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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) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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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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