Collaborative Communication and Storage for Sensor Networks in Challenging Environments

Funded by NSF CAREER award (NSF-1066391, $422,955, 6/2010-5/2015)



This project concerns the sustainability and reliability of sensor networks in challenging (e.g., extreme) environments. In a challenged sensor network, a predictable and stable path may never exist, the network connectivity is intermittent, and a node could suddenly appear or disappear. The rare upload opportunity and unpredictable node disruptions often result in data loss. The unpredictable network disruptions make the traditional communication protocols inefficient and require a new design paradigm to combat network disruptions and maintain reliable operations. The driven research idea of this project is collaborative communication and storage – an integrated approach which cooperatively configures resources to increase disruption resilience, data persistence and network lifetime, and capture the fluctuating connectivity for data delivery. The expected outcomes of this project are (1) the innovative architecture principles, algorithms and protocols, design and evaluation methodologies for sensor networks in challenging environments, (2) the design and implementation of an integrated collaborative communication and storage middleware, and the running prototype sensor network systems in relevant environments, and (3) the curriculum and test bed enhancement for undergraduate and graduate research and courses, and educational outreach activities to K-12 students, minority groups and local communities. This project will greatly promote the confident use of sensor networks in challenging environments and enable new applications and economics. The outcomes of this project will be broadly disseminated to academic and industrial communities through international conferences, journals, media and intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations.


Screen snapshot of intermittent data delivery of OASIS station 12 during Nov. 9 -10, 2009. This has happened when harsh weather conditions occured or battery was depleting. See more examples in our live OASIS network in Mount St. Helens.

Research Plans

In this project, we design an innovative collaborative communication and storage middleware to sustain reliable and efficient operations of sensor networks in challenging environments. The middleware mainly consists of three components:

  • Collaborative Topology Control middleware systematically adjusts radio configurations to combat network disruptions, increase network reliability and disruption resilience, and prolong network lifetime in challenging environments.
  • Collaborative Data Delivery middleware integrates collaborative routing, forwarding and network erasure coding protocols to capture the fluctuating connectivity for disruption-resilient data delivery.
  • Collaborative Storage Management middleware collaboratively utilizes network storages to increase data persistence, so that the data more likely survives and eventually reaches a data sink, even as nodes fail.



Paritosh Ramanan, Goutham Kamath, and Wen-Zhan Song , NetTomo: A Tomographic approach towards Network Diagnosis, Submitted to GlobeCom 2014, 2014.

WenZhan Song, Mingsen Xu, Debraj De, and Deukhyoun Heo , ECPC: Towards Preserving Downtime Data Persistence in Disruptive Wireless Sensor Networks, ACM Transaction on Sensor Networks (ACM TOSN), To Appear, 2014. [PDF]

Mingsen Xu, Wen-Zhan Song, and Yichuan Zhao , Collaborative Data Collection with Opportunistic Network Erasure Coding, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems (TPDS), 10/2013, Volume 24, Issue 10, 2013. [PDF]

Mingsen Xu, Wen-Zhan Song, Deukhyoun Heo, Jong-Hoon Kim, and Byeong-Sam Kim , ECPC: Preserve Downtime Data Persistence in Disruptive Sensor Networks, 10th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-hoc and Sensor Systems (IEEE MASS), 2013.

Mingsen Xu, and Wen-Zhan Song , Ravine Streams: Persistent Data Streams in Disruptive Sensor Networks, The 10th Annual IEEE Communications Society Conference on Sensor and Ad Hoc Communications and Networks (IEEE SECON) , New Orleans, LA , 2013. (acceptance ratio 29%: 51 out of 173) [PDF]

Mingsen Xu, and Wen-Zhan Song , Collaborative Data Delivery in Energy-Synchronized Sensor Networks, The 8th IEEE International Conference on Networked Sensing Systems (IEEE INSS), 2011.[PDF]

Lei Shi, Wen-Zhan Song, Mingsen Xu, Alex Zelikovsky, and Li Yu , Collaborative Topology Control for Lifetime Maximization, The 7th International Conference on Mobile Ad-hoc and Sensor Networks (MSN), 2011. (Best Student Paper Award) [PDF]

Mingsen Xu, Wen-Zhan Song, and Yichuan Zhao , Opportunistic Network Erasure Coding in Disruptive Sensor Network, The 8th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Sensor Systems ( IEEE MASS’11), 2011. (acceptance ratio 27%: 51 out of 185) [PDF]



  • Paritosh Romanan
  • Debraj De
  • Lei Shi
  • Mingsen Xu (graduated 2013)