SEMAT — The Next Generation of Inexpensive Marine Environmental Monitoring and Measurement Systems
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There is an increasing need for environmental measurement systems to further science and thereby lead to improved policies for sustainable management. Marine environments are particularly hostile and extremely difficult for deploying sensitive measurement systems. As a consequence the need for data is greatest in marine environments, particularly in the developing economies/regions. Expense is typically the most significant limiting factor in the number of measurement systems that can be deployed, although technical complexity and the consequent high level of technical skill required for deployment and servicing runs a close second. This paper describes the Smart Environmental Monitoring and Analysis Technologies (SEMAT) project and the present development of the SEMAT technology. SEMAT is a "smart" wireless sensor network that uses a commodity-based approach for selecting technologies most appropriate to the scientifically driven marine research and monitoring domain/field. This approach allows for significantly cheaper environmental observation systems that cover a larger geographical area and can therefore collect more representative data. We describe SEMAT's goals, which include: 1) The ability to adapt and evolve; 2) Underwater wireless communications; 3) Short-range wireless power transmission; 4) Plug and play components; 5) Minimal deployment expertise; 6) Near real-time analysis tools; and 7) Intelligent sensors. This paper illustrates how the capacity of the system has been improved over three iterations towards realising these goals. The result is an inexpensive and flexible system that is ideal for short-term deployments in shallow coastal and other aquatic environments.
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