Sensor Network Challenges for Intelligent Buildings

Alberto Cerpa,


Sensor networks will play a fundamental role in future intelligent buildings. There are two basic areas that we envision this technology having a critical impact; these are energy conservation and security. Most of the power consumption in most countries is done inside buildings. Furthermore, the largest consumers of energy are the richest, most developed countries, and the proportion of energy used inside buildings is much larger in those nations than the rest. Regarding security, it is clear that having a large number of sensors in the building that can monitor human movement further increase the levels of security in the building. Having multiple sensing points can provide greater capability, as is leveraged commonly by sensor arrays such as in radar systems or binocular vision. There are significant advantages for this technology to have an impact in intelligent buildings. First of all, sensor networks use small and non-intrusive devices. They have relatively low power consumption at the system level, which implies long lifetime per deployment. Second, it is possible to retrofit old buildings to do sensing and monitoring with minimal changes, and even integrate them with HVAC systems for finer grained distributed control in all new and old buildings --if they have one--, as long as these systems provide an open API. Finally, a large number of parameters could be measured to capture spatial and temporal distributions at a much finer granularity than other technologies available. For example, a sensor network system consisting thousands of sensors in a building could capture temperature, humidity, light and human mobility at a spatial and temporal granularity not available today.




Alberto Cerpa,, "Sensor Network Challenges for Intelligent Buildings," Proceedings of the National Workshop on Beyond SCADA: Networked Embedded Control for Cyber Physical Systems, pp. 2 pages, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD), Pittsburgh, PA, USA, November, 2006.


  author =       "Alberto Cerpa",
  title =        "Sensor Network Challenges for Intelligent Buildings",
  booktitle =    "Proceedings of the National Workshop on Beyond SCADA:
                 Networked Embedded Control for Cyber Physical Systems",
  year =         "2006",
  pages =        "2 pages",
  month =        nov,
  address =      "Pittsburgh, PA, USA",
  publisher =    "Networking and Information Technology Research and
                 Development (NITRD)",
  URL =          "",


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