Empirical investigation of wireless sensor network performance in noisy environments

21 Jul 2016

Purpose ? The purpose of this work is to assess the influence of ambient noise on the performance of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) empirically and, based on these findings, develop a mathematical tool to assist technicians to determine the maximum inter-node separation before deploying a new WSN. Design/methodology/approach ? A WSN test platform is set up in an electromagnetically shielded environment (RF chamber) to accurately control and quantify the ambient noise level. The test platform is subsequently placed in an operational laboratory to record network performance in typical unshielded spaces. Results from the RF chamber and the real-life environments are analysed. Findings ? A minimum signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at which the network still functions was found to be of the order 30 dB. In the real-life scenarios (machines, telecommunications and computer laboratories), the measured SNR exceeded this minimum value by more than 20 dB. This is due to the low ambient industrial noise levels observed in the 2.4 GHz ISM band for typical environments found at academic institutions. It, therefore, suggests that WSNs are less prone to industrial interferences than anticipated. Originality/value ? A predictive mathematical tool is developed that can be used by technicians to determine the maximum inter-node separation before the WSN is deployed. The tool yields reliable results and promises to save installation time.