Software Update Management in Wireless Sensor Networks

Software Update Management in Wireless Sensor Networks


The use of Wireless Sensor Networks outside the laboratory is becoming a progressively more realistic proposition. This is primarily driven by hardware advances, leading to increased miniatuarisation and reduced power consumption, and supported by advances in wireless and sensor network protocols. This progress is allowing these systems to move out of the laboratory, and into more widespread use. The long-term management of Wireless Sensor Networks, especially when left unattended for extended periods of time, is a key issue for successful deployment.

One of the key features of this management is the ability to update software "in-the-field". This is a particular problem for WSNs as they are unattended, have no direct connectivity to a management station, may have a largescale deployment, and may be widespread or inaccessible. There are a number of existing systems for propagating the update throughout a network, but these do not generally provide support for controlling the update, and recovering from software failures in the updated software.

This project has analysed the software update process in Wireless Sensor Networks, identified the key features for providing network-wide management control and recovery, developed a new model for providing this control, and a protocol implementation: Software Update Recovery Protocol (SURP). 

The key contributions of this work are: the development of the software update model, the development of a high-reliability protocol for communicating with the nodes, and the development of a protocol to control software updates and provide automated recovery in the case of software update failures.

This work provides the basis for fail-safe software update and recovery of a wide class of Wireless Sensor Networks. The results allow software updates to take place without the risk of losing a network due to a software fault, thus enabling long term, unattended operation of these networks.

Mobile and Internet Systems Laboratory

Department of Computer Science, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Western Road, Cork, Ireland.