [BTB04]. Early signs of flooding can appear at any time at several locations in a river basin [BR07]. .1. hurricanes. engineers will not be available through its deployment life. This removes any level of self-interest and peer-pressure in voluntarily performing any system tasks.2. and at all times of day and night. Fortunately. 3. Neither would they perform these tasks in the middle of the night. Geologists recognize the importance of dense instrumentation for the prevention of landslides in rocky environments [STM+ 07]. a capacity leveraged by several projects [RLL+ 07]. [BR07].38 CHAPTER 3. And the presence of persons in an area at risk should always be limited as much as possible. Very few volunteers would stand outside in a hurricane to perform a measurement or radio information to a central office. and to present daily cycles [RLL+ 07]. In general.” [BR07] These are very context-specific issues. building leakages. If WSNs manage to fulfill their promise of maintenance free operation (which remains to be proven for long-term deployments. the benefit is obvious. Even with the increased flexibility of the technology.

but if systems are to be deployed unattended in widely available environments. as was observed by Basha et al. [ASSC02]. real deployments tend to show that networks do not last that long. especially in rural settings. the reader can refer to the survey done by Akyildiz et al. existing environments. Low-power operation of multi-hop networks is particularly fragile. in particular the use of vibrations [RWR03]. Reliable data collection: Due to the limited radio range of wireless sensors. Most WSN platforms available today advertise lifetimes in the order of years. because: 1. suffer from high variations in the packet delivery rate. Szewczyk et al. Lifetime: Reliable electricity supply remains a recurrent issue in developing countries. such as CTP in tinyOS. This necessitates implementing retransmission schemes and store-and-forward techniques that are costly in energy and affect the network lifetime. WSNs need to implement multi-hop communication protocols. where intermediate nodes relay the information towards the base station. For a list of issues. especially in cases where nodes are outdoor. When wireless sensors are deployed in environments without an easy access to a permanent power source (as would be the case in a house or a car) the question of lifetime of the system becomes critical. Node failures are frequent in challenging environments. In multi-hop data collection networks. intermediate nodes’ lifetimes can decrease rapidly. in a laboratory environment. we focus our attention on those issues that bear some relevance with the particular context of developing countries.2 Challenges Many technical challenges related to the design and deployment of WSNs have been widely discussed and addressed by the research community in the recent years. that would in the end suppress the need of using and changing batteries. A NEW TOOL FOR DEVELOPING REGIONS? 39 3.1 Technical Challenge Most of technical issues are resolved today. and distant from each other. However. thanks to optimized software and hardware power management techniques. because they need to relay other nodes’ packets. 4. A solar panel is a visible. [SPMC04] deployed a sensor network for wildlife habitat monitoring. This system ran unattended for four months.. Energy scavenging techniques. We will show how we took them into account in our own system in Chapter 5. a large. In this section. . the standard multihop protocols. The design of efficient synchronized communication protocols.2. 3. The critical challenge remains to be able to operate a wireless sensor network for an extended period of time and in concrete. for instance. especially in sparse networks.2. attractive and easy to resell part. Solar energy is a possible solution if the sensor is to be deployed outdoor. One cannot manually restart a node that entered a non-functioning state.2. are also being investigated. The failure of intermediate nodes can make upstream nodes unreachable from the sink. 2. resulting in a sparsely connected network. long-term WSN deployment for environmental monitoring has yet to be demonstrated.2. which can not exceed in the best cases a few hundred meters in line-of-sight. Experience shows that the throughput of nodes decreases rapidly with the number of hops to the base station [BTB04]. Although researchers reported on several deployments.3. and the efficiency of sleep / wakeup cycles are likely design directions [BvRW07]. 3.. where routing alternatives are few if existing at all. Currently. In 2002-2003. thefts are likely to occur frequently.

using middleware applications that make the creation.2.40 CHAPTER 3. 3. robust and energy efficient multihop protocols will be a critical issue in the years to come. Among our examples. this effect can be mitigated by adding redundancy in the network. In most applications targeted at developing countries. Often. Home automation or industrial applications usually consider dense network deployments.2. admit that the wealth of data they collected during their 4 months deployment was of no scientific use in the end. the density of the network is likely to be low. 3. “(.2 Scientific Challenge A major challenge regards the usage of the data collected. Accordingly.. one should consider the integration of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). We address in detail the scientific challenges raised in our project in Chapter 4 and in Chapter 8. and attended by specialists throughout [RBE+ 06]. These scientists always had to cope with limited environmental information in their research. yet miss currently the models appropriate to process large amounts of data.2. where a packet transmitted through the network has the luxury to choose several paths and to rely on a predictable radio channel.4 Sociocultural Challenge The hardest to grasp precisely. The connection with the environmental sciences is often loose. the only project that went all the way to an actual deployment was only left in the field for a few weeks. Szewczyk et al. the quest for simple. For instance. Survivability of the system in the face of adverse environmental conditions. removal of new clusters plug and play. while such requirements are necessary for a successful system design. the application design can become a chicken-and-egg problem. store. In the words of Brewer et al. To display data in a meaningful way. and treat them as a single entity. sensor networks’ projects result essentially from initiatives taken by computer and communication systems’ scientists. but also interaction with the local population can be experiences full of surprises. and because cost issues become more stringent [BR07]. in their 2004 seminal work [SPMC04].. however. possibly across wide geographical areas.2. we have been conducting interviews with Indian agricultural scientists since 2004. Data management: The likely topology of WSNs in our context is a large number of small clusters that need to be interconnected. Another problem is that the unprecedented capability of sensor networks to collect data represents a disruptive point in environment monitoring. where the existence of the system is a prerequisite to the definition of requirements. 3. maintenance of its components.. this challenge is also the most important to address. [DZ07].3 Operational Challenge Deploying a wireless sensor network raises issues well beyond the technical aspect of things. process and aggregate data over widespread geographical locations. The lessons to be learned for a long-lasting deployment represent still an open question.2. For this reason. They perceive this as a limitation. with an emphasis on multiple-layers protocols that can achieve more efficiency with specialization and customization of the communication stack [BvRW07].. This necessitates the development of back-ends that make it easy to dynamically query.2.) Western market forces will continue to meet the . WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES In most applications intended at industrialized countries. So far. which we address in Chapter 6. the tools and theoretical backgrounds to process such an amount of data have yet to be created. because of the expected coverage of the system. A recurring problem is the capacity for distinct scientific communities to work on a common problem from complementary perspectives. if existent at all. as far as technology is concerned. This can be done at the server side.

This challenge is addressed in Chapter 9. failures can generally be explained by the distance (geographical. we have to satisfy two conditions: 1. The capacity of the population to learn about the use cases of the system.2.to USD 300.2. 2. it can be more integrated in the social structure and possibly more equitable. Using participatory design can mitigate this risk. Country context mismatches (in terms of institutions. use and finally own the system (we define ownership as the ability and willingness to maintain the system in a working state and to integrate it in daily activities). In order to bridge this gap. without the need of skilled maintenance. which remains costly. one can use the concept of capacity building and knowledge creation through apprenticeship [Pan04].). However. 3. that participatory design in itself is no guarantee for success in developing countries.5 Economic Challenge Business models for WSN deployment must be looked at carefully: Sensor networks are still a maturing technology. specifically individuals who understand both the alien worlds of the community of users and of the community of designers/builders of the artifact. special care must be taken to avoid most common pitfalls. It is a self-organized process in which every individual takes ownership of the knowledge he or she is acquiring. infrastructures etc. To summarize. Heeks advocates the usage of hybrids. but on which will depend the success or failure of the whole technology. Heeks warns. resources or will to attend classes can be reached through it. Not relying on formal teaching.2. a major issue is the capacity of the user base to understand. cultural and economic conditions of developing countries into account in the development of hardware and software platforms alike. A NEW TOOL FOR DEVELOPING REGIONS? 41 needs of developing regions accidentally at best” [BDD+ 05]. we advocate the importance of exploring the potential of an emerging technology . which is a criticism made recurrently to projects dealing with ICT for development [Hee01]. For this to happen in our case. Design/Implementation Gaps: Heeks [Hee01] argues that the failures of information systems’ projects in developing countries are often caused by design-actuality gaps. As we saw. the price of a single wireless sensor is typically between USD 100. this is a design goal of sensor networks. social. because these techniques have usually been developed in and for industrialized countries organizations. Wireless sensor networks also present an important feature. Today. and presents the advantage of being able to develop a technology specifically for the developing countries context. instead of tweaking existing systems made to operate in a different context. A lesson to be drawn is that a participatory approach in a developing country is instrumental to success if and only if it integrates a tool to bridge the contextual gap between design and use. however. Computer Literacy and Application Ownership: It is not enough for an information system to satisfy adequately the needs of its intended target population.in concrete situations. This leaves a significant place for experimentation. as well as hard-soft gaps (rational design versus cultural and political actuality) play a role all the more important if the system was designed in an industrialized context.-. in order to take the ecological. as is always the case with a disruptive technology. cultural or socioeconomic) between the designers of the system and its intended community of users. In the same spirit. as people without the time. The price of wireless transmitters and common sensors (temperature for . Here. not yet fully realized.sensor networks . Our hypothesis is that there are some aspects of apprenticeship that make it particularly suited in the acquisition and integration of radically new paradigms of knowledge. The ability of the sensor network to function autonomously. in the fact that they constitute an emerging technology in constant evolution.. When this population is living in poor and remote areas with a low level of literacy (not to mention computer literacy).3.

WSNS AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES instance) is expected to drop sharply in the upcoming years. such as the development agencies and international organizations. More generally.) relevant to the pursued goals. By building partnerships with companies and institutions from these countries. This requires an expertise that emerging economies. In a first phase. one can leverage on this capacity. one can privilege research projects that use sensor networks as a tool for validating or developing the theoretical frameworks (in hydrology. with the involvement of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation as main funding source [PRP+ 06]. Brazil or China. However. we followed this approach in the COMMON-Sense Net project. . such as India. possess already. Even so. due to the technology’s current high cost. about the potential of wireless sensor networks in the context of development. will remain expensive unless new designs and local manufacturing can be realized. customized sensors (such as soil moisture sensors).42 CHAPTER 3. As mentioned later on in this thesis. environmental sciences etc. it is important to raise awareness among potential sponsors. agronomy. a precise economical analysis of the sustainability of our system is beyond the scope of this dissertation. Such small scale projects also play a role in the technology maturation process.

In Section 4. In Section 4. we start by a summary of the activities that led to the project definition and consortium. The author of this thesis traveled to Bangalore for a set of introductory meetings where the theme of agricultural management quickly surfaced as one of the most pressing issues in Karnataka. Initial personal contacts between EPFL and the Centre for Electronic Design and Technology (CEDT) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) were strengthened when EPFL issued a call for proposals for projects centered on scientific collaboration with academic institutions from developing countries. Finally. The primary goal of this call for proposal was to promote interdisciplinary research focused on critical problems faced by emerging and developing countries. The Chennakesha Trust. The funding came from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) via a research grant endowed with CHF 3 million (the NCCR MICS1 and CEDT provided a matching fund for our project). Section 4.1) was invited on board at this stage. In Section 4. we explain the general objectives of the project. 4. we describe the survey on information needs that was run in this village and two others in Karnataka (India). the need for a local partner in the field appeared as an important prerequisite before any action to be undertaken. We chose to focus on small land-holding farmers. As a local organization regrouping resourcepoor farmers. 4.Chapter 4 Wireless Sensor Networks for Marginal Agriculture in India In this chapter.3.7 explains the methodology that we decided to use throughout the project. 1 Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research in Mobile Information and Communication Systems 43 . During these meetings. because they represent an important part of the farming population in Karnataka (see Section 4. Consortium and Funding The initial idea for the project came in 2004.3.4). Moreover. In Section 4.2) seemed ideally placed to identify and address the challenges faced by this category of population.2.5. 4. they are more concerned than any other by the environmental issues that we identified in Chapter 3. the Chennakeshava Trust (see Fig. we present our own contribution to the application of novel environment monitoring techniques to the context of developing countries: a decision-support tool for marginal farming in India.4.1. The applications that we derived from this survey are detailed in Section 4. a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) active in the district of Tumkur (see Fig. we give a description of the village where we concentrated our activities.1 Project.

claiming probably tens of thousands of lives throughout the country. crop. accepted in early 2004. large mechanized farms in developed countries take this factor 2 A crop which is grown for money .44 CHAPTER 4. Information on the temporal and spatial variability of environmental parameters. Its background and rationale are described in the next section. environment monitoring can help to improve the lives of resource-poor farmers by mitigating the effects of extreme events. but farmers bear their part of responsibility.1: Tumkur district in Karnataka. is that the principal cause of this outbreak is a vicious circle of borrowing money to buy seeds. India The project was submitted in Fall 2003. [Zub06]. since they tend more and more to replace subsistence crops with cash crops2 . What is certain. 4. [HNM00]. and officially launched in Summer 2004. although official figures are lacking [Mis06]. [GRR02]. A wave of farmers’ suicides ensued. pests. sometimes ill-adapted to the local conditions. allowing the farmers to adapt their strategy to abnormal or changing climatic features when they occur.2 COMMON-Sense Net: a Decision-Support Tool for Agriculture Since 2001. diseases and other components of farming. their impact on soil. often inefficiently grown due to lack of knowledge and experience. play a major role in formulating the farmers’ strategy [Gla03]. Today. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA Figure 4. Farmers lack information and knowledge to face the new challenges raised by the shift of paradigm in their activity. Adverse climatic events can often be blamed. Although it cannot prevent drought or replace a political solution to the structural problems of Indian agriculture. drought has hit India repeatedly. and getting into increasing debts because of crop failure [Sai05]. Improved environment monitoring may be part of the answer. however.

State: in our case.4.3 Setting the Context In India the political institutions are organized hierarchically according to a 5-level scale: 1. low productivity agriculture.3. stems from a multidisciplinary partnership between India and Switzerland. remote sensing. thanks to enhanced environmental information. 4. SETTING THE CONTEXT 45 Figure 4. Similar techniques can be highly useful to farmers in the semi-arid regions of developing countries. prediction of climate and advanced information processing and telecommunications. . This project is named COMMON Sense Net (for Community Oriented Monitoring and Management of Natural resources via a Sensor Network) and. the implications of climatic variability in developing countries are a largely unexplored area for agriculture research [SGB00]. as we mentioned. crop simulation models. Chennakeshavapura’s district is Tumkur. including in-field sensors. Central Government in Delhi. The long-term goal of the project is to help developing replicable strategies for agricultural practices. The initial goal is to provide farmers with more strategic options for their crop management. 2. Because of the novelty of the issues that this project addresses. However.3). Moreover. Designing and implementing a decision-support tool based on environmental information for Indian marginal farmers is an ideal occasion to investigate the use of wireless sensor networks in developing countries (see Fig. with both academic institutions and the civil society involved. District: around 10 taluks. geographic information system (GIS). it uses extensively a participatory and iterative design (see Chapter 9). Karnataka. provided they can be adapted to small land holdings and labor intensive. 3. 4. traditional approaches are too expensive f and do not scale down to the size of a marginal farmer’s plot. The rest of this chapter describes the research conducted around the design of such a decision-support tool.2: Some members of the Chennakeshava Trust into account and utilize the convergence of several technologies.

Only the 3 upper-layers have legislative and judiciary bodies. about 85% of the total cultivated area depends exclusively on rainfall for the growing of groundnut during the rainy season (June-November). manmade tanks storing runoff for irrigation were constructed in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. large open wells.3. Indeed. For economical reasons. support small patches of irrigated farms. Taluk: around 100’000 citizens. Another major .3: Technical components of a decision-support system for agriculture 4. there is only an executive council. as well as tube wells. In addition. however. the risk is too high for them to take. Since the drilling of bore wells is costly and has a history of high failure rate. Chennakeshavapura’s taluk is in Pagavada. but not in a synchronized fashion. and several chains of rocky hills found in the landscape form series of watersheds. It is centered on 14o N and 77o E and is situated in the Eastern part of Karnataka state. and thus cannot benefit from the water stored in traditional surface storage reservoirs in the valleys below. The central part of the region is a plateau with an elevation of about 600 to 700m. with a standard deviation as high as 190mm. water for irrigation is too costly for the resource-poor farmers. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA Figure 4. Their farms are usually located on the upper reaches of the local watershed. 5.1 The Pavagada Region The Pavagada region is a part of the large semi-arid tract of Southern India. Each assembly is elected once every 5 years. 4. The second mode is between the last week of May and the first week of June. Hills and rocky outcrops constitute the grazing lands for the livestock. In the lower reaches of the watersheds. The upper catchment areas of the watersheds are utilized for rain-fed groundnut cultivation. The distribution of the rainfall within the year is bimodal [RGK+ 04]. The annual average is 561mm. The major climatic feature of the Pavagada region is the low amount of rainfall and its high variability. Panchayat: around 10’000 citizens.46 CHAPTER 4. A panchayat usually comprises 5 villages. corresponding to 10 panchayats. The maximum rainfall occurs in the second half of September. Up to the taluk level.

3. Irrigation remains possible thanks to the community tanks. distribute grants etc. As a result. 4. who usually prefer to act unofficially than to be exposed as officials. 4. the elected members of the panchayat can be the target of significant pressure coming from the richest landowners. a risk enhanced by the low moisture retention capacity of the shallow sandy loam soils. since the main task of the panchayat is to distribute the funds coming from the higher levels in order to realize community-based projects: building roads or buildings. wealth remains by and large the most important factor of political influence.3. rain-fed farming is the most practiced form of agriculture. 4. and areca nut trees.6) is a village of approximately 2’000 inhabitants in the Pavagada area.9). 4. According to a local contact-person. There is an estimated 55 bore-wells in around the village.4. sometimes with retentions tanks (as in Fig. 4. However.4: Chennakeshavapura village surrounding fields characteristic of the climate of the region is the frequent occurrence of long dry spells. 4.8 shows the dyke built more than one century ago to circumscribe the main tank.4. .3 Type of Agriculture As in other areas in Karnataka. Fig. most of them unregistered. Thus. [Rao08] 4. the crop is highly prone to moisture stress.5.3. revolving essentially around groundnut.2 The Chennakeshavapura Village Chennakeshavapura (see Figs.7 are scattered around the area. Smaller reservoirs. SETTING THE CONTEXT 47 Figure 4. At the local level. 17ha and 12ha. the cost of cultivation is not recovered in 60% of the harvests [RG99]. of the type shown in Fig. with other crops such as pigeon pea and cereals. the recent trend is one of building individual electricity-powered wells. Consequently. The three biggest ones have a command area respectively of 85ha. corruption is not uncommon. 4.

48 CHAPTER 4.6: The village’s movie theater .5: A neighborhood in Chennakeshapura Figure 4. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA Figure 4.

7: CKpura.3.4. a community tank Figure 4.8: Walk on the dyke of the main community retention basin . SETTING THE CONTEXT 49 Figure 4.

knowing the marginal farmers and working with them for long enough to have gained their trust.50 CHAPTER 4. they are likely to expect something immediately. built a partnership with an agronomist. [DKMU03]. we refer to this group as resource-poor farmers. On top of that. the dialogue of scientists with resource-poor farmers is a challenge. three consecutive years of severe drought have taken their toll on the small and marginal farmers of the area. Communication with outsiders is difficult. Moreover. As a consequence. farmer and founder of an . because of language issues. Marginal farmers can also be bitter about former agricultural development projects that have consistently left them behind while focusing on irrigated agriculture. The feeling of distrust towards the scientific community is extremely widespread. this leads to a general feeling of instrumentalization in the marginal farming community. Their crop yields are highly unreliable due to the variability in both rain-fall amount and its distribution [GAR99]. We recognized this aspect early on in our project and accordingly. namely a person that has a foot in both worlds. because of their economic helplessness.9: The reservoir of an individual well 4. For all these reasons. the share of agriculture in employment is still about 67% [BM04]. In Karnataka. 87% of the farming families own farms of less than 4 ha. on one hand practicing science and technology.3. most farmers speaking Telugu or Kannada only. Families with very small farms (less than 1 ha) constitute 39% of the total. Marginal farmers in India and South Asia in general are the category of population that benefitted the less from the economic boom and overall poverty reduction of the last 15 years [BS05]. accounting for more than 50% percent of the total cultivated area. In our experience. Our experience with marginal farmers in Karnataka shows that these farmers feel an estrangement with the outside world. if a foreigner comes to talk to them. They usually lack access to irrigation facilities and depend on rain-fed farming for their livelihood. Some of them. They constitute a recurrent target for development agencies. It emerged from informal meetings held in CKPura with CK Trust members that farmers have the impression they did much more for the career of scientists than the latter did for the improvement of their life conditions. with a majority of small land holdings. more traditionally called marginal farmers. on the other hand. typically a loan. but are difficult to help efficiently. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA Figure 4.4 Marginal Farmers In India. incapable of repaying their debts are now desperate. The only way to reach them is to bridge the gap with the use of a hybrid [Hee01].

we defend the development of appropriate microcredit [Sap06] schemes as a prerequisite to any rural development in India (and probably in developing countries at large). the resident The Chennakeshava Trust.g. Rao is the author and coauthor of several leading articles in the area of Indian ecology and agriculture. and as a consequence. Mr. hybrids and marginal farmers. biological and meteorological parameters interact constantly. classified the different user groups. and to assess the relevance of environment monitoring in such a context. their first and foremost claim is getting affordable loans [RGK+ 04]. The various livelihood activities of the families are listed on the basis of effort allocated by the family for the activity. Rao et al. collected information needs of various groups.). trade. He lives and farms in the village of CKPura.1 Survey Methodology Before beginning the assessment of information needs. fuel wood gathering etc. Our goal was to look beyond the current horizon of local farmers and to try and anticipate what advances in sciences. For the group meetings. P. Each family can have more than one livelihood activity (e. Hence the necessity to involve another partner in the project: agricultural scientists who are trying to understand better the processes at work in the field. our solution is orthogonal to microcredit. The first step was then to conduct an assessment of the needs perceived by a community of marginal farmers for the improvement of their livelihood. As an obvious consequence.R. 4. Along these lines.4. The gap is wide between the mental models of those who have first-hand experience of daily agricultural challenges and engineers. 4.4 A Survey and Analysis on Farmers’ Needs The results and discussion of this section are based on a field survey conducted over a period of ten months from August 2003 to May 2004 in three villages of the Pavagada region (Southern India): Chennakeshavapura (CKPura). Discussions with these people allowed determining the major livelihood and other livelihood options of the families belonging to the relevant user group.4. sheep keeping. which lasted until 2005. with the family as the basic unit. farming. The goal of this enquiry was to identify and categorize the information needs of the population living in the semi-arid regions of India. we had to build a communication chain involving ICT researchers. due to unavailability of financial resources. Seshagiri Rao4 . this is beyond the scope of an academic project such as ours.1 Mr. In the second phase. enabled by the proper technology. 4 3 . During the initial survey and mapping of the village. However. they held group meetings and complementary semi-structured interviews. At that point. A SURVEY AND ANALYSIS ON FARMERS’ NEEDS 51 NGO working for marginal agriculture3 . Another characteristic of marginal farmers is their inability to make any investment that would improve their productivity. Rao et al. agricultural scientists. could improve their livelihood through better land and water productivity. Livelihood activities with maximum allocation of effort are categorized as major livelihood activities. which allowed us to conduct several interviews and surveys on UAS campus. for each neighborhood (cluster of houses) or caste group (endogamous group signifying social status) the authors of the survey identified a set of knowledgeable individuals.4. For this part. we approached a Professor at the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS) in Bangalore. Venkatapura and Ponnasamudra [RGK+ 04]. and works as a consultant for agro-business companies and international organizations alike. We initiated a partnership with the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences (CAOS) at the IISc. In order to address the subject in a credible way. where countless physical. introduced in Section 4.

market conditions on a particular day. in order to gather the details of information on focal issues. animal grazing.2 Summary of Results The information requirements of the rural families were very diverse. as depicted in Table 4. in which a 1 designates the highest priority. since they constitute the target population of the COMMON-Sense Net project. Drawing directly from the user survey document. Any disagreements in choice of focal issues or assignment of priorities were also documented. Concerns about electricity cuts or ground- . These discussions typically lasted for 2 . or legal advice on land-holding rights.2: Priority of information needs per user group (1 denotes the highest interest) families were grouped along patterns of resource use (such as irrigated agriculture. one can distinguish different types of issues. Table 4. It also gives the number of households that participated actively to the survey. shop owners. at the expense of shepherds. Richer farmers are also considered. with their weight in the community in terms of number of households. 4 a low priority and . Special emphasis is given to the resource-poor farmers. More information can be found in the survey report. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA User group Rain-fed Farmers Irrigated Farmers Irrigated Orchards Owners Number of families 160-200 40-60 10-12 Meetings held 11 4 2 Participants (average) 29 18 10 Table 4. rain-fed agriculture. During group discussions. In this table.an absence of interest.4 hours with 3 to 6 users and usually took place at the farms or houses of user group members. and sought to extract information from the individuals in an interactive manner. Several group discussions with the members of the user group were held to determine focal issues of their information needs. Separate discussions were then held with interested individuals.1: User survey participation Rain-fed Farm 1 2 3 4 Irrigated Orchard 4 2 1 3 5 Irrigated Farm 1 4 2 3 Crop yield prediction Rain prediction Plant disease prediction Daily jobs opportunities Water level in bore wells Groundwater survey Electricity supply Table 4. They covered a wide range of needs including weather prediction. we constructed a prioritization of information needs per user group.4. however.).52 CHAPTER 4.2. The following section focuses on the analysis of the different farming groups. is that environment-related information ranks high in the perceived needs of the rural families. A significant finding. since they are likely to be directly affected by a deployment of the system. The questions and answers were collected in a written form and interpreted by the survey main author in order to create the themes that are presented in detail in the survey document [RGK+ 04]. The identified focal issues were prioritized by consensus. daily labor etc. The interviewers focused on the general categories highlighted in the group discussions. the farmers identified relevant issues and prioritized them. 4. and indicates in each case the number of meetings that were held.1 show the three categories of main interest. craftsmen etc. The interviews were not based on questionnaires. but on open-ended interactions.

the amount of rainfall and its distribution during the season influence most of the farming: crop yields. etc. the management options available. etc. but out of necessity. such as planting trees or mulching. farming operations. Finally. As we showed in the previous subsection. providing the farmers with a decision support system adapted to their needs. diseases and farming operations are important tools to answer several of the farmers’ information requirements. which is either too risky or unaffordable for them. such as transporting water from community tanks on . this could mean applying new strategies of partial irrigation. the realization that crop yield is an important concern for farmers seems obvious. who use better soil-fertility. their wish for better weather forecast or employment opportunities can hardly be satisfied by better agricultural practices. For these subjects. disease and pest incidence. Hence. sensors can improve farm-level decision making by providing important benchmarks for the impact of moisture deficits. On the other hand. expected yield plays an important role in the choice to invest or not in a tactical option. In semi-arid regions.and pest-management. pests. A SURVEY AND ANALYSIS ON FARMERS’ NEEDS 53 water and wells are specific to farmers rich enough to afford to pay for irrigation. risks and benefits are largely influenced by the high variability of environmental parameters. As for resource-poor farmers. 4.3 Interpretation and Motivation At first sight. level of inputs. and encouraging them to invest in order to get higher profits from their farms. environment monitoring and understanding the impact of variability constitute a leitmotif for farmers. This necessitates drilling wells. poor families try to minimize their risk by investing as little as possible. A reliable decision-support system is a component of a deficit irrigation system that seeks to maximize the impact of irrigation on crop yield while minimizing the intake of water. However. resource-poor farmers resort to rain-fed farming not out of choice. it can help to assess the efficiency of simple water conservation measures. Simulation models of crops.4. The downside of such a strategy is that in good rainfall years their crop yields are much lower than the field potential. Because they are farming under such a high-risk situation (uncertainty of expected benefit).4. when used directly in the field. Secondly. the use of a decision-support system able to give information on the benefits and risks of all the available options will help resource-poor farmers to make an informed choice for the best strategy. such as buying fertilizer or pesticides. be it for soil fertilizers. The environment monitoring data provided over time and space by sensors can be used to validate and calibrate existing models. the COMMON-Sense Net project wants to advocate a different category of applications that will allow the farmers to connect to. their costs. Whereas projects currently consider primarily interpersonal communications such as rural phone and Internet connectivity. the non-trivial finding of the survey is the fact that crop yield prediction is critical mainly for poor farmers. the two themes of crop yield prediction and disease control stand out prominently in all farmers’ categories. This calls for an extension of the usual paradigm of rural development projects centered on ICT [PH03]. Experience shows that poor farmers usually achieve about half of the yields of large farmers. because their lack of resources forces them to constantly adapt their strategies to the evolution of the environment. Irrigation practices in the semi-arid areas of developing countries are usually inefficient and require large quantities of water. For poor farmers.4. and monitor in real-time the fieldconditions with regard to these benchmarks. In particular. borrowing and carrying water. soil water conservation or spraying for pest and disease management. It is in this area that a sensor network can help them in several ways: Firstly by making it a tool in the hands of agricultural scientists who work on more sustainable practices and strategies. In situations of uncertain output.and act on the constraints of their own environment in a more precise way.

because a direct interaction with the farmers was feared to generate either incomprehension (their immediate attention being more focused on loans) or high expectations leading to disappointment and disinterest. Increase yield with minimal water use. and their respective values. 4. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA Information Needs Crop yield prediction Specific Questions of Marginal Farmers 1) Assess appropriateness of crop choices 2) Assess appropriateness of farming operations. Issue warnings when water is needed (if possible. we defined system functionalities and use cases jointly with a crop physiologist from the University of Agriculture Sciences. Provide forecasts of occurrences during weeding.1. we extracted the most promising and rapidly implementable applications and analyzed them (Table 4. renting rich farmers’s wells.1 Crop Modeling Rationale The first and foremost concern expressed by marginal farmers was about crop yield prediction. Drawing on the survey’s analysis of the needs of small-farm families in terms of environmental data (Rao. Pest and Disease Prevention Gather soil moisture. Bangalore. air temperature and relative humidity data Gather soil moisture measurements in different conditions. These considerations led us to the use cases that we detail in the next section.5. Strategy to Provide Information Use existing scenariobased models. 4. As a consequence. 2005). Several crop simulation models are available for simulating the growth of various crops and crop mixes with different environmental constraints such as moisture stress. since our prototype will take time to be fully operational.5 Use Cases and Related Environmental Data At this early stage of the project (we were in Spring 2005). Validate these models with local data. Cost/benefit analysis of using bunds and trees. Gather soil moisture information in each homogenous parcel Water Conservation Measures Deficit Irrigation Table 4. indicate amount of water needed) Role of Sensors Soil moisture measurements to validate groundnut crop model.54 CHAPTER 4. nutrient stress and water logging. a farmer with high-education training in agronomy and environmentalists from the IISc. it seemed easier to collaborate with agriculture scientists in order to design possible applications.3: Environmental data for marginal agriculture carts.5. Determine environmental parameters that have an influence. These . etc. Compare effectiveness of different measures Define critical thresholds in soil water content at different stages in crop growth.1 4. The goal of these meetings was to translate perceived needs into scientific solutions.3).

one rain-fed and one irrigated. . 4. Deploying automated sensors in well-identified plots and let them collect data over the period could simplify the process and provide for high resolution data specific to different field conditions (soil physics.2 Use of a WSN Manual collection of soil moisture data at different depths for a duration of six months is a cumbersome and unreliable process. Comparing actual yields with predicted ones would be a possibility. precipitations seasonal trends and irrigation schedule. A validation methodology seems needed to assess the performance of the models. if predicted and observed yields do not match. however. Moreover. In decision making for farmers. The Chennakeshava Trust identified two groundnut-growing areas. and allows to narrow down possible discrepancies to a limited set of coefficients. such as soil type. the data are gathered repetitively. it is more important to be roughly right than precisely wrong. proximity of water sources).and neglect other pertinent areas ([MHH+ 96]. that would significantly enrich their strategic options.4. precision should not be provided at the expense of relevance. exposition to the sun. this ability has been questioned in the scientific literature [GJJ03]. Collecting data about soil moisture at different depths throughout a cropping season and comparing them with values computed by the model ensures that the main factor of crop yield is well understood. with the hope of being able to tune them appropriately. type of crop and of agriculture. Both DSSAT and APSIM have a narrow and deep focus on certain components of decision making crop growth and yield . article of Stephens and Middleton in [MS02]). If the results of envisaged scenarios can be communicated to the farmers. Recently. • validate the model with the new set of data. it is impractical because of the number of options to take into consideration. crop type. especially if they are to be used in contexts different from the ones in which they were developed in the first place. The application is as follows. geographic location with regard to slopes. no underlying cause will be identified and the possible recalibration of the model will be difficult.1. saved into a database and uploaded regularly by crop modeling specialists. In other words. certain limitations. whereas the users consider farming processes at the higher scale of a whole agricultural ecosystem [Wal02]. based on the inputs. [FK03]. • reflect on the model’s performance as improved environmental data become available.5. A key element to the capacity of these systems is the ability to predict. In our case. with 10 measurement points each. A specific criticism of DSSAT is that it is highly ‘crop-plot centric’. Once the sensor network is deployed. USE CASES AND RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL DATA 55 models are an important component of a decision support system in this area. agricultural scientists identified DSSAT (Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer) [MS02] and APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator) [MHH+ 96] as the most promising models for the Pavagada region. where a preliminary experiment could be run. who: • tune the model coefficients to the relevant parameter space in the region of interest. However. the water content of the soil at any stage of the cropping season. They have. Both models based their decision making on simulations that take as input a handful of physical and climatic parameters.5.

However. Information would be eventually exchanged with farmers through participatory meetings. farmers who can afford it tend to treat their crop no matter what. In case of risk. such as building bunds and planting trees to trap water in the shallow layers of the soil. They already do so.2 4.1 Pest and Disease Prediction/Prevention Rationale Pests and disease are a major concern for farmers. 4. there are two arguments to support such a solution: 1. and that a network is not necessary in this case. If such models can be developed. except that. whereas poor farmers leave their crop unprotected because of the cost of spraying. For this.5. the action depends on the local environmental status.2 Use of a WSN In a first phase. 2. the relevant sensor sending a message directly to the concerned owner. The necessary granularity of such measurements is still unclear. however a precise assessment of the efficiency of such measures is still lacking.5. 4. One could argue that in this case. here. but where different water conservation measures are used. justifying the use of a wireless sensor network. or using mulch and gypsum to reduce evaporation. Observing the correlation of different parameters with the outbreak of pests and diseases could lead to the definition of statistical models of pest or disease prediction. Not all environmental parameters have the same level of variability. One might think of an SMS-based system. sensors can be deployed in a semi-controlled environment in order to observe correlations between environmental parameters and outbreaks. warnings need to be issued to farmers. 4. as in the previous applications. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA 4. Comparative readings of soil-moisture can be used to assess the efficiency of different water conservation measures. in order to issue warnings to farmers. The time necessary to conduct such a study is not precisely specified by the agricultural scientist whom we interviewed. soil moisture readings are used directly. in the longer term wireless sensors can be deployed in the field. different parameters are relevant. Sensors are placed in fields that are comparable from a physical point-of-view. It would be an overkill to instrument air temperature or humidity at each and every plot.3. Here again. They realize that environmental parameters play a role in the emergence of such phenomena. As a consequence. Or each sensor could have .3. including the location of the cropping plots. the nature and the value of these parameters is still unclear. but definitely spans several years.and crop-variability. should not be underestimated.3 4. spatial variability has to be taken into account.2 Use of a WSN This use case is similar to the previous one.5.2.5. Using a networked solution allows for the efficient aggregation of data. If this phase is successful.1 Water Conservation Measures Rationale Farmers who cannot resort to irrigation need to make the maximum use of precipitation water throughout the cropping season. but field.2. However.5.5.56 CHAPTER 4. they could be used subsequently in the field in order to issue warnings.

other parameters are needed. because their plot is located directly downstream from one. marginal farmers can benefit from the technology of deficit irrigation. Concretely.1 Water Management for Deficit Irrigation Rationale The situation of marginal farmers with regard to irrigation varies depending on the location of their fields. in a feedback loop based on the difference between the predicted and measured value in order to take local variations into account. However. an accepted standard procedure of determining soil moisture. This solution has the advantage of fostering potential exchange of information among the stake-holders. the calibration continues to take place. both solutions increase the cost of a single sensor. an agricultural water management system in which the water needs of the crop (potential evapotranspiration) during the growing period can only be met partially by a combination of soil water. However. Climatic probes are also calibrated.2 Use of a WSN For such an application. Climatic parameters such as daily rainfall. and retrieve them from a table when a prediction has to be made. community tanks regularly dry out.5.4. In this case. Some can access to community tanks. Their only lever is their willingness to build their own retention tank (which they usually do not do) or to transport water from tanks to their field. but farmers have to be notified by the system operator. • Alert Real-time alerts are given whenever the measured soil-moisture of a parcel reaches a threshold in the benchmark values. Using the recent trend of soil moisture values recorded by sensors and the knowledge of these points. sunlight hours. but others are totally exposed to the unpredictability of weather. in addition to deploying soil-moisture sensors. however. Then.5. USE CASES AND RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL DATA 57 a display that can be read by the farmer. 4.4. 4. As a consequence. Soil characteristics. soil moisture probes need to be calibrated with measurements from the gravimetric method. compute the model coefficients for this parcel over a calibration phase.5.5. This requirement is even reinforced when the average size of individual plots is small. Deficit irrigation management requires optimizing the timing and degree of plant stress within restrictions of available water. Once the alert is given. This means that the soil moisture content has to be assessed every few hectares at least. the farmer should be able to look at weather forecast data .4 4. wind speed. in normal mode of operation. and transporting water is an extenuating task. the farmer could predict the behavior of his crop and use simple water management techniques. rainfall and irrigation [D. bunds. Using a network to centralize the collection of information at a local information kiosk is another solution. etc. a sensor should be added at this particular location. The use case is as follows: • Calibration As a one time effort. can vary significantly due to composition and situation. it is reasonable to deploy between 2 and 4 of sensors (for cross-checking) per homogenous parcel.) on the soil conditions. farmers can pass by the kiosk whenever they want it. and air humidity are homogenous enough to necessitate the deployment of only one weather station every few square kilometers. If water is not used optimally to the last drop. Of particular use to the farmers is the knowledge of benchmark points for crop/trees water requirements (those points are specific to a particular crop). the result is often not worth the effort. These alerts are automated. In order to assess the influence of a particular feature of the landscape (such as trees.4.R05].

Solar energy will become an alternative in this case. deploying sensors with solar panels is usually problematic in agriculture. because the response-time is not critical. Reliable data collection: Sparse networks make it more difficult to collect data in a reliable fashion. making it more difficult to handle and more attractive to steal. In our case. based on historical climatic data for the region. which means the likely partitioning of the network into clusters. On the software side. Regardless of their context of deployment. with some nodes bearing the extra burden to connect clusters to a single data collection point.1 Technical Point-of-View Lifetime: to yield usable results. • Water Requirements Assessment Based on the same type of request as above. through observation and scientific analysis. The small number of such nodes justifies a more careful placement. This requires adapted energy sources. 4. On the hardware side. the system uses a real-time learning process to give predictions on soil-moisture values over time. soil moisture probes have . Long distances between nodes and few routing alternatives are the main culprits.6. The two first use cases do not take direct advantage of the possible real-time features of a sensor network. This means that the choice of the communication platform is especially crucial. Whereas temperature and relative humidity embedded sensors have been used for years. this has implications in the network architecture. we gave arguments to advocate the use of a wireless sensor network. An additional difficulty comes from the sparse nature of the network. 4. because orientation and placement have to be thought in relation with insolation. The third and fourth use cases constitute direct applications in the field.6 Design Guidelines In all the use cases developed in the previous sections. Sensing accuracy:Finally. Also. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA and know. A clustered two-tier architecture will be necessary in most cases. because results of long-term WSNs are still lacking in the literature. low-power protocols (MAC and routing) need to be assessed precisely to choose the best fit. • Soil Moisture Prediction Based on the model and the actual measurements. Assessment of routing protocols in such challenging settings is also a necessary prerequisite. so that proper design guidelines can be drawn. Unfortunately. They also increase the total bulk of the equipment to deploy. For all these reasons.58 CHAPTER 4. however. the system gives an estimate of the minimum irrigation water needed according to the benchmarks. and because they aim at improving the situation of marginal farmers indirectly. all the use cases suppose a field deployment of several months. each of them has to be positioned according to the challenges that we highlighted in the previous chapter. the choice of the communication platform and of the environmental sensors to use will be conditioned in part by their energy profile. These nodes will have to implement some bridge technology (typically GSM or Wi-Fi) and their energy requirements will increase signigficantly. what is the probability of rain in the near future. because it is impossible to rely on the power grid. whose energy profile must be carefully studied to insure the necessary lifetime. we found it necessary to resort to batteries. and because the size of the batteries necessary to power the nodes will become prohibitive. Solar panels limit the choice of locations for sensors. one question to solve is that of the effectiveness of probes. growing vegetation can significantly impair the communication as the cropping season advances.

external sources of funding need to be sought.R. In this way. 4. one can build a case for potential commercial applications. However. it would also be possible to reuse the collected data by presenting them to agricultural scientists as a proof of concept. 4. a price a priori too expensive for an Indian farmer5 .in 2008. meetings with agriculture specialists led to general use cases. but it remains to be seen to what extent. As the meetings took place after the SDC-funded project started. use cases are easy to find. The technology’s cost is widely believed to drop dramatically in the years to come. all equipped. A wireless sensor. development and cooperation organizations are ideal targets. There is a need first to collect extensive data. in order to foster the precise definition and development of other use cases.6. Before a system can be made commercially viable.7 Methodology: Science and Farmers As shown in the previous sections.6. such as assessment of water conservation practices. Before we reached this state. As we realized.4.2 Scientific Point-of-View What use to make of the data is a complex challenge to address. and to design experiments based on these findings. 4. In our case.7. and be prepared for the time when the price of technology decreased enough. we obtained a grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Sources of funding depend on the use case and of the context of deployment. Seshagiri Rao [Rao08]. increase awareness of the users and hence their willingness to invest in a new technology. its deployment and deployment assessment and the collection of an extensive set of data. the effectiveness of WSNs in the field needs to be proven. For applications directly targeted at poor farmers. in order to develop full decision support system and/or recommendations based on this. At this point.3 Economical and Sociocultural Point-of-View It is to be noted at this point that a major question mark is the affordability of such a system by farmers. WSNs seem to represent a disruptive technology whose full potential is difficult to grasp for scientists who have been always working with the constraint of having to cope with sparse environmental data. then to provide visualization and processing tools for scientists. As mentioned by P. which is beyond the scope of this work.. All the applications that we mentioned earlier necessitate the deployment of a sparse network with an average distance between the nodes of 100m or more. A possible strategy is to start with the simplest use cases. in order to make a proof of concept of the whole technology. costs in average USD 200 – 300. These are major design issues. METHODOLOGY: SCIENCE AND FARMERS 59 to the best of our knowledge not been formally evaluated in the context of wireless sensing. On 5 Profitability studies are yet to be conducted. as highlighted by Chapter 5. . and meant to be deployed in the field. Another difficulty in working upfront with scientists is the lack of funding. we could not finance scientists to conduct experiments. This would allow for the development of the technology and system. Each node will have to survive at least one cropping season in order to minimize the maintenance. the ones that need minimum data processing. because scientists are not used to work at the level of granularity allowed by WSNs. but precise usage of data is not known. it proved to be difficult to go beyond this initial stage.

As we explain in Chapter 6. and to reflect on the initial efforts to involve farmers in the use of wireless networking in their plots. They allow for the testing of the initial response of farmers to the intrusion of technology in their fields. we opted for a similar strategy as Basha and Rus [BR07] where we design and test to some extent the system in the lab (both in Lausanne and Bangalore). WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS FOR MARGINAL AGRICULTURE IN INDIA their side. these scientists expected to see a concrete system working before considering to spend time and money on related experiments.60 CHAPTER 4. We then would go back to the lab to address the identified issues. the results obtained in Chennakeshavapura encouraged us to recontact and probe scientists in order to pursue collaboration with them. before deploying it in the field as it is. Experiments in the field. They enable the collection of data that can attract interest from scientists and trigger the definition of precise experiments. The results of the preliminary deployment were expected to confirm the technical viability of the system. They allow for a thorough testing of the system in a real setting 2. . have several advantages: 1. on the other hand. Accordingly . 3.

The functionalities described above have two features in common: the usefulness of gathering data over a period of time spanning at least one crop season. in response to events or explicit queries)? And will the data be transmitted on the flight. Will the data be produced periodically or on demand (i. since: • The farmer needs to be notified. there remain two main design questions to be solved. data are generated locally but processed globally. Nodes do not analyze the data they collect. that of the setup of a wireless sensor network in rural Karnataka: COMMON-Sense Net (Community Oriented Monitoring and Management of Natural resources via a SENSor network) [PRP+ 06]. In this chapter. and allows to capture on the 61 . and the necessity to collect locally heterogenous data. • the soil moisture predictions require the use of historical data and of a general mathematical model. we undertake the task of designing and implementing a system that will provide the necessary data granularity.e. even in the case of deficit irrigation. where they are stored and processed. A pure data collection model seems hence the most appropriate. Except for deficit irrigation. they transmit them to a central server. there is a need to centralize the data.1 Design Options Even with the data collection model in mind. our use cases do not necessitate the collection of real-time data. However. This latter model is the most reactive.1 Data Generation Strategy Data can be generated periodically or as a response to an event. 5. which can be human-generated – typically the explicit emission of queries to the network – or environment-based – for instance when a parameter reaches or exceeds a threshold. [PRS+ 07]. In this model. The following sections are based on our own experience. wireless sensor networks are ideally suited for this type of applications. the agricultural issues faced by farmers in Karnataka illustrate the use that fine-grained environmental data can have in this context. or will we use a store-and-forward strategy? 5.1.Chapter 5 System Design and Implementation As was made clear in the previous chapter. whose operation is beyond the computing capabilities of wireless sensors. If we refer to Chapter 3. But it remains to be seen what type of such a network would correspond to the constraints we have.

whose freshness is important for the proper operation of the system. a finer resolution might be desirable. at which point the data is downloaded to the agent. 5. also know as a data mule [JSS05]. The authors refer to a hybrid sensor network as to a wireless sensor network where the use of limited infrastructure. such as WiMax. while not compromising the lifetime of the network. a wired infrastructure would be impractical. when no rain is falling. In our case. . with a variable rate of emission depending on the data variability at the time. Firstly. Secondly. or even per day. comes into communication range. although energy gains should not be overlooked. As a consequence. In our case. suffers from distance limitations. IEEE 802. and to the intrusiveness of such deployments in the fields.2 Data Transport Strategy We envision networks spanning several hectares. to the expense of responsiveness. the models that are used today take into account the limitation of the technology at the time they were developed.62 CHAPTER 5. However. Store-and-forward strategy: Also known as delay-tolerant networking [HF04]. For instance. to assess continuously the effectiveness of water conservation measures. 1. where full connectivity is required. because we require the flexibility of instrumenting patches that can be distant from each other. this option means that the cluster-sink stores the data until a mobile agent. With the communication capabilities of wireless sensors. because radio resources are used only when it is considered necessary by the application. a pure ad-hoc multihop network. we expand the notion of hybrid network to an infrastructure. Its major drawback is the cost of communication. On the other hand. we seek to generate as much data as possible. we need to resort to a hybrid sensor network. The term was first coined by Sharma and Mazumdar in 2005 [SM05]. which can be mitigated if we aggregate data packets at each cluster-sink and send them in bulk (to the expense of some responsiveness) 3. SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION flight important events. however. Both eventbased models offer the best energy consumption profile.11 bridge: this option. the data requirements are still unclear. might overcome this limitation in the near future. Cellular network bridge: This solution is appealing because the use of a global telephony network allows global connectivity. when water is brought in either by precipitation or irrigation. This solution has the advantage of cost. both in terms of energy and money. The data are then transported to the central server. this means that a direct connection to a single base station is unfeasible. because as it was mentioned in the previous chapter. 2. would not be adapted to our case. so that it remains operational throughout a full season at the minimum. in the form of wires. Emerging technologies. Our concern is more the sparseness of the network. For the deficit irrigation use case.1. although attractive in a rural setting with partial connectivity. As a consequence. Accordingly. due to the distances between nodes. it is not necessary to collect soil moisture data at more than one sample per hour. However. two constraints call for the use of a periodic model. agricultural scientists are curious to observe fine-grained data in order to determine what level of granularity is significant. where they are downloaded again. a hybrid strategy will be followed: a periodic data collection model. data must be collected periodically in order to feed the crop models. the data mule would be a farmer equipped with a hand-held device. Accordingly. is designed to improve the energy efficiency of the system. or to run predictive scenarios about the soil moisture level. where mutually disconnected clusters of sensors communicate with each other via an alternative technology. in our case.

4 for its GPRS equivalent. or installed on another machine. but with a more powerful radio than the typical sensing nodes contain (Wi-Fi bridge) or relying on the cellular telephony infrastructure. because the range limitations of 802. We detail all the sub-systems in the following subsections. We chose to equip several sensors with two ECH2O probes each. DESIGN CHOICE: OVERVIEW 63 Finally. We first used a WiFi bridge. such parameters do not vary significantly over the deployment area. to interpret them. but moved to GPRS as soon as base stations were deployed.of the corresponding cluster). The Leaf Area Index (LAI) based on the intercepted radiation provides information on the useful biomass of the crop and thus its yield. and which self-organize into a multi-hop data collection tree.11 architecture. for redundancy and detection of measurement drifts. because GSM connectivity was poor in our deployment area. on which the data transit bridge is installed (the base station . .2. needs a complementary source of electrical power. which necessitates timely measurements. and to rely commands that a user could want to issue to one or several clusters. which depends on the radio used. so only 2 weather stations are deployed. and barometric pressure (Intersema MS5534AM). The node. Each network can serve an homogenous agricultural patch. is left open for future developments. we introduce a data transit subsystem connecting each cluster from a data collection subsystem to the centralized server. or a series of contiguous patches. as it is a major input for predicting the productivity of the crop. Finally. the only restriction concerning the connectivity between the nodes. to log them into the database. 5. This network is designed to be deployed without configuration. Soil moisture is a parameter of higher variability. one finds first the data logging and network management subsystem. The data actuation part. For the first phase. a web-based graphical user interface. This subsystem contains the wireless sensors. if available at the deployment location (GPRS bridge).3 Embedded Probes For meteorological parameters. a decision support system for resource-poor farmers using the wireless sensor networks’ technology for environment monitoring. CSN uses a battery of sensors for temperature and humidity (Sensirion SHT11).11 proved to be severe. this subsystem contains only data visualization and upload modules.or sink .3 for the 802. and in Figure 5.2 Design Choice: Overview This section and the following ones present the ongoing design and implementation of COMMON-Sense Net (CSN). although this should be included in the near future.1.5. On the left is depicted the data collection subsystem. CSN does not measure solar radiation at this point. the data access subsystem. In the absence of a microclimate. Because deployment locations can be distant from each others. to which the embedded probes are attached. This component is responsible for listening to the packets coming from the nodes via the data transit subsystem. where the processing of each use case can be implemented. we chose the solution of the wireless bridge in order not to compromise the implementation of the deficit irrigation use-case. The data transit connection is typically wireless. ambient light (TAOS TSL2550D). can be collocated with the network server. This corresponds to a logical architecture summarized in Figure 5. 5. The data processing subsystem is envisioned as a modular component. The system design is as shown in Figure 5. On the server side.

where nodes can relay data from other nodes in addition to sending their own. if needed. where individual wireless sensor nodes perform minimal data processing and send back the data via a base station (a node connected to a computer) to a single server where they are processed. Still. As for routing. The next two subsections explain in details the platform choices. Tests conducted in typical landscapes of the deployment area indicated a higher bound of 100 meters in the best case with quarter wave antennas connected to a ground plane. The first is radio range. we moved to another platform. Given the data variability and sparse density of the network. Moreover. the nodes have to perform autonomously for the duration of the cropping season (roughly 6 months).64 CHAPTER 5. since there is no mobility in the network. TinyNode [tin] by Shockfish. because its power consumption is reasonably low. quickly becoming a de facto standard. There are two main issues affecting the platform choice for the wireless sensors. without compromising on the power consumption. CSN uses a simple tree construction algorithm. such as Medium Access layer. occasional moving or addition of a node). the radio range of Mica2 is sometimes stretched. In 2006. The short range of Zigbee and Bluetooth radios disqualified them. a range of more than 100 meters is mandatory. the most adapted platform available in late 2004 (when the initial choice was made) was the Mica2 mote manufactured by Crossbow. because it is widely used by the scientific community.1: System overview 5. Ideally. . SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Figure 5.4 Wireless Sensor Network: Data Collection Subsystem CSN uses a centralized data-collection model. Given all these considerations. based on neighboring radio links quality and hop-counts to the base station. either on batteries or with a small solar panel. whose range we tested to be at least two times better. relay data sent by other nodes. sending them towards the base station. and since topology changes are rare (node failure. this operating system makes libraries of components readily available. They have to resort to multi-hop transmissions. and. and technologies such as 802. and up to one km is desirable. a majority of them are unable to reach the base station directly. Since neighboring nodes of the network can be more than hundred meters apart. although this characteristic can be mitigated by an appropriate power management scheme such as duty cycling. and multihop routing. The second important issue is the power consumption. and its radio range is the highest among candidate technologies. The chosen embedded operating system is TinyOS [tos].11 did not match the power consumption requirements. That means that every node in the network can perform three tasks: collecting data.

Bidirectional connectivity of nodes was assessed using a Ping-Pong application.14 micaZ nodes. The range was determined as the distance for which at least 80% of the packets were received1 . although their performance showed that they are not adapted to outdoor sparse deployments. and at different heights above the ground.4. We made comparative experiments between tinynodes and mica2 in Fall 2005. It is to be noted that tinynodes can go up to 15dBm and 255kbps. 0 and 10 dBm. 5. the tinynodes[tin]. Transmit power levels were set to -10. Fig. 5 and 10kbps.5. in full Line of Sight. These settings were chosen because they represent the higher bound for Mica2 performance. It is to be noted that when this approximate value is reached. Once the data collection networks were deployed in the field. Using a square ground plane with edge length equal to one quarter of the carrier wavelength ( λ ) and 4 transmit power of +10dBm. The settings were chosen as follows: a transmission power of 0dBm . We also tested in parallel the 802.2kbps. a bit rate of 19. the packet delivery quickly drops to 0. The experiments were conducted in an open plain land with antennae placed at a height of 1.2 shows the results of the achieved communication range for a radio sensitivity of -100dBm. The data rates at each power level were 1. a new platform of wireless sensors had surfaced. 2 bytes of SYNC and 34 bytes of data.4. it becomes imperative to determine the usable radio communication distance between two sensors. it became obvious that this communication range was too limited for the kind of deployments we were looking at (see Chapter 6).2: Mica2 range measurements in the field 5. Since the proposed deployment has to work in a multihop paradigm. one may deploy sensors up to about 200m. A packet transmission consisted of 8 bytes of preamble. with an advertised range of up to 1km. making it the longest range attainable by commercially available wireless sensors. WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK: DATA COLLECTION SUBSYSTEM 65 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 Distance (meters) Figure 5.2 meters from the ground level. We observed connectivity by looking at blinking LEDs.1 Radio Range We carried out range measurements on mica2 motes in CKPura [PRS+ 07] in Spring 2005. In the meanwhile. These tests were not as thorough as the ones performed 1 measured perceptually by counting the LEDS blinks . The tests were carried out in a flat and open field devoid of obstacles (a soccer field).

so that nodes can go back to sleep immediately if a message is not addressed to them. B-MAC[PHC04] employs an adaptive preamble sampling scheme to reduce duty cycle and minimize idle listening. tinynode State Tinynode Mica2 Sleep 4 µA < 15 µA Active 2 mA 8 mA Radio Receive 16 mA 18 mA Radio Transmit (5dBm) 32 mA 27 mA Table 5. First. we chose at this point to migrate to this platform. This scheme allows the nodes to reach low duty cycle without the need to send extra monitoring traffic over the channel. In its bootstrap phase. When idle. and for radio transmit or receive states. Dozer In order to maximize power efficiency. Another advantage of tinynodes is their ability to operate at higher transmission power. probes’ power consumption became negligible). However. We explain the options available in the next two paragraphs. a node tries to join the tree as quickly as possible. The node then chooses its . A significant drawback. Tinynode performs better in active and sleep states. however. since radio operations consume most of the energy (we observed that at a 5 minute sampling rate. one might expect the idle-state energy consumption to become predominant.4. B-MAC To achieve low power operation. they concluded to an average improvement by a factor close to 2 for the tinynode compared with mica2 (see Table ). It starts listening for beacon messages that are sent periodically by all nodes belonging to the network. they prefix each packet with a preamble whose duration is the same as the sleeping period 271 bytes at the lowest duty cycle. As a consequence. SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Height 0m 1m 2m MicaZ unreliable 35m 80m Mica2 unreliable 110m 150m Tinynode unreliable 275m 280m Table 5. it establishes a tree structure on top of the physical network. is the increase in emission energy. With a low datarate application such as is the case with COMMON-Sense Net. However.2 Power Consumption Mica2 and Tinynode have similar power profiles in active state.2: Tinynode and Mica2 respective current consumptions in typical states initially on mica2. Such a performance depends particularly on the efficiency of the Medium Access Control layer. Dozer [BvRW07] merges the MAC and the routing layers of the communication stack. in particular the duty-cycling algorithm that allows the node to go to sleep and save on all its radio and CPU resources whenever they are not needed. Since there is no schedule agreement between the nodes. for a fixed period of time .66 CHAPTER 5. this depends on the efficiency of the power management schemes implemented at the node’s level. up to 15 dBm. A later optimization of the scheme includes the message destination in the preamble. However.2. as well as the energy wasted at the reception end in overhearing messages that are not addressed to the node itself (since a node needs to wait for the whole preamble before reading the packet header). as shown in Table 5.1: Range measurements (indicative): micaZ. mica2. 5. nodes go to sleep in an asynchronous way. They wake up periodically to listen to the radio channel or send their own packet.around 100ms at the lowest duty cycle.

the power consumption of different states is well defined (Table 5. We consider a typically low data emission rate of one message every 120 seconds. Dozer because it leverages the routing beacons to keep synchronization once the schedules have been established (that is. What really matters. The first solution that we investigated makes use of classical 802. both B-MAC and Dozer have minimal overhead. HYBRID NETWORK: DATA TRANSIT SUBSYSTEM 67 potential best parent based on its distance to the sink (in number of hops) as well as its load (the number of the node’s direct children). 5.2).4). Hence.5 Hybrid Network: Data Transit Subsystem In order to interconnect disconnected patches to one single server for data logging and network management. in regular operation mode). With this regard. They are not power-constrained. one can estimate the average current consumption of Dozer to be around 160µA. The only difference that can be observed between Dozer and B-MAC is the duration of transmission and reception. a preamble plus packet sent by B-MAC takes about 350ms.11 access points and a rugged PC for the bridge (see Fig. Beacons are used to maintain slot synchronization. and expand significantly the scalability of the network. 01 · 16mA = • Current consumption of emission with Dozer: • Current consumption of emission with 5·32mA ∼ 120·1000 = 1. Accordingly. the difference is marked. The actual connection setup is initiated after the transmission of the next beacon of the selected neighbor. they both advertise up to 99% of sleep time. is the performance in the field. The difference in power consumption could come from the overhead induced by the signalling messages. We will reflect on effective power consumption in Chapter 6. GSM connectivity. however. For a given platform. the frames transmitted by B-MAC are 2160 bytes long. 5. while at at duty cycle of 1%. since improved considerably in the region of CKPura in 2006. Since more recent B-MAC extensions managed to reduce overhearing (of long preambles from packets addressed to another node). 5. which was not satisfactory at the time of the deployment. CSN makes use of bridges between individual network clusters. After sending its beacon the potential parent stays in receive mode for a short amount of time. 99 · 7µA ∼ 7µA = ∼ 160µA • Current consumption of reception: 0. in particular synchronization messages.5. Comparison Both B-MAC and Dozer are designed to enable low duty cycles. Accordingly. while the same for B-MAC is around 250µA. Unlike individual sensor nodes. This work . however.5.2.3). Dozer sends normal TinyOS packets that are 36 bytes long. While a packet transmitted by Dozer takes 5ms. those bridges are connected to the power grid via electric poles that can be found regularly in the deployment area. This difference can be observed at the oscilloscope. The prospective parent will send the new node its TDMA slot. This solution is both expensive and power hungry. that yields: • Current consumption of idle listening: 0.3µA B-MAC: 350·32mA ∼ 90µA 120·1000 = As a result. Typically. At the transmission side. as we have seen. we implemented a GPRS bridge that aggregates and transmits the data directly to the central server located at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore (see Fig. Dozer would be 20% more efficient than B-MAC. the power consumed in reception is not itself really discriminant. With the values written down in Table 5. we chose Dozer as our MAC protocol. which has to be experienced first hand. B-MAC because it is asynchronous by essence.

an 802. serial and ethernet connectivity. Linux-based computer equipped with an Intel processing unit. The voltage converter converts the 12V .5. The SBC is a simple. and stored into a database. 7 ampere-hour battery. From time to time. The FDC unit is mounted on an metal pole and connected to the electricity network. SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Figure 5.3: System architecture: 802. a charger and a 12V. each with their own Base Station (BS) that communicates with a local server (LS) over 802.4: System architecture: GPRS bridge 5.1 WiFi Bridge The system consists of several network clusters. Base Station The BS consists of three hardware elements: A base-station node (BSN).68 CHAPTER 5. The power control section of the FDC includes a voltage converter.11 access point and a Single Board Computer (SBC). the data is retrieved by the central server (CS) over a dial-up connection. The next paragraphs provide an overview of the two systems. Figure 5. Data packets from the sensor nodes are transmitted in a multi-hop fashion to the BS. USB. where it is temporarily stored.11 bridge is described with all its technical core details in [Sta07].11 (or WiFi). which gathers data packets from the sensor nodes and transfers them over a WiFi link to the LS.

With GPRS. the packets are stored in a database. Airtel offers flatrate connection for unlimited data transfer over GPRS. fetches the logged data and updates the central database. Hardware Overview Fig.5. 6. Hence. Central Server The central server is connected to an external modem for telephone link connectivity to the LS at CKPura village. Only a few modifications had to be made to the software in order to receive the GPRS connections from the wireless module. This is only possible during the periods when there is power available in the village. It serves as a base station for the sensor network and as a gateway to the GPRS cellular network.4 shows the COMMON-Sense system using the GPRS bridge.5V. the same software is running as on the WiFi server. are sent in a multi-hop fashion to the basestation node on the MamaBoard.2 GPRS Bridge General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a mobile. The MamaBoard forms the link between the sensor network and the GPRS system. It is therefore well suited for a range of applications that typically require bulky data transfer that occur in bursts. the SBC and the access point. Local Server The LS in CKPura village acts as an intermediate data storage server and offers local access to the sensor data. 5. The central server periodically dials to the LS (usually once a day). The TC65 module sends the packets over GPRS to the central server. HYBRID NETWORK: DATA TRANSIT SUBSYSTEM 69 from the battery source to three different output voltages (5V. The LS runs a periodic scheduler that fetches the log files stored on the BS. Data packets. A UPS power supply is also deployed to bridge frequent power cuts in the village. The ethernet port of the SBC is connected to the ethernet port of the access point. Each connectivity type is enabled by plugging an appropriate external module to the MamaBoard. the MamaBoard provides a slot for SD memory cards. Airtel offers the broadest coverage of the GSM operators in India and namely has good coverage at the test site in CKPura village.5. packet switched data service available to users of GSM mobile phones. which are generated by the sensor nodes. The data is then available for analysis and consultation over the Internet. The battery is charged from mains during the periods when electricity from the grid is available. it offers a wide variety of connectivity choices. The sensors are represented as a small cluster on the left side of the schema. On the server. WLAN or GPRS.5 depicts the Mamaboard and its components. 5. An external modem and an access point with external 13dBi omnidirectional antenna are connected to the server. 5. GPRS uses network resources and bandwidth only during data transmission. 12V) required for the BS. On the server. This can be used as a storage buffer.5. Examples of such applications are mobile Internet or location-based services. networks are loaded more efficiently if the data stream is very irregular. Packet-switched GPRS operates alongside existing circuit-switched services in mobile networks. The system consists in the sensor network cluster. The MamaBoard is intended to bridge a wireless sensor network to wired ethernet (LAN). We have selected Airtel India as our cellular operator. the Shockfish MamaBoard and the central server. The BSN is connected to the serial port of the SBC. The MamaBoard from Shockfish combines a TinyNode Standard Extension Board (SED) and a cellular GPRS module on a single device. Since GPRS is packet-switched. which allows to gather large . subscribers are charged for the amount of data they transmit and not for the duration of the connection. Furthermore. Fig. It runs a dial-in PPP server over a telephone link.

However. the TC65 comes with an integrated TCP/IP stack. Finally.. before sending them to an adjacent network. simplicity and energy efficiency. Commands issued are transmitted to the network only once the MamaBoard sets up a GPRS connection to the central server. The MamaBoard is the only device required to establish communication from the field to the central server. which caused many problems in the WiFi system. In this way. SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION amounts of data on the MamaBoard. The command link has a large delay. it is possible to execute standard Java applications on the GPRS module. TC65. The BS runs a simplified stack. less laborious and easy to debug. the clusters become completely independent of a power source and could therefore be deployed even in regions which are out of reach of other systems. SIM card 5. Such an architecture already approaches the classical concept of a sensor network which operates in an independent. The TC65 is connected to the MamaBoard via a 80 pin board-to-board connector. the GPRS enabled basestation can even run on battery power for reasonable amounts of time. there is one important drawback of the GPRS system. but were not implemented. energy efficiency and deployment flexibility. 2 . Ideally. AT (for “attention”) commands are the components of the Hayes command set. 4. In networks with many clusters. self-organized manner. TinyNode. The two factors mentioned above. Right now. Other solutions to minimize this delay have been studied.70 CHAPTER 5. The command set consists of a series of short strings which combine together to produce complete commands for operations such as dialing. The LS is no longer necessary.30) per cluster. neither is the dial-up link to the CS. GPRS also introduces an ongoing operating cost. Hence. The Siemens TC65 is the GPRS module that can be mounted on the Mamaboard. open up new possibilities for deployment of the network clusters. Figure 5. GPRS antenna. since it only needs to feed the GPRS module with packets to send. 5. 3.5: Mamaboard equipped with Siemens TC65 wireless module. The system design is simpler than with the WiFi system.(or USD 2. Setting up the network is faster. it also solves the problem of the power cuts. an intermediate aggregation layer could be used to gather data from several clusters on one GPRS Base Station to keep the operating cost low. The SD slot can be accessed both by the TinyNode and the GPRS module. Finally. hanging up. and changing the parameters of the connection (definition from Wikipedia).5. It includes a simplified version of the J2ME (Java 2 Mobile Environment) [24]. SD card slot. 1.3 Performance Evaluation Major advantages of the GPRS bridge are simplicity. 2. a specific command-language for modems. Furthermore. the weekly cost is INR 99. This allows to establish standard Java socket connections to a server by using AT commands2 .

DATA MANAGEMENT AND PROCESSING 71 network coverage at the deployment sites can be a limitation for the GPRS system.6: Database Structure The essential features of the database are the following: 1. Cluster This table is used to store information about clusters. The command is stored as a string. it remains a limiting factor in rural areas.6. value and cluster id.5.6 Data Management and Processing The collected data is logged into a PostGreSQL database. While GPRS services are nowadays widely available in urban areas throughout India. A cluster usually refers to a physical instance of a sensor network. 5.6. its identifier and time parameters. 5. 5. 2. A user can define an experiment. 5. with its associated address. Several deployments can be managed jointly. Login-based access to the application. 4. Data can be retrieved at any time based on the geographical location of the network.6. selecting one or several nodes from different clusters without geographical constraint.1 Tables Log Command and Log Query This table is used to log queries and command messages sent to the network. A cluster is associated with the name of a data table (which are created . Figure 5. 3. Clusters are regrouped by geographical location. whose (simplified) structure is shown in Fig.

such as their associated cluster id. The java front-end is also used to send commands and queries to the network (such as transmission power and radio channels change etc. Data xxxx This table stores the data received from a particular node id over time.72 CHAPTER 5. 5. This is necessary because of the size that an aggregated table would have. is used to send commands to the wireless network and to log data and meta-data into a database. and to issue commands to the corresponding networks. the data can be viewed based on their type in different graphs. especially for interactive display. Cluster Group This table is used to regroup clusters by geographical location. Given the amount of sensor data that is stored into the database (more than 700 per node and per day). There is no integrated data processing at the moment.7: Web application: home page From the home page (Fig. this would make the data access time prohibitive. Experiment This table is to store information about application groups. from which they are extracted for display and processing. to allow an administrator to monitor the state of any cluster. Experiment Node This is a joint table to associate a mote to an application group.7). Mote Info This table is used to store information about motes. Routing Parent This table is used to store parent statistics over time. Secondly.7 A Web-based Tool A proprietary java front-end. Duplicates for data tables and group ids must be looked for. Group ids are unique but reusable. Figure 5. their location. We will see in the chapter about System Assessment why we had to review our ambitions on that side. and may be downloaded as well. 5. either in order to display or to download them for further analysis. and the platform type. Each sensor has its own data table. based on an original design by the sensorscope group [SDFV]. For the moment. SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION dynamically) and a unique group id . Firstly to allow a user to select clusters and obtain the relevant data. one can choose 4 different functionalities: • Displaying environmental data by cluster or experiment . Data table names are unique.) The system contains a web-based interface for the display and upload of data. namely individual experiments conducted on a set or subset of nodes from one or several clusters. This interface has two roles.

8: Web application: network selection page Figure 5. the map is displayed (Fig. The nodes can be selected by a mouse click.9: Web application: display of data From the Environmental Data tab. .7. 5.8). On mouse-over a semi-transparent window allows to display details about the corresponding node. one can select a cluster group.7.5. 2. A WEB-BASED TOOL 73 • Looking at the network statistics • Sending a command to the network • Learning more about the project (about) 5. Once the cluster is selected. then a cluster.1 Data Display Figure 5. The map has several interactive features: 1.



3. On the menu in the right-hand side, one can choose to show the last value for a given type of sensor. 4. Finally, one can open a window allowing to display the graphs. The window used to select the graphs to display (Fig. 5.9) also has dynamic content. Using the righthand menu, the user first needs to select one or several sensors, then a time period, then whether he/she wants all the graphs one one or several images, then whether he/she wants to display graphs or a data table. Then the left panel of the window will display the data accordingly. The graphs can be zoomed by clicking on the corresponding part of the image. It is to be noted that currently this process can be quite slow, depending on the amount of data that you want displayed on screen. The user can also choose to download the corresponding data sets.


Network Statistics

Figure 5.10: Web application: display of routing tree

One can display the connectivity graph and the routing tree (Fig. 5.10) in the following way: 1. First select the cluster group, then the cluster. 2. Display the network graph. 3. Allows to display the network graph for a given time window.



The web interface enables to send commands to the nodes (Fig.5.11). A pop-up window appears with the replies. The authorized user first chooses the type of command and the corresponding parameter (where applicable). Then he chooses the destination node ID. Finally he presses the Submit Query button. A pop-up window appears and a Python application is called within that window. After a few seconds replies from all the nodes (where applicable) are shown in the pop-up window.



Figure 5.11: Web application: command interface



Two nodes were set close to an existing meteorological station. In parallel. A local team provided us support under the supervision of Mr. connected to a GPRS bridge. of the CEDT.1 Changins The Changins deployment took place at the agronomic research station of the same name. was installed on the third floor of the station’s main building.. a test field has been used in Switzerland (at the Changins agronomic station) from 2006 (first tests on Tinynodes) to 2007-2008 (first deployment of a GPRS bridge). This took place on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science. 1217. 1260 77 . 6. Aswath Kumar M. and again in the summer of 2007 (Tinynode) (Fig. in Bangalore. with Mica2 motes.1. and Amar Sahu. 3 nodes were located on a small vine research plot on the south of the building2 . This chapter details the history of these deployments and the lessons learned in the process. 1230 3 1241. A map of this deployment is depicted in Fig. 1221. The success of these various deployments and the support from the local NGO Chennakeshava Trust encouraged us to go for live deployment in Chennakeshavapura in 2006 (Mica2). most of the field work was accomplished by a research team led by Prabhakar T. 6. Two nodes were deployed in a vineyard on the north of the building3 . on the south balcony and was connected to a power plug inside the building (node 1 on the map). Seshagiri Rao.2 shows a view of the fields from the server’s location). A second experiment was conducted in early 2007 with the Tinynode platform.V. The base station of the network. 1245 4 1258. Other nodes were deployed outside. further up the hillock 1 2 1200-1207. Engineers who worked in the village are : Sujay M. Concomitantly.S..Chapter 6 A Wireless Sensor Network Toolkit for Rural India This chapter describes work that was carried out between 2005 and 2008 in partnership with the Centre for Electronic Design and Technologies (CEDT) of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). We proceeded to the first deployment of our system in India in 2005.R. 6. P. 1229. Vinay S. 10 nodes were installed in the orchard and vineyard located to the south-east of the building1 . In particular. and two more in a nearby orchard4 . 1232 1226. 23 nodes were deployed from July 2007 to March 2008. we extended our network deployment in Changins.

1: Changins test-bed (Switzerland) : 25 nodes deployed for a period of 6 months without interruption on the north side of the building5 . The whole area is located on the side of a hillock. and one relay node on a pole north-west from the base station7 . There are trees close to the building and in the orchards. 1263 7 1256 .g. which communicates with 1253 on the north-west side of the test-field. with some temporary topologies going up to 4. 1207 is about 80m away from the base station. and a block of greenhouses on the east side of the main building. This setting allowed us to test the longevity of the batteries in a multi-hop setting. 6. as in our opinion it is linked with the unpredictable nature of the radio channel. 1200-12061263). 6. 1260 1253. We did not investigate this phenomenon in detail.1 by node 1207. We observed consistently three hops connections in this network. we placed two relay nodes on the south and east side of the balcony6 . which communicates with the base station.78 CHAPTER 6. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA 100 meters Figure 6. Nodes located 400m from the base station regularly connected directly to it (node 1242 in Fig. In any realistic setting. Finally. which in turn communicates with 1232 at the southeast side 400m away. A general lesson to be drawn is the unpredictability of the topology. whereas nodes nearby sometimes used intermediate nodes that are possibly further away from the base station than themselves (e.1). phenomena such as multi-path effect or fading are 5 6 1258. An extreme example of this situation is illustrated in Fig.

(note: the bodies of water indicated on the map are dry most of the year).2.11 bridge. Figure 6.6.3. We deployed only one weather station containing temperature. lifetime and connectivity. A second deployment. two probes were deployed at each measurement point (i. The total number of nodes deployed during this period was 18. These deployments are sparse. and 300 meters for the Tinynode stations. We present these results in Sections 6. 6.5). humidity and pressure sensors (Fig.3 and 6. by wireless sensor). The platform used at that time was Mica2. We used the results obtained in Changins to analyze the performance of the system in terms of throughput and lifetime. .4). and the clusters were connected to the central server through a 802.2: CKPura deployment: view of deployment field from the central server roof extremely hard to predict because of the difficulty in building an exact model of the environment. By default. The average distance between the nodes is 150 meters for the Mica2 stations. to assess the performance of the network in terms of range. took place in the summer of 2007.3. CHENNAKESHAVAPURA 79 Figure 6. 10 nodes remained active throughout the deployment period.e.2 Chennakeshavapura The first field deployment in India was carried out in 2006. All the other nodes were equipped solely with ECH2O probes (Fig. It consisted of 7 nodes. and to test and refine the design. from which the network has already collected a wealth of data that were used in three ways: to validate the data collected by the different probes. this time with tinynode hardware.3 details the settings of this deployment consisting of 2 separated clusters. 6. 6. for which we obtained data throughout the whole year.6. at two different depths : 10 cm and 30 cm.

80 CHAPTER 6.3.3: Chennakeshava initial deployment This was done in order to assess the water needs of a plant at two depths of its root zone. the depth of the sensors for a given plot should depend on the type of crop cultivated at this location. a node freeze proved to be a corruption of the flash memory. The Chennakeshavapura deployment is particularly illustrative of the difficulties that remain after technical design and lab testing have given satisfactory results. The experience in live deployment with large leaf canopy cover resulted in unpredictable node ID changes in at least 3 occasions. It is to be noted that for subsequent deployments. We also experienced a complete freezing of nodes in the field deployment at CKpura. . The node ID change is mostly a one or two bit flips in the node ID field structure. 6. The base stations of each cluster were connected to the electrical grid.1 Issues of a Rural Deployment Hardware Issues Memory corruption of motes contributes to the overall unreliability of the system.3 6. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. Although the node ID may be brought back to its original value by a software reboot of the running code. and also contained a rechargeable battery to cope with power cuts (Fig. 6. We suspect high package temperatures to be the cause for the flash corruption seen in the field deployment.6).

provoked a sharp increase in soil moisture.7. Rain falls of late May. important rain falls of late August only stabilized the soil moisture at a high value. A similar phenomenon can be observed in mid-July and on September 30th. which uses the same Sensirion SHT11 probe (see Fig.4: CKPura deployment: typical node in weather-proof package. 6.6. .9). the results for temperature are an exact match.2 ECH2O We validated the soil moisture readings indirectly by superposing them with rainfall data (Fig.2. when the soil water content is low. The same result holds for humidity.1 Probe Assessment Climatic Probes The results obtained from the sensor network deployed at CEDT were compared to benchmark measurements from the Center of Atmospheric and Oceanic studies (CAOS) from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. the trend clearly matches. On the other hand.3.3.3. 6. As shown in Figure 6.2. 6. since the water content at that time was probably close to field capacity (around 25%). in order to see if the trend matched. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 81 Figure 6.8).3.2 6. powered by two AA batteries 6. As one can see.

The results obtained during these tests are summarized in Table 6. pressure and humidity micro-station However. The ECH2O probes’ measurements were then compared with punctual gravimetric measurements. the authors’ conclusion (as can be found . Instead. Two more samples of sand were added to the lot.in French . the measurements appeared to be noisier than hoped.in [Rou08]) was the following: “The performed measures led to a result which is overall less satisfactory than the benchmark provided by the manufacturer. The details of the methodology can be found in [Rou08]. This proved to reduce significantly the effect of noise. Based on these data.2 for a soil specific calibration based on the gravimetric method. although they remain in the 5 % range specified in the ECH2O user manual. precise amounts of water were added to the pots. where soil moisture probes were inserted. and in Table 6. when we moved to the Tinynode platform. while not compromising on the accuracy.5: CKPura deployment: Temperature.82 CHAPTER 6. we designed in collaboration with Shockfish a new data acquisition board filtering out high frequency signal variations. 6 samples of soils were gathered from the Changins test-site at different locations. The laboratory of Hydrologogy at EPFL (HYDRAM) assessed the use of ECH2O probes through a wireless sensor. while evaporation was prevented with the use of aluminum sheets. These samples were fully dried and put into pots. During two months. This problem can be solved by averaging over a larger number of samples (which is what is done a traditional data logger). as shown in the next paragraphs. The observed drift between the expected precision and the experimental . In order to do so.1 for a probe’s default calibration as provided by the manufacturer. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. but this increases the power consumption and decrease the lifetime significantly.

It needs to be put into its context of use. the volumetric water content of the soil is independent of soil physics.3. As a matter of fact.1057 Changins 6 0.0604 0.0378 0.1: ECH2O and Data Acquisition Board Assessment over Wireless: Precision of measurement with default calibration results.6.2030 Changins 5 0. the capacity of a plant’s .0280 0. An extended experiment. there are some concerns about the usability of the measurement method itself in the context of agriculture.) The zone of influence. According to the manufacturer’s documentation.6: CKPura deployment: base station box containing linux box for 802.3. However.0574 0.0620 0.0456 0.0362 0.0158 0.0518 0.3 Watermark Although our experience with the ECH2O probes is so far satisfactory.e. as well as trials on various soil volumes and structures should be considered (. As a consequence..0938 Average Sigma Maximum Table 6.0666 0.” 6. they can be considered to be acceptable depending on the intended use of the probes. plays an important role for soil moisture probes in general.11 connectivity. this zone covers a width of 2cm along the probe. “The ECH2O probe that was tested in our framework seems to have a particularly interesting future.0274 0.2050 Changins 4 0. this tool must not be seen as a precision tool targeted at laboratory research.0679 0. wireless sensor and battery Changins 1 0. The remaining uncertainty linked with the homogeneity of the nonmanipulated soil emphasizes the importance of this zone.1069 Sand 1 0.. i.1038 Sand 2 0. As a matter of fact. however. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 83 Figure 6.0259 0.. (. remain small and localized.).2.0993 Changins 3 0.0197 0.1313 Changins 2 0..0470 0. but as a field-tool intended for long-term outdoor measures. and in particular for our experiment.0565 0. the volume of the soil representative of the measured water content.

Being presented to the participants via the Web application de- .0842 Changins 2 0.0242 0.0254 0. The probe manufacturer is not keen on disclosing its technical sheet.3. The interfacing of such probes is a problem.0245 0. the SMX [Sys].0159 0.0413 0.0197 0.4 Field Data The data that were collected on the test-bed at Chennakeshavapura (Figs. With this method.0344 0. This means that with ECH2O probes. however.0159 0.2. 6.0995 Average Sigma Maximum Table 6.1218 Changins 3 0. because it interfaces the probes with data loggers itself. These inexpensive probes use a resistor embedded into a semi-porous material that mimics the action of the root itself.0233 0.0357 0.0176 0. however.0976 Changins 5 0. There exist.7: Temperature: Performance of SHT11 Changins 1 0.0969 Changins 6 0.0326 0.0164 0. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. that translates the resistance into a voltage that can be used with an appropriate table of values.0377 0.84 CHAPTER 6. CEDT is currently performing tests on the watermark probe and its usage with the COMMON-Sense Net data acquisition board. a proper soil calibration might be needed in order to get relevant information for agriculture. Watermark probes are an example. the result obtained is independent of the soil type.10 and ??) were used in the user experiment described in Chapter 8. There exists a chip on the market. probes that assess the suction potential directly.2: ECH2O and Data Acquisition Board Assessment over Wireless: Precision of measurement with soil-specific calibration roots to draw water is conditioned by the soil composition.0926 Sand 1 0.0367 0. 6.0970 Sand 2 0.1453 Changins 4 0.0310 0.

Fig. 6.3 Power Management Power management issues are a critical aspect of wireless sensor network deployments. an explanation of the two protocols’ underlying principles is useful. 2008. In our initial tests with B-MAC [PHC04] and mica2 motes. with only a slight degradation in the average voltage. It is impossible to extrapolate the node’s lifetime with this graph. we found that the lifetime of nodes in the field was on average no more than one month. we will have to perform further experiments in a controlled environment with the help of agricultural scientists to put these data to a concrete use. There. However. 2007 to February 19th. we moved to a new MAC protocol known as Dozer [BvRW07] when we changed the platform.3. To the exception of 3 nodes. The results obtained with Dozer in our field deployment in Switzerland were very encouraging. they were used for the definition of use cases and for a general reflection on the role and capabilities of environmental monitoring via Wireless Sensor Networks. At this time. As a consequence. However. At this point. The lower limit for proper operation of the system is 2.8V. This protocol held promises for improvement.6.3.12 displays this evolution from August 19th. the processing of these data for the purpose of rain-fed farming is beyond the scope of this dissertation. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 85 Figure 6. because it uses nodes’ synchronization to improve power efficiency. 6. the results obtained in CKPura were very different.8: Humidity: Performance of SHT11 scribed in the previous chapter. After 7 months of deployment with a data period of 2 minutes for each node all the nodes were still alive. However. which started malfunctioning in February. an average lifetime of two . the nodes stock of energy remained remarkably stable. the theoretical lifetime of several years is credible at this time. even with the lowest obtainable duty cycle of 1%. because the operation of a lithium battery is known to be non-linear.

4 Environment This aspect is especially critical for the packaging issues. Such a model is quite unusual in environment monitoring. this means that: 1. Another possibility is the role played by particularly challenging conditions. First comes the issue of temperature. microcontrollers and radio devices should work predictably in these conditions.9: Soil moisture: Correlation of ECH2O with rain fall weeks was observed in preliminary tests. we explain why we chose to develop self-contained light-weight stations comprising only soil moisture probes. The sensors should be self-contained in a box that can be fixed to existing infrastructure or on simple poles planted wherever needed. In this subsection. In the semi-arid region the ambient temperature can go over 37°C. To summarize. while in Changins nodes are at most 100m form their nearest neighbor. Then comes the issue of intrusiveness. Semiconductor memories. where people usually try to integrate as many probes as possible into a single station. until the boxes used in Changins can be used in CKPura. The number of probes used within a single sensor should be kept minimal . exchange of resynchronization packets and undue active-radio time. Packaged electronic systems can experience even higher levels.86 CHAPTER 6. 6. Indeed. so as not to interfere with the normal operation in the field. which might cause frequent losses of synchronization and increase the nodes’ power consumption significantly. A software problem is one possible explanation. The hardware must be minimally invasive. It is not practical to deploy bulky weather stations throughout the cropping fields. Failed links might indeed cause numerous retransmissions. the distance between the nodes is in average 200-300m in CKPura. should some application parameters differ in one implementation and the other. in particular distance between nodes. CEDT is currently performing tests on these eventualities. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6.3.

3.6. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 87 Figure 6.10: Data collected by soil moisture sensors at 15 cm below surface in Chennakeshavapura between September 2006 and February 2007 .

A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. Switzerland .12: Evolution of voltage over time for a 25 nodes network deployed in Changins.11: Data collected by soil moisture sensors at 30 cm below surface in Chennakeshavapura between September 2006 and February 2007 Measurements for Voltage [mV] Figure 6.88 CHAPTER 6.

6V lithium battery. The boxes and hardware must withstand high temperatures and heavy rain. as was indicated by the local NGO we work with in the field [Rao05]. we decided to move to a solar powered solution. In 2007. 6. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 89 2. metallic infrastructure and heavy traffic. GPRS has a further advantage. but as we experienced problems with power cuts. as they have their own generator. We adapted to the box a pressure equalizer plug (compatible with the norm IP67). because GSM base stations are not affected by power cuts.13). Then. We plan to reuse their design in upcoming releases of the system.5 Power and Telecommunications Infrastructure In rural India. As for us. We face an essential tradeoff here: the need to look for packaging that lives up to the standards of environment monitoring. 6. while the coverage in rural India is progressing steadily [CTT06]. Sometimes.6. These components are listed in Sec. we initially connected our base stations to the regular power grid.3. But this picture needs to be nuanced. which grows consistently throughout the cropping season. a deployment in a rural region does not have to take into account the same amount of interferences that can be observed in an urban environment. several companies had started to operate in the area. often happening every day and lasting for hours. meaning total protection against dust and protection against strong jets of water. There was no GSM base station close to the Chennakeshavapura village when we proceeded to our initial deployment in 2005. This design has a decisive advantage in that it does not impair sensing and is easy to deploy. expected to drop even more in the years to come. This brings the question of cellular coverage in the deployment area. One essential argument in favor of WSNs is their low price. there is little other alternative than to deploy an intermediate node as a bridge. as it requires installing a special infrastructure. As we focus mostly on soil moisture data (see previous chapter). That means the connectivity will tend to degrade as time passes. Having to cope with a sparse network does not help either.3. Moreover. In our project.5. 3. The radio channel can be expected to be more predictable in the absence of tall buildings. we chose the enclosures and accessories provided by FIBOX [FIB]. in order to prevent condensation of water. the operation of auxiliary generators is not enough to cope with extended power outage. We powered each box with a 3. there is the issue of vegetation. Terrain in marginal farmer’s land can have undulations. Sensorscope [SDF] designed a GPRS-compatible station powered by a solar cell. such panels are prone to theft. In this case. The price of GPRS data has dropped sharply. 6.6 Connectivity Issues On the bright side. where power is more reliable. Hence a challenge in choosing and adapting off-theshelf boxes so that they withstand temperatures and precipitation strains. power cuts are frequent. making Line-of-Sight (LOS) connectivity difficult. and send the data directly to a server located in a urban area. enough to ensure a 6 months lifetime according to our tests in Changins. The use of solar panels is not an option. while remaining cheap. The design for deployment should consider intermittent power as a major issue. Two membrane cable glands allow for the connection of the cables to the probe wires.3. This is important when one considers the cluster heads that contain Wi-Fi or GPRS equipment (see Fig. via a rechargeable battery. 6. . we can bypass a local server that would suffer from the power outages as well. we opted for a self-powered lightweight design with an enclosure providing a protection index IP67 [IP]. When two nodes get disconnected.

This deployment represents the most extended data set we have to date with the Dozer protocol (see Section 5. At this point. it is possible to make the following observations.4. by 24 hours increments. As the nodes report data every two minutes continuously. losses happen continuously in the network. in small clusters separated by distances from 100m to 400m.13: CKPura deployment: base station with WiFi bridge We made an in-depth analysis of connectivity from the deployment we made in Changins between August 2007 and February 2008. the density of the network is higher in this area. and the average PDR stagnates around 55 to 60 %. and nodes are also closer to the base station. We do the same for the south nodes in Fig.6.90 CHAPTER 6. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. the most likely cause is recurring losses of synchronization at the MAC layer (Dozer). These nodes are positioned on the upper side of the hillock.1. Apart from the network disruption that is observable from October 7 to October 17.16. Throughput figures in Changins are mixed. we show in Fig. we analyzed the evolution of the Packet Delivery Ratio (PDR. This connectivity study was based on effective throughput figures obtained throughout the period. disconnected nodes always recover and manage to send messages at least every few hours.15 the connectivity figures for the nodes located on the north side of the base station. 6. As the network’s topology is heterogenous.14 shows the evolution of normalized throughput over time. 6.2). As one can see in Fig. Fig. which we also call normalized throughput) over time. which force the nodes to go over the synchronization and schedule establishment procedure over and over again. 6. On the other hand. On one hand. one can observe that the . Although connectivity figures are still mixed.

February 2008 (all nodes) Figure 6.14: Throughput in Changins.3. ISSUES OF A RURAL DEPLOYMENT 91 Figure 6. September 2007 .February 2008 (south nodes) . September 2007 .6.15: Throughput in Changins.February 2008 (north nodes) Figure 6.16: Throughput in Changins. September 2007 .

Based on these observations.19.17 and 6. 6. 6.18: Throughput in Changins. The average PDR.92 CHAPTER 6.17: Throughput in Changins. the only abnomaly being the occasional raise of connectivity at 3 hops over the connectivity at 2 hops when the latter drops below 50%. The network is robust. Not surprisingly. nodes at two hops (∼ 50%) and nodes at three hops (∼ 25%). The influence of the vegetation and of the network density is hence perceptible in the connectivity graphs. This becomes apparent if we zoom to a period of one month. as is done in Figs.18. We did not display the 4-hop links because they mostly happen in a transient fashion. This is consistent with a cumulative packet error rate over successive links. some of the weakest 2-hop links being replaced by 3-hop links at this point in time. This can be explained by a change of topology. and deliver packets consistently during this period. This figure shows a clear decrease in PDR for nodes directly connected to the base station (∼ 75%). however. throughput figures are also highly correlated with the distance of a node towards the base station. 2. as illustrated by Fig. in the sense it is able to function over a period of at least 6 months unattended. we reached the following conclusions 1. December 2007 (south nodes) south region displays a better behavior. is low. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA Figure 6. which can have several causes: . December 2007 (north nodes) Figure 6.

Finally. has to be intuitive and must not require a priori knowledge of networking. Informal interviews with some marginal farmers indicated that they are not interested in any project that does not bring them rains. we observed an initial distrust of the population towards the technology and the presence of scientists in the field. a road to the village. Moreover. evapotranspiration. a perennial bore well. the current uncertainty about the benefit to cost ratio of the technology did not encourage active collaboration.6. CEDT reassessed the situation in an internal project document[Jam]. (c) Additive effect on the multi-hop links. In 2007. if it is to be put in the hands of a non-specialist user. 6.4. December 2007 (a) Synchronization issues at the MAC layer. etc. A second obstacle was the difficulty in translating the scientific terminology of environmental science (soil moisture. or cash (as loans for example) and subsidies. . Unfortunately.) into the language of the field. to report regularly on field conditions and to give feedback on the added value brought by the technology. The general lessons to be drawn from the connectivity issues that we faced in the field is the pressing need of an appropriate deployment and maintenance support tool that helps with the deployment of a wireless sensor network. HUMAN ISSUES 93 Figure 6. such a tool.4 Human Issues In order to achieve the successful implementation of the uses cases described in Chapter 4. Informal discussions with local stake-holders indicated that the population of small farmers has an experience of being systematically left behind in the innovation process. the collaboration of the farmers was required to protect the hardware.19: Throughput per number of hops in Changins. (b) Sparseness of the network.

Hybrid Network Bridge: GPRS transmitter over shockfish mama-board [tin].20) with interfaces for two ECH2O and two Watermark sensors. However. There is a minority of individuals who recognize the commitment of scientists to improve farming conditions through this project. we experienced theft of hardware. Although such events could not be traced with certainty to the local population. Farmers tend to have confidence in Mr.ch . Farmers were asked to think about a very specific question. and a battery casing for one Lithium 3. the Chennakeshava Trust eventually concluded to the necessity of locking the hardware in protected chambers in order to prevent more stealing. 2.6V battery. with proprietary MAC plus Routing protocol Dozer by Shockfish (instructions on how to use it are available with the code). the results of the survey on information needs [RGK+ 04] were not deemed invalid. their importance was exaggerated in the survey because they were the ones more willing to participate actively to the survey 3. 6.x. because he is one of them On three occasions. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA In this assessment. Data Acquisition Board: Custom design (schematics in Fig. but considered in the light of the circumstances: 1. Sheshagiri Rao (our “hybrid”). and also conflicts with the flexibility required of a light-weight system. Currently powered by the electrical grid. Operating System: tinyOS-2. This clearly contradicts the initial goal of using a participatory approach.epfl. Wireless Sensing Platform: Tinynode [tin] by Shockfish with Linx quarter-wave antennas soldered on the board [Tec]. Probes: • temperature/humidity: Sensirion SHT15 • soil moisture: ECH2O [ECH] • soil hydric pressure: Watermark [Irra] Enclosure: FIBOX [FIB] • Boxes: PC 150/50 LG • 2 x PG 16 cable glands • 1 x MB 10894 pressure equalizer plug • Cables going in the soil need to be protected up to 1 meter above the ground Server side: • Web server Apache2 • PostGresql database • Java servlet and python scripts The full application code is available at http://commonsense. which might bear limited relevance in the face of more immediate problems.94 CHAPTER 6. necessitating Siemens TC65 GPRS card [Sie]. with useful links to manufacturers whenever appropriate.5 System Overview We provide in this section a summary of the components that we used in our toolkit. 6. in particular the threat of bankruptcy.

5.4 P6.32v V_ECHO2 ECHO2_EN B 4 3 2 1 100 D6 C19 2.Probe 2 Action Button VCC GND S2 R8 R32 0 nRST R31 nACTION 10k GND C18 100nF K6 0.0 Shockfish SA D Sheet 1 of 1 Drawn By: Roger Meier 4 1 2 95 .1 P5.20: Data Acquisition Board Schematics D9 1 2 3 4 GND VCC TRIGGER DIS OUTPUT THRES RESET V_CTRL R7 100 R11 47k C8 4.2-1v V_WATERM2 Title CommonSense Size A4 Date: File: 22/01/2007 \\. SYSTEM OVERVIEW 0.2 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 ECHO soil moisture .3 E_EVREF P6.schdoc 3 Number (C) 2006 Revision V1.2 P5.2 P1.4 P4.2 P1.5 P6.3 P6.32v V_ECHO1 ECHO1_EN EVREF_EN nACTION LED_GREEN LED_YELLOW 100 D7 C30 2.6 P6.1 ECHO1_EN ECHO2_EN WATERM1_EN WATERM2_EN Header P2.33-1.7 P6.5v GND 100nF 1.5 P6.5% GND GND Audio Jack B Watermark .3 P1.3 P2.7uF GND R40 DNF 0 VReg VCC C10 R21 4.3 P2.7uF R5 150k C6 R20 4.4 P6.7uF GND GND R1 E_EVREF GND C29 4 3 2 1 Audio Jack 100nF K7 A A VCC VReg GND nRST 6.Probe 1 ADC Voltage Reference EVREF_EN 1k R9 D5 2.4 P4.Probe 1 C9 K4 U4 WATERM1_EN BAT1 R10 100 R17 47k C17 4.0 P5.0 P5.\CommonSense.6 P6.7uF 390 1 2 3 4 GND VCC TRIGGER DIS OUTPUT THRES RESET V_CTRL 8 7 6 5 C V_WATERM1 GND R4 1k C31 100nF 0.0 P4.5% GND GND V_ECHO2 V_ECHO1 V_WATERM2 V_WATERM1 URXD1 UTXD1 P1.5v GND 100nF 1.3 P1.7uF 8 7 6 5 GND K2 1 2 4.7 P6.1 P5.5% C4 4.3 P6.2-1v C Watermark .2 P1.33-1.6 P2.6 P2.5v 1.Probe 2 C5 LEDs LED_GREEN U3 WATERM2_EN LMC555 R28 220 LED_YELLOW R29 330 D8 Figure 6.7uF R6 150k Power R33 C36 4700uF GND C34 33pF C20 100nF C33 4.2 P5..3 E_EVREF P6.7uF 390 D GND R3 1k C22 100nF 0.7uF LiSo2 LMC555 1 2 4.1 P1.0 P4.2 P5.1 P5.1 2 3 4 K12 ECHO soil moisture .

managing the technology in a controlled environment with the participation of committed users can lead to rapid results. Closer study of irrigation practices also showed that farmers practice submersion irrigation. Currently. Fluctuations of the radio channel caused by the growth of vegetation during the cropping season had a severe impact on the network connectivity. provided we can ensure a spill-over effect to the farming population. This prevented us from establishing convincing contacts with the marginal farmers. How we developed a user friendly original deployment and maintenance support tool. Experiments conducted in controlled environments will be necessary if we are to prove the profitability of drip irrigation to marginal farmers. Both the difficulty in tracing the technical problems and the impossibility to create a partnership with farmers represented serious obstacles. is the difficulty of implementing and testing convincingly our use cases in the field. . Because of several drought occurrences in recent years. which is difficult to achieve in a rural setting. meaning that we started to collect reliable data only in 2007. and how we verified the appropriateness of this new approach (Chapter 8). the promise of ubiquitous computing will have to wait for maturation of both the technology and the users before being fulfilled. Such practice would receive little benefit from the use of wireless sensors. community tanks have displayed a low recharge level since the project started. as we already identified in Chapter 4. Instead.6 Lessons Learned Deploying a sparse network in a remote and uncontrolled environment raised critical deployment issues. we explain 1. The main lesson to be learned from this deployment. designed to be used by non-network specialists (Chapter 7) 2. To diagnose such problems and other software or hardware failures would require a constant presence of communication engineers on the deployment site. stabilizing the system software and hardware took longer than expected. A WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK TOOLKIT FOR RURAL INDIA 6. This called for a change of paradigm: in our experience. The volume of collected data is not yet important enough to draw conclusions on the themes identified in Chapter 4. which consists in flooding the field at early stages in the cropping season. Firstly. Why we decided to focus on scientists working on applied research for rain-fed agriculture.96 CHAPTER 6. however. Another reason for the inability to implement use cases yet was the particular situation of communitybased irrigation. In the next chapters. marginal farmers consider drip-irrigation as too costly a practice. as their attitude towards scientists is one of disbelief unless proven otherwise.

Accordingly. In particular. in an environment characterized by dense vegetation. etc. diagnosing the status of each node is not trivial in the absence of any embedded display. the reader should keep in mind that a context such as a developing country. Once the nodes are deployed. In this chapter. in particular how it allows to overcome the inherent limitations of visual interfaces. One major issue in determining nodes’ placement is the connectivity between them and its evolution over time. a light-weight deployment and maintenance support tool for wireless sensor networks. which is the first reported attempt to put a multi-hop wireless sensor network deployment in the hands of non-specialists. where a large part of the population has still limited computer literacy. we extend our focus to any data collection wireless sensor network. In particular. However. Some health status can be assessed directly from the server. we present Sensor-Tune.) 97 . [RBE+ 06]. This tool is based on an auditory user interface using sonification. this requires the intervention of networking specialists. In particular the influence of the environment on network connectivity is often difficult to diagnose due to the limited display capabilities of wireless sensor nodes. Sonification refers to the use of audio signals (mostly non-speech) to convey information. but if nodes stop responding. We then justify our design choices. and describe a user experiment that we conducted in early 2008. We claim that the tool that we developed can be used in a variety of deployments. We explore the potential of this approach. would particularly benefit from such an approach. we draw on lessons learned from our deployment in Chennkeshavapura (see Chapter 6). 7. These difficulties are exacerbated when the network topology is sparse (for instance WSNs for agriculture). specialists are not always available in the field.Chapter 7 Making the Invisible Audible In this chapter. it can be difficult to trace down the origin of the failure.1 Introduction It is an experience commonly reported in the literature that deploying a wireless sensor network can be a cumbersome and labor-intensive task [RYR06]. partial line-of-sight and low network density. deploying sensors requires precisely analyzing the connectivity between nodes while they are being installed. Finally. Currently. Deploying a sparse wireless sensor network is not an easy task. [SWC+ 07]. or when the environment is particulary challenging for the radio channel (indoor environment with metallic walls or pipes. we present the prototype that we built. and present typical WSN applications where sonification can be particularly useful. We realized that maintaining the network in operational state was a challenging task for the local staff.

If WSNs are to become as ubiquitous as foreseen by many analysts. an important issue is the ability of untrained users to deploy a WSN effectively by assessing connectivity and placing nodes appropriately. the tools at disposal are ill adapted. especially on sunny days. we present a survey on sonification validating our design choices. In Section 7. we summarize the contributions of this work and draw guidelines for future extensions. Selavo et al. the deployment-support tools that have been developed so far (see Section 7. deploying a WSN remains a task requiring a high level of expertise.3. . It is also to be noted that the necessity to actively look at a signal or a screen is an important distraction from the work to be accomplished. in particular connectivity. the only available feedback to the users is through a series of LEDs. showing the impact of our design choice through the analysis of users performance on a network deployment task. Or it can use more complex network monitoring systems. First. Results from a field experiment are presented and discussed in Section 7. we explain in detail the scenarios and system design. scalability and users’ acceptance of the technology [BCL04].98 CHAPTER 7. In particular. It can use ad-hoc nodes blinking their LEDs in order to assess one-to-one connectivity.6. We present the implementation of our prototype in Section 7. In Section 7. our experience indicates that traditional displays are usually not convenient during a workintensive deployment task. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE In the current state of affairs. Usually. The contribution of this chapter is three-fold. Finally. This experiment represents the first reported attempt to put a wireless sensor network deployment in the hands of non-specialists. it will be necessary to develop intuitive interfaces for this technology. we present the design and implementation of Sensor-Tune (see Fig. Indeed. To the best of our knowledge. a light-weight deployment and monitoring tool based on sonification. Currently. The wireless sensors themselves lack a proper interface to convey precious information back to the user. to the extra cost of relying on extra infrastructure or software services.7. the options left to a deployment team are few. developed a portable graphical display for deployment time validation [SWC+ 07].4. it should not require any special expertise to be interpreted by the person in charge for the deployment. both in deployment support systems and in sonification.8. and constantly observing the LEDs indicating metrics such as Packet Error Rate (PER). we begin by presenting the state of the art. it is the first tangible example of a sonification-based solution to WSN problems. To this day. discussing advantages and challenges of this approach. Third. A more sophisticated graphic display would not be practical in most cases. Because deployments can take place in challenging environments. it should not require the installation of an extra infrastructure. it should provide information that is easy to read in all circumstances.2) require advanced computer skills and knowledge in networking. In Section 7. as it would consume too much energy to be adapted to a resource-constrained device such as a wireless sensor. we report on the field evaluation of our tool. we explain how we used sonification and justify the choices we made in order to make the sound feedback as intuitive as possible. the system should interfere minimally with the task to be carried out. In particular. The rest of this chapter is structured as follows: in the next Section.5. Second. The staff can work blindly in a long and painful trial-and-error process. With this in mind. Designing such a tool for the average user is challenging. Such a measure involves moving around two nodes that run a Ping-Pong application. while providing expert users with extended information about the network. a light-weight tool that makes it easy to assess the quality of the radio channel while performing the necessary deployment tasks is still lacking. 7. A deployment and maintenance support tool for wireless sensor networks should satisfy a basic set of requirements. portable devices generally use LCD displays that are difficult to read outdoors. In this context. while end-user installation is crucial for cost reduction. we introduce the application of sonification (the use of non-verbal audio signals to convey information) to wireless sensor networks.1). However. First of all. In Section 7.

In all these cases. [SWC+ 07] recognize what they call the deployment time validation (DTV) as an “indispensable part of fielding a real system”.. amplitude. issue a command to turn on a LED. as well as a list of resources can be found in [KWB+ 97. based on a simple communication protocol between a master node and a deployed network.2. A presentation of sonification. called SeeMote. In contrast. spectral features. because we only want to have a snapshot of the node’s state and of its connectivity with the rest of the network.7. [RYR06] propose an in-field inspection tool on a compact device that not only simplifies the process of collecting information about the nodes state but also enables the actual users of the WSN to perform routine checks such as displaying the network topology. This approach supposes to deploy a second network in parallel with the monitored network. As mentioned earlier. the telephone bell. As such. they designed a deployment-support network (DSN) that superposes itself onto the network to be monitored. In most of sonification systems. the perturbation of the normal traffic is limited both in time and in intensity. or uploading new firmware versions. early examples include alarms.and bi-directional connectivity can be assessed in this way. named SeeDTV. a traditional way to assess the connectivity between two points is to use a ping-pong application that requires two wireless mobile nodes communicating with each other. The interference caused to the network by the exchange of messages with the PDA is tolerable.g. In the area of deployment-support tools. crossing of thresholds – are used to control parameters of a sound synthesis process (such as pitch.both features and synthesis parameters and their relationship is known as mapping strategy. Ringwald et al. MMea03. people with a music background) [PH06a] or experts in the domain of application [GC00. the Geiger counter and medical instrumentation [KWB+ 97]. They developed a deployment time validation approach. Therefore mapping strategies generally leverage on users’ advanced knowledge or ability to detect sound qualities in order to provide a rich output that displays . In the same vein. The choice of these parameters . we contend that sound is better suited to deployment tasks. its usefulness.2.. or to reset the node. QMK+ 07]. over the last decade this field has drawn increasing attention. A concrete example is the TASK project [BGH+ 05]. Ringwald and R¨ mer emphasize the necessity to passively o inspect the network in order not to disturb it nor modify its state [RR07]. communicating with it on a back-channel. our approach is resolutely light-weight. However.2. and an in-situ user interface device. the feedback given to the user is visual. approaches and issues. Consequently. mainly because of the growing amount of scientific data to display and the improved technology capabilities to process audio. The feedback is given to the user through a small screen adaptable to a mote.). The TASK field tool provides the ability to ping a single node. 7. The use of sound to display information is not new.1 State of the Art WSN deployment and Maintenance Support In wireless sensor networking. BK99]. The idea of using a PDA for field-inspections was mentioned before in several publications. and it requires the extra-nodes to have dual radios. Sonification research has often investigated applications targeted at expert users: either users expert in the acoustic domain (e. selected features of the data display – such as power onsets. timbre.2 Sonification Sonification refers to the use of audio signals (mostly non-speech) to convey information. Uni. not sound-based. Similarly.2 7. the challenge being to provide intuitive feedback in this form. Selavo et al. STATE OF THE ART 99 7.

2.3).[QMK+ 07] focus on intrusion detection and denial-of-service attacks.3 Sonification for Sensor Networks In this section we outline the advantages that sonification can bring to the field of sensor network deployment and management. which is what guided us when designing our audio interface (see Subsection 7.100 CHAPTER 7.rather than non-experts. and not at random. no usability experiments are reported for any of these systems. The Peep [GC00] and NeMoS [MMea03] systems provide a framework for associating different network traffic conditions and events to the generation of sound. Their experiment considered the placement of sensors in the environment from the perspective of the sensor operation (proximity of the phenomenon to monitor). however. Later in the chapter. We also identify a number of challenges that need to be considered. Different projects investigate the application of sonification to the monitoring of computer networks. in order to understand how people will “encounter and understand these spaces. so it favors simplicity at the expense of multidimensional display. still make sense in our context. and of providing value for partial installations. Beckmann et al.network administrators . Based on the results of their study. they proposed five design principles to support this task. 7. Some of the derived principles. however. although in a different sense than meant by Beckmann et al. unlike our present work. in particular the benefits of detecting incorrect installation of sensors. We also suppose that the nodes are installed manually. Williams et al. and how they will interact with each other through the augmented capabilities of such spaces”. loudness. All of them differ from what we propose in the present chapter in that they are targeted at advanced users .1 Applications The precise description of the system model that we use is provided in Section 7.3 WSNs and their End-Users User studies are still a rarity in the field of wireless sensor networks. In this context. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE multiple data dimensions and at the same time associates each of them to different audio synthesis parameters such as pitch. Moreover.3. The authors also emphasize how important it is to “make appropriate use of user conceptual models for familiar technologies”. while Qi et al. As discussed below. let us only mention that we consider a self-organized multi-hop data collection network where nodes send packets to one or several base stations (sinks) either periodically or as responses to local events. For the time being. [WKD05] ran a user experiment about the impact that augmented objects (such as sensor-equipped appliances) will have on the perception people have of their surrounding space. The feedback provided was not intended to improve user performance with the system. our approach is targeted at non-expert users. duration and timbre. They equipped toys with sensors generating sounds. we will discuss how we specifically addressed some of these in the design and development of our deployment-support tool.4. The authors of the study used an auditory interface. 7. [BCL04] explored end-user installations of sensors for domestic use. but did not consider communication issues. 7. they were not interested in the specificities of sound as a helper for WSN deployments. compared to the use of graphic displays. we want to design a deployment and maintenance support tool for wireless sensor networks that allows primarily for the monitoring of the connectivity of a node with the rest of the .

and on the general topology of the network. This depends on the quality of the radio channel between the monitored node and its neighbors. In a multi-hop data collection network.are important features of the network.such as jamming or malicious modification of the routing topology . There are also other possible use cases for an in-field inspection system using sonification. network. A second application is to report on a node’s activity after it has been deployed. Nodes’ maintenance may also require physical proximity because of the wireless sensors’ limited radio range. we are building a general case for sonification in the context of WSNs. The use of auditory displays can be highly advantageous in these situations. one wants to be able to interrogate the nodes individually about their recent packet-delivery-rate history in order to assess their connectivity status.3. it is important to get immediate feedback while nodes are being installed. to verify the proper functioning of the probes attached to a single node. and queries its immediate neighbors for connectivity information. Nevertheless. or to install efficiently relaying nodes if needed. In the deployment case. one can move nodes in order to find a better radio channel whenever possible. In this way. A sound feedback would allow to check the responsiveness of a given probe. both in terms of sensing ability and radio coverage. a sound feedback can inform a maintenance person present in the vicinity of a potential problem. if security becomes an issue. Also. Since the radio channel can vary considerably due to the presence of natural obstacles or interferences with other systems. which may be particularly demanding in areas that are not easily accessible.1: Sensor-Tune system: The monitored node has a wireless connection with the field manager. A first application is to inform the user about the appropriateness of nodes’ locations during deployment. Both the quality of the local link. A precise description of the first two use cases will be provided in Section 7. Navigation is primarily a visual task. For instance. we focus in this chapter on the two first use cases. the detection and localization of possible attacks .2 Advantages The deployment and monitoring of WSNs normally requires users to physically navigate in the environment. it can be difficult to identify the points of failure when some nodes start reporting erratically or stop transmitting altogether.4. and the distance to the sink are taken into account.3. In this case. because it frees completely the users’ visual resources. Here again. SONIFICATION FOR SENSOR NETWORKS 101 Next hop node (Slave) Next hop node (Slave) Serial cable Monitored node (Master) Next hop node (Slave) Wireless monitor PDA Next hop node (Slave) Headphone Figure 7.7. For the moment. it is necessary to place the nodes in suitable locations. 7. eliminating the need to .

namely the attempt to identify and classify it [IH06]. it has been shown that medical students. For instance. where WSNs are often deployed [MPS+ 02]. This can give a certain level of intuitive understanding of specialized data sets to non-specialists. performed better when these parameters were represented as sounds rather than graphs [FK94]. In particular the design of the mapping strategy has to take into account: • Prolonged use: deployment and monitoring sessions can span from a few minutes to several hours. From the hardware and physical construction standpoint.3. This visual attention switch is known to be a frequent cause of distraction. considering that the most common portable graphic displays are hand-held. From the ergonomics point of view. In a system using sonification for extended periods of time. the power consumption is also reduced. Shortly after comes the perception of the sound. For example it has been shown [PH06b] how in the context of physiotherapy it can be helpful to create real-time sonifications corresponding to the patients’ movements and to let them compare the sounds that they produce to the target sound of a healthy person. Graphic screens also tend to be more fragile than their audio counterparts. such as loudspeaker or headphones. 7. and the same is true for the rendering and display driver systems. both from experts [PH06a] and non-experts. visual displays are often problematic for outdoor usage. the contrast provided by common LCD screens is often insufficient. Experiments with auditory display of scientific data [MF95] tend to confirm “the effectiveness of auditory display in conveying information and complex structures”. The interpretation of sound by a user can be decomposed into two parts. Audio displays are available at a fraction of the cost of the visual counterparts. with the design of evaluation of our system. As it is illustrated below. presents considerable advantages compared to a graphic display. Because audio requires less processing and displaying power than image. an audio display.3 Challenges In order to apply sonification to the context of wireless sensor networks. • High-level metaphor: the overall impression of the interface should present a sound easy to interpret . which can be problematic in remote or industrial environments. Another appealing aspect is that “sonifications can allow alternative perceptions and new insights into the data” [BK99]. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE switch visual attention between the display and the environment. faced with the concomitant tasks of simulating an operation on patients while monitoring several of their health parameters. Sonification has been demonstrated to be effective for the human recognition of patterns in data. which is highly desirable in the context of WSN. Moreover. the use of audio outputs also frees the users’ hands. Sonification applications in other fields show the potential of the human ear to integrate simultaneously several dimensions of information into a single auditory experience.102 CHAPTER 7. it must be complex enough to convey information during the perception phase. the sound must be designed not to generate fatigue in the sensation part. At the same time. making the tool accessible . It is hence important that the interface sound be pleasant or at least not annoying over an extended period of time. Similar experiments performed on drivers and pilots led to comparable results [Bal94]. it is important to consider domain-specific constraints and challenges. if necessary conveying integrated and preprocessed information.a first contact between the sense organ and the stimulus. First a sound creates a sensation . [HC05]. Under bright daylight. sonification allows for the definition of interface metaphors that can be well understood from novice users but at the same time convey fine details to trained users. which can be used to support or balance the body in impervious situations.

4. • Ergonomics: The tool must work well in an outdoor environment. In fact. Based on this observation we decided to associate the desirable state to a sound that can be immediately identifiable as pleasant and undistorted. However they can be easily understood by even non-expert users. • Non-invasiveness: The tool must not disrupt network’s operation. The emphasis is not on realistically mimicking the FM tuning effect.1 What Sound to Play? The proposed sonification strategy requires the choice of what we defined as a “pleasant and undistorted” sound. among other things. but just on providing users with a model easy to interpret. The use of sound noise or distortion seems not to be very common in the auditory display literature. The advent of digital technology. despite its strong metaphorical valence.3. However.4 Signal and Noise Metaphor To address the challenges described in the previous subsection. users will normally maintain some model of how the system actually works. The proposed mapping strategy can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the tuning of an FM radio. to the extent of completely eliminating analogue noise. • Low-level details: specific aspects of the sound should allow advanced users to perceive detailed information about the status of the network or the node under examination. • User acceptance: The tool must be acceptable regardless of the cultural background of the users. SONIFICATION FOR SENSOR NETWORKS 103 by a non-specialist. First . Excessively realistic metaphors are known to be problematic in HCI [SRP07]. as demonstrated by the adoption of comfort noise in digital communication systems [New04]. sensing and communication not functioning properly. However. which may or may not reflect the reality – depending. highways or windy environments) can be problematic.7. The use of headphones with efficient sonic insulation could be a potential solution. 7. because in reality the good state may correspond to several actual network configurations. an action that is familiar to most people around the world. the trade-off between sound insulation and the awareness of the environment required for the user’s safety has yet to be carefully examined. These states may just be ideal and conceptual. and a bad or undesirable state in which the system is in a non-working state.3. One advantage of the proposed mapping is that such a sound can be selected by the end-users according to their taste. The proposed strategy leverages the assumption that even non-expert users of WSNs will have some understanding of a system relying on radio transmission. This is perhaps due to the concern of confusing degradation generated by the interface with real degradation affecting the system. however. The starting point for the design is the following observation: For the deployment and maintenance of WSNs it is generally possible to define a good or desirable state in which the network is in a working state. all nodes being active and connected. we propose here an audio metaphor adapted to sonification for WSNs.3. Using audio output in noisy environments (such as construction sites. some consideration needs to be taken into account in this choice. and to use a gradual degradation of this sound to signify that the system state moves away from the desirable condition. allows for an easier control of the presence of noise or distortion. 7. Sounds used in the interface need to be easily distinguishable from ambient sounds. on their technical literacy.

As detailed later in this chapter.3. In this way. even without distinguishing different degradation types.4. As a consequence. we opted to play a piece of music customizable by the user according to his/her preferences. novice users can perceive the general status of the system from the overall sound quality. whereas advanced users can get more precise information recognizing what exactly is affecting the network. as well as reducing energy consumption. the sound needs to be easily distinguishable from the distortion.2 What Degradation? There are several ways to degrade the quality of a sound. • modifying the pitch or playback speed. in terms of computational complexity and control of perceived degradation. it is convenient to use an audio loop of relatively short duration . Natural sounds (e. animals. as they do not capture the attention of the auditor and are generally perceived as pleasant.. but they are not always easy to distinguish from noise – especially wind and water flow sounds can be quite similar to white noise. for Sensor-Tune we used two types of additive colored noise to represent local and global properties of the network. However. water. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE and foremost. while this strategy would have the advantage of limiting the listener’s fatigue. • multiplying with a square wave of variable duty cycle (introducing silent gaps for duty cycle < 100%).. Second. 7.11). mapping the intensity of each of them to a different variable (e. it should not generate fatigue in the listener. • adding a delayed copy of the same sound (echo). Finally. Different types of degradation can be used at the same time. Our experience suggests that repeated speech clips can very quickly induce fatigue.4 7. we deem it fundamental to give clear feedback about the monitoring tool’ status – the use of silence makes it nontrivial to understand if the system is correctly working or the tool is just powered off. 7. query-based or event-based.g. packet error rate. • convolving with another sound. • reducing the resolution (increasing quantization noise).1 System Design System Model The context we consider is a multi-hop data collection network where nodes send packets to one or several base stations (sinks) that are connected to a server either directly or through a bridge (typically GSM or 802. signal power level. examples include: • adding noise (including different types).g. . and to have silence signify perfect connectivity. One alternative strategy could have been to translate into audio only the errors or problems in the network. We assume that nodes . Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. in order to optimize the use of storage memory.). wind) can be considered suitable background sounds. SNR.4.104 CHAPTER 7. • reducing the signal bandwidth (bandpass filtering). The traffic can be either periodic.

4. which automatically takes over. A small set of buttons are used to turn Sensor-Tune on and off. which is determined by the phenomenon to observe. This information is relayed to Sensor-Tune and displayed in real-time as audio data.4. SYSTEM DESIGN 105 are capable of organizing into a data collection tree (or forest in the multiple-sink case). a new node is turned on. 3. the staff can focus on handling the nodes to deploy or to maintain.2 7. This tool can interact with any node present in the network (see Fig. As a proof of concept of the use of sonification in this framework.4. We must deploy a total of N sensors.2 Scenario 1: Live Information In this scenario. It is designed to be carried easily by any person deploying the network. This means that for each node to install. A critical issue for each node is to find a suitable parent to route its data towards a sink. The member of the deployment team carrying Sensor-Tune produces a new node from his stock. we decided to implement the following two use cases: • Deployment support: Optimization of the placement of new nodes into a multi-hop network. 7. their number should be kept at a minimum. We assume that the radio channel is highly unpredictable. this node connects itself to Sensor-Tune and probes its neighbors in order to assess their potential as a parent. while the previous node enters its normal mode of operation. 4.3).1 Tool and Scenarios Sensor-Tune: A Sonification Toolkit for WSN We designed and implemented a deployment-support system that we call Sensor-Tune.4. The placement of each node is constrained by the landscape and the data it is supposed to collect. and to choose the mode of operation of the tool. That can apply to both indoor and outdoor environments. In this way. M < N sensors are already deployed. we want to assess the connectivity of nodes as we are deploying them. 7. 5. • Maintenance tool: Retrieval of recent connectivity history of a deployed node 7. . We add nodes one by one and want to place them as well as possible within their allowed region. there is a region within which this node must be placed. Once Sensor-Tune is started in the proper mode of operation. In order to achieve this. as this depends on the type of application considered.1). 2. we imagine the following flow of events: 1. We do not make any assumption about the size of the region. Extra nodes can be deployed in between the measurement points to insure connectivity.7. 7.2. but as these nodes do not provide useful data. It consists in a lightweight tool integrating a wireless sensor with a sonification module connected to earphones. As he/she turns it on. When the node has been placed.2. depending on the presence of obstacles and interferences. The deployment staff positions the node based on the obtained feedback. The acoustic feedback is intended to convey information that cannot be easily retrieved due to the limited interface capabilities of wireless sensors. no visual interaction with Sensor-Tune is necessary. possibly in places that are difficult to access and require full physical availability (see Fig.

with a sensor difficult to access physically . MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE Figure 7.3: Example of usage of Sensor-Tune.106 CHAPTER 7.2: Carrying the Sensor-Tune: hand-free WSN deployment Figure 7.

It will replay it on-demand. Cglobal . A good metaphor for this metric is the “distance” with the base station. This metric is customizable in our system through an API. we use the Packet Error Rate (PER) from this node to all its neighbors.7.2. When a node hears Sensor-Tune’s beacon. For CTP [FGJ+ ]. The history is downloaded to Sensor-Tune. Local connectivity: For Clocal . (sf + nack) (ack + sf + nack) (7. we take into account the metric of the multi-hop protocol used. More precisely: 1. we use the Packet Delivery Ratio (PDR) (or. which is equivalent. The parameter that can be easily stored in the flash is the PER. information coming from the radio itself. where it is played a fixed number of times (the total sound sequence should last a few tens of seconds) .1) General topology information: This information. We implemented this scenario. For each potential parent. Information and Metrics When deploying one sensor i. It is assumed that this node has recorded relevant information over the last 24 hours. He/she defines a minimum PER performance Pmin . • ack is the number of acknowledged packets. 5. The maintenance staff carrying Sensor-Tune walks around the deployment area 2. reflects how well the neighbors of the current node are positioned in the network with regard to the base station. typically storing parameters in its flash memory for a succession of time steps that last 10 minutes each. 3. Generally. Automatically. For Clocal . we evaluate its connectivity with its neighbors Clocal . SYSTEM DESIGN 107 In the event of total loss of connectivity. and its “distance” to the sink Cglobal . • nack is the number of packets that were not acknowledged. while the expression of Cglobal depends on the routing protocol used. For this information.3 Scenario 2: Connectivity History In this scenario. It is defined as follows: P ER = where • sf is the number of packets whose emission failed at the sender. the connection is with an individual node.1.4. the Packet Error Rate PER). the metric used is called CTP. without local communication with its neighbors. Sensor-Tune beacons the neighboring nodes 4. we use the information about the quality of the radio link between the node and its neighbors. evaluated it and used it for the experiments that we describe in Section 8. a continuous tone is played in order to spare the ears of the user.4. 7. and consists roughly in an aggregation of the link qualities from the node to the base station. it is based on the hop count and/or the aggregation of the connectivity levels (packet delivery ratios) of the nodes along the path to the base station. it answers if its average performance over thelast 24 hours is lower than Pmin . The nodes that answered are queried sequentially in a FIFO manner 6.



7. The user can interrupt the sequence by pressing on a button, either deleting it or saving it in the memory for later retrieval and finer grained analysis. We implemented this scenario, but have not yet fully evaluated it. Other Scenarios

Local Connectivity In the use case described above, we only monitor a node’s parent. This means that when moving a node, we do not know anything about its connectivity with its potential children. If we want to know what effect the moving of a node will have on its children’s connectivity, we need to test the Packet Delivery Ratio, namely the percentage of packets received by this node coming from its children. The sonification technique for this use case can be directly derived from the previous ones. Probes Operation When deploying a node, the proper operation of the probes can be tested as a sound as well. In this way, the deployment staff can make simple tests such as covering a solar radiation sensor, warming a thermometer, filling a rain gage, etc. In this case, the noise metaphor does not hold anymore. An appropriate sonification would be the synthesis of a sound whose pitch varies as a function of the sensed data.



When monitoring a wireless network, it is important to do so in a minimally invasive way. Ideally, a fully passive system should be used. In our case, however, it is not possible. Most of the time, indeed, the node that we monitor is not part of the network yet. It needs to interrogate its neighbors about their position and to run a decision process to choose its parent. In a normal operation mode, this procedure takes time, and we cannot rely on the regularly exchanged routing messages to send instantaneous feedback to the user as he/she moves the node to find its best placement. Accordingly, we designed a communication protocol that provides real-time connectivity feedback, and is as minimally invasive as possible. The number of messages exchanged is compatible with a typical environmental monitoring application, even if it might conflict with applications requiring very high data rates and a nearly instantaneous response. We analyze its overhead in Section The Actors

We distinguish several actors in the unfolding of the protocol. 1. Sensor-Tune: the monitoring device. 2. Master: the node to deploy, which will query its neighbors for a suitable parent. 3. Slave: any node in the neighborhood of the master node, which is going to answer its queries. The basic idea behind Sensor-Tune operation is to run a one-hop multicast protocol between the node to deploy (the master) and its neighbors. The radio link between the PDA and the master is used to bootstrap the process, to forward periodically data to the PDA, and to switch nodes. Live Data

Fig. 7.4 describes the exchange of messages for this use case.



Figure 7.4: Communication protocol for the Live Data use case. The master initiate the session, first querying the cluster heads, then all the nodes in its neighborhood. N requests are sent, then the neighbors have a time slot of duration D to answer if their local and global connectivity metrics are good enough



1. Sensor-Tune receives a message from the PDA as soon as the latter is ready to accept candidates (meaning that the user pressed the on button). 2. When a new node is turned on in the vicinity of Sensor-Tune, it sends a INIT message to it, thus applying to become a master. 3. If it does not receive an answer within a given (customizable) time, it enters its normal mode of operation (meaning that Sensor-Tune was off or not present). 4. If Sensor-Tune hears the INIT message, it answers with a START, turning the new node into a master. 5. At this point, the master starts a series of rounds that last one second each. During the first 500ms, it sends bursts of INFO QUERY messages (customizable, but typically 10), and waits for an INFO RESPONSE from its best potential parents during the next 400ms. In order to reduce collisions, the neighbors use a random back-off timer during this period. 6. The last 100ms of each round are left for regular data traffic to take place. 7. Based on the metrics we defined in the previous sections, the master will select the best potential parent and forward its local and global connectivity parameters to Sensor-Tune. This information will ultimately be translated into sound. 8. When we are satisfied with the placement of the node, we simply turn a new node on. Upon reception of the new INIT message, Sensor-Tune first stops the previous master (which enters then the normal mode of operation), before starting the new one. In order to avoid too many answers from the neighbors, the target value for the PER is included in the INFO QUERY message. We denote it Cglobal ∗. This value depends on the last value received (and increases exponentially if no messages have been received in the last rounds). Nodes only respond if, based on the INFO QUERY messages they received, their own PER from the master combined with their own distance to the base station is close enough to Cglobal ∗. Cglobal < Cglobal ∗ ±∆C Where ∆C is a parameter. A higher value of ∆C improves the responsiveness to channel variations, but increases the traffic. Cglobal ∗ is updated at each round with the best value of the last round. Clustering

Initially, the value of the threshold has to be set arbitrarily, which means that many answers can be expected. In order to avoid a congestion at this point, we use an algorithm that partitions the network into different clusters. Each cluster is composed of a cluster head and a subset of its single-hop neighbors, the cluster members. At the first round of the Live-data protocol, only cluster heads can respond. The clustering protocol takes place at the deployment of each new node (see Fig. 7.5). 1. The new node sends a Request message to the network, and starts a one-shot random timer. 2. A node whose timer is expired sends a packet to all its single-hop neighbors, declaring its type as a cluster-head. 3. A node that receives a Request message will answer to it by a message that declares its type (clustered or non-clustered).

4. the possible disruption is not an issue.2) .4. Another question is whether this protocol will have an effect on the operation of the WSN main application.4. this will not affect significantly the performance of the system. 7. If a node is to be added at a later stage. corrupted by an amount of additive colored noise depending on the connection quality ng (q.3. During each one-second round. SYSTEM DESIGN 111 Figure 7. The existence of a connection between the current node and the sink is represented by a piece of music sm (t). because it is communication-intensive. t) (7. As this task typically takes from a few minutes to up to an hour. above this limit.3. if only for a short period of time. If we are installing a whole network from scratch. Each cluster is uniquely identified by the ID of its cluster-head. it stops its timer and becomes member of the corresponding cluster. For an alert-based system.4 Sonification Mapping Strategy As outlined in section 7. we may disrupt the network operation locally during the period of time it takes to install the new wireless sensor. This can be expressed as follows: so (t) = sm (t) + ng (q.5: State machine of the clustering algorithm 4. t). If the new node receives a message from a cluster head. whereas additive colored noise indicates a degradation in the network status.4 Overhead The protocol described above is based on a fast exchange of packets between a new node and its neighbors. as the network is usually not supposed to be fully operational at the moment of deployment. 7. with data rates in the order of the minute or more. The tool allows us to monitor one node at a time.4. the 100 ms window will allow for the delivery of an alert message even in a dense network. The resort to clustering ensures a successful bootstrapping of the protocol. this is not a problem for a typical environmental monitoring application. at least 10 messages are received by the neighbors. while the network is operational. and with some tolerance to errors or missing data. If. the interface is based on a simple yet powerful model: a pleasant sound indicates that the network is in good condition. messages are lost due to collisions. The number of messages that are sent back depends on the number of neighbors and on the quality of their link with both the new node and the base station. We tested this scheme successfully for up to 5 potential parents. because there will be more than enough parents to choose from. without tight response-time constraints.7.

t) (7. so that different cultural backgrounds can be accommodated. we normalized the music waveform and added noise with an increasing envelope. t) + β · nH (qroute . The base sound sm (t) can be selected according to the taste of the end-user. At the same time. because this is the parameter of primary importance when placing a node. Although normal usage does not rely on users distinguishing the two types of noise. We tuned α and β manually. it is important that the sound chosen is easily distinguished from noise. We suggested the use of the PER and Cglobal to alter a sound file with high and low frequency noise. For minimizing storage requirements. In this section. The two components are distinguishable when needed. small distance to the base station). we do not constrain the user auditive environment: Sensor-Tune should be usable in any milieu. The survey is thus available online 1 This function behaves as the ETX value defined in [CABM03] . For instance.1 Description Given the generic nature of this survey on noise perception.02. so higher intensities of noise become harder to distinguish. as above a certain threshold of packet errors. we describe the results of a user survey which explores the perception of noise by users. This can be more precisely expressed as follows: ng (q. As discussed above. a 5% PER corresponds to a normalized amplitude of 0. this feature can provide an additional layer of information for advanced users.3) where α and β are two parameters. an audio loop is used for sm (t). The function that we chose to generate noise as a function of PER acts almost linearly for low values of PER and becomes exponential as the PER increases1 . nL (t) and nH (t) are colored noises produced from the same white noise source filtered respectively with a low-pass filter with cut-off frequency 200 Hz and band-pass with center frequency at 2. respectively. in order to ensure a comfortable level of noise in desirable cases (low PER. experience shows a rapid degradation towards total disconnection. β was chosen significantly smaller than α. The noise signal is the weighted sum of two distinct colored components: a lower frequency component indicates local connectivity – the PER between the node and its parent – and the other component indicates the global connectivity – the routing metric of the current node’s parent. In particular. t) = α · nL (qP ER . the human ear functions on a logarithmic scale. are useful for the deployment of WSNs. nor musical predispositions. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE where so (t) is the sound output. Since the power of the output signal depends on the level at which the user will tune its headphones. we do not require the users to have any prior knowledge of sensor networks.5 Initial Exploration: User Survey In the previous section. Similarly. we discussed how sonification techniques. In the prototype evaluation described below we used a 16-second clip of classical piano music.7kHz and a bandwidth of 20 Hz. such as altering a sound file with noise. 7.5. as shown by the user survey described in the next section. selected to be long enough not to be annoying and to loop in a seamless way (discontinuities could be perceived as signal degradations). 7. t is time and q is the connection quality. This is because we want to monitor more closely the low values of PER. however. in order to give more importance to the local connectivity.112 CHAPTER 7.

40 0.02 in the noise envelope. 2 3 http://csn. and was advertised at EPFL via email2 to users with different academic backgrounds. users are asked to choose whether they perceive an increasing/decreasing ∆ or no change at all. 7. 24 users took the survey online. we evaluate the granularity of noise intensity perception by users. middle and high intensity. Finally. In our case. and l is the number of categories for answers to q. In the first part.q ) (7.7. Hq is measured in bits and tells how easy it is for users to identify a sound. we use persistent cookies3 . We consider various scenarios where both the intensity and frequency vary (DD). we ask users for their age and whether they used a headset while taking the survey. We introduce noise intensity variations ∆ and test whether users can perceive these variations by asking: Do you perceive a change in the noise intensity? Among the possible answers. we generate twelve sound files of the same piece of music. Sonification techniques are usually evaluated by measuring how helpful they are for users to accomplish their task. S for Static . the users are given eight sound files containing a sequence of classical piano music altered with noise of low. With this question. we did not observe any changes in the quality of answers between users with and without headphones. not only do we alter the files with varying noise intensities. 95% of the users were in their twenties (18-30) and 66% used headphones. do you perceive different types of noise? Users are asked to say yes or no.40 0.q log2 (pi.60 0 0. we wish to know how precisely can users perceive the variations of noise in intensity and the frequency. To stop the users from taking the survey several times. we use the entropy Hq to measure the uncertainty of the answer to a question q: l Hq = − i=1 pi. In the second part. Overall. we also use two types of noise: a low frequency and high frequency noise. On our normalized scale.epfl.5. Users seem able to recognize noise intensity variations in low and middle intensities (results based on 24 answers).e frequencies) by asking: Ignoring changes in intensity. 4 D stands for Dynamic.4) where pi.ch/sonification A stronger authentication mechanism could be used but was not deemed necessary because of low risk of attacks. a ∆ of +1 corresponds to an increase of 0.94 Table 7. and where none varies (SS)4 .q is the probability to answer i to the q. We examine whether users could recognize the noise types (i. but this time.2 Results Over a period of two weeks. where only the intensity varies (DS).1: Survey results for the first part. INITIAL EXPLORATION: USER SURVEY 113 Intensity Low (P ER < 10%) Middle (P ER 20%) High (P ER > 30) |∆| 0 1 0 2 2 Correct 85% 100% 92% 92% 64% Entropy 0. The survey is composed of two parts. As suggested in [FBB05].5.

users cannot efficiently recognize noise variations at high intensities. Noise type (i. Accordingly. we empirically dimension our system with respect to the noise variations that we introduce when the PER and Cglobal vary. the low and high frequency noises will not be distinguishable: the user can concentrate on finding a good location for a node. In SS. This is much better than for high intensities (Hq = 0. we describe the implementation of a prototype of Sensor-Tune.users can distinguish the two noise types.24 0. The PDA is connected through a serial interface with a wireless device compatible with each node that is to be deployed. 0. where this information is analyzed and passed on to a sound-generator..2).e. and noise frequencies for the users to recognize them when necessary. +5 to 20%. a user must first optimize the local connectivity (PER). During this operation. they are even convinced that there is only one type of noise being played (i. Once a good location is found. In the results of the first question (Table 7. With Sensor-Tune. note the low entropy). frequency) and intensity varies (DD).1 Prototype Implementation Prototype Description In this section.60]). In other words. users can alternately focus on optimizing the local connectivity and global connectivity to the base station.8).99 0 Table 7. Once packed. 7. 5 the technical details and software implementation are available on-line at http://csn. 7. The wireless device communicates with the monitored node and forwards the received information to the PDA. we found that 90% of the users seem to be able to distinguish noise intensity variations at low and middle intensities (Hq ∈ [0.2: Survey results for the second part.epfl.e. We realized that we must carefully select noise intensity variations for the users to be able to notice them. the system is quite compact (see Fig.6. With the second question (Table 7.6 7. Thus.the dominated noise becomes dominant . The user can listen to the sonified data via headphones. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE Variations SS DS DD Correct 4% 46% 100% Entropy 0.114 CHAPTER 7. It appears that users could distinguish two noises only when one noise replaces another over time (DD). the high frequency noise vanishes.ch/anonymous . etc. while the PER is not good. we observe that people tend in SS and DS cases to aggregate both noise types as one.1). and +30 to 50%.94). The results of the survey allowed us to verify our system design.7). a value of +1 of ∆ corresponds to a PER of 5% in our final system. 7. using a PDA running Linux Maemo (Nokia N800) (see Fig. This result confirms that because the human ear works in a logarithmic manner. We emphasize the fact that a real commercial system can be implemented in a much less expensive way than with the off-the-shelf components that we used 5 . when the relative importance of the two noises changes . and the low frequency noise appears clearly. only intensity varies (DS) and none varies (SS) (results based on 24 answers). For instance. +2 to 10%.

1 Software and Hardware On the embedded side.6: Sensor-Tune simplistic graphical user interface We used a simple graphical interface to start the tool and set it to the desired mode of operation (see Fig. and a dedicated software. PROTOTYPE IMPLEMENTATION 115 Figure 7. takes care of the sound generation part.6. a Java subsystem is responsible for the message interface and the data analysis.6.8: Sensor-Tune prototype once packed We distinguish the embedded part from the PDA part. . as it has evolved to become the preferred choice of the research community to design and implement wireless sensor network systems. Figure 7.7: Sensor-Tune prototype: A linux-based PDA connected through a serial port to a wireless sensor Figure 7.6).7. 7.1. On the PDA. 7. we use the TinyOS [tos] operating system. We decided to keep this interface at a bare minimum so that user options can be magnified and be readable in outdoor conditions. pure data (PD).

116 CHAPTER 7. The global metric needs to be passed back to Sensor-Tune through an interface.9: Sensor-Tune functional blocks We implemented our tool on the tinynode [tin] platform. For the PDA. 4. 7. and graphical processing. Embedded Part There is minimal change to be brought to any multi-hop application. Pure Data subsystem PD (Pure Data) is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio. All different software components communicate through sockets. 7. because it depends on the routing protocol to be used. video. The application comes as a plug-in to be added to the configuration file of the deployed application. State machine: managing the PDA state machine.3 PDA Java subsystem The java subsystem has four tasks: 1. so they are independent from the particular context. Message interface: sending and receiving messages exchanged with the master. Sending the result to the sound generator through a socket. thus making it easy to add custom software to it. PD is an example of ”Dataflow programming” languages.1. logging them if appropriate.in order to keep synchronization with the node to deploy. and processing them so that they can be translated into sounds.6. Moreover. All other metrics are dealt with at a lower layer. In such . whose performance we want to monitor. 2. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE Figure 7. Java in particular is easy to install. we used the Nokia N800. it runs PDa. which runs Linux Maemo 3. 3. the embedded version of the open source Pure Data sound generator. Data processing: analyzing the incoming data.

and this with minimal training.7. The first objective of the experiment was to assess whether.10. initially designed for desktop computers. 7. we decided to compare it with a graphical user interface that would present the same information. under the name PDa (PD anywhere) [Gei03].11. This tool.4 was compared with a graphical user interface (GUI) that presented the same information on the screen of the Nokia PDA. we chose a method consisting in superposing to the background music two noises at different frequencies: a high frequency noise whose volume increases as the packet error rate between the node and its best potential parent increases. Therefore we designed and implemented an interface that displayed two horizontal bars of variable length. For this reason. has been ported on small handheld devices running Linux. with an appropriate interface. 7.7 Experimental Validation To validate the proposed design. and a low-frequency noise (perceptually less annoying) whose volume increases as the distance from the base station in terms of hops increases. functions or ”objects” are linked or ”patched” together in a graphical environment that models the flow of the control and audio. an experiment was designed and performed.7. We decided to mimic the .10: PDA: PD subsystem description. The (simplified) PD subsystem that we designed is described in Fig. PD is an open source project and has a large developer base working on new extensions to the program. one related to the PER and the other to the ETX of the monitored node (see Section 7.7.1 Comparable Graphical Interface In order to assess the sonification based interface independently from the amount of information provided and of the underlying technical implementation of the system. We then wanted to evaluate the effects of the auditory presentation independently of the underlying technical system and the actual information presented. 7. As mentioned earlier.4). as illustrated in Figure 7. EXPERIMENTAL VALIDATION 117 Figure 7. with music and two additive noises languages. and in particular the audio-based interface. the audio interface described in Section 7. it is possible for non-specialists to deploy a wireless sensor network in a challenging setting.

. For each task. or the length of the bars in the GUI indicated the quality of the connection of the current node to the base station.2 Experimental Design The experiment consisted of 2 network deployment tasks. For both tasks the destination point was the same and it was located in the parking garage in the basement of the building.118 CHAPTER 7. using the smallest number of nodes as possible. such as doors and elevators. Figure 7. Several participants asked what was the difference between the two bars. Subjects received instructions in written form (to ensure consistency). The building has 5 different stairways and 3 elevator towers and it includes a mix of glass. subjects had a maximum time of 20 minutes and a maximum of 6 nodes (but emphasis was put on the fact that they could complete the task with less). The instructions were kept concise. with total length of two A4 pages. made the radio path variable with time. MAKING THE INVISIBLE AUDIBLE signal bar common in all mobile phones. but did not provide any details about the PER nor the ETX. given especially that the experiment took place during business hours.7. A maximum duration of 20 minutes was given for each task. and making the connection quality as good as possible. even though during the experiment subjects were free to take any path they liked between the two points. The horizontal bars convey information about the connection quality. As a benchmark. using only 3 nodes. metal and concrete partitions that attenuate the radio signals of our wireless nodes in different ways (often drastically). so the bars are full when the connection is perfect and become shorter when the connection quality decreases – in other words the length of each bar was inversely proportional to the PER and ETX. respectively. the experimenter showed the start and destination point. and before the start of each task. 7. A number of movable elements. informing them about the system and the two tasks. but they were answered that they reflected different aspects of the connection quality but that the details were irrelevant to the experiment. the attempt was considered failed. and a specific path between them. both tasks could be completed by experts in less then 5 minutes. If the subjects did not reach the destination point within this interval.11: Screen capture of graphical user interface used for the experiment as shown on the Nokia PDA. The starting points for the two task were on two different ends of the 4th floor of the building (there was a 5 floors distance between start and destination). After each subject read the instructions. The instruction simply reported that the audio degradation through noise. which contributed to make the tasks even more challenging. when many people walk around the building. and marked with an ’x’ sign on the floor. asking them to try and complete them as quickly as possible. in each of them subjects had to create a linear multi-hop network that connected specific start and destination points in a building on EPFL campus.



All subjects tried both interfaces, each on a different deployment task in alternate order: half of the subjects used the audio interface in the first task and the GUI in the second, while the other half used the GUI for the first task and the audio interface in the second. The two tasks, however, were performed in the same order. The completion time, the number of nodes needed to achieve the task and the resulting network performance were recorded for all tasks. Participants were shadowed by an experimenter, who took notes about their behaviour and performance. At the end of the experiment subjects were asked to fill a short questionnaire related to their previous experience with computers, with wireless networks and with music as well as their preferences between the audio and graphical interfaces in terms of ease of use, efficiency and overall favour.



Participants were 14 males, of age between 26 and 48 (avg. 32.6, st. dev. 7.4), all volunteers. All subjects were naive, in that they had not used our system before the experiment and all had no experience in deploying a multi-hop wireless network. Four subjects reported having set-up a home wireless network (Wi-Fi access point).



Overall, the network deployment was successful in 17 of the 28 trials (60.7%). The first task was completed successfully in 7 of the 14 cases (50%), while the second task was completed sucessfully in 10 of the 14 cases (71.4%). When the audio interface was used, the first task was successful in 4 out of 7 cases (57.1%), while with the GUI the first task was successfully completed in 3 out 7 cases (42.9%). For the second task, subjects using the audio based interface were always successful (7 out of 7, 100%) while subjects using the GUI where successful in 3 out of 7 cases (42.9%). The results are summarized in Table 7.3 Out of the 14 subjects, 5 succeeded in both tasks (2 started with the audio interface, 3 started with the GUI); 2 subjects, who started with the GUI, failed in both tasks; 5 subjects failed in the first task but succeeded in the second (1 of them started with the audio interface and 4 started with the GUI); 2 subjects completed successfully the first task using the audio interface, but failed in the second task using the GUI. At the qualitative level, we noticed a number of frequent behaviors that were detrimental to the task completion or even resulted in failure. First, most participants tried to “let the radio waves follow their same path” – in particular, most participants tried to “bring” the radio signal down the stairways, even though these are interrupted by a number of glass and metal doors that block the radio waves of the nodes. Often, it was noticed that these participants were aware of the fact that the radio waves can go though walls, but simply did not actively use this information. Only 3 of the 14 subjects attempted to let the wireless connection go through the floor, which results in a more efficient solution. All subjects who attempted this alternative strategy were successful in completing the task and used a minimal (3) number of nodes. A second common source of problems was the fact that the very first node was placed in a position where it was not very well connected with the base station, which compromised the connection of the following nodes to the base station. In turn, the bad positioning of the first node was often the result of the two following behaviours: before choosing the position for a node subjects monitored its connection quality for a period that was too short to notice signal drops due to transient events such as other people



Task 1 Success

Task 2 Success

Total Success


4 of 7 (57.1%) 3 of 7 (42.9%) 7 of 14 (50.0%)

7 of 7 (100.0%) 3 of 7 (42.9%) 10 of 14 (71.4%)

11 of 14 (78.6%) 6 of 14 (42.9%) 17 of 28 (60.7%)



Table 7.3: User experiment results: successful completion of the deployment tasks by untrained participants.

passing by, doors opening and closing, or elevators moving; subjects monitored the connection quality only when they were very close to the nodes, while their body somehow influenced the EM field in favor of the connection. As soon as they walked away, the connection dropped. Regarding the expressed preferences, 8 of the 14 subjects (57%) indicated the audio interface as easier to use, while 9 (64%) indicated that they deemed the GUI let them perform better, and the same number reported it as generally preferable.



Throughout the literature, one cannot help but feel there is a paradox in the fact that wireless sensor networks are envisioned as the ubiquitous communication technology of the near future, while they remain cumbersome to deploy and difficult to maintain. In this chapter, we have investigated a novel approach for interfacing the wireless sensing world, relying on acoustic feedback. We have presented the advantages of such an approach in terms of deployment efficiency, reliability, intuitiveness and cost, and have developed an original metaphor for the analysis of connectivity based on the metaphor of noise. The implementation of a prototype allowed us to confirm that this approach is promising for wireless sensor networks. The overall success rate of 60.7% in the experiment indicates that the interface is effective in supporting non-expert users deploying a multi-hop wireless network, validating the proposed design for Sensor-Tune. The results indicate no large differences between the performance with the audio interface and with the GUI, suggesting that the two interfaces perform as well as each other. The additional advantages provided by the audio interface, namely eyes-free and hands-free operation, are therefore available without any penalty compared to a graphic counterpart. This experiment was conducted indoors in a technical institution, although not all participants had a formal technical training. Since we want to apply this strategy in the field, by putting wireless sensors in the hands of agriculture scientists if not farmers, another experiment needs to be conducted by the intended users. Only then will be the tool formally validated. This validation should include an improve-



ment whose necessity has been unveiled by the user experiment: from the observation that often one specific link between two nodes is the cause of major problems in the entire network, the modification of the interface so that users can easily select which link to monitor, or even monitor several links at the same time, may dramatically increase its performance. In terms of future developments, the first step will be to integrate the Sensor-Tune application with the Common-Sense Net system, which uses a proprietary MAC and Routing protocol, designed for extremely low duty-cycling. Other applications than deployment support could also be implemented and tested, such as history of connectivity, on-board sensors validation, etc. Security applications can also be sought. Finally, transposition of the sonification paradigm to other wireless technologies (such as 802.11 access points) could be envisaged.


Accordingly.2. the targeted users for WSN-enabled applications should be researchers. and technicians. in order to understand more precisely the physical processes at hand.1 describes the methodology for our user experiment to determine if our new user target group was an appropriate choice. This chapter brings this seemingly pessimistic yet realistic position to the attention of the community. in a participatory way. because for them sensor data represents a new and unfamiliar context. 8. Based on these experiences. our concerted effort of deploying and running the COMMON-Sense Net system points that still scientists remain the preferred ’customers’ of WSN technology. this is no trivial matter. this orientation towards a new user group (scientists). appears currently the only method to have an effective decision-support system for rain-fed farming. However. As our study case and field experience indicate. Over a long period of data collection and usage. Most of the scientists we 123 . Agricultural scientists are ideally placed to define use cases. In the previous section. we moved on with a different approach: we investigated controlledenvironment strategies related to rain-fed farming.1 Charting the Paradigm Shift The path from user needs to precise specifications of a system is not an easy one to trod.Chapter 8 Usability and Usefulness of the System In the COMMON-Sense Net project. In Section 8. Our initial vision had been to bring the benefits of technology directly to farmers. This has been primarily due to the farmers’ alienation with the worlds of science and technology. and to react optimally to changing conditions. our goal was to help the farmers monitoring the physical farming environment. the position this chapter takes is as follows: Under the current conditions in developing regions. essentially hindering our efforts to bring in a participatory manner the added value of WSN technology to the farmers. Essentially. scientists. The resource-poor farmers could not really put enhanced environmental data in use effectively. from November 2007 to February 2008. We deployed our system after identifying use cases with the locals. we present our results. we identified a strong necessity to find a mediator between the technology and the target population. followed by a discussion in Section 8. we reached an impasse: numerous difficulties emerged. we are currently forced to consider as somewhat idealistic our initial objective. This position was corroborated by an experiment that we conducted in Bangalore. which can then advise or guide the farmers. Section 8. such as Karnataka. such as developing new crop varieties or pest prediction measures. After we presented the lessons learned through our three-year long effort and deployment in Chapter 6.3.

as different disciplines can have various data requirements. Non-governmental agencies: NGOs focusing on rural development often are innovative in terms of agricultural practices.1). In the second case. namely rain-fed farming. On the other hand. What is the spatial diversity they will use for the data? 3. The reason for selecting such a various user basis is twofold. Academia: scientists doing research in agricultural departments. As such. 2. These questions served to assess their current view of the field. 3. 8. What are the types of environmental data they can make use of. 8. For them. we wanted to find the largest scope of use for the WSN technology in the context of rain-fed farming. it was important to know whether an appropriate system design could meet all of them. precision agriculture with high added-value) was considered too different from our focus of interest. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM interacted with are not familiar with sensor data at high resolution in time and space provided by a large number of data gathering points with uniform accuracy. we used three complementary approaches: Structured interviews: As a preliminary. What is the time granularity they will make use of in their task? In order to answer to these questions. following both a qualitative and a quantitative approach (Table.2 Goal and Methodology We interviewed 30 people from the backgrounds detailed above.124 CHAPTER 8. some general questions were asked to the participants in a general questionnaire before they tested the interface during a two-weeks long study. and did not want to restrict ourselves to our own preconceptions. Doing research that provides them with scientific impact and visibility. Participants were asked to answer more concrete questions . There are several types of institutions where such professionals are likely to work. The experiment was scheduled to run for 2 weeks in November 2007. 8. each of them with its own goals and agenda: 1. and how? 2. on-demand irrigation. The goal of the experiment was to understand precisely: 1. Marginal farming is only one aspect of their concern. two competing goals are at stake. they are interested in applied research. pathologists and agronomists with the results gathered from the field by our deployed prototypes.1. the type of agriculture practiced (mechanized farming. Government: scientists working either as advisors for policy makers or as implementers of programs at the local level. we did not want to get involved in the controversy surrounding the effects of large seeds providers on the livelihood of small and marginal farmers in India.1 Choosing the Target Population For these two reasons. which is agriculture as a socioeconomic sector.1. In the first case. We did not extend our survey to the industry of agriculture inputs or to corporate agriculture. we decided to set-up an experiment where we confront soil physicists. crop physiologists. The goal of the experiment was to identify the use that agriculture scientists would make of the data that are collected by the COMMON-Sense Net system. although these two sectors are likely users of the wireless sensor networking technology. entomologists. We asked the scientists a series of questions about the value of environmental data for them. as well as solving practical problems. On one hand.

research specialty and affiliation of researchers interviewed during the user experiment. Reddy Dr. Bhaskar Prof. The list is restricted to faculty members and senior researchers . J. Masaki Dr. Ananth Dr. Gowda Prof. Ali Prof. Mohan Raju Prof. Madhura Dr. Murthy Prof. Beena Dr. Shahidhar Dr. Kumar Prof. Reddy -Anonymous- Field of Research Agronomy Crop Physiology Forestry Farming Systems Entomology Crop Physiology Soil Physics Soil Science Genetics and Plant Breeding Crop Physiology Crop Physiology Crop Physiology Crop Physiology Crop Physiology Agronomy Crop Physiology Microbiology Veterinary Medicine Information Extension Affiliation UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS UAS BAIFF Karnataka State Agriculture Dpt Table 8.8. CHARTING THE PARADIGM SHIFT 125 Name Prof.1. Bhaskar Prof.1: Names. Parama Dr. Ashar Dr. Sheshshayee Dr. Suvarna Dr.N.

Interestingly. Groundnut. 8. Each and every participant wrote detailed comments. humidity and rain fall are also mentioned a significant number of times (see Table 8. soil type shows a bimodal result. Behavior observation: It is risky in such an experiment to rely solely on users’ opinions. Moreover. the participants tend to require high precision (less than five percent error). A detailed description of the questionnaires can be found in [PRS08]. i. As it will appear clearly in the next section.1 Experiment Results Questionnaires The questionnaire were answered thoroughly. Semi-structured meetings: Finally. Soil type. All participants but one identified environmental information as an important input for the study of rain-fed farming. followed by temperature.1.2 8. spatial granularity and precision).126 CHAPTER 8.e. and the other half considering that it should be performed at least every few hundred meters. Regarding spatial density. however. The participants chose primarily soil water content as the relevant constraint for rain-fed agriculture. one kilometer and above. comes first.2. 8. with almost half of the expressed opinions. one can classify the parameters into two categories: the parameters considered with a low spatial variability.2 Detailed Questionnaire The detailed questionnaire was filled after the users had some time to play with the application. This is why the scientists were encouraged to provide data sets in order to substantiate their answers (in the form of graphs or numbers). 8. This makes it possible to analyze the scientists’ behavior as well as their discourse.1. the lower limit is the day. in order to allow the participants to share their impressions in an informal discussion.1. a debriefing took place after the experiment.2.2. about half the users considering that a single measurement point is enough. such . 8. before participants had the occasion to use the application. And the parameters demanding high spatial variability (from 500m downwards): only soil moisture belongs to this category. As for the characteristics per parameters (desired rate. In particular. It is interesting to note. rain fall and atmospheric pressure.3. the queries they made to the database in order to retrieve data were recorded. 8. and only for a minority of users (less than 10 percent). they are depicted in Figs 8. As for the error tolerated for each parameter. Other indigenous crops are mentioned. Fig.4 shows the choice users made as for crop. this part turned out to be surprisingly rich in information. Only for soil moisture were hourly or more frequent measurements deemed appropriate. the time and space granularity of the data that they consulted was logged into a database.2).2. which is the crop currently most grown in the area. that in all cases but one (soil moisture).1 General Questionnaire This questionnaire was filled as a preliminary one. such as temperature. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM in a detailed questionnaire during the experiment. The required measurement frequency shows a wider distribution. 8.

7 shows the parameter distribution per crop. The next section clearly explains why. which still remains the second most important parameter. Farming constraints are depicted in Fig.2: General Questionnaire: Constraints identified as important by the participants (% of answers) as ragi. 8. This figure confirms that for each crop the parameters to take into account are the same.6) are consistent with those of the general questionnaire. The only notable difference is that temperature is now considered more important than soil moisture.represent also a significant group. . In other terms. 8. The results relative to the important parameters (Fig. EXPERIMENT RESULTS 127 Rain-Fall Pattern 16% Soil Type 17% Humidity 16% Soil Water Content 29% Temperature 22% Table 8. The results about parameter variability and tolerated error are not depicted.8. Pest and disease also rank high (at respectively 16 % and 18 %). except pest. while sun flower is not mentioned at all.2. because the results are are consistent with those of the general questionnaire. users did not noticeably change their mind after using the web application. while soil related concerns -physical properties and nutrient content. Not surprisingly. humidity) and insolation are not considered important parameters. pigeon pea and sorghum. Cotton and potato are mentioned only once. 8. Fig. however. crop water stress is considered by a wide margin to be the most stringent constraint to take into account for marginal agriculture (27 % of expressed opinions).5. which is not considered to be an issue for ragi. Weather (temperature.

Sensors for soil nutrient status are often mentioned as extra sensing devices. No senior researcher used spontaneously the on-line application.2 User Activity Logging This is the set of meta-data that was generated by the logging of participants interactions with the web application.128 CHAPTER 8. We mention some characteristic remarks hereunder.1. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM Measurement Rate 12 10 8 Monthly Weekly Daily Hourly 5 minutes 6 4 2 0 Humidity Soil Water Content Soil Type Temperature Rain Fall Pattern Figure 8. This part of the experiment led to inconclusive results. 8.1: General Questionnaire – Desired rate (y-axis: number of times a rate was chosen by the participants) 8.3 Comments The participants wrote extensive comments. 2. only six actually used the on-line application at some point. as they pondered the usage of this technology by marginal farmers. A complete set of comments can be found in [Pan07]. Out of the 30 participants.2.2. . The time they spent reflecting on the application seemed encouraging. All of them were PhD students and post-docs. 3. Several users questioned the capacity of farmers to act based on the environmental data collected. Bio-sensors are mentioned 5. 1. Soil physical characteristics are considered important as well 4. The accuracy of the system is mentioned as a constraint. commented on the technical accuracy required by such as system and elaborated on useful sensors that could be added to the data acquisition kit.

3 Debriefing Meetings Initially.measure of their interest. This paradoxical disinterest for the on-line application is discussed in the Discussion undertaken in the next question. the debriefing meetings were intended to gather the opinions of the participants in a more informal manner than during the experiment. per constraint (y-axis: number of times a granularity was chosen by the participants) The participants who used the application did in average 3 queries to the system. If people were able to come up with original use cases. The results were encouraging.8.2. we chose to address concrete use cases. The meetings were conducted with 8 Professors (out of the 10 who initially answered the survey). It made the debriefing meetings very important. they became a crucial element of the experiment. and in each case a concrete interest in using the technology provided. mostly to look at the soil moisture status. in light of the mismatch mentioned in the previous section. We found four compelling use cases. an extra. which would have been likely to bias the answers.2: General Questionnaire – Desired spatial granularity. However. Instead of asking these questions directly. Precise details about the requirements of each use case can be . we could then talk concretely about upcoming partnerships. 8. EXPERIMENT RESULTS 129 Measurement Granularity 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Humidity Soil Water Content Soil Type Temperature Rain Fall Pattern 100 meters 500 meters Kilometer Single Measure Meter Figure 8. and to assess their real level of interest. Additionally. that meant they had conducted a reflection about the tool. we discussed the application with a top NGO executive. and a critical conditions for the continuation of the project. and a local official of the agriculture department of Karnataka. in order to understand the mismatch between the interest manifested in the survey and the actual usage of the application.2. Moreover. The goal was to find out why the users had not used the application as expected.

• Sensors placed at 2 different depths • Experiment should last 2-3 years minimum • Bi-weekly measurements 1 8. 10 sensors per plot. but that would not give meaningful results from an agriculture point-of-view. especially rain fall. The main objective would be to observe the variation in nitrogen . per constraint (y-axis: number of times a precision was chosen by the participants) found in [PRS08]. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM Required Precision 12 10 8 1% 6 4 2 0 Humidity Soil Water Content Soil Type Temperature Rain Fall Pattern 5% 10% 30% Figure 8. soil moisture and soil temperature. etc.2.3. because the time-scale of farming operations is much larger. soil PH. having multiple measures per day would be useful. there is research to be conducted in the response at the root zone to different strategies of nutrient application and irrigation. 1 .2 Entomology The observation of pests present in the crop field shows that their activity depends on the weather. 8. Experiment would be meaningful if conducted in the following way: • 4 ha divided in 4 plots. There is a clear correlation between the rain patterns For research purposes.3: General Questionnaire – Desired precision of the measure.130 CHAPTER 8.2. phosphorus and potassium content.1 Soil Science Provided we can adapt nutrient sensors to the wireless nodes.3. in the context of nutrient dynamics under a system of multiple crops and trees. Appropriate sensors are of interest in order to understand the dynamics of nutrients and soil moisture.

This would make it possible to provide advance information on the intensity of pest damage to farmers. Moreover. If the soil moisture conditions are not favorable to them until the end of June.2. after October all the larvae enter pupation and emerge as adults after 20 days. temperature sensors in specific regions of endemic populations of these pests (sampling various soil texture typologies) will help to investigate. If there is rain before April 20th. has a similar biology but 2 months later than the white grubs. EXPERIMENT RESULTS 131 Crop Choice cotton 4% sorghum 12% potato 4% ragi 15% groundnut 50% pigeon pea 15% Figure 8.8. the Red Hairy Caterpillar. If the soil moisture conditions are not favorable to them during pupation.4: Detailed Questionnaire – Crops that are considered the most adapted to the region given the data provided by the application (% of the answers) and the emergence of adults of the insects from the soil. understand their biology . The hypothesis to verify is whether the insect’s activity depends on soil moisture evolution and accumulation of soil heat in the weeks prior to emergence. Another pest. Soil moisture. This happens in a fixed time of the year between the last week of April and the end of June. Emergence happens in two cycles. a large percentage of the population might die. . then there is no emergence. one in early July and the second in late September. a large percentage of the population might die.

it is necessary to test plants with different genotypes obtained by cross-breeding and to assess which one has the best ratio of biomass production per water used. The possibility to achieve crop improvement through selection would have a positive impact on yields achieved in rain-fed farming. Each pot should contain 1-4 probes (ECH2O) connected to one wireless sensor. as a proof of concept. The interviewee would like to conduct as soon as possible a first experiment with 30 pots. Bare plots are used as a benchmark to assess the effect of pure evaporation. without upper limit. His expressed interest is high.2. The tedious weighting procedure could then be avoided. in other terms the plant’s water efficiency. . they are weighted to assess the water lost in evapotranspiration. The experiment duration is typically 80 days from plant sowing (out of which 50 days of measures) The number of measures should be at least 4 per day. 8.3. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM Critical Constraints 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Soil Moisture Disease Pest Nutrient Soil Weather Day length Figure 8. The pots are filled daily with water up to field capacity. The goal is to replace the gravimetric method with soil moisture sensors that would give directly the volumetric content of water of the soil. plants in pots are used.3 Crop Physiology This use case is about the precise assessment of the ratio between the water that is transpired by the plant and the water that is evaporated.5: Detailed Questionnaire – Constraints to take into account in priority (y-axis: number of times a constraint was chosen by the participants) The interviewee expressed keen interest on the usage of WSNs.132 CHAPTER 8. For this. For this. A typical experience contains 120-200 pots. The next day. in a first stage to test the technology’s reliability and effectiveness. The method used for this test today is gravimetric method.

DISCUSSION 133 Critical Environmental Parameter 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Temperature Soil Water Content Rain-Fall Pattern Soil Type Humidity Atmospherique Pressure VaporPressure Deficit Figure 8. Two experiments are envisioned: 1. mulching. soil moisture is the ultimate measure of success or failure. etc. The NGO implemented a network of internet kiosks in several districts of Karnataka. In particular. regardless of the corresponding constraint (y-axis: number of times a constraint was chosen by the participants) 8. a major NGO working in the field of dry-land farming throughout India expressed interest in the WSN technology. such as fertilizer. At the central server.3. they redistribute the information they analyzed to the kiosks. 2. assessing the efficiency of underground drip irrigation.4 Water Management For a large NGO conducting applied research in the area of rain-fed farming. A second use case distinct from research validation is information sharing in rural kiosks.8. For both experiments. the possibility to increase soil water-retention capacity through different measures.3 Discussion Potential users expressed keen interest in several cases. wireless sensor networks are perceived as a promising validation tool. extension specialists are analyzing data they receive from local kiosks in the villages. This data consists in questions and environmental information. Then.2. Obtaining live data about soil moisture content for different types of soil would be an interesting complementary source. the goal is to bring the water directly to the root zone of the plant. Here.3.6: Detailed Questionnaire – Physical parameters most important to monitor. Such promising results . 8.

One central question is the potential of information-sharing with farmers.134 CHAPTER 8. Such an interest was already perceptible at the inception of the project.7: Detailed Questionnaire: Specific characteristics per Parameter must be tempered by the low response obtained by the application use. 8. The level of detail. This gap was filled during the individual interviews with scientists coming from academia. The case of the non-governmental sector is different. the scientists work directly in contact with the farmer. and to publish recommendations that are used by the agriculture department to relay information to the public (which is referred to as extension work). Will the results ever leave the lab and scientific reports to materialize in the field? According to our interviews with government officials [PRS08]. which we address in section 8. the creation of precise use case was not possible then. to investigate preventive or corrective actions when appropriate.3.3. at which scientists answered the on-line survey indicates a high level of interest and curiosity on their part.3. the initiative is now in the hands of the information and communication systems specialists. there is a large consensus as to the usefulness of using finer-grained environmental data for rain-fed agriculture. This makes them privileged partners. Large NGOs are conducting applied research aimed at improving farming practices in dry-land management. With four precise use cases and potential partners clearly identified. . However. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM Critical Constraints per Crop 30 25 20 Potato Cotton Sorghum Ragi Pigeon Pea groundnut 15 10 5 0 soil moisture desease pest nutrient soil temperature daylength Figure 8. the Indian institutional framework is very clear: The agriculture scientists are expected to provide scientific evidence of phenomena. In this case. as well as the non-governmental sector.1 Usefulness From the questionnaires.

since they use data of similar granularity obtained from conventional measurements without sensors. A similar result was obtained during a previous experiment conducted in 2006. any high-precision technology that comes at a price such that it is not possible to diversify the readings is not going to be usable. potassium) in the soil are mentioned repeatedly. Researchers have always viewed data gathering as a major constraint in research design and conceptualization. It is in this light that we suggest a co-learning process for agriculture researchers and sensor technology providers to evolve better and meaningful use cases. the researchers mostly want daily data. we had seen a clear difference of behavior between scientists used to working with environmental sensors and computers.3. However. the participants acknowledge in a majority of cases that such data could be used in the framework of their research. this is only a partial explanation to the observed phenomenon. At that time.3 Use We tried to provide possible explanations about the paradoxical low level of use recorded during the experiment. As a consequence. As a consequence. With low cost sensors. the exact precision to which sensors need to operate is still an open question. . It appears that certain elements of the current responses. however. the students and post-docs did not extensively use the application. 8. Measures shorter than a day are not a priori taken into consideration by scientists in the framework of an applied research for agriculture. We had not realized how diverse the concerns of agricultural scientists could be. as illustrated by the difference in handling the application from senior scientists and their younger. it is more important to be roughly right than precisely wrong. However. The development of such sensors is still at an experimental stage. phosphorus. During debriefing sessions. specifically about interface design [Pan06]. in-situ chemical sensors that could sense the concentration of nutrients (nitrogen. As a matter of fact. but some recent advances have been made for low-cost sensors using ion-selective electrodes [KHSM07]. The current experiment presents a completely contrasting situation with the provision of very rich data in both time and space for parameters of interest. Indeed. Parameters linked with the soil are pinpointed as having a high space variability. we sought to improve the interface. but such a gap remains. more work has to be done to integrate new. will change after some experience and / or contemplation on use of high time resolution data. more complex sensors to the current data acquisition kit. computer-savvy students. that would be contradictory with all the other results of the survey. It cannot be ruled out that this reflects the actual disinterest of the participants. which allows for the statistical elimination of outlying measurements. DISCUSSION 135 8. The accuracy is a recurring concern. The sampling period of the data (time variability) is still the object of uncertainty. particularly those related to time resolution. A posteriori.3. this can be explained by the difficulty in finding a one-size-fits-all scenario for the participants of the survey. despite their computer literacy.2 Usability New types of sensors were mentioned in the course of the experiment. However. Most prominently. Moderate computer literacy is a possible explanation. we gathered evidence that the responses are likely to change with time spent on reflection and experience with high-resolution data. In general. and those who did not have this expertise.8. At present. a relatively high error can be compensated by spatial diversity. when prompted by one of the authors with background in agriculture about possible uses for research.3. On the technical side.

4 Sectoral Analysis The response that we received from the government official illustrates the functioning of the Indian public sector when it comes to design and implementation of policies. in our case. This makes him or her a privileged partner in the field. In the second case.3. namely rain-fed farming. precision agriculture with high added-value) was considered too different from our focus of interest. the scientist works directly in contact with the farmer. to investigate preventive or corrective actions when appropriate. how do the needs and wishes of the farmers come to the scientific’s desk. the type of agriculture practiced (mechanized farming. USABILITY AND USEFULNESS OF THE SYSTEM 8. They are conducting applied research aimed at improving farming practices in dry-land management. The administrative role is one of information spreading and relaying to the public (which is referred to as extension work). there is currently a controversy surrounding the effects of large seeds providers on the livelihood of small and marginal farmers in India. In this case. Large NGOs do not restrict themselves to extension and implementation. although these two sectors are likely users of the wireless sensor networking technology. and to publish recommendations. and of control. ondemand irrigation. In the first case. . The academic institutions are expected to provide scientific evidence of phenomena. But we did not investigate this question. A valid concern to raise at this point is to question how the information is collected and forwarded in the other direction. It seemed premature to contact such firms in the framework of a rural development project. We did not extend our survey to the industry of agriculture inputs or to corporate agriculture. The case of the non-governmental sector is different.136 CHAPTER 8.

We particularly look at human capacity building through participation as a form of ICT education. 9. ”(. introduce a process of knowledge and capacity creation.). agricultural management. as Brewer et al. [BDD+ 05] reflected about technology needs. Therefore we outline three categories of ICT capacities. etc. cultural and economic conditions of developing countries into account in the design of hardware and software platforms. They show that ICTs can be applied to a wide spectrum of different areas to leverage development projects. namely systems that interconnect people. However. We address the value and the issues of another important area of ICT for development that in our opinion is still rather poorly researched: Environment-to-Person Information Systems (EPISs)..) Western market forces will continue to meet the needs of developing regions accidentally at best”.in the particular case of rural development. pollution monitoring. study apprenticeship as a form of knowledge and capacity appropriation and analyze it all in the execution of the COMMON Sense Net project. Such literature exclusively deals with Person-toPerson ICTS. such as phones or Internet-enabled computers. As such. In the same spirit. Several authors have discussed the formidable potential of ICTs to foster development in the South (Heeks.). We argue that development projects that focus on designing and building the tools for collecting and disclosing environmental information have a direct impact through 137 .sensor networks . etc. we advocate the importance of exploring the potential of an emerging technology . this sub-area of ICTs helps individuals and communities develop a better knowledge of the physical parameters that make up their environment (e. With the goal to improve living conditions. [Neg98]. We believe that rural communities and developing regions ask for innovative methods that go beyond traditional classroom learning. 2002 [Hee01]. and to develop applications that are well adapted to this context.1 Experimental Technology for Social Change? The COMMON-Sense Net project deals with an experimental technology: wireless sensor networks.g.Chapter 9 Building a Knowldedge Society with the Use of WSNs? Can an ICT engineering project contribute to building local ICT capacities for the Information Society in a developing country context? How can it achieve this? We address this question by applying a set of theoretical concepts to the COMMON Sense Net project. social. [Wal01]. in order to take the ecological. it is likely that it will not lead immediately to concrete ”economically profitable” applications.. These are systems that collect environmental information and communicate them to machines and people.

Toyama et al. To summarize. which we introduce in the following lines. This entertained a sustained interest in our system and allowed a progressive understanding of the wireless sensor networks’ technology and its potential applications. As a consequence. rather than studying economic feasibility. BUILDING A KNOWLDEDGE SOCIETY WITH THE USE OF WSNS? the artifacts they build. Country context mismatches (in terms of institutions. 9. but can also have an indirect impact through the ICT capacities they create via dynamic knowledge generation. Context and Knowledge Assets Nonaka. 9.) as well as hard-soft gaps (rational design versus cultural and political actuality) play a role all the more important if the system was designed in an industrialized context. the hybrid is a local farmer who is also an agronomist and who is familiar with information systems for having worked with them for more than a decade. 2001) [SLAH01]. In the CSN case. As explained in Chapters 6 and 8. we eventually refocused our efforts towards the scientists who had participated to the initial design of the system. infrastructures etc. This is no simple task. namely individuals who understand both the alien worlds of the community of users and of the community of designers/builders of the artifact. that participatory design in itself is no guarantee for success in developing countries. the CSN project uses participatory design extensively. failures can generally be explained by the distance (geographical. Heeks warns. We will analyze this hypothesis in the COMMON-Sense Net project for ICT-based agricultural water management in rural India. the organization of regular meetings and the presentation of environmental data that are immediately interpretable by scientists. Despite all these precautions. It is difficult at this stage of the project to talk about demonstrable gains.3 Knowledge Creation. After an initial positive response from farmers. a shared context for knowledge creation and the circulating knowledge assets. since these techniques have usually been developed in and for industrialized countries organizations. [NOO+ 00] outline four elements in the process of knowledge creation: The knowledge creation cycle. since we are using a technology still in its maturation phase and not yet widely available on the market.138 CHAPTER 9. cultural or socioeconomic) between the designers of the system and its intended community of users. A lesson to be drawn is that a participatory approach in a developing country is instrumental to success if and only if it integrates a tool to bridge the contextual gap between design and use. In order to bridge this gap. but leveraging on existing experience and success stories is possible (Sakthivadivel et al. Possible design/implementation gaps remained with this new user target. the interest of the rural community faltered in the absence of immediate impact of the CSN prototype on their livelihood. but they proved to be addressable with the action of our hybrid. it is important to keep in mind the ultimate benefits that local farmers will get from the system. As stated above.. Heeks advocates the usage of hybrids. which mitigates this risk. This being said. however. . The involvement of the agronomical scientific community and the ability to disseminate the obtained results to the population in a credible way are the key points. the success at bridging the cultural gap with farmers gave mixed results. we aim at verifying the hypothesis that resource-poor farmers can take benefit from a system similar to ours. who willingly participated to the user survey described in Chapter 4.2 Design/Implementation Gaps Heeks [Hee01] argues that the failures of information systems projects in developing countries are often caused by design-actuality gaps.

This process follows four modes feeding each-other in a spiral (Fig. Toyama et al. functions like a spiral describing the interactions between actors in order to transmit knowledge in it tacit or explicit form.3.1). The third phase of combining knowledge concerns the connection of the aspirations of the scientists with technical knowledge in rural engineering. and vice-versa. Socialization typically occurs in a traditional apprenticeship. with scientists’ feedback and/or recommendations on the proposed information. which Nonaka. The first phase of socialization concerns discussions between agricultural scientists to emphasize their desires and aspirations regarding agricultural water management. and the actions of individuals or groups in order to translate knowledge from tacit to explicit. Toyama et al. Third. In the COMMON Sense Net we aim at analyzing these four phases with regard to capacity building. It is often stressed that the particularities of the developing country context (stakeholders and environment) and technology development are highly dependent [BS98]. mention is the context. Externalization. KNOWLEDGE CREATION. which they call Ba. Toyama et al. CONTEXT AND KNOWLEDGE ASSETS 139 Figure 9. the combination process of converting explicit knowledge into more complex and systematic sets of explicit knowledge. This is particularly interesting for the case of ICT-for-Development projects such as COMMON Sense Net. call SECI (acronym for Socialization. water management and ICT in order to design a system. The second element of knowledge creation that Nonaka.9. 9. First. a Japanese concept that roughly translates into the English word “place”. Combination. Among several other diverse contexts most importantly figure the involved . the socialization process of transmitting and converting new tacit knowledge through shared experiences. The success of such a conversion depends on the sequential use of metaphor. The COMMON Sense Net project covers a wide diversity of contexts. the externalization process of articulating tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. analogy and model. Second. Internalization). Finally. then extending the acquired knowledge to the scientists. The fourth phase consists of applying the system in a controlled environment. 2000) The first element of knowledge creation.1: Knowledge creation cycle (Nonaka. the internalization process of embodying explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. which must be carefully considered during the execution of the project and the analysis of the ICT capacities. The loop starts over with phase one. The second phase of articulating their desires concerns discussions between scientists and technical specialists (the hybrid mentioned in the previous section and the system designers).

g. namely the gap between the technocrats who design systems using scientific knowledge and the local context characterized by ”irrational” cultural features. It is a self-organized process in which every individual takes ownership of the knowledge he or she is acquiring. skills. outputs and moderating factors of the knowledge-creating process. We claim that the resort to apprenticeship is such a tool. since these techniques have usually been developed in and for industrialized countries organizations. Heeks [Hee01] warns that this is no guarantee to success in developing countries. concepts. This recurring flaw calls for the concept of participatory design and implementation. Those assets are experiential (e. what Heeks calls design-actuality gaps.4 Apprenticeship & Participatory Methods to Develop ICT Capacities In the previous sections we presented the three axes along which capacities are built for creating an Information Society and argued that analyzing the knowledge creation process was central to understanding capacity building. Freeman’s definition of apprenticeship is ”learning by doing” [Fre02]. A lesson to be drawn is that a participatory approach in a developing country is instrumental to success if and only if it integrates a tool to bridge the contextual gap between design and use. In participatory approaches. 9. Cooper [Coo00] emphasizes the role that group working and end-user involvement can play in a successful implementation. manuals. This mapping process is at the core of the dynamic knowledge creation. [Sot03].g. the laboratories at EPFL in Switzerland and the laboratory at the University of Agriculture in Bangalore. it can be more integrated in the social structure and possibly more equitable since people not . Misconceptions. the end-user is constantly involved in the design and assessment of the product or service being developed for him. Not relying on formal teaching. Adapting this definition to our context and trying to be more specific. mention are the knowledge assets. All these assets need to be ’mapped’ in order to be usable. Knowledge assets are the inputs. rather than in a formal way in the classroom with a teacher.g. methods). The question is how much of a spill-over effect participatory learning can have on the development of more general ICT capacities. we consider apprenticeship as the process by which a person acquires a new knowledge or skill by imitation and interaction with someone who possesses that skill or knowledge already. We present it as an alternative to traditional classroom learning that can be very effective to instrumentalize knowledge as capacity in rural communities of developing regions. In the COMMON Sense Net project we particularly aim at observing the interaction between the tradition skills and know-how of the agricultural scientists in terms of agricultural water management and the modern concepts and ICT systems brought in through the project. seem to be at the root of most failures for Information Systems in developing countries. However. We define apprenticeship as a situation in which a learner works intensively with an expert to learn a new task that may necessitate the understanding of new concepts. organizational routines). Toyama et al. Our hypothesis is that there are some aspects of apprenticeship that make it particularly suited in the acquisition and integration of radically new paradigms of knowledge. systemic (technological platforms. libraries of software components) and routine-based (e.140 CHAPTER 9. know-how). designs. BUILDING A KNOWLDEDGE SOCIETY WITH THE USE OF WSNS? rural Indian village. The last element of knowledge creation that Nonaka. Particularly for Environment-to-Person Information Systems a participatory approach seems an appropriate tool that can help overcome some underlying barriers to the development of innovative environmental technologies [FH01]. In this section we study apprenticeship as the main mechanism through which we believe ICT knowledge and capacity will be created in the COMMON Sense Net project. conceptual (e.

Seeing an interactive map of the deployment and being able to look at extensive environmental data. The scientists. we completed one full cycle of the Knowledge Creation spiral. the resources or the will to attend classes can be reached through it. the expectations of farmers were clearly identified. If deployments of the tool can be finalized in a controlled environment. in other terms in convincing the local stake holders that a new formerly unheard of form of knowledge can be of value to them. the role of apprenticeship. the scientists showed an improved understanding of WSN and their capabilities. The COMMON-Sense Net project is proposing to local stake-holders an ICT system that will help them accomplishing more efficiently daily tasks in accordance with specifications they laid down themselves (in our case the information requirements for agricultural management). which we did in collaboration with our hybrid. . their time and space granularity and their error-tolerance). the constraints of rain-fed farming and research were understood. This was enough. the scientists were able to refine greatly their use case and determine constraints for our data collection system (parameters. since scientists will have to operate wireless sensor networks and process their data themselves.will become fundamental in the assessment of the system. who understands and uses the indigenous knowledge. however. we were able to define very general use cases for an environmental monitoring system. At this stage.5. where several meetings among farmers were organized in the villages. rather than knowledge provision proves to be a key-concept in integrating new forms of knowledge in traditional societies without losing the value of what indigenous knowledge brought to the community in the first place.9. because it was clear that what they expected were concrete demonstrable results before considering novel ways to practice agriculture. We reflected on the many challenges involved in this phase in Chapter 6. to build and test a prototype. Solving concrete issue one after another insures that people are interested in the process and increases the likelihood of them persevering in the endeavor. Ultimately. The challenge lies in bootstrapping the process. but masters also the language of technology and science.5 From Theory to Practice During the four years that the project lasted. showed keen interest. it is empowering. FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE 141 having the time. We are now at the combination phase of the second cycle. agriculture specialists and farmers exchanged information with the facilitation of our hybrid. already apparent in the use of our early system . a more formal teaching approach may be needed in order to form such a partner. This took a full two years before the system could be considered operational. It reserves surprises for the ”teacher” as well as for the student. and the local stake-holders were presented for the first time with a disruptive technology through several participatory meetings. knowledge exchange. 9. Then we came back to the scientists with early results for a new phase of socialization and externalization. Discussing the general case of rain-fed agriculture with them. But here again. In defining the use cases. The second phase of externalization provided a shared experience where communication scientists. One possibility is finding a local partner who speaks both languages.where scientists developed their understanding of fine-grained environmental monitoring through the observation of actual data . It allows for unexpected forms of organization to develop and is adaptive. Farmers became less involved at this point. but not to lay down precise requirements and conduct targeted experiments. In particular. The initial phase of socialization happened through the initial survey about information requirements. although they did not know anything about the technology and had problems initially to conceptualize it. which is described in Chapter 8.


143 . Then. The initial response. We also reported honestly all the pitfalls that could appear in similar projects. it is meant to be a thorough case study outlining a reusable methodology and a reusable platform. For the benefit of the research community. It is also the first documented example of an holistic approach in designing a WSN with a particular purpose through a participatory method including the main stakeholders . Ultimately. in developing regions as a whole. Using participatory design and a rigorous technical approach.Conclusion Wireless Sensor Networks are emerging as a fundamental block of the Internet of Things that is likely to emerge in the years to come in highly technological societies. successfully implementing the use cases isolated with the scientists will require more partnerships and deployments spanning one year or more. more work needs to be done in order to assess the usefulness of this toolkit in real conditions. Accordingly. we proceeded to a user experiment with scientists from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore. Promising use cases and user interest have been clearly identified at this point. In this thesis. This lead us to design and implement Sensor-Tune. with convincing results to show to the farmers. scientists and NGOs alike. we broadened the scope and sought to find relevant applications of this technology for issues specific to developing countries. Initial tests in the fields led us to consider a more conservative strategy by putting our toolkit at the disposal of scientists. to the best of our knowledge. a sonificationbased deployment-support tool that would enable non-specialists to handle wireless sensor networks in the field. However. This work is novel because it is the first example of an actual wireless sensor network in rural India and. We also came to the conclusion that using the toolkit in a controlled or semi-controlled environment was the most promising approach for the time being. farmers. we developed an integrated wireless sensor-network system that we tested in the field. We began by setting the context and showing the strengths of wireless sensor networks to tackle problems linked with the Millennium Goals. the technoology will have to be brought back to the cropping field. This system was deployed for an extended period of time in a village of Karnataka (India). As such. we presented our environmental monitoring toolkit and the lessons learned in a rural deployment over two years. based on environmental data collected in the field. Future Work Despite the successful design and implementation of an environmental monitoring toolkit.in our case. was positive. we highlighted the challenges that await similar initiatives. we presented an on-going research and implementation work on an environmental monitoring system primarily aimed at resource-poor farmers of developing countries. Based on our experience.

We successfully put the deployment of a WSN in a challenging indoor setting into the hands of non-specialists.144 CONCLUSION Future work also includes the formal testing of our deployment-support tool in the Indian context (typically with the agriculture scientists mentioned above). The use of a sonification-based interface proved to be useful. . the other environmental challenges identified in this thesis should be investigated in a similar project as COMMON-Sense Net. Bangalore itself is an ideal candidate for the air pollution monitoring example. Finally. but only a full deployment will be the measure of the tool.

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46 Sensing Cellular telemetry. 45 Knowledge Creation. 136 Irrigation Management.Index Agriculture. 117 157 . 12 Air Pollution. 25 Wind. 50 COMMON-Sense Net Data collection. 47 Agriculture. 134 User Survey. 137 Medium Access Control B-MAC. 23 Soil pH. 13 Karnataka. 47 Marginal Farming. 5 Participatory Methods. 61 Data Generation. 5 Environmental monitoring Design dimensions. 123 Web. 72 Wi-Fi. 58 Embedded. 71 Design. 69 Information survey. 8 Agriculture. 54 Usefulness. 26 Soil moisture. 140 Chennakeshavapura. 137 Gaps. 138 Karnataka. 25 Soil salinity. 107 Live. 135 Use. 124. 18 Remote sensing. 23 Precipitation. 104 Design. 18 Sensor Agriculture. 62 Design guidelines. 66 Millennium Development Goals. 66 Dozer. 63 Usability. 138 Knowledge Society. 26 Sensor-Tune. 10 Institutions. 7 Actors. 140 Pavagada. 68 Deployment Support. 44 System Overview. 61 Data Transport. 7 Pest and Disease. 114 User Experiment. 100 Developing Country Environmental Challenges. 64 Database. 63 GPRS. 43 Project. 25 Temperature. 17 Wireless sensor networks. 12 History. Indian Facts and Figures. 135 Use cases. 105 Prototype. 59 Partners. 13 Water Scarcity. 51 Methodology. 18 Stand-alone. 19 ICT4D. 108 History. 8 Apprenticeship.

26 Cattle monitoring. 102 Strategy. 64 Traffic. 26 Web. 103 Degradation. 130 Water Management. 101 Challenges. 64 Power consumption. 100 Wireless sensor networks. 20 Wireless Sesnor Networks Interfaces. 27 Examples. 21 Self-organization. 133 Water Quality. 104 Sound. 21 Mobility. 26 Medium Access Control. 39 Developing countries (examples). 130 Soil Science. 123 TinyNode. 31 Disease prevention.158 INDEX User Survey. 8 Use Case Crop Physiology. 36 Developing countries (challenges). 21 Vineyard. 132 Entomology. 99 Advantages. 112 Shockfish Mamaboard. 103 Sonification. 23 Wireless. 65 TinyOS. 99 . 10 Wireless Sensor Networks Developing Countries Strategy. 22 Multihop. 123 User Experiments. 69 Siemens TC65. 22 Modularity. 66 Radio range. 21 Power management. 20 Agriculture. 28 Developing countries (assets). 70 Signal and Noise Metaphor.

S WITZERLAND Project Manager. 2004 – present S CHOOL OF C OMPUTER AND C OMMUNICATION S CIENCES (IC) EPFL. 1995 ´ ´ E COLE P OLYTECHNIQUE F E D E RALE DE L AUSANNE (EPFL). in the area of mobile communications. 1970. Hungary) major in telecommunications. German . insurances. 1990 – July. with an experience in development projects.fluent. minor in mobile communications Master (MSc. Sep. English .panchard phone: +41 21 6935613 . Sep. EDUCATION PhD. Sep. Switzerland on March 25. Switzerland PERSONAL Born in Lausanne.panchard@epfl. My PhD focuses on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for rural development in India.) in Communication Systems. S WITZERLAND thesis title: Wireless Sensor Networks for Marginal Farming in India advisor: Prof.native. July. Java and WebObjects) e-mail: jacques.epfl.ch url: http://people. Internet and Web.fluent RESEARCH Senior Communication Systems Engineer. system designer and project leader in Switzerland and California. Switzerland e e Station 14 CH-1015 Lausanne. 1999 – 2002 I NFO D ESIGN C OMMUNICATIONS SA G ENEVA .JACQUES PANCHARD Research and teaching assistant Laboratory for computer Communications and Applications (LCA) School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique F´ d´ rale de Lausanne). student in communication systems. Jean-Pierre Hubaux expected graduation: August 2008 Diploma (Dipl. international organizations (programming in Perl. I worked as IT consultant. Languages: French . S WITZERLAND thesis title: Assessment of the VCELP Vocoder for Mobile Communications advisor: Pr. minor in mobile communications PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE Research and teaching assistant. S OPHIA A NTIPOLIS .ch/jacques. F RANCE major in telecommunications. 2004 – present EPFL. 1995 ´ I NSTITUT E UR E COM . Prior to that. I will complete my PhD at EPFL in summer 2008. Ing.) in Communication Systems. 1990 – July. Citizen of Switzerland. Dirk Slock (Ericsson Research. S WITZERLAND Design and implementation of strategic web portals in the area of banking.

a wireless telephone system designed and developed for use in rural areas IT Junior Consultant.. e S WISS AGENCY FOR D EVELOPMENT AND C OOPERATION. EPFL – 2005 Embedded Systems.in Dr. Bridge Architectures for the COMMON-Sense Net Project. Chief Project Advisor. Switzerland Room BC 207. P ETALUMA .DDC Grant for Projects in Development and Cooperation (CHF 500’000) REFERENCES Prof. 1996 L OGICA Z URICH . 2007 Behnaz Bostanipour. EPFL – 2007 Supervised projects Ga¨ l Ravot. EPFL – 2006. 2007. Detection and Prevention. semester.S. hsjam@cedt. Software Design Engineer. Chairman. 2007 Julien Giraudi. apittet@cedt. Bangalore. Prototype of WSN for Water Management in India. C ENTRE FOR E LECTRONIC D ESIGN AND T ECHNOLOGIES I NDIAN I NSTITUTE OF S CIENCE. 2005 e e Sathya Anand. Bangalore. 2008 Computer Networks. CA. S WITZERLAND TEACHING Teaching assistant Mobile Networks. USA Projects for telecommunications companies including Cerent Corporation (now part of Cisco) and Alcatel USA. is now part of Turin Networks. jean-pierre. CA. USA Software design and development on the Advanced Rural Telephone System (ARTS). India +91 (80) 2 360 08 08. 1998 – 1999 E LLIPSIS C OMMUNICATIONS C ORP.iisc.ernet. 1997 – 1998 N USANTARA C OMMUNICATIONS P ETALUMA .ch Prof. Ellipsis Communications Corp.Senior IT Consultant. Full Professor. Power Management Issues in the COMMON-Sense Net Project. Sound-based Monitoring of Wireless Sensor Networks. 2006 Jean Rossier and Ga¨ l Charri` re. Jean-Pierre Hubaux. Andr´ Pittet. EPFL. +41 21 6932627. master. sem. 2007 e Stefan Staehli. master.in .iisc..hubaux@epfl. H. intern. semester.ernet. Jamadagni. 2004 AWARDS Selected paper at ICTD 2006 for MIT Press Journal Publication EPFL. Sudden Node Death in WSNs: Causes. India +91 (80)2 3600 809. WSN for Environmental Monitoring: Data Exchange.

3. M.PUBLICATIONS Journals J. 2007. 2006. 4. Hubaux. 2006.-P.Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries (IFIP WG9. San Francisco. MobiRoute: Routing towards a Mobile Sink for Improving Lifetime in Sensor Networks. J. J.Applied to an ICT-based agricultural water management system. COMMON-Sense Net: A Wireless Sensor Network for Resource-Poor Agriculture in the Semiarid Areas of Developing Countries. M. and J. 8. . Rao. Panchard. T. Technical report. J. P. Sensor Network Deployment For Agronomical Data Gathering in Semi-Arid Regions. Hubaux. Prabhakar. S. Sheshshayee. Wireless Sensor Networking for Rain-fed Farming Decision Support – User Survey. In Information Technologies and International Development. 4(1):51-67. and J. S. Luo. P. Jamadagni. Berkeley. Jamadagni. J. Rao. J. J. 2008. Workshops 1. Conferences.4). S. Abuja. T. Papadimitratos. M. Panchard. Sujay. S. H. Panchard. Chalapathi Rao. Rao. T. Computer-assisted Cognition: Using Wireless Sensor Networks to Assist the Monitoring of Agricultural Fields. N. and S. Rao. Osterwalder. In the 2nd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems (DCOSS). and H. M. and A. In IEEE International Conference on COMmunication System softWAre and middlewaRE (COMSWARE). Technical report. Panchard and A. 5. J. Hubaux. 2007. Panchard. In ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Networked Systems for Developing Regions. MIT Press.-P. Bangalore. Technical Reports 7. 2006. Grossglauser. 2. S. Hubaux. Jamadagni.-P. S. H. COMMON-Sense Net: Improved Water Management for Resource-Poor Farmers via Sensor Networks. V. Sheshshayee.-P. Panchard. J. In Conference of the International Federation of Information Processing . Wireless sensor networks for applied research on rainfed farming in India: an exploratory user experiment. V. Piorkowski. S. J. Prabhakar. Panchard. 6. In International Conference on Communication and Information Technologies and Development (ICTD). V. Prabhakar. Seattle. ICTs and Capacity Building through Apprenticeship and Participatory Methods . Pittet. and J. 2008. Panchard. 2005.

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