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Shio Kumar Singh et al.


Vol No. 1, Issue No. 2, 085 - 095

Applications, Classifications, and Selections of

Energy-Efficient Routing Protocols for Wireless
Sensor Networks
Shio Kumar Singh* M. P. Singh D. K. Singh
Maintenance Engineering Department (Electrical) Dept. of Comp Sc. Engg. Dept. of Electronics & Com Engg
Tata Steel Limited, Jamshedpur-831001, Jharkhand, India National Institute of Technology Birla Institute of Technology Patna, Bihar, India Sindri, Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India

Abstract - Wireless sensor network (WSN) is an network (WSN). It has been extensively studied for

emerging technology that promises a wide range of conventional wireless networks in the last couple of
potential applications in both civilian and military decades and significant advances have been obtained
areas. It provides unprecedented opportunities for in various aspects of wireless communication. At the
a variety of civilian and military applications physical layer, a variety of modulation,
namely, environment monitoring, industrial ES synchronization, and antenna techniques have been
process control, and battle field surveillance [1]. designed for different network scenarios and
Wireless sensors have significant advantages over applications. Whereas at higher layers, efficient
conventional wired sensors [8]. They can not only communication protocols have been developed to
reduce the cost and delay in deployment, but also address various networking issues, for example
be applied to any environment, especially those in medium access control, routing QoS, and network
which conventional wired sensor networks are security. These communication techniques and
impossible to be deployed, for example, protocols provide a rich technological background
inhospitable terrains, battle-fields, outer space, or for the design of wireless communication in WSNs.
deep oceans.
Today, most conventional wireless network use radio
A wide variety of applications and systems with frequency (RF) for communication, which has
vastly varying requirements and characteristics advantages of not requiring a line of sight. However,
have been designed and implemented. Thus, a RF has some limitations, for example, large radiators
single routing protocol cannot be efficient for and low transmission efficiencies [5,6], which make
sensor networks across all applications and it is RF not the best communication medium for tiny

daunting engineers to select network architectures energy-constrained sensor nodes. Another

and associated routing protocols for application communication medium in sensor networks is free-
areas of WSNs. In this paper, we analyze the space optical communications, which has many
design issues of sensor networks and present a advantages over RF communication [6] such as
classification and selection of routing protocols extremely small mirrors and diodes, high antenna
that are suitable for a particular application. gains, no communication overheads, more energy
efficient, and thus producing higher transmission
Keywords - Wireless Sensor Networks, Routing efficiencies. However, optical communication
protocols, Applications requires a line of sight and accurate pointing for
transmission, which also limits the use in many
I. INTRODUCTION sensor network applications. On the other hand, most
communication protocols for conventional wireless
Wireless communication is a key technology for
networks, for example, cellular systems, wireless
enabling the normal operation of a wireless sensor

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local area networks (WLANs), wireless personal The remainder of this paper is organized in the
area networks (WPANs), and mobile ad hoc following way. Section 2 summarizes typical
networks (MANETs) do not consider the unique applications of WSN. Sections 3 and 4 contain the
characteristics of sensor networks, in particular, the classification of WSN and routing protocols. Section
energy constraint in sensor nodes. Therefore, they 5 presents comparative table for selection of
cannot be applied directly without modification. A appropriate routing protocols for applications. Finally,
new suite of network protocols are needed to address paper is concluded in Section 6.
various networking issues, taking into account the
unique characteristics of WSNs. II. APPLICATIONS OF WSN
Wireless sensors networks (WSNs) [4,5] have
WSN is distinguished from traditional wireless
attracted tremendous attention of the research
communication networks, for example, cellular
community in recent years and a vast amount of
systems and mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) and
research work has been conducted solve the

have unique characteristics such as densely
practical and theoretical issues. This has resulted in
deployment of node, higher unreliability of sensor
a surge of civil and military applications over the
nodes, and severe energy, computation, and storage
last few years. Today, most deployed WSNs
constraints [5,14], which present many new
measure scalar physical phenomenon line
challenges in the development and applications of
ES temperature, pressure, humidity, or location of
objects. In general, most sensor networks are
designed for delay-tolerant and low-bandwidth
Wireless sensor network (WSN) is an emerging
applications. For this reason most research on
technology that promises a wide range of potential
sensor networks has concentrated on this low-power
applications in both civilian and military areas. The
and delay-tolerant network paradigm, which is
development of WSNs largely depends on the
referred as terrestrial sensor networks.
availability of low-cost and low-power hardware and
software platforms for sensor networks. With the
WSNs were originally motivated by military
micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS)
applications, which range from large-scale acoustic
technology, the size and cost of a sensor node have
surveillance systems for ocean surveillance to small
been significantly reduced. On the other hand,
networks of unattended ground sensors for ground
energy efficiency can significantly be enhanced if
target detection [1]. However, the availability of
energy awareness is incorporated in the design of
low-cost sensors and wireless communication has
system software, including the operating system, and
promised the development of a wide range of
application and network protocols. System lifetime
applications in both civilian and military fields. In

can considerably be prolonged by incorporation

this section, we introduce a few examples of sensor
energy awareness into task scheduling process [7].
network applications. Applications of WSN [5] are
summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Applications of WSNs

Area Purpose Applications
Environmental Monitoring variety of  Habitat monitoring: conditions of wild animals or plants in wild habitats,
Monitoring environmental environmental parameters of habitats, for example, humidity, pressure, temperature,
parameters or conditions and radiation.
 Air or water quality monitoring: hydrochemistry field, air pollution control.
 Hazard monitoring: biological or chemical hazards in locations, for example, a
chemical plant or a battlefield.
 Disaster monitoring: detecting forest fire or floods, direction and magnitude of
quake, providing assessment of the building safety.

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Military Military command,  Battlefield monitoring: presence and tracking movements of forces and vehicles,
Applications control communication enabling close surveillance of opposing forces.
and intelligence (C3I)  Object protection: protection of atomic plants, strategic bridges, oil and gas
system [4,5] pipelines, communication centers, military headquarters.
 Intelligent guiding: to guide the unmanned robotic vehicles, tanks, fighter plans,
submarines, missiles, or torpedoes around the obstacles to target and to lead them to
coordinate with one another to accomplish more effective attacks or defenses.
 Remote sensing: remote sensing of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons,
detection of potential terrorist attacks, and reconnaissance [4,5].
Health Care To monitor and track  Behavior monitoring: to monitor behavior of the patient at home for alerting
Applications elders and patients for doctors for providing emergency medical attention, providing instructions to the
health care purposes, patient over television or radio.
thereby significantly  Medical monitoring: monitoring of vital signs, environmental parameters, and
relieving shortage of geographical locations for long-term, noninvasive, and ambulatory monitoring of
health case personal and patients or elderly people with instantaneous alerts to health care personal in case of

reducing health care emergency, immediate reports to users about their current health statuses, and real-
expenditures [9] time updates of user’s medical records [10].
Industrial For monitoring  Monitoring and control of production processes: monitoring and control of
Process manufacturing processes assembly lines, production plants and processes.
Control and condition of  Condition monitoring: of pipelines, machines.

equipment for reducing

For surveillance
lifetime, and safety of
of  Identifying and tracking intruders: deployment of sensors in building, airports,
buildings and critical subways, and other critical infrastructures, for example, nuclear power plants or
installations communication centers to identify and track intruders to provide timely alarms and
protection from attacks.
Home To provide more  Smart home: a smart refrigerator connected to smart stove or microwave oven can
Networks convenient and prepare a menu based on the inventory of the refrigerator and send relevant cooking
intelligent living parameters to the smart stove or microwave oven for setting desired temperature and
environments for human time for cooking [11]. Remote monitoring and control of contents and schedules of
beings TV, VCR, DVD, or CD players.
 Remote monitoring: to remotely read utility meters in a home, for example, water,
gas, or electricity, and then send the readings to a remote center through wireless
communication [12].
However, there applications which require mobile

In addition to the above applications, self- sensor network, for example, wireless biosensor
configurable WSNs can be used in many other network using autonomously controlled animals
application areas, for example, disaster relief, traffic [15]. The design of mobile sensor networks
control, warehouse management, and civil increases the complexity of implementation due to
engineering. the mobility effect.
 Deterministic and non-deterministic network:
III. CLASSIFICATIONS OF WSN Deterministic sensor network are used in
situations where the positions of sensor nodes are
According specific application, different
preplanned and are fixed once deployed.
characteristics and different criteria, WSNs can be
However, in harsh or hostile environments where
classified into the following categories:
sensors cannot be deployed in preplanned manner,
 Static and mobile network: There are many
non-deterministic sensor network is used which
applications that require static sensor network,
are randomly deployed without preplanning and
which is simpler to control and easier to implement.

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engineering. Non-deterministic sensor networks are able to autonomously organize and maintain their
are more scalable and flexible, but require higher connectivity by themselves and collaboratively
control complexity. accomplish a sensing task. They are suitable for large-
 Static-sink and mobile-sink network: In a static- scale networks to perform complicated sensing tasks.
sink sensor network, the sink(s) is static with a On the other hand, in non-self-configurable sensor
fixed position located close to or inside a sensing network, sensor nodes have no ability to organize
region. Static-sink network is simple to control, themselves into a network and rely on the central
but causes hotspot effect [16] due to increased controller to control each sensor node and collect
traffic that sensor nodes are required to forward in information from them. They are suitable for small-
the event of distance becoming smaller to the data scale networks.
sink. This results into sensor nodes closest to the  Homogeneous and heterogeneous network: In a
data sink to die early and causing network homogeneous sensor network, all sensor nodes have the
partition and disruption of normal network same capabilities in terms of energy, computation, and

operation. On the other hand, in mobile-sink storage. Whereas, a heterogeneous sensor network has
sensor network, the sink(s) move around in the some sophisticated sensor nodes that are equipped with
sensing region to collect data from sensor nodes, more processing and communicating capabilities than
which can balance the traffic load of sensor nodes normal sensor nodes. This improves the energy
and alleviate the hotspot effect in the network. efficiency and prolongs the lifetime of network.
 Single-sink and multi-sink network: In a single-
sink sensor network, there is only one sink located
close to or inside the sensing region and all sensor
nodes send their sensed data to this sink. In multi-
sink sensor network, there may be several sinks
located in different positions close to or inside the
According the way that data are collected, WSNs can be
classified into the following three types;
 Homogeneous sensor networks: A homogenous
network consists of base stations and sensor nodes
equipped with equal capabilities in terms of
sensing region and sensor nodes can send their computational power and storage capacity. There
sensed data to the closest sink, which can are two structures used in such network namely,
effectively balance the traffic load of sensor nodes flat and hierarchical networks. In flat network,
and alleviate the hotspot effect in the network. data aggregation is accomplished by data-centric
 Single-hop and multi-hop network: In a single-hop routing where the base station usually transmits a
sensor network, all sensor nodes transmit their query message to the sensor nodes via flooding,
sensed data directly to the sink, which makes and the sensor nodes that have data matching the
network control simpler to implement. However, query will send response messages back to the
this is costly in terms of both energy consumption base station. The sensor nodes communicate with

and hardware implementation. It is suitable for the base station via multi-hop routes by using peer
applications in small sensing areas with sparsely nodes as relays. The choice of a particular
deployed sensor nodes. In multi-hop sensor communication protocol depends on the specific
network, sensor nodes transmit their sensed data to application [16]. In a hierarchical network, sensor
the sink using short-range wireless communication nodes are organized into clusters where the cluster
via one or more immediate nodes where they may heads serve as simple relays for transmitting the
perform routing, aggregation and forwarding of data. Since the cluster heads have the same
data. It eliminates data redundancy and improves transmission capacity as the sensor nodes, the
the energy efficiency of the network. It has wider minimum requirement on the number of clusters
range of applications at the cost of higher control can be derived from the upper bound of the
complexity. throughput. Higher throughput can be achieved by
 Self-reconfigurable and non-self-reconfigurable using clustering at the cost of having extra nodes
network: In a self-configurable network, sensor nodes functioned as cluster heads. Data aggregation in a

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hierarchical network involves data fusion at real-time manner. Hybrid sensor networks can
cluster heads, which reduces the number of achieve longer lifetime and can also improve the
messages transmitted to the base station, and efficiency of data gathering [17]. A mobile base
hence improves the energy efficiency of the station prefers the hybrid architecture, by which a
network. mobile base station can communicate with other
 Heterogeneous sensor networks: A sensor nodes by using a WSN protocol and with
heterogeneous sensor network consists of base other base stations by using a MANET protocol.
stations (fixed and mobile), sensor nodes, and
sophisticated sensor nodes with advanced IV. CLASSIFICATION OF ROUTING
embedded processing and communicating PROTOCOLS IN WSN
capabilities as compared to normal sensor nodes.
There are different ways in which the routing
Data gathering can be executed at the mobile base
protocols of WSNs can be classified. Table 2 and 3
stations [17]. In such networks, mobile base
show classification and comparison respectively of

stations move randomly in the area of the
major routing protocols proposed for WSNs [56, 57,
deployed network, collecting data directly from
normal sensor nodes, or use some surrounding
sensor nodes to relay the data.
 Hybrid sensor networks: In a hybrid sensor
network, several mobile base stations work

cooperatively to provide fast data gathering in a

Table 2: Classification of Routing Protocols for WSNs

Sensor nodes are addressed by means of their locations.
Representative Protocols
MECN[26], SMECN[27], GAF[19],
Protocols Location information for sensor nodes is required to calculate GEAR[20], Span[21,22], TBF[23],
the distance between two particular nodes for estimating energy BVGF[24], GeRaF[25]
Data-centric When the source sensors send their data to the sink, SPIN[28,29], Directed Diffusion[30,31],
Protocols intermediate sensors can perform some form of aggregation on Rumor Routing[32], COUGAR[33],
the data originating from multiple source sensors and send the ACQUIRE[34], EAD[35],
aggregated data toward the sink, thereby resulting into energy
savings because of less transmissions requirement to send data.
Hierarchical Hierarchical clustering protocol is an energy-efficient LEACH[36,37], PEGASIS[38],
Protocols communication protocol that can be used by the sensors to HEED[39,30], TEEN[41,42],
report their sensed data to the sink. APTEEN[43], Singh et al. [3]

Mobility-based In mobility-based routing protocols, sink mobility requires SEAD[46], Joint Mobility and
Protocols energy-efficient protocols to guarantee data delivery originated Routing[44], Data MULES[45], Dynamic
from source sensors toward mobile sinks. Proxy Tree-Base Data Dissemination[47]
Multipath-based In multipath routing, each source sensor finds the first shortest Sensor-Disjoint Multipath[48,49], Braided
Protocols paths to the sink and divides its load evenly among these paths. Multipath[48,49], N-to-1 Multipath
Heterogeneity- In heterogeneity sensor network architecture, there are two IDSQ[49,50], CADR[51], CHR[52]
based Protocols types of sensors namely line-powered sensors which have no
energy constraint, and the battery-powered sensors having
limited lifetime.
Quality of service QoS considers requirements in terms of delay, reliability, and SAR[53], SPEED[54], Energy-aware
(QoS)-based fault tolerance in routing in WSNs. routing[55]

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Table 3: Comparison of Routing Protocols in WSNs

Routing Protocols Classification Scalability Power Mobility Over- Query- Data Localization
Usage heads based Aggregation

MECN[26], Location-based No Maxm. No Moderate No No Yes

SMECN[27] Location-based No Maxm. No Moderate No No Yes
GAF[19] Location-based Good Limited Limited Moderate No No Yes
Span[21,22] Location-based Limited Limited Limited High No No No
GEAR[20] Location-based Limited Limited Limited Moderate Yes No Yes
TBF[23] Location-based Limited Limited Limited Moderate No No Yes
BVGF[24] Location-based Limited High Limited Moderate No No Yes
GeRaF[25] Location-based Limited Limited Limited Low No No No
SPIN[28,29] Data-centric Limited Limited Possible Low Yes Yes No
Directed Data-centric Limited Limited Limited Low Yes Yes Yes

Rumor Routing[32] Data-centric Good Low Limited Low Yes Yes No
COUGAR[33] Data-centric Limited Limited No High Yes Yes No
ACQUIRE[34] Data-centric Limited Low Limited Low Yes Yes No
LEACH[36,37] Hierarchical Good Maxm. Fixed BS High No Yes Yes
PEGASIS[38] Hierarchical Good ES Maxm. Fixed BS Low No No Yes
HEED[39,30] Hierarchical Good Maxm. Fixed BS Moderate No Yes Yes
TEEN[41,42] Hierarchical Good Maxm. Fixed BS High No Yes Yes
APTEEN[43] Hierarchical Good Maxm. Fixed BS High No Yes Yes
Singh et al. [3] Hierarchical Good Maxm. Fixed BS Low No Yes Yes
Joint Mobility and Mobility-based Moderate Medium High Low No No No
Data MULES[45] Mobility-based Good Low High Low No No No
Sensor-Disjoint Multipath-based Limited Medium Possible Moderate No Yes
Braided Multipath-based Limited Medium Possible Moderate No Yes
IDSQ[49,50] Heterogeneity Limited High Possible Moderate Yes No
CADR[51] Heterogeneity Limited Limited No Low Yes Yes No
SAR[53] QoS Limited High No High Yes Yes No
SPEED[54] QoS Limited Low No Low Yes No No
functionally distributed to exploit resources, and
V. SELECTION OF ROUTING should provide reliability differentiation to support

PROTOCOLS different reliability grades in order to suit the

requirements of different applications regarding
There are number of routing protocols proposed to the
throughput, latency and energy consumption [18].
wireless network environment. Different applications
Tables 4 present selection of routing protocols in
require different types of routing protocols having
WSNs for particular applications [56,57,58].
different grades of reliability. However, routing
protocols in WSNs should be energy-efficient,

Table 4: Selection of Routing Protocols for particular applications in WSNs

Application Routing Protocols Topology Data Delivery Model QoS Amount of
Environmental SPAN, GAF, Cluster Head, Periodic, Location- Fault tolerance Minimum
Monitoring COUGAR, Multi-hop, aware, Query-driven and Large
ACQUIRE, Direct Multi-path

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Diffusion (DD)
Military GAF Multi-hop Location-aware Collaborative Large
Healthcare GBR, SAR Cluster-head Periodic Real-time Maximum
Industrial Process SAR Three-tiered Continuous Reliable Moderate
Home Networks GEAR, APTEEN Three-tiered Hybrid Collaborative Large
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Short Biography
Shio Kumar Singh is Head of Maintenance Engineering Department (Electrical)
at Tata Steel Limited, Jamshedpur, India. He received degrees in both Electrical
and Electronics engineering, as well as M.Sc.(Engg.) in Power Electronics from
Regional Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, India. He also obtained “Executive
Post Graduate Diploma in International Business” from Indian Institute of Foreign
Trade (IIFT), New Delhi, India. He is an accomplished academician with rich
industrial experience in design, development, implementation and marketing &

sales of IT, Automation, and Telecommunication solutions, Electrical &

Electronics maintenance, process improvement initiatives (Six-sigma, TPM,
TOC), and Training & Development in a distinguished career spanning over 30
years. He has published number of papers in both national and international
journals and has presented these in various seminars and symposiums.
He is author of several engineering books such as Database Management System, Industrial
Instrumentation and Control, and Process Control Systems published by Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill,
and Prentice-Hall of India. He is widely traveled and has visited various industries in Europe and South
Asian countries for study and marketing of process automation systems. He has been conferred the
Eminent Engineer and Distinguished Engineer Awards by The Institution of Engineers (India) for his
contributions to the field of computer science and engineering. He is a Chartered Engineers and also a
Fellow Member (FIE) of The Institution of Engineers (India).

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Vol No. 1, Issue No. 2, 085 - 095

Dr. M. P. Singh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science

and Engineering at National Institute of Technology Patna, Bihar, India. He has
experience of five years. He has authored number of papers which have been
published in both national and international journals. His research interest is in the
area of Wireless Sensor Network, Mobile Computing

Dr. D. K. Singh is presently working as Head, Department of Electronics and

Communication & Information Technology, BIT Sindri, Dhanbad. He has more
than 20 years of teaching experience. He is heading the department of Electronics
and Communication & Information technology since 2002. He is instrumental in
starting the curriculum on information technology. He has published more than 35
papers in journals and conferences. He has already supervised 01 thesis in

computer Science & Engg and 05 research scholars are presently enrolled for their
doctoral degree. The area of research he works are Coding theory, cryptography,
optical Amplifiers, Photonic Crystal Fibers, e-Governance and Educational
Planning. He is member and conveners of various computerization programs of
BIT Sindri, Vinoba Bhave University, Ranchi University. He is also a Fellow
Member (FIE) of The Institution of Engineers (India).

ISSN: 2230-7818 @ 2010 All rights Reserved. Page 95