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In this paper, we present the vision for an open, urban-scale wireless networking testbed, called CitySense, with the goal of supporting the development and evaluation of novel wireless systems that span an entire city. CitySense is currently under development and will consist of about 100 Linux-based embedded PCs outfitted with dual 802.11a/b/g radios and various sensors, mounted on buildings and streetlights across the city of Cambridge. CitySense takes its cue from citywide urban mesh networking projects, but will differ substantially in that nodes will be directly programmable by end users. The goal of CitySense is explicitly not to provide public Internet access, but rather to serve as a new kind of experimental apparatus for urban-scale distributed systems and networking research efforts. In this paper we motivate the need for CitySense and its potential to support a host of new research and application developments. We also outline the various engineering challenges of deploying such a testbed as well as the research challenges that we face when building and supporting such a system.