The network, called CitySense, will be an open test bed on which anyone can run experiments, says Matt Welsh, a professor of computer science at Harvard.
The plan is to install 100 general-purpose nodes onto the streetlights of Cambridge, drawing power from the city's infrastructure. Already there are five installed on Harvard's campus and five at BBN's facilities. Each node will be relatively large--about the size of a Mac Mini computer. A node will include a PC that runs the Linux operating system and a couple of gigabytes of flash memory as a hard drive. And instead of using a common low-power wireless-sensor protocol called Zigbee, CitySense nodes will use standard Wi-Fi radios; two radios will be in each node, one for management and control of the network, and the other for experiments. And, Welsh says, virtually any type of sensor will be able to connect to the nodes.
This shows the increased move towards sensor networks to monitor both natural, man-made and technological systems.