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Comment: What CitySense is not... (Score 1) 75

by Matt Welsh (#19098817) Attached to: Cambridge's Streetlamp-Powered Wireless Network
I happen to be one of the lead investigators on the CitySense project. It's cool to be slashdotted; and funny to read the comments from people who jump to incorrect conclusions based only on reading this fairly high-level and (admittedly not very good) article. If you want to know more check out our web page: http://www.citysense.net/. One of the big problems with popular press is that it is not targeted at folks who read Slashdot and crave the technical details.

CitySense is intended to be the first (to our knowledge) wireless _sensor_ network to span an entire city. The goal is not to provide public WiFi access; as many others have noted, there are other projects afoot focusing on that. We hope to leverage existing wireless mesh routing from projects like Roofnet and CUWin rather than reinvent the wheel there.

The main focus on CitySense is to provide an open testbed to support wireless sensor research - which means that the CitySense nodes (Linux PCs using 802.11a/b/g an various sensors) will be programmable. We plan to open up CitySense allowing anyone (even the l33t h4x0rs who read Slashdot...) to upload and run custom programs on the testbed. We envision researchers using CitySense to study wireless routing and MAC protocols; to better understand how 802.11 works in a dense urban setting with a great deal of interference and existing wireless networks; to implement new distributed services and systems; and to support domain scientists gathering data from the various sensors to understand things like how weather and wind patterns affect air pollution and particulate transport in the atmosphere. If you have other ideas of what CitySense might be useful for I'd encourage you to drop me an email.

There are plenty of research challenges to address here. The major difference between CitySense and most of the public WiFi networks is that it will be programmable by external users; so reliability is of upmost concern. We'll need to develop some form of sandboxing to prevent users from hogging resources; and come up with appropriate policies for controlling access to the radios and sensors. Another major effort is developing an appropriate distributed programming model to make application development easier, to deal with failuree gracefully, and to automate software updates across the testbed. We think it's pretty cool stuff to be working on. Thanks for your comments.

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