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Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) started as an academic concept and became a commercially relevant technology. This technology will play a key role in creating more instrumented and interconnected urban environments. The resulting smarter cities will have more efficient management of resources and increasing quality of life for the city inhabitants. To enable large-scale deployments of heterogeneous citywide WSNs, it is important to agree on the communication protocols that these networks run. Standardization bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are finalizing different protocols that, once combined, form a complete protocol stack. This protocol stack allows robust and secure communication, as well as seamless integration with the Internet. In this paper, we present the different protocols forming this standards-based stack, as well as the achievable tradeoffs between latency, power efficiency, and throughput. After providing details on the existing applications of WSNs to smarter cities, we discuss what opportunities such standards-based WSNs can offer.
Date of Publication: Jan.-March 2011