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Article | Mathematics and Computer Science Division

New environmental testbed uses Waggle sensor nodes

Researchers Pete Beckman and Cristina Negri from Argonne National Laboratory and William Miller and Aaron Packman from Northwestern University are collaborating on a project to instrument, monitor, and model ecosystem services provided by the Indian Boundary Prairies (IBP) in Markham, Illinois.

For their environmental testbed, the Argonne-Northwestern team is focusing on part of the IBP known as the Gensburg-Markham Prairie, a large tallgrass prairie designated as a National Natural Landmark. The researchers have begun installing Waggle sensor nodes to monitor water quality and air pollutant gradients in the prairie and across two neighboring interstate highways. Waggle is a research project, led by Beckman, with the aim of creating a wireless sensor platform to enable a new breed of sensor-driven environmental science and smart city research.

Several Waggle nodes were installed in July 2016 to measure water storage and transport across the prairie. Together with information about soil composition, this data will be used to gain insights into water kinetics in the area – information valuable for flood mitigation.

In addition to hydrology studies, the Waggle sensors will provide information on temperature, humidity, sound levels, and air pollutants along the prairie and its environs.

We also will be putting some Waggle nodes in the Chicago Botanical Garden,” said Beckman. Data from these nodes will enable us to compare their man-made restored prairie with the native prairie at Markham.”

The researchers’ ultimate objective is twofold: (1) to determine the benefits of unspoiled spaces such as the Gensburg-Markham Prairie for regional water management and other ecosystem services and (2) to contribute to more effective restoration of degraded land.