A Software-defined Sensor Architecture for Large-scale Wideband Spectrum Monitoring
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Today’s spectrum measurements are mainly performed by governmental agencies which drive around using expensive specialized hardware. The idea of crowdsourcing spectrum monitoring has recently gained attention as an alternative way to capture the usage of wide portions of the wireless spectrum at larger geographical and time scales. To support this vision, we develop a flexible software-defined sensor architecture that enables distributed data collection in real-time over the Internet. Our sensor design builds upon low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware components with a total cost per sensor device below $100. The low-cost nature of our sensor platform makes the sensing approach particularly suitable for large-scale deployments but imposes technical challenges regarding performance and quality. To circumvent the limits of our solution, we have implemented and evaluated different sensing strategies and noise reduction techniques. Our results suggest that our sensor architecture may be useful in application areas such as dynamic spectrum access in cognitive radios, detecting regions with elevated electro-smog, or simply to gain an understanding of the spectrum usage for advanced signal intelligence such as anomaly detection or policy enforcement.