With the advent of the low-cost sensor networks and data loggers, the number of local scale sensor networks, deployed and operated by individual scientists, is growing exponentially in recent years. However, these sensors and their measurements are not accessible to most of the researchers. They are not indexed nor stored at the centralized sensor data portal, so they become nearly invisible to most scientists and other potential users. We describe this particular troublesome class of sensors "Dark Sensor", and these dark sensors comprise the "Long Tail" in the sensor web.
International standard like OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) address the interoperability issues of retrieving data through Internet. However, data discovery is still a remaining issue as the number of OGC Web Services (OWS) growing rapidly. Even with search engines, users still have difficulties on finding the sensor data they are interested in. Moreover, as the enormous amount of sensor data being generated every day, the traditional spreadsheet representation becomes inefficient and difficult to be interpreted by users.
Therefore, in this project, we apply two Microsoft technologies to facilitate the sensor data discovery and visualization. The first technology we use is PivotViewer. PivotViewer is a great data discovery tool for users to interact with massive amount of data. With the facet-filtering and Deep Zoom functionalities PivotViewer has, users can efficiently find the data they are interested in. In this project, we treat each sensor data instance in OWS as a data item in PivotViewer. With converting OWS metadata into PivotViewer facets, users can discover the sensor data instances they want efficiently. The second technology we use is the BingMaps. BingMaps allow users to intuitively browse geographic data. While sensor data (including sensor readings generated by in-situ sensors and imagery generated by remote sensing sensors) are geographic in nature, BingMaps is a good platform for visualizing sensor data.
With the power of exploratory PivotViewer and BingMaps provide, this project "enlights" the Dark Sensors and "captures" the Long Tail.