Sensor Motes Installed in Irvine Calit2 Building

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

Irvine, Calif. Nov. 16, 2006  The ResponSphere team at UC Irvine recently added to its assortment of potentially life-saving gadgets. Chris Davison, ResponSphere technology manager, is installing multi-function sensor motes throughout the Calit2 Building at UCI.

The motes, which are currently installed on the building's fourth floor, contain temperature, humidity, acoustic and light sensors, accelerometers, magnetometers, and an alert system that activates whenever any of the sensors reaches a pre-determined level.

Temperature sensor
Screen shot of fourth-floor temperature data

The data collected by the motes stream in real-time to a ZigBee network, a high-level communication protocol that uses small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless personal area networks. Sensor information is updated approximately every three seconds to a database and is available to anyone with network access.  The team is also working to incorporate the SensorNet system into the CAMAS-VM framework.

The motes are another effort by the ResponSphere team to quickly recognize changes in building conditions that could indicate emergency situations. Changes in temperature and light sensors could be indications of explosion or fire; because the sensors are localized, responders would know exactly where to take action. The acoustic sensors measure ambient sound level, where a drastic change could signify a problem. The accelerometers measure building sway on the x and y axes, while the magnetometer reads magnetic levels in the building.

Sensor Motes
Real-time data can quickly indicate
potential trouble in the building.

“These motes stream real-time sensor data, so they can be utilized as a first indication of trouble in the building,” says Davison.

He adds: “The Calit2 Building is certainly one of the most intelligent of the smart buildings. Ellis Stanley (City of Los Angeles emergency manager and ResCUE Community Advisory Board president) likes to say that we have more instrumentation in our coffee room than (is in) most cities.”


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