Anonymous Data Collection in Sensor Networks

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CitationIn 4th Annual International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems: Computing, Networking and Services, 2007.
AuthorsJames Horey
Michael M.Groat
Stephanie Forrest
Fernando Esponda


Sensor networks involving human participants will require privacy protection before wide deployment is feasible. The paper proposes and evaluates a set of protocols that enable anonymous data collection in a sensor network. Sensor nodes, instead of transmitting their actual data, transmit a sample of the data complement to a basestation. The basestation then uses the negative samples to reconstruct a histogram of the original sensor readings. These protocols, collectively defined as a negative survey, are computationally simple and do not increase communication overhead. Thus the negative survey can be implemented efficiently on existing sensor network platforms.

We analyze the accuracy of the negative survey under a variety of conditions and define a range of parameter values for which it is practical. We also describe an example traffic monitoring application that uses the negative survey to classify traffic behaviour. We demonstrate that for reasonable traffic scenarios, the system accurately classifies traffic behaviour without revealing private information.

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