The successful deployment of a large scale solar powered wireless sensor network in an urban, desert environment is a very complex task. Specific cities of such environments cause a variety of operational problems, ranging from hardware faults to operational challenges, for instance due to the high variability of solar energy availability. Even a seemingly functional sensor network created in the lab does not guarantee reliable long term operation, which is absolutely necessary given the cost and difficulty of accessing sensor nodes in urban environments. As part of a larger traffic flow wireless sensor network project, we conducted several deployments in the last two years to evaluate the long-term performance of solar-powered urban wireless sensor networks in a desert area. In this article, we share our experiences in all domains of sensor network operations, from the conception of hardware to post-deployment analysis, including operational constraints that directly impact the software that can be run. We illustrate these experiences using numerous experimental results, and present multiple unexpected operational problems as well as some possible solutions to address them. We also show that current technology is far from meeting all operational constraints for these demanding applications, in which sensor networks are to operate for years to become economically appealing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Hardware and Architecture
- Computer Networks and Communications