A Stimulus-Centric Algebraic Approach to Sensors and Observations
The understanding of complex environmental phenomena, such as deforestation and epidemics, requires observations at multiple scales. This scale dependency is not handled well by today’s rather technical sensor definitions. Geosensor networks are normally defined as distributed ad-hoc wireless networks of computing platforms serving to monitor phenomena in geographic space. Such definitions also do not admit animals as sensors. Consequently, they exclude human sensors, which are the key to volunteered geographic information, and they fail to support connections between phenomena observed at multiple scales. We propose definitions of sensors as information sources at multiple aggregation levels, relating physical stimuli to observations. An algebraic formalization shows their behavior as well as their aggregations and generalizations. It is intended as a basis for defining consistent application programming interfaces to sense the environment at multiple scales of observations and with different types of sensors.
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