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Sensors 2013, 13(12), 17241-17264; doi:10.3390/s131217241

Active Self-Testing Noise Measurement Sensors for Large-Scale Environmental Sensor Networks

1,* , 1,2
1 Department of Electronics and Informatics (ETRO), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, Elsene 1050, Belgium 2 Department of Industrial Sciences and Technology (INDI), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, Elsene 1050, Belgium
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 October 2013 / Revised: 26 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Section Sensor Networks)
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Large-scale noise pollution sensor networks consist of hundreds of spatially distributed microphones that measure environmental noise. These networks provide historical and real-time environmental data to citizens and decision makers and are therefore a key technology to steer environmental policy. However, the high cost of certified environmental microphone sensors render large-scale environmental networks prohibitively expensive. Several environmental network projects have started using off-the-shelf low-cost microphone sensors to reduce their costs, but these sensors have higher failure rates and produce lower quality data. To offset this disadvantage, we developed a low-cost noise sensor that actively checks its condition and indirectly the integrity of the data it produces. The main design concept is to embed a 13 mm speaker in the noise sensor casing and, by regularly scheduling a frequency sweep, estimate the evolution of the microphone’s frequency response over time. This paper presents our noise sensor’s hardware and software design together with the results of a test deployment in a large-scale environmental network in Belgium. Our middle-range-value sensor (around €50) effectively detected all experienced malfunctions, in laboratory tests and outdoor deployments, with a few false positives. Future improvements could further lower the cost of our sensor below €10.
Keywords: sensor testing; quality assessment; environmental monitoring sensor testing; quality assessment; environmental monitoring
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Domínguez, F.; The Cuong, N.; Reinoso, F.; Touhafi, A.; Steenhaut, K. Active Self-Testing Noise Measurement Sensors for Large-Scale Environmental Sensor Networks. Sensors 2013, 13, 17241-17264.

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