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Section: Research Program

Mobile social crowd-sensing

Mobile crowd-sensing as introduced in Section 3.3 is further undergoing a transformation due to the widespread adoption of social networking. The resulting mobile social crowd-sensing may be qualified as “people-centric sensing” and roughly subdivides into two categories  [57]: i) participatory sensing, and ii) opportunistic sensing. Participatory sensing entails direct involvement of humans controlling the mobile devices, while opportunistic sensing requires the mobile device itself to determine whether or not to perform the sensing task. Orthogonally to the above categorization, mobile sensing can be  [55]: i) personal sensing, mostly to monitor a person's context and well-being; ii) social sensing, where updates are about the social and emotional statuses of individuals; or iii) urban (public) sensing, where public data is generated by the public and for the public to exploit. Personal sensing is aimed towards personal monitoring and involves one or just a few devices in direct relationship with their custodian. For instance, SoundSense  [62] is a system that enables each person's mobile device to learn the types of sounds the owner encounters through unsupervised learning. Another application example relates to the sensing-based detection of the users' transportation mode by using their smartphones  [47]. In social sensing, the mobile device or its owner decides what social information to share about the owner or the owner's environment, with an individual or group of friends  [55], [37], [52], [21], [66]. Social sensing is mostly participatory. Therefore, it is the custodian of the device who determines when and where data should be generated. Social participatory sensing is closely related to social networking  [63]. On the other hand, within opportunistic social sensing, the underlying system is in charge of acquiring needed data through relevant probes, as opposed to having the end-user providing them explicitly  [24], [51], [22]. In urban sensing, also known as public sensing, data can be generated by everyone (or their devices) and exploited by everyone for public knowledge, including environment monitoring, or traffic updates  [55]. In participatory urban sensing, users participate in providing information about the environment by exploiting the sensors/actuators embedded in their devices (which can be smartphones, vehicles, tablets, etc.)  [55]. However data is only generated according to the owner's willingness to participate. Participatory urban sensing is especially characterized by scale issues at the data level, where data is generated by numerous individuals and should be processed and aggregated for knowledge to be inferred, involving adequate data scaling approaches [44]. Ikarus  [84] is an example of participatory sensing, where data is collected by a large number of paragliders throughout their flights. The focus is on aggregating the data and rendering the results on a thermal map.

As outlined above, mobile social crowd-sensing has been a very active field of research for the last few years with various applications being targeted. However, effectively enabling mobile social crowd-sensing still raises a number of challenges, for which some early work may be identified:

  • How to ensure that the system delivers the right quality of service, e.g., in terms of user-perceived delay, in spite of the resource constraints of mobile systems (e.g.,  [71])?

  • How to guarantee the right level of privacy (e.g.,  [33], [73])?

  • How to ensure the right level of participation from end-users so that mobile sensing indeed becomes a relevant source of accurate knowledge, which relates to eliciting adequate incentive mechanisms  [86], in particular based on the understanding of mobile application usage  [78], [77]?

  • How to enrich sensor-generated content that is quantitative with user-generated one, thereby raising the issue of leveraging highly unstructured data while benefiting from a rich source of knowledge (e.g., sensing the crowdedness of a place combined with the feeling of people about the crowdedness, which may hint on the place's popularity as much as on discomfort)?