Urban sensing, community (wireless) networks, intelligent edges & social tagging (Part III or X)


Architectural Elements of the Intelligent Edge Networks

Originally I wrote parts of this blog from Paris – while attending the Ubuntu Summit. An interesting set of activities, I will have to write about it one of these days …

For now, let us concentrate on the architectural elements that have been discussed conceptually in various research papers as well as pragmatically from various projects …

A) Sensor Network stack has layers similar to the OSI layers
An excellent paper from UCB [1] describes a sensor network in terms of :

  • L3: Packet routing,
  • L4: Local collaborative information processing,
  • L5: Wide-Area data dissemination,
  • L6: Wide-area collaborative information processing and
  • L7: User-level tasking and querying.

In this model, the L3-L5 are Network Level Events(NLE) which should be handled by an edge platform say a wireless AP. The L6 and L7 are definitely application responsibilities.

B) But unlike the internet, routing is an overhead in a sensor network
One important characteristic of the sensor networks, that separate them from the internet, is the fact that a sensor network predominantly derives utility from the data it gathers, while Internet gathers most of its utility from routing the data.

C) And so a data-centric routing approach makes more sense
The identity of node is less important i.e. the content is more relevant than the node itself. In short, what we need is data-centric routing – optimizing the path to a piece of information (or from a piece of information) with the minimum power!

D) So does sensor clustering …
Many sensors in the same vicinity will have redundant data and for optimization all of them need not transmit the data across a whole sensor network; an intelligent edge can instruct the sensors when to transmit and when not to transmit, thus optimizing the network for redundancy, resiliency and accuracy while conserving power and bandwidth! This requires semantic capability (i.e. the edge needs to know what the data is all about and where they come from) with context based information …

[1] Data-Centric Storage in Sensornets with GHT, A Geographic Hash Table

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