The Signpost Platform for City-Scale Sensing
City-scale sensing holds the promise of enabling deeper insight into how our urban environments function. Applications such as observing air quality and measuring sources of noise pollution can have powerful impacts, allowing city planners and citizen scientists alike to understand and improve their world. However, the path from conceiving applications to implementing them is fraught with many challenges. A successful city-scale deployment requires physical installation, power management, and communications-all challenging tasks standing between a good idea and a realized one, suggesting the need for a platform that enables easy deployment and experimentation of city-scale sensing applications. To address these basic challenges, we present Signpost, a modular platform for city-scale sensing. Signpost simplifies deployment and installation in cities by removing the need for connection to wired infrastructure and instead harvesting energy from an integrated solar panel. The platform provides the key resources necessary for its pluggable sensor modules to support city-scale applications. Signpost stores excess energy for later use, distributes energy between modules, and provides communication through multiple wireless protocols. It also offers local storage for sensor data and allows for additional processing in a duty-cycled Linux environment. We explore the tradeoffs inherent to this focus on modularity and deployability, describe the design and capabilities of the platform, and implement and evaluate a Signpost platform with four prototype sensor modules. We believe that Signpost can reduce the difficulty inherent to city-scale deployments, enabling new deployments, insights into urban health, and ultimately improved cities.