Amorphous Placement and Informed Diffusion for Timely Monitoring by Autonomous, Resource-Constrained, Mobile Sensors
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Personal communication devices are increasingly equipped with sensors for passive monitoring of encounters and surroundings. We envision the emergence of services that enable a community of mobile users carrying such resource-limited devices to query such information at remote locations in the ﬁeld in which they collectively roam. One approach to implement such a service is directed placement and retrieval (DPR), whereby readings/queries about a specific location are routed to a node responsible for that location. In a mobile, potentially sparse setting, where end-to-end paths are unavailable, DPR is not an attractive solution as it would require the use of delay-tolerant (flooding-based store-carry-forward) routing of both readings and queries, which is inappropriate for applications with data freshness constraints, and which is incompatible with stringent device power/memory constraints. Alternatively, we propose the use of amorphous placement and retrieval (APR), in which routing and ﬁeld monitoring are integrated through the use of a cache management scheme coupled with an informed exchange of cached samples to diffuse sensory data throughout the network, in such a way that a query answer is likely to be found close to the query origin. We argue that knowledge of the distribution of query targets could be used effectively by an informed cache management policy to maximize the utility of collective storage of all devices. Using a simple analytical model, we show that the use of informed cache management is particularly important when the mobility model results in a non-uniform distribution of users over the ﬁeld. We present results from extensive simulations which show that in sparsely-connected networks, APR is more cost-effective than DPR, that it provides extra resilience to node failure and packet losses, and that its use of informed cache management yields superior performance.