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RFID Enables Korean Meteorological Administration to Keep an Eye on Weather

The agency is deploying a vast 300-node wireless sensor network on a remote island so it can get a heads-up regarding approaching storms.
By Claire Swedberg
Because nodes support both radio frequency bands, Ryu explains, KT was able to set up a system that could accommodate varying terrains and local regulations regarding the maximum transmit power of wireless devices. The 5 GHz transmission provides greater distance transmission, Coffman says, while 2.4 GHz provides improved penetration. The distance of transmission, according to Coffman, varies according to the terrain, line of site and frequency being used.

Thus far, KT has installed approximately 30 Firetide wireless mesh nodes, covering about 600 square kilometers of the coastal areas, and plans to expand that number to 300. There will also be 20 gateway units when the deployment is completed. The nodes, and other equipment at the sites, are powered either by the AC power grid installed throughout the island or, in more remote locations, by solar panels. In addition, KT has deployed two webcams, wired to two sensor nodes, to provide digital video images that are transmitted with sensor data to the gateways.

With the wireless system, Ryu says, the KMA will save money since there will be no recurring operating expenses (such as cellular service charges). The system, he notes, has a higher capacity for data transmission, making it possible to carry other applications, such as real-time video streaming to show weather conditions. Thus far, he states, "The USN+Mesh system is working very well."

The sensor nodes have been installed on poles and towers in coastal regions and on mountaintops throughout the island, and have sustained the weather they are designed to measure. During Typhoon Nari in 2007, Coffman says, one node antenna for transmitting data was broken and had to be replaced. Otherwise, she notes, "There were no other issues with the network. The Firetide mesh nodes are extremely rugged and withstood all the bad weather since installation."

Jeju has a subtropical climate similar to that of the Hawaiian Islands. Between July and September, however, typhoons can cause damage and loss of life. Typhoon Nari killed 12 people and caused massive damage on the island. Since typhoons often come from the south, Jeju also serves as an early warning outpost for southern Korea.

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