Good family man or sulking teenager: an update on our data network

May be an image of outdoors

The data from the lawn network of our citizen science project (CNidT) is transmitted via the Internet of Things. With its 5,000 connected sensors, CNidT is also the largest Internet of Things network in Belgium. Pioneering work, therefore, and that gives as many interesting surprises as challenges.

The name, Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to a set of devices that are connected to the Internet. In this way, the devices can send data to the cloud, communicate with databases or exchange data among themselves.

Many devices on the IoT are equipped with a sensor to collect data. In the case of CNidT, the soil sensor has several sensors that measure air temperature, soil temperature or soil moisture every 15 minutes. Via a SIM card, the sensors are connected to Orange’s IoT network and once a day the collected data is transmitted to our database and the participants’ dashboards (you can check out the dashboard of the sensor at the University of Antwerp here!).

After over a month of data collection, we now have a great view of how faithfully the lawn daggers transmit their data to the CuriousNoses database at UAntwerpen. What is surprising is that part of the network reacts like a “good family man”, while another part acts more like a “sulking teenager”.

Schermafbeelding 2021-05-11 om 11.24.41

About 50% of all sensors send their data every 24 hours (these are the good family men). The other 50% still like to hold the data for one or more days, only to send it all in one burst at a later time (these are the stubborn teenagers).

Is your garden dagger by any chance a sulking teenager? No need to panick yet. You won’t indeed see new data appearing on your dashboard every 24 hours. But this data is not lost: the data is stored in the internal memory of the soil sensor and transmitted when there is connection again. Either way, this data gets ultimately included in our analyses.

From an Internet of Things perspective, these good and bad lawn daggers are highly fascinating: why is the network reacting the way it is? Is there reduced coverage in certain locations? Are there large trees or buildings nearby? Or does the weather play a role in connection reliability? And what can we learn from this for the future rollout of large IoT networks? We are currently investigating these interesting questions with partner Orange, sensor builder TOMST and the Internet of Things wizards at ID lab at UAntwerpen.

Text by Sanne de Rooij, translated by Jonas Lembrechts

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