DFL Network Information

Informational Note: Sensor Network Deployment

node picture

An area of lab space, offices, and laboratory space in the Merrill Engineering Building has a sensor network deployed in it which makes radio signal strength measurements that can be used to track people who move through the area. The sensors are part of research in “radio tomography”, which may be useful in security, emergency response, elder care, and logistics applications. The sensors transmit in the 2.4 GHz band, the same band in which Wi-Fi operates, however, the sensors do not interfere with Wi-Fi traffic. The sensors periodically transmit a packet with 5 dBm transmit power. In comparison, Wi-Fi devices transmit up to 20 dBm, which corresponds to 30 times more transmit power, and cell phones can transmit 200 times more power. The sensors measure received signal strength, that is, the “number of bars” at the receiver.

Data is recorded from the sensor network when our experimenters believe they are the only people in the area, typically during off-hours. Further, the sensor data is not sufficient to identify people -- a person and a mail cart might look the same if they were both moving. Moreover, no other data is recorded by the sensor network -- signal strength is the only data measured. Thus we do not anticipate that the privacy of any occupant of this area will be compromised. This research protocol has been reviewed by the University of Utah Institutional Review Board (IRB).

More information about our research and this network is at:


Please feel free to contact the PI to discuss any issues you have with the project:

    Dr. Neal Patwari
    Office: 3120 MEB
    Phone: 801-581-5917
    Email: npatwari at ece dot utah (yes, edu)
    Mail: 50 S. Central Campus Dr. Room 3280 MEB, SLC, UT 84112

Please contact the IRB if you have questions, complaints or concerns which you do not feel you can discuss with the investigator (Phone: (801)-581-3655 or e-mail: irb@hsc.utah.edu). You may also contact the Research Participant Advocate (RPA) (Phone: (801)-581-3803 or email: participant.advocate@hsc.utah.edu).