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The longest running sensor network was a “significant first step” in being able to record environmental conditions across extremely large and challenging environments, CSIRO scientist Tim Wark said. The network, based at the Brisbane ICT Centre, can measure variables such as temperature, soil moisture, water quality, humidity and solar energy levels.

The sensors, called “flecks”, were developed by the CSIRO and run on a combination of solar and battery power. Each sensor node sends collected information back to a central database to be recorded and analysed. The data is transferred via the flecks themselves, which form an ad-hoc network. “Power is the biggest issue,” said Dr Wark, the project leader for wireless sensor networks at the CSIRO ICT Centre. “The flecks send and receive data through radio and that consumes a lot of power. We designed them to stay asleep most of the time, and wake up only to take measurements or send and receive data.”

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