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         Petri Oksa, Jussi Nummela, Mikael Soini, Lauri Sydänheimo and Markku Kivikoski
     Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Department of Electronics, Rauma Research Unit, Finland
                                        Email: petri.t.oksa@tut.fi

               The need for gathering real-time information in building and industrial
               environments has increased in recent years. In the building environment, along
               with automatic utility meter reading, other information is increasingly needed e.g.
               room temperatures or device conditions. In the industrial environment, for instance
               in the paper industry, information on paper reel locations is essential when
               developing logistics and supply chain management.
               This paper presents a particular system definition of the automated data collection
               system and clarifies management issues. The study is based on the automated data
               collection system (ADCS). ADCS is an open and advanced platform e.g. for
               building control and monitoring systems.
               This study also analyzes ADCS data loads, quality of transmission, and error
               sensibility in different system parties. By using ADCS infrastructure, the usually
               inconvenient attachment and registration of new devices can be solved.

               Keywords: Data collection, information, automatization, meter reading

                                                           2     BASIS OF THE AUTOMATED DATA
     Device-independent and open data collection in              COLLECTION
different kind of applications is a very important area
under current consideration. An open architecture               This chapter presents a common overview for an
consisting of actuators, sensors, transmission media,      automated collection system. The basic building-up
secure data transmission, compact messages, and            procedure for an automated data collection system
message types presents a big challenge in designing        consists of phases such as new device attachment,
the whole system and needs comprehensive study             operations during maintenance and system
before implementation procedure.                           operations. In the attachment phase, new device
     ADCS is a common name for an open data                attachment activities are presented, and in the second
collection system, it is planned to be suitable for        phase, operations during ADCS maintenance are
applications such as automatic meter reading               explained. In the last phase, the functions of system
(AMR/AMS) [1], RFID-systems [2], and for                   operation are clarified.
building automation sensor networks [3]–[6]. In
AMR systems, for instance, the amount of                   2.1    Attaching
transferred data is small. Thus, an ADCS offers a
varied choice and the features required to manage the           One of the main goals of the device attachment
data transmission. As Figure 1 in chapter 3 will show,     procedure is to be “Plug & Play”. As discussed in [7],
the advantage of ADCS is in its versatile options for      home-networking solutions should be easy to install,
public utilities and their customers. Many of these        providing PnP and/or autoconfiguration features, and
features suggest the desirability of real-time             should enable remote maintenance from the service,
processing and methodology which is one of the             network, or manufacturer site. Reliability and
main motivations behind this paper.                        robustness are also considered mandatory, as
     This paper is organized as follows: chapter 2         residential users will have difficulty identifying and
clarifies the basis of the automated data collection.      handling problems and home-networking products
Chapter 3 presents a solution for ADCS data                need to operate all day and night long [7].
collection system on the basis from chapter 2.                  When an actuating device is installed, the
Chapter 4 presents a case study for ADCS data              concentrator automatically updates itself with the
collection and chapter 5 concludes the study and           values from the device registers, for example device
takes a look at future work.                               number- and energy consumption values. The
                                                           exception is a pulse reading technique that cannot be
                                                           read via the device register.

                     Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal                                            1
     The information is sent to the main system to        rarely are these systems based on an open
ensure that a new device is connected to the system.      infrastructure.
The same information is supplied to all relevant               Automated configuration will simplify the
subsystems. This should minimize the occurrence of        system operator's task of building and maintaining
human mistakes in the information flow [8], [9], [10].    the sensor network [16]. As in most novel AMR and
     Basically, most of today’s AMR consumption           ADCS systems, the new device attachment
meter registration is not based on entirely self-         procedure is designed with easy management
configurable or automatic updating methods and            functions.
these systems are not generally open-based.
Therefore difficulties often arise in the case of         2.3    System Operation
software updates when vendor support is needed to
solve the problems. In addition to this, some                  From the system user’s point of view the ADCS
software conflicts cannot be solved or can take a         is self-configurable after the registration procedure.
long time to be found. Even a vendor can come up          The ADCS network is monitored and maintained by
against software conflicts that cannot be solved          the DCU. Two-way communication allows network
without the help of external software consultations       control and software updates to be controlled by the
[19]. Also the lack of plug & play standards is an        main system programming tools. For instance, meter
obvious disadvantage.                                     reading intervals can be configured from a system
     A new AMR consumption meter installation and         management site, so there is no need for additional
configuration is normally handled by an electrician       pre-configuration for the sensing or metering devices.
visiting the building and reconfiguring the main          Also all other software updating is handled by the
system. Commonly, the consumption meter is pre-           main system applications.
configured by a vendor according to the                        The necessity for data content is greatly
requirements of a utility company. After a meter is       dependent on device-based definitions. Table 1
installed in a building whose energy consumption is       outlines the basic information needed to complete the
to be metered, the rules of communication between         data transmission. Certainly, much more detailed
the meter and main system are established by the          information can be acquired, but at the same time it
means of main system tools. In the last phase, the        increases the amount of data transmission [17], [18].
metering information (for example meter ID number,        The amount of data transfer should be kept as small
energy consumption, type of meter, meter location or      as possible.
property information) is stored in the meter value
database.                                                 3     A SOLUTION
     In [11], the biggest challenge in all symmetric
security systems is how to exchange the initial               This chapter presents a solution for automated
encryption key safely. In many communication              data collection system and clarifies the ADCS
protocols, this is carried out without any security       functions. Under subheading A, the data collection
procedure or the challenge has been left to the           procedure is clarified. Below subheading B, system
application developer to solve [12], [13], and [14]. If   operation is presented and below subheading C, the
an adversary receives this first insecure message, the    DCU (Data Collection Unit) registration is
security of the whole network is threatened. One          determined. Under the subheading D, analysis of the
solution to this problem is to exchange the primary       ADCS solution is given.
key through physical contact [11].
     Novel sensor registration should ensure security     3.1    Data Collection
procedures to authenticate new devices safely into
the system with easy and fast registration, for                For an ADCS, a metering device could be for
example as executed in [11]. In practice, this means      instance a utility meter, actuator or sensor. The
that a new device receives a primary key from the         communication between a metering device and a
registering device that is synchronized with the          master device is two-way based as seen in Figure 1.
network master node. This means that                      In this architecture model, the heart for data
communication in the new network is immediately           collection is the Master DCU (MDCU). The MDCU
secure [11].                                              operates as a data server and data storage. All users
                                                          can access the data through the MDCU. The Slave
2.2   Operations during Maintenance                       DCU (SDCU) can also store data but it also forwards
                                                          the information to the MDCU. The SDCU includes
    An important and essential issue in future            database storage in case of data transmission errors
metering systems is the establishment of automatic        (packet corruption or loss) or total blackouts. When a
configuration [15] and easy installation methods. So      data transmission blackout or error occurs, the
far there are many equipment suppliers whose              metering information is saved in the SDCU database
systems are designed to operate automatically, but        and retrieved by the MDCU during the next MDCU

                     Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal                                           2
reading schedule. Thus, the metering information              If the MDCU somehow does not receive the
will not be lost. Further, the MDCU includes a           message, then the Type C message is retransmitted
database backup in case of power- and data               until MDCU receives the message and sends the
transmission failures.                                   acknowledgement (Ack) message to complete the
                                                         registration (message type B, see Table 1 for
                                                         message types). A notification message from the new
                                                         device attachment is then sent to the SDCU and
                                                         stored in the database in the MDCU. This message
                                                         consists of at least the new device’s ID number and
                                                         name. After this is done, the user who is logged on to
                                                         the system can view the stored metering data and
                                                         information from the database to exploit, for
                                                         example, a meter reading value or sensor data [11],
                                                              Appropriate message types and descriptions in
                                                         ADCS registration are presented in Table 1. The
                                                         functionality of each message type is also described.

                                                         Table 1: Example message types in ADCS.
                                                          Message    Description        Function

                                                          Type A     Request DCU        DCU attachment to
                                                          Type B     Acknowledgement    Ack to MDCU
                                                          Type C     Negative Ack       Retransmission to
Figure 1: The main parts of ADCS data collection                                        MDCU
                                                          Type D     Data content       Data content from meter/
     The ADCS infrastructure is designed for
automatic configuration. The basic procedure is that
all network maintenance is configured by the MDCU.           According to Table 1, four message types are
In this way, the SDCU is pre-configured at a new         proposed: Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D.
DCU attachment. This means that when a new               These short messages do not need large data content
metering device is within range of the MDCU, it          and do not substantially increase the data packet
updates all necessary information from the MDCU.         length. Data packets include the pre-defined
After that, a new metering device is ready to collect    metering information such as energy usage,
the pre-defined metering data, for example, from an      temperature, or moisture (see Table 2).
apartment building environment.                              A new device authentication is carried out by
                                                         user authentication when a new user enters his or her
3.2   DCU Registration                                   username and password. After logging on to the
                                                         system the user can view the metering data. Because
     One of the most common architectures in data        of minor secrecy demands and the nature of the
collection systems is a centralized architecture. In     collected data, a primary key exchange is not needed.
this architecture, the MDCU manages registration,
authentication, and device control and monitoring.       3.3   System Operation
Other general types are semi-distributed and
distributed architectures, presented in [23]. In this         The SDCU is pre-configured by the MDCU
paper, centralized architecture is selected because of   software tools before the attaching procedure. In all
its suitability for small systems where the amount of    such procedures, the MDCU recognizes the device,
collected data is also relatively small [23].            executes the registration with the new device,
     First, the attaching of a new metering device to    updates the metering database, and maintains
the ADCS system is defined. When a new DCU               network operation. The network operation includes
comes within the ADCS identification range, the          control and maintenance operations, operations
MDCU wakes up and automatically sends a query            under maintenance, and the metering interval
message through the network to the new metering          changes and configurations.
device. The other MDCU or SDCU works as a                     When the aggregate of sent and received queries
repeater to forward the query message to the             from the database is estimated, the data load can be
destination MDCU. After that the MDCU verifies           checked with ADCS centralized architecture [23]. To
the message format and if the format is correct, the     simplify, the more queries made the more data
MDCU confirms that the message includes valid            transmission and load. Moreover lots of queries lead
content for the data exchange.                           to larger network requirements where the main focus

                    Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal                                                 3
is to enable sufficient data transmission, and to avoid         load profile, system functionality and usability
congestion problems. So, this assumes that data                 estimation is presented [21]. In the system
packet size should be minimized or a network must               application layer the ADCS is data load effective,
have sufficient capacity to carry out the data                  self-configurable and useful in the building
transmission demands. The ADCS also supports                    automation environment where changes in the
integrated push- and pull based queries over the                environment are commonly predictable. Also the
hierarchy.                                                      authentication can be executed without primary key
     In ADCS architecture, data load is optimized by            exchange. Short messages and small data packets are
cutting query requests and message lengths to a                 the starting point in defining of ADCS data
minimum. Hence, the query sequence is in such a                 transmission. The number of messages is also small;
form as to be suitable for any kind of data collection          only the required data is transmitted.
network type and is also self-configurable for                       The basis for more accurate designing and
network and device extensions. This paper discusses             specifying an application-specific automated data
data load and network requirements only generated               collection system is presented in [23].
in the ADCS system itself.
     Table     2    compares      different   metering          4     VERIFICATION: A CASE STUDY
characteristics and suitable environments for ACDS.
Some less obvious differences are in need of                        This chapter presents a case study for the
different metering parameters between domestic and              proposed ADCS data collection. The case study
industrial building environments.                               exploits a centralized network architecture model
                                                                presented in [23]. The network architecture model is
Table 2: Examples and comparison of different                   evaluated by a simulations procedure to verify the
metering characteristics and suitable metering                  overall performance in different traffic conditions.
 Value                  Unit           A         B              4.1    Data Collection- and Traffic Simulations
  Electricity              kWh          x       x
  Quality control          e.g. outages x       x                   A method for system verification is determined
  Temperature              °C/K         x       x               under this subheading. First, the system architecture
  Moisture                 ppmv         x       x               is presented and then verified with the simulation
  Data load                kbs/Mbs      x       x
  Humidity                 %            x       x
                                                                procedure presented under subheading 4.2. This
  Lighting conditions      lx           x       x               simulation procedure concentrates on building
  HVAC                     °C/K         x       x               automation activities. Figure 2 presents ADCS data
A=domestic building environment (apartment buildings, single-   collection features in a basic building automation
family houses, rented flats)                                    environment.
B=industrial building environment

     Because of a small amount of transferred data,
possible retransmission does not generate notable
external traffic load on the transmission network.
The ADCS also implies the requirement of
supporting multihop networking and the flexibility of
data transmission that can be used to quickly modify
or exploit the infrastructure. A significant feature of
ADCS network is the detection of data transmission
failures that improve the quality of transmission.
These networks are also inherently self-healing, so
users do not have to worry about losing
communication with control devices across the
building automation system [22].
     Combined with wired- and wireless based
transmission media, the ADCS offers a good solution
for sparsely populated areas. Especially in novel
meter reading systems, which support a wireless
infrastructure, easy device installation and
attachment, these multiform transmission media
hybrids are extremely valuable.

3.4      Analysis

      In this chapter, the analysis of the ADCS data            Figure 2: The ADCS data collection features

                        Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal                                             4
4.2    Simulation Results                                  wireless 433 MHz is another issue to be solved in the
                                                           future. This study does not commit itself to a specific
    To evaluate traffic load, the centralized              network structures or parameters, and therefore,
architecture model and its usability for ADCS in           these appear likely to be the next major focus for
practice, the information flow simulation was              future research projects.
executed. The centralized data collection architecture
of ADCS is shown in Figure 3.                              ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

                                                                The authors would like to thank the National
                                                           Technology Agency of Finland (TEKES) for funding
                                                           this research.


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Table 3: Some common directive system selection parameters for ADCS
 Parameter          PLC          RF             WLAN           WiMAX             TCP/IP                       Optical fiber   WSN
 Max.               100-150 m    ~50 m (in      ~200-500 m     Up to 10 km       Up to 100 m   ~500 m         Up to 20 km     2 km out-
 communication                   building)                                                                                    door-~10 m
 distance                                                                                                                     indoor
 Suitability for    Average      High           Average        High              High          Average        High            High

 Data communi-      Modem        Base station   Base station   Base station      Subscriber    Ethernet       Line modem      Master node
 cation interface                                                                line

 Network            Power line   Radio          IEEE 802.11    IEEE 802.16       Protocol-     IEEE 802.3i    IEEE 802.3j     802.11,
 communication      wiring       frequency                                       based                                        Bluetooth,
 principle                                                                                                                    802.15.4,

                          Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal                                                          6

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