New wireless sensor network keeps tabs on the environment

June 4, 2008

Have you ever wondered what happens in the rainforest when no one is looking? Research in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science may soon be able to answer that question.

The departments of computing science and earth and atmospheric science have been working together to create a Wireless Sensor Network that allows for the clandestine data collection of environmental factors in remote locations and its monitoring from anywhere in the world where the Internet is available.

The research team, including Pawel Gburzynski, Mario Nascimento, and Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, recently launched EcoNet, a functional model of a WSN for environmental monitoring in the display house in the University of Alberta's Agriculture/Forestry Centre. The display house hosts a small but feature-rich environment that mimics that of a tropical forest. Using a WSN, a number of sensors can continuously monitor factors like temperature and luminosity and will process, store and transmit data co-operatively and wirelessly with other sensors to generate data that can then be collected and made available to users virtually anywhere on the globe. The sensors represent a technology for researchers to monitor diverse phenomena continuously and inconspicuously.

Having the data continuously monitored by researchers substantially increases the chances of uncovering anomalies early enough to investigate them promptly and thoroughly.

The overall framework of WSN can also be extended for use in other closely related scenarios such as monitoring potentially dangerous situations like hazardous waste disposal, or hard-to-witness phenomena such as ice cap movements in the Arctic.

The opportunities these sensors will provide to scientists are paramount in a global environment that is changing at an ever-increasing pace.

Once the display-house prototype is tested and customized, at least two sites are to be fully deployed in the fall, one likely in the Brazilian rainforest, and the other in a forest in Panama.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: New motion sensors a major step toward low-cost, high-performance wearable technology

Related Stories

Digital pills successfully monitor opioid use after injury

November 20, 2017

Digital pills - gelatin capsules that contain an ingestible sensor along with medication - can help track patterns of drug use, and Brigham and Women's Hospital clinicians are among the first to explore the application of ...

Sensor-equipped pill raises technological, ethical questions

November 17, 2017

The first drug with a sensor embedded in a pill that alerts doctors when patients have taken their medications was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, raiding issues involving privacy, cost, and whether patients ...

Research shows drones could help crop management take off

November 17, 2017

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, could help farmers determine if their crop is growing satisfactorily, according to a recent study conducted by University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture ...

Recommended for you

Scientists dispute missing dryland forests

November 21, 2017

Scientists are disputing the possibility that a significant portion of the world's forests have been missed in an earlier accounting of ecological diversity.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.