Section: Research Program

Autonomic networking protocols

While the capillary networks concept covers a large panel of technologies, network architectures, applications and services, common challenges remain, regardless the particular choice of a technology or architecture. Our record of research on spontaneous and multi-hop networks let us think that autonomic networking appears as the main issue: the connectivity to Internet, to cyber-physical systems, to Information Systems should be transparent for the user, context-aware and location-aware. To address these challenges, a capillary network model is required. Unfortunately, very few specific models fit this task today. However, a number of important, specific capillary networks properties can already be inferred from recent experiments: distributed and localized topologies, very high node degree, dynamic network diameter, unstable / asymmetric / non-transitive radio links, concurrent topologies, heterogeneous capabilities, etc. These properties can already be acknowledged in the design of networking solutions, and they are particularly challenging for the functioning of the MAC layer and QoS support. Clearly, capillary networks provide new research opportunities with regard to networking protocols design.

  • Self-* protocols. In this regard, self-configuration, self-organization and self-healing are some of the major concerns within the context of capillary networks. Solving such issues would allow spontaneous topologies to appear dynamically in order to provide a service depending of the location and the context, while also adapting to the interactions imposed by the urban environment. Moreover, these mechanisms have the capacity to alleviate the management of the network and the deployment engineering rules, and can provide efficient support to the network dynamics due to user mobility, environment modifications, etc. The designed protocols have to be able to react to traffic requests and local node densities. We address such self-adaptive protocols as a transversal solution to several scenarios, e.g. pollution monitoring, smart-services depending on human activities, vehicle to infrastructure communications, etc. In architectures where self-* mechanisms govern the protocol design, both robustness and energy are more than ever essential challenges at the network layer. Solutions such as energy-harvesting can significantly increase the network lifetime in this case, therefore we investigate their impact on the mechanisms at both MAC and network layers.

  • Quality of service issues. The capillary networks paradigm implies a simultaneous deployment of multiple wireless technologies, and by different entities (industry, local community, citizens). This means that some applications and services can be provided concurrently by different parts of the capillary network, while others might require the cooperation of multiple parties. The notion of Service Level Agreement (SLA) for traffic differentiation, quality of service support (delay, reliability, etc.) is a requirement in these cases for scalability purposes and resource sharing. We contribute to a proper definition of this notion and the related network mechanisms in the settings of low power wireless devices. Because of the urban context, but also because of the wireless media itself, network connectivity is always temporary, while applications require a delivery ratio close to 100%. We investigate different techniques that can achieve this objective in an urban environment.

  • Data impact. Capillary networks suffer from low capacity facing the increasing user request. In order to cope with network saturation, a promising strategy is to consider the nature of the transmitted data in the development of the protocols. Data aggregation and data gathering are two concepts with a major role to play in this context of limited capacity. In particular, combining local aggregation and measurement redundancy for improving on data reliability is a promising idea, which can also be important for energy saving purposes. Even if the data flow is well known and regular, e.g. temperature or humidity metering, developing aggregation schemes tailored to the constraints of the urban environment is a challenge we address within the UrbaNet team. Many urban applications generate data which has limited spatial and temporal perimeters of relevance, e.g. smart-parking applications, community information broadcasting, etc. When solely a spatial range of relevance is considered, the underlying mechanisms are denoted “geocasting”. We also address these spatio-temporal constraints, which combine geocasting approaches with real-time techniques.