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Research

Technology Research

  • Programming and Platforms

    The Programming and Platforms research group aims to advance the state of the art in scalable, distributed observing systems. To this end, our research efforts focus on two critical areas: (1) the design and evaluation of architectures and programming systems and (2) the development of practical tools and platforms. Together, these two research directions will eventually (and, in some cases, already) enable the scientists to field sophisticated, rapidly reconfigurable, multi-user observing systems that support advanced sensing modalities.

  • Multiscaled Actuated Sensing

    CENS extensive field experimentation has uncovered new requirements for characterizing previously unknown phenomena. The complexity and dynamic nature of the observed phenomena present measurement challenges that are well beyond the capabilities of traditional methods. Rapid spatiotemporal variation, constraints demanding rapid deployment, and the requirements for mapping phenomena over large areas lead to new ENS system research objectives and metrics that include: fidelity of observation, ability to share resources, rapidity of deployment, timeliness of observation result, and deployment parsimony. Multi-scale actuation methods offer algorithms and systems that enable system optimization with respect to these observation metrics. These require the introduction of a sensing and actuation hierarchy that augments the static fixed sensor network.

  • Embeddable Sensors

    Small, low-cost, robust, reliable, and sensitive sensors are needed to enable the realization of practical and economical sensor networks. The strategy of the sensor group is to work on application-driven and commercially unavailable sensors. In addition to better performance, the technological emphases are miniaturization and automation (ease of use) of the developed sensors. The sensors research group focuses on amperometric, potentiometric, and spectrochemical approaches to detecting contaminants such as nitrate and domoic acid, as well as the micro?uidic systems necessary to prepare samples.

  • Statistics and Data Practices

    Data, statistical models and inferential procedures permeate CENS research, from the four founding scientific application areas to the more recent urban sensing campaigns and “n-of-one” personal data collection exercises. In addition to our collaborative work with application scientists, we also focus on three cross-cutting activities: (1) General statistical models for embedded sensing, with specific applications to data quality and continuous sampling, (2) Significant CENS-designed and supported databases and repositories, and (3) Studies into the data lifecycle for embedded sensing systems. On their own, these three tell a story of data sharing and reuse, of application-driven system design, and of the multiple levels of analysis that take place simultaneously in an interdisciplinary center like CENS.

 

Applications Research

  • Terrestrial Ecology Observing Systems

    Researchers in the Terrestrial Ecology Observing Systems (TEOS) group use advanced sensing systems to investigate critical ecological processes. Current themes include the integration of simultaneous measurements of multiple processes and the linking of short burst events with long-term trend analysis. We couple human, camera, and sensor measurements to detect ecosystem responses to environmental events ranging from sun flecks to freeze–thaw cycles to monsoonal rains to major storms.

  • Containment Transport and Management

    ConTAM research focuses on developing technology to observe and manage mass and energy distributions and ?uxes across a range of temporal and synoptic scales. Currently, the contaminant transport group emphasizes data assimilation and model-driven analysis. This work includes, for instance, the calibration of soil zone moisture, energy, and contaminant propagation models, which are then used to manage an irrigation system in real time. In addition, we use data assimilation approaches to gain the maximum return on deployment investments in the soil irrigation domain, and we model high resolution river data in terms of primary production and hydrodynamic mixing.

  • Aquatic Observing Systems

    The overarching theme of the Center’s Aquatic application area is the creation and application of a new genre of wireless sensing systems that will provide real-time monitoring capabilities of chemical, physical and biological parameters in freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Temporal and spatial measurements at high-resolution are essential to developing an understanding of the dynamic nature of aquatic ecosystems and the rapid response of microbial communities to environmental driving forces. Our unique approach to aquatic sensing and sampling, Networked Aquatic Microbial Observing Systems (NAMOS), uses coordinated measurements between stationary sensing nodes and robotic vehicles (surface robotic boats and more recently autonomous underwater vehicles) to provide in-situ, real-time presence for observing plankton dynamics (e.g. chlorophyll concentration, dissolved oxygen) and linking them to pertinent environmental variables (e.g. temperature, light, nutrients, etc.). Sensing and sampling capabilities of the autonomous vehicles are carried out through the development of adaptive protocols, directed through the network. These systems enable the generation and testing of novel hypotheses regarding the processes that control the distribution, growth and demise of aquatic microbial populations.

  • Seismic Applications

    The Seismic group comprises research teams focused on geophysics and structural engineering. We conduct scientific research using CENS concepts and systems, and we collaborate in the development of new technologies that will be used in future deployments. Our current research portfolio includes the Peru Subduction Zone Experiment and the development of a common seismic sensing platform that can be used to monitor both aftershock and volcanic zones and structures in the built environment.

  • Participatory Sensing

    Urban sensing brings innovative measurement systems into everyday life. Sustainable design, healthy living, and effective stewardship of the world’s limited resources, require a deep understanding of how countless individual actions generate global effects and how individuals relate to their local environments — natural, built and cultural. Until now, scientists, NGOs, policy-makers, and the public have had to choose between examining the broad characteristics of large populations and looking at small groups in detail. Urban sensing targets technologies and applications that transform our capacity to help individuals, families, and communities monitor and improve their health behaviors, adopt sustainable practices in resource consumption, and participate in civic processes. We envision personal, urban, and global scale data collection and analysis using “everyday” technologies like mobile phones, and allowing individuals to decide what, where, and when to sense.

 


Project Archive: View Research areas and projects from previous years.