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Not All Wireless Sensor Networks Are Created Equal:
A Comparative Study on Tunnels

This page contains additional material related to the paper:

Luca Mottola, Gian Pietro Picco, Matteo Ceriotti, Stefan Guna, and Amy L. Murphy.
Not All Wireless Sensor Networks Are Created Equal: A Comparative Study On Tunnels.
In ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks Volume 7, Issue 2. August 2010.


Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are envisioned for a number of application scenarios. Doss Trento's Tunnel Nevertheless, the few in-the-field experiences typically focus on the features of a specific system, and rarely report about the characteristics of the target environment, especially w.r.t. the behavior and performance of low-power wireless communication. The TRITon project, funded by our local administration, aims to improve safety and reduce maintenance costs of road tunnels, using a WSN-based control infrastructure. The access to real tunnels within TRITon gives us the opportunity to experimentally assess the peculiarities of this environment, hitherto not investigated in the WSN field.
We report about three deployments:
  • an operational road tunnel, enabling us to assess the impact of vehicular traffic;
  • a non-operational tunnel, providing insights into analogous scenarios (e.g., underground mines) without vehicles;
  • a vineyard, serving as a baseline representative of the existing literature.
Our setup, replicated in each deployment, uses mainstream WSN hardware, and popular MAC and routing protocols. We analyze and compare the deployments w.r.t. reliability, stability, and asymmetry of links, the accuracy of link quality estimators, and the impact of these aspects on MAC and routing layers. Our analysis shows that a number of criteria commonly used in the design of WSN protocols do not hold in tunnels. Therefore, our results are useful for designing networking solutions operating efficiently in similar environments.

tunnel data

The traces are freely available. However, if you use them in your own work, please properly cite the paper above (bibtex)