Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
the research laboratory of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / Programs / Spectrum Monitoring / SCOS Standard Development

SCOS Standard Development

Fully characterizing the wireless environment is a monumental task that requires coordinated data collection, organization, and analysis efforts to aggregate spectrum monitoring data for the common good. To date, there is a lack of broad cooperation; existing spectrum monitoring efforts are largely independent and are each constrained to the scope of individual organizations’ resources. This is a problem because uncoordinated spectrum monitoring cannot provide the volume of data that regulators need.

To address the problem of uncoordinated spectrum monitoring and to enable the development of a spectrum monitoring software ecosystem, the specmon team is heavily involved in an IEEE 802.22.3 standardization effort entitled Spectrum Characterization and Occupancy Sensing (SCOS). The purpose of this project is to develop a public standard for the control of spectrum sensors and the distribution of spectrum data to authorized clients.

In FY 2017, we finalized the high-level software architecture for SCOS in order to identify needs for application development – see Figure 2. This architecture identifies three independent areas of specialization: (a) sensor technology (“sensor”), (b) data acquisition and distribution (“manager”), and (c) data management and visualization (“client”). Each of these specialization areas will have distinct business incentives and evolutionary trajectories, but each will need to communicate and share data with the others.

image.png (2) 

Spectrum Characterization and Occupancy Sensing Architecture

With the SCOS architecture in place, the specmon team has been working to prototype the first SCOS implementation and open sourced the code on the NTIA GitHub site ( In FY 2018, we released scos-sensor code. Scos-sensor is the cornerstone of the SCOS project and establishes a RESTful Application Programming Interface that provides the following features:

  • Easy-to-use sensor control and data retrieval via IP network
  • Low-cost, open-source development resources
  • Design flexibility to allow developers to evolve sensor technologies and metrics
  • Compatibility with multiple hardware systems without modification
  • Discoverable sensor capabilities
  • Task scheduling using start/stop times, interval, and/or priority
  • Standardized metadata/data format that supports cooperative sensing and open data initiatives
  • Security controls that prevent unauthorized users from accessing internal sensor functionality
  • Ease of deployment with provisioned and configured OS
  • Quality assurance via automated testing prior to release

Ultimately, our SCOS work will yield the capability to conduct networked spectrum monitoring according to standardized protocols—a fundamental step in establishing efficient spectrum sharing that leverages real-time data.

Open-source Software Collaboration

The NTIA Spectrum Monitoring team develops open-source software intended to be developed in a collaborative public manner. SCOS Code repositories released to the public include:

  • sigmf-ns-scos: A specification that defines the controls and data format used within the Spectrum Characterization and Occupancy Sensing (SCOS) system.
  • scos-sensor: A platform for operating a sensor, such as a software-defined radio (SDR), over a network.
  • scos-manager (planned release October 1, 2018): A server application to enable distributed sensing.

For more information about this project, contact Doug Boulware