Theses Doctoral

Wireless Sensor Hardware Development for Advanced Smart City Applications

Kam, Kevin

The emergence of smart cities as a field of study focuses on integrating hardware and data-driven solutions to enhance the efficiency, sustainability, and quality of life in urban areas. A smart city looks to integrate various Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as sensor hardware, wireless communication networks, and data analysis methods into urban infrastructure and services optimization. Smart city initiatives typically aim to address challenges related to environmental monitoring, energy generation, waste management, and healthcare, among others. At its core, the field of smart cities fuses various elements of wireless IoT sensor technologies in ways that aim to create more livable and resilient urban environments for residents.

The work outlined in this thesis looks to investigate and overcome some of the challenges involved with wide-scale implementation of IoT devices in an urban environment. The thesis begins by defining a "smart city" and discussing the current status of IoT devices development and their applications for smart cities. Included in this analysis is an outline of common wireless communication protocols, sensor integration methodologies, and motivations for biomedical and environmental applications of wireless sensor networks.

Next, this thesis presents advancements in the integration of implantable biomedical devices with wireless sensor tags. These devices were realized with Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and long range radio wide area network (LoRaWAN) wireless communication protocols in form factors appropriate for rodent models. To enable these implantable devices, a novel design methodology for biocompatible antennas was developed and implemented in a LoRaWAN data link. In addition, the behavioral effects of various commercial printed circuit board technologies were studied in rodents in an effort to study the least invasive methods to design implantable devices.

Next this thesis discusses IoT applications in urban soils health monitoring. In this work, low cost soil sensors were developed with BLE and LoRaWAN varieties. These sensors are capable of measuring light, humidity, temperature, and nutrient concentration (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) to determine changes in soil health. Additionally, these sensors were integrated with a dendrometer to record weather patterns remotely over the course of a few months.

Finally, this thesis concludes with a study on the network characteristics of a LoRaWAN communication link on the physical (PHY) and medium access control (MAC) layers. In this study, the entirety of New York City's Upper West Side was used as an urban test bed to fully measure the performance of long-range LoRaWAN communication links in a dense urban environment. This characterization compared devices from different application spaces and measured their power consumption, signal to noise ratio (SNR), received signal strength indicator (RSSI), and approximate distance from a receiver to analyze device performance over a majority of northern Manhattan.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Kymissis, Ioannis
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 3, 2024