Because being “green” is the first thing you think of when disaster happens

From Eurekalert, this inanity. What next, calls to reduce the beam power of NEXRAD weather radar systems so they are more “green”? I’m all for power efficiency in remote sensing, but leave it at that. Calling it “green” just sounds ridiculous in the headline context. – Anthony

Greener disaster alerts

Low-energy wireless sensor networks warn of hurricanes, earthquakes

New software allows wireless sensor networks to run at much lower energy, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Sensor Networks. The technology could improve efficiency for hurricane and other natural disaster warning systems.

Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are used to monitor ecosystems, wild and urban environments. They have been vital in predicting events that threaten species and environments, including gathering information from animal habitats, in volcanic activity monitoring, flash-flood alerts and environmental monitoring. Wireless sensing in densely populated urban communities can be invaluable not only in monitoring the physical environment, but also for focusing on the impact people and their vehicles have on that environment through mobile emissions monitoring. Such sensing allows consideration to be given to such factors in planning for sustainable development. Unfortunately, the benefits of WSNs come at a price – they require energy.

Computer scientist Patricia Morreale of Kean University in Union, New Jersey and colleagues Feng Qi and Paul Croft of Kean’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, explain how a mesh network of wireless sensors reports data to a central site for environmental monitoring and risk identification. They have developed such a system that reduces the energy requirements compared to conventional WSNs.

The new approach to WSNs is, they say, considered green because of the reduced energy demands in use and by the overall network as well as its actual application. It is designed so that environmental information can be obtained and communicated through periodic updates rather than the usual “timestamp synchronization” approach of conventional WSNs. “This reduces the amount of communication required between network nodes, resulting in an overall energy saving, while not compromising the nature of the data gathered,” the team says. “The sensor network applications provide an outstanding representation of green networking as sparse but sufficient environmental monitoring, accompanied by real-time data analysis, and historical pattern identification permits risk identification in support of public safety and protection.”

The software underpinning the new approach can monitor and check incoming sensor data against an existing database and produce charts predicting the sensors’ next most likely reading. The team explains that by implementing a system that monitors and distinguishes between normal sensor variations and underlying patterns it can be used to generate real-time alarms, the moment a pattern or new event emerged. This is critical in early warnings of potentially catastrophic and fast-moving natural disasters, the team says.

The GWSN – green-WSN – can, at the moment, only predict the next reading based on past values. The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.

###

“A green wireless sensor network for environmental monitoring and risk identification” in Int. J. Sensor Networks, 2011, 10, 73-82

About these ads
This entry was posted in Ridiculae and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Because being “green” is the first thing you think of when disaster happens

  1. jorgekafkazar says:

    “Whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.”

  2. “Such sensing allows consideration to be given to such factors in planning for sustainable development. Unfortunately, the benefits of WSNs come at a price – they require energy.”

    One for the “you gotta be kidding” category. (Otherwise, consideration, I suppose, would not be given…)

  3. Gary Hladik says:

    Each unit comes with its own “green” micro wind turbine, despite conservationist complaints that the blades shred too many mosquitos. :-)

  4. Couldn’t find the original paper to see what it was really about, but the press release makes absolutely no sense. Probably another example of someone using the “green” word in the hope of getting more funding. I suspect that there may have been some errors in the translation of technical terms to everyday English.

    Distributed sensor networks are already about as low power as one can be running on CPU’s taking microamps of power in sleep mode, advanced power management algorithms and able to use solar power or other exotic potential energy sources that really only make sense in a situation like this. There are all sort of network topologies that allow the sensors to talk to one another and the main factor in reducing power consumption, IMO, is to only send data which are relevant and this is something that will vary based on the application. The problem one gets is that if one eliminates handshaking between sensors, then one doesn’t know if data has been passed on. I have no idea what they mean about estimation of future readings for any time or date – perhaps they are recycling climate prediction software.

  5. Steve Schaper says:

    Energy is good. We need more energy, not less.

    Ultimately the “Sustainable” movement winds up as 12 Monkeys.

  6. Ray says:

    Inanity or Insanity…

    What about green war machines, green nukes, green bullets…

  7. Eyal Porat says:

    Pathetic.
    One thing is omitted from this press release: the numbers.
    How much energy is being used today versus how much will be used in the “green” system.
    I am sure that as soon as people see the numbers they will realize it is just another exercise in futility.

  8. Alicia Frost says:

    I think we will be finding soon that through Google news/search you will no longer get ANY negative AGW stories as those 21 AGW appointees start to really get into those Search algorithms to weed out any non religious items. This is probably one of the greatest threats/affronts to free speech ever. See Revkin NYT
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/online-climate-explored-at-google/

  9. Lew Skannen says:

    What we need is maybe a tidal powered tsunami alert !
    How green is that?!?

  10. Martin C says:

    So, how much energy does the sensor network use? How many sensors, over what distance, etc. Then how much will be saved with the new system? Are we talking thousands of watts, or 10s of watts? Why not tie them to solar?

    It would have been nice if the article talked about this – then again, if the savings is only in the 10s of watts category, the article would have seemed absurd for all the effort going in ( . . perhaps that’s why it wasn’t mentioned . . .? . .just asking . . . )

  11. pat says:

    I have a rather complicated construction project this weekend. These seem to be just the people I want on my team./
    Because our tsunami/hurricane sirens, already 200′ above sea level, with a back up system at sea level, operating with battery/solar/and generated power, in effect since 1984, seem insufficient to them. And while we have strained to come up with something even more redundant, the nuclear power plant for each siren was rejected.
    So these geniuses must have a lot to share.

  12. Hoser says:

    Sounds strangely reminiscent of global circulation models and CAGW. They make predictions about future events too. However, when the readings don’t match the predictions, they don’t sound the alarm. How about that?

  13. crosspatch says:

    And again, the entire root of this is because they believe CO2 is harmful. Well, a tornado bearing down on people is a LOT more harmful than any CO2 that might be emitted due to the energy consumption of the RADAR units.

    But aside from that, nobody has shown that the CO2 emissions, while increasing, are harmful in any way. All of this is based on a hypothesis backed up by a computer program that is fed data that is “adjusted” to provide the desired result.

    Nearly the entire year of 2008 saw global temperatures below the 30 year average. Where’s the “global warming”?

  14. Don K says:

    I believe that many remote sensors are in places where connection to the power grid is troublesome or impossible. And one would probably prefer that some of the sensors that could be grid powered keep on running when the power grid is down.

    So what do they use? In many cases, solar with battery backup. Lower power means smaller solar arrays and smaller backup batteries. Lower cost. Fewer siting problems

  15. anna v says:

    I am afraid that word smithing will go to its final phase: AGW,Climate Change, Climate Disruption, …,Greening Climate :) .

    That is green because I believe the colour of dollars is still green? Helps for getting grants?

  16. RichyRoo2011 says:

    “The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.”

    - wow saves all that pesky sciencing, we can just predict the future now?! aaaargh!

  17. Seamus Dubh says:

    I agree all this green this, sustainable that, eco greenwashing talking points is getting rather sickening. I’m fine with the fact it uses less energy or is made with recycled material or it’s actually saving me money, just don’t force it. Nothing turns people off more when you emphasize the altruisticness of the subject of choice, no matter what it is.

  18. Jimbo says:

    Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are used to monitor ecosystems, wild and urban environments. They have been vital in predicting events that threaten species and environments, including gathering information from animal habitats, in volcanic activity monitoring, flash-flood alerts and environmental monitoring.

    Sounds like ‘more‘ hurricanes Better detection? (Doplar rada, satellites)
    Get ready for an ‘increased‘ frequency of environmental disasters. ;O) If only all these tools were around in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

  19. Jimbo says:

    Sounds like ‘more‘ hurricanes better detection? (Doplar radar, satellites)

  20. Stephen Skinner says:

    The trouble with the term ‘green’ it is indeterminate and emotive. All technological development from the Newcomen engine to present technology has followed a path of improving efficiency, or pursuing the aim of more bangs for bucks. I prefer the terms ‘more efficient’ and/or ‘less polluting’. It is possible to measure against these terms as opposed to something that is ‘green’ and improvements can continue as they always have done.

    In addition what is this trying to say? “Unfortunately, the benefits of WSNs come at a price – they require energy.” There is no ‘unfortunately’. It is a system that provides (hopefully valuable) weather warnings. Period.

  21. Steve C says:

    I must be getting old. Surely it’s “greenest” to connect the sensors back to the base unit with old-fashioned copper wire, rather than to equip each one with its own local interface, transmitter and (now necessary) power supply? My old (“supermarket grade”!) weather station used wire to its external sensor and one battery; my newer one is wireless linked and needs two batteries. I rest my case.

  22. Andy says:

    “The GWSN – green-WSN – can, at the moment, only predict the next reading based on past values. The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.”

    The next logical step when actual measurements fail to prove AGW, model the sensor input. Now the AGW crowd can create any instrument record they need.

  23. Robert Wille says:

    I’m quite sick of people hyping up miniscule energy efficiencies as if they made any real difference. Apple sells a battery charger, and its main bragging point is that it draws significantly less current than a typical charger when you’re not charging batteries. A quick calculation yields that the power savings in a month are equivalent to turning off a 60 watt light bulb for a few minutes.

    My cell phone nags me to unplug the charger to conserve energy. It’s ridiculous. It makes people feel like they are making a difference when it makes absolutely no difference at all.

    I’ll bet these new gadgets reduce power consumption by about .000000001%. Let’s have a party!

  24. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Steve Schaper said June 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm
    Energy is good. We need more energy, not less

    And ther eyou have it; the enviromentalists are anti energy, especially electricity. For them, the use of fire is mankind’s Origial Sin.

  25. DocD says:

    “The GWSN – green-WSN – can, at the moment, only predict the next reading based on past values. The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.”

    Errrm, unless they have a time machine then you can only ever base predictions on past values (and the present value of course)… Optimization cannot change that, it only optimizes what you have! What they mean is that they are changing the *model* that predicts/estimates future values. Like running a Kalman filter forward without any update steps… but that soon goes wild. Who do they think they are kidding with this “any date and time” nonsense??? And really, what has that got at all to do with wireless sensor networks??

  26. John Marshall says:

    Some radio networks require a given amount of energy to sustain the system in all conditions. Whilst they may work at low energy levels on a good day will they on the worst day. Probably not. If the network is part of a warning system then they must work 24/7 in all conditions.

    Enough said.

  27. Jimmy Haigh says:

    How can I put this? What has happened, in the last 30 or so years, since political correctness has taken hold, is that – well, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

  28. Jeff says:

    the fact that they left out any numbers, before/after, tells me that the energy savings are tiny and most likely not worth the added expense.

  29. H.R. says:

    “Low-energy wireless sensor networks warn of hurricanes, earthquakes”

    So we’re going backwards in technology? In the good ol’ days they had wireless sensor networks to warn of disaster; they called them “people,” and those people hollered out the window to the next farm over to duck and cover.

    We’ve steadily improved on that original system and the improvements came with a corresponding increase in energy use. For my money, I’d like to see continued improvement in detection and warning systems and energy considerations can be wa-a-a-a-y down the list after all else is taken care of, but that’s just me.

    Detection and warning systems are very good nowadays but emergency response needs a lot of work. Just look at any recent evacuation operation and the corrresponding parking-lot of cars on the roads out of the affected areas and you’ll get my drift.

    All of the energy savings in mW of improvements to detectors goes up in the smoke of just a few cars idling for hours as they wait to evacuate an area.

  30. 1DandyTroll says:

    So, essentially, the first time they fail with their new and approved green system they’re really gonna get embarrassed to the point of trying to hide it, and in the end blaming it on a software bug. The software is just great though, but . . . new and green and use 0.005% less energy or something.

  31. CB says:

    Cretins, your techno-savy is puny:
    The ultimate in energy saving technology is thus: given that AGW is an Utterly True Fact For All Of Eternity, measurements no longer need to be taken; the computer-driven models can provide all the data required.
    Simple, really. And so very Green, in so many ways.

  32. Dan Lee says:

    Sometimes I have low energy also, feeling kinda sad, kinda depressed. We used to call that “the blues” but now I guess we should call it the “greens”.

    With apologies to the Stones,

    “As I stand by your flame, I get burned once again, feelin’ low down, I’m green…”

  33. Mark Wilson says:

    “The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.”

    Call me paranoid, but this worries me.

  34. Mark Wilson says:

    Trying to be generous. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the sensors only transmitt data when something has changed, or when the recorded change passes a pre-set threshold. That’s one way to minimize activity and prolong battery life. If it’s still 90 degrees, no need to send an update.
    The problem is of course, if there is no set schedule for updates, how do you know if you have missed a transmission. It’s possible that the predictive part of this is so that the controller can make good guesses about when a new message will be sent from a sensor and be on the look out for it.

  35. Lew Skannen says:

    These people probably turn off their smoke alarms at night to save batteries.

  36. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    Robert Wille:
    “I’ll bet these new gadgets reduce power consumption by about .000000001%.”

    Having read the article on ‘significant digits’ (Numerology) I was wondering if you trust the power saving claims from Appel (etc) to that number of significant digits! :)

    Regards
    Crispin

  37. chris b says:

    All done in the name of The Water, The Sun and The Holy Sphereic.

    Cod Bless their little hearts.

  38. Ric Werme says:

    I’m surprised at all the negativism expressed here. Well, all the references to green this and that is a problem, and I suppose all of you live where it doesn’t get dark aren’t familiar with places where it does get dark and don’t understand some of the issues with monitoring stuff in the middle of nowhere.

    I really appreciate my Davis weather stations (bought before WUWT, but available at http://weathershop.com ). One is at our yurt on the side of Mt Cardigan in New Hampshire. No electricity or phone. The outside remote sensors have a solar cell and supercaps for energy storage, and a 123 battery that runs just fine when supercaps die. The base station runs on a few C cells for months. Compared to all the other computers I’ve worked with, I find it all as amazing current data storage density.

    Davis has stuff to relay data between base stations and cell phone interfaces too. (Cell phone coverage at the yurt is marginal.)

    Something like this sensor network could be very good for densely covering smallish areas. I suppose it could grow into a wide area array without much trouble. It seems it would be better for monitoring volcanoes and fault lines than hurricanes, but if you were studying micro scale events along with non-hurricane data it could be quite handy.

  39. JPeden says:

    Such sensing allows consideration to be given to such factors in planning for sustainable development.

    But within these Holy transformative efforts towards establishing Social Justice just who is the most “sensitive” of individuals on the Planet [me], I rise so that the least amongst us is not forgotten and to therefore ask The Most Basic Question, “But who will feed the bedbugs?”

    Wireless Sensor Alert: I’m hungry. Feed me and you feed the bedbugs! Or else!

  40. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Link to paper, at least the abstract is free. Paywall price for paper is 30 Euros. See the Table of Contents for that issue of the journal. Energy efficient, power efficient, green, renewable energy sources… And something about wireless network security.

    So instead of the current paradigm of taking readings at regular intervals, they only check the sensors when the system thinks there may be a change?

    Why not just make wireless sensors that phone home when there is a change, and otherwise respond to a timeout-based “Still alive?” request with the current reading? Now there could be some real energy savings!

  41. chemman says:

    The software underpinning the new approach can monitor and check incoming sensor data against an existing database and produce charts predicting the sensors’ next most likely reading
    ————————————————–

    So how do we know what the real data is if the program is just predicting the next sensor reading. This appears to be an updated version of hide the decline..

  42. gnomish says:

    it’s gang.green
    amputation might have helped, but now it’s too late.

  43. Carrick says:

    I would imagine the real importance of low power consumption for sensors sitting off the grid, where getting enough annual power from wind/solar might be a challenge. But it doesn’t sound on the face of it to be much of a real improvement. If you can control the power of the transmitter, you can have it essentially shut off its transmitter when it’s not sending data to its hub. That’s already being done when available (not all hardware lets you do this.)

    Secondly unless your sensor/digitizing system was already ulltralow power, you probably are talking about 25% or less of the total power budget for the device (this is based on most sensors requiring at least 3.5 watts, once you include the sensor+preamp (0.5 W), digitizing hardware (0.5W), central computer (>1W), wireless amplifier (1W) and GPS receiver( 0.5 W). Not trivial but not “vastly greener” either, and anyway the software already exists to do this only linux based computers…the trouble you run into is when the wireless amplifier itself (driving the wireless antenna) contains no method for power reduction. (Yes I know there is a WIFI txpower parameter for wireless devices in Linux…this isn’t always supported by the driver or the hardware.)

    Finally if the device (like many of them) is off the grid, isn’t it “green” by definition?

  44. Elizabeth (not the Queen) says:

    But haven’t wireless networks been conclusively linked to the disappearance of honey bees? How is killing the bees considered green?

  45. reason says:

    “The team is now working to optimize the software to allow it to estimate future readings for any date and time.”

    I’m sorry, I know this was a single sentence on a tangent to the main report’s subject. And my inner skeptic says, that’s exactly why it was put there, so as to be dismissed and ignored.

    ONLY GOOD THINGS CAN COME when the “models” and the “actual readings” become commingled and inseparable in the raw data…

    Can of worms to include:
    - Will “outlier” readings that don’t follow the predictions be flagged for review? Dismissed as bad data and averaged / replaced by the predicted value?
    - Will missed sensor updates be actually recorded as blanks? Or will they be filled in with predicted values? Will a substituion of predicted value instead of actual reading be noted in the raw data?
    - Drawing on the previous point, if predicted values are simply used to fill in the gaps in sensor inputs, how many in a row would need to happen before the sensor was flagged as non-responsive and possibly needing a visit for maintenance / inspection? I can easily imagine sensors going down and no one noticing for months / years because there was no tell-tale string of non-responses in the raw data stream, as predictive values simply chugged along instead.

    When real-world sensor data tarnishes the reputation of computer models as ClimateGate did, the obvious solution to some people is to inject modelling directly into the raw data stream.

  46. DJ says:

    Isn’t it funny…..To think that when a major disaster happens somewhere in the world, the U.S. does in fact send a green energy emergency facility.

    A U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

    We been doin’ it for years.

  47. D. J. Hawkins says:

    If anyone has 30 euros they don’t need, feel free to purchase the paper below:

    http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=40905&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or

  48. Carrick says:

    Mark Wilson, regarding your question, you’d use some form of reliable bi-directional communication protocol so your sensor knows when the data has been successfully transmitted.

    E.g., if you are using TCP/IP enabled radio modems, this is taken care of automatically (at the expense of much higher power levels due to processing costs on the modem itself. These radio modems can use up to 4-W of power when transmitting.) Otherwise you set up some type of hand-shaking mechanism (and have much lower power consumption, typically around 1-W).

  49. jorgekafkazar says:

    Eyal Porat says: “Pathetic. One thing is omitted from this press release: the numbers. I am sure that as soon as people see the numbers they will realize it is just another exercise in futility.”

    The numbers will be reported in picowatts. So all right, then.

  50. RSweeney says:

    Going against the flow here, but low power sensor networks are not for green, they are for reliability, cost and longevity.

    High power is inconsistent with off-grid use, or use when the grid is down. Ultra-low power mesh networks can operate for years on a lithium battery, providing wide ranging data without the need for large, expensive and fragile solar panels or expensive field trips for battery replacement.

    These green goons see everything through their lens of ideology.

  51. LarryD says:

    “Green” has become a marketing buzzword. Attach to all products if at all justifiable, ’cause it makes people feel good.

    Sheesh.

  52. John T says:

    As others have hinted, its not the “green” aspect of reducing energy use that’s as important as the fact that many of these remote sensors are just that -remote. Which often means running on solar and/or battery power. The longer the batteries will last, the less often someone has to trek out to do maintenance, and the cheaper the overall cost. That should be a good enough selling point right there.

  53. reason says:

    I’m not taking issue with improving the efficiency of the sensors.

    My main beef is with the part about folding in predictive algorithms into the data collection centers, and the consequences, both inadvertent and intentional, that brings.

  54. _Jim says:

    Computer scientist Patricia Morreale of Kean University in Union, New Jersey and colleagues Feng Qi and Paul Croft of Kean’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, explain how a mesh network of wireless sensors reports data to a central site for environmental monitoring and risk identification.

    They have developed such a system that reduces the energy requirements compared to conventional WSNs.

    I would appreciate a quick ‘case study’, an example, of such a network (including the types of sensors, how often they would be sampled, etc).

    Otherwise, I envision this as just so much “vaporware” (and a ploy to obtain grant money, which I think is the REAL objective.)

    .

  55. FairPlay says:

    Sorry, but why is energy efficiency a bad thing?

    Re – iPod chargers they do add up. How many million have been sold?

  56. Ray Boorman says:

    I’m not sure if this “smart” software will be useful in life threatening situations. It has been revealed here in Australia that during the flash flooding in QLD’s Lockyer Valley last January, the reading on one automatic river level guage leapt from almost nothing to 8 metres, then failed. The operators in the control room did not believe the reading because it rose too fast. As it turned out, the guage failed when it was flooded, & people downstream died. What they really needed was a person to look out a window near the river to confirm what the instruments were saying, but there was no such backup system in place. Nowadays, cost-cutting is the priority, so head-office boffins make decisions without the benefit of any local knowledge, often resulting in a greater cost to the community.

  57. 1DandyTroll says:

    @RSweeney says:
    June 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

    “Going against the flow here, but low power sensor networks are not for green, they are for reliability, cost and longevity.

    High power is inconsistent with off-grid use, or use when the grid is down. Ultra-low power mesh networks can operate for years on a lithium battery, providing wide ranging data without the need for large, expensive and fragile solar panels or expensive field trips for battery replacement.”

    Yes that is true and very sound, however, these knobs are using the same old system but are going energy efficient by new and approved software, not by using better more efficient hardware.

  58. rbateman says:

    Most worrying would be sensors that go into sleep mode, only to awaken just in time to be destroyed by that which they almost warned about.
    How about a trip-stick on a volcano? If the lava hits the stick, it flips a switch that kicks the sensor out of sleep mode…milliseconds before a small puff of smoke replaces the sensor which reads: “Now loading network application, please wait”.

Comments are closed.