Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Specific issues and new challenges of capillary networks

Capillary networks are not just a collection of independent wireless technologies that can be abstracted from the urban environment and/or studied separately. That approach has been in fact continued over the last decade, as technologies such as sensor, mesh, vehicular, opportunistic, and – generally speaking – M2M networks have been designed and evaluated in isolation and in presence of unrealistic mobility and physical layer, simplistic deployments, random traffic demands, impractical application use cases and non-existent business models. In addition, the physical context of the network has a significant impact on its performances and cannot be reduced to a simple random variable. Moreover, one of the main element of a network never appears in many studies: the user. To summarize, networks issues should be addressed from a user- and context-centric perspective.

Such abstractions and approximations were necessary for understanding the fundamentals of wireless network protocols. However, real world deployments have shown their limits. The finest protocols are often unreliable and hardly applicable to real contexts. That also partially explains the marginal impact of multi-hop wireless technologies on today's production market. Industrial solutions are mostly single-hop, complex to operate, and expensive to maintain.

In the UrbaNet project we consider the capillary network as an ensemble of strongly intertwined wireless networks that are expected to coexist and possibly co-operate in the context of arising digital cities. This has three major implications:

By following these guidelines, the UrbaNet ambition is to go one step beyond traditional approaches discussed above. The capillary network paradigm for Smart Cities is tightly linked to the specificities of the metropolitan context and the citizens’ activity. Our proposal is thus to re-think the way capillary network technologies are developed, considering a broader and more practical perspective.