Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
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Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / About ITS / 2018 / ITS Releases New Open-Source Code to Boost Spectrum-Monitoring Research

ITS Releases New Open-Source Code to Boost Spectrum-Monitoring Research

February 6, 2018

Spectrum monitoring—long-term continuous measurement of the radio frequency environment from multiple sensors—is widely seen as essential to enabling increased exploitation of spectrum. Monitoring is expected be the cornerstone to modern spectrum management that is proactive and automated instead of reactive and static, enabling dynamic spectrum sharing by billions of new connected devices while protecting the operations of incumbent critical radio services. 

Effective spectrum monitoring requires low cost programmable sensing hardware, secure and robust networking infrastructure, and meaningful data analytics and data visualization. ITS has been working to advance development of all three through its participation in the development of the IEEE 802.22.3 Spectrum Characterization and Occupancy Sensing (SCOS) standard. 

ITS has released a first reference implementation of a sensor-control operating platform proposed as part of the SCOS standard. Scos-sensor software, shared through a public GitHub repository, is a robust, flexible, and secure platform for remote spectrum monitoring that allows operation of one or many spectrum sensors, such as a software-defined radio (SDR), over a network.

The software represents a first attempt to remove the most common hurdles to remotely deploying sensors while maintaining flexibility in two key areas. First, it is hardware agnostic and assumes different hardware will be used depending on sensing requirements. Second, a web-based interface gives the sensor owner control over sensor tasking. At the same time, scos-sensor has been designed with robust, multi-level security controls to protect against a wide variety of attacks so that unauthorized users cannot access internal sensor functionality or intercept data.

Data is collected using a standardized metadata/data format that supports cooperative sensing and open data initiatives. ITS released a SCOS data transfer specification through a public GitHub repository In November 2017. With these two releases, ITS and other researchers have an initial toolset that enables them to deploy sensors at a much larger scale and for longer periods of continuous monitoring than previously possible.

Both the scos-sensor software and the SCOS data transfer specification are ITS contributions to the IEEE effort to standardize a control method and data transfer format for “time share” access to a networked fleet of sensors. The two open source releases provided by ITS incorporate proposed solutions to many underdeveloped sections of the IEEE specification now being drafted and are intended to advance the standardization effort by inviting more focused design and development discussions around these reference implementations.

ITS plans to continue to release open source reference implementations as it adds to the body of basic research on spectrum monitoring. These releases transfer the results of federally funded research and technology development to other researchers in this area, allowing other federal agencies as well as industry to leverage 100 years of ITS research expertise to address current and future spectrum issues.