Welcome to CONASENSE

Society on Communication, Navigation, Sensing and Services (CONASENSE) is a new scientific society with the vision on Communication, Navigation, Sensing and Services (CNSS), 20 to 50 years from now.

  • The Integrated Vision.
  • All of the possible visions of future services for the information society have to start with the identification of user requirements. To this respect, user satisfaction is expected to be gained by augmenting the set of services that can be supported and by improving the performance of each service in an easy to use, efficient and secure fashion. On one hand, a method for improving the performance of a system is to increase its components/entities thus enhancing the number of design solutions. On the other hand, the higher number of system components / entities also extends the set of available services.

    A very important integration strategy concerns communications, positioning and sensing systems. This integrated vision involves an “active” integration with new business opportunities able to merge three worlds – communications, navigation and local/remote sensing – that have been apart for years. This vision is the focus of the Communications, Navigation, Sensing and Services (CNSS) paradigm. In CNSS, communications, navigation and sensing systems can mutually assist each other by exploiting a bidirectional interaction among them (Fig. 1). The next generation communication systems will require the support of a variety of services and applications. The subscriber will demand services at different locations having a seamless single subscriber entrance. This evolution demands an effective integration of communication networks as well as location-dependent services and context sensing for evaluating the situation. Therefore there is a need for a common platform aimed to the synergistic combination of technologies for communications, positioning and sensing systems able to effectively use information about location, context and situation of several entities.

    The term “context”, often overlaps with “location” and “situation”. In more detail, the term location refers to the geographical coordinates of mobile users and in some cases it can be extended by including other information such as speed, acceleration, direction and orientation. As an example, a network control centre can process the information about the location of the mobile user with the aim at computing: user location with respect to the cell of coverage; user distance from the access nodes; path and next location of the user/node. In satellite networks, high altitude platform networks and ad-hoc networks, network nodes are mobile in nature. Therefore, in such networks, the term location can be also referred to the geographical coordinates of the network nodes. Through this knowledge, it is possible to manage the dynamics of the network topology, the coverage and also the resource distribution more efficiently. The term context is referred to a set of parameters that can be used to describe the environment in which the user is embedded and the devices and access networks with which the user interacts. Several categorizations have been proposed to structure context information. Often they are oriented on a particular application domain. An example of generic categorisations is to divide the context into: system context, user context and environmental context. System context represents the information related to both the computing system it is running on (e.g. the particular type of mobile device) and to the communication system being used (e.g. the particular type of wireless network). System context deals with any kind of context information related to a computing system, e.g. computer CPU, access network, network address, status of a workflow, etc. User context can be quite rich, consisting of attributes such as physical location, physiological state (e.g. body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, etc.), emotional state, activity state (e.g. talking, walking, running, etc.), and daily behavioural patterns. Environmental context includes lighting, sound, humidity, air quality, temperature, weather, etc.

    Indeed, parameters that characterize the environmental context are: environmental temperature, environmental noise level, environmental light level, etc. Sensor devices and local/remote sensing systems could be used to get environmental contextual information. The location information can be considered as a part of the user context, but it is more appropriate to split the geographical user location (geographical coordinates x, y, z) which has been previously defined, from the environmental user location (e.g. stadium, hospital, city traffic, train, airplane, etc.). Note that, in certain cases (e.g. in a train, in an ambulance, etc.) the information about the geographical user location is not useful to determine the environmental user location.

    The term situation refers to the interpretation of the physical, social or environmental contextual information that can be related to a user and/or an access network. It is worth noting that, whilst context is an objective description of the environment, the situation is a subjective interpretation of a context; this interpretation requires a set of rules defined/personalized by the user by means of the user profile. The user profile defines the mapping rules between context and situation; in particular it defines the way a user wishes to exploit a given resource and, hence, can be seen as a personalized description of the action that the user would like to be performed in a given contextual state. Furthermore, the user profile can be used to provide some personal information such as gender, age, knowledge, emergency state, type of user (e.g. business, traveller, private), type of terminal and its status (e.g. group membership, media supported, reconfigurability, computational capability, battery level/energy resources), money availability and some preferences such as screen colour, font type, level of quality, level of security, the maximum cost that the user is willing to pay for that service, etc. During the exploitation of a service, the user is allowed to change his/her user profile which can be stored into one of the user devices (e.g. a smart card).

    Location/context-awareness refers to the ability to use location/context information for different objectives. A system is location/context-aware if it can extract, interpret and use location/context information and adapt its functionality to the current situation of use. CNSS will address the issues of a smooth evolution towards next generation infrastructure of communication systems, involving heterogeneous networks with location/context awareness. The combined CNSS system will provide enhanced and personalised services, whereas the location/context information and system will be extremely significant for achieving the required quality to added value services. The focus is on delivering enhanced services for the right person, at the proper place, in due time, with the required quality for a large variety of applications including emergency and healthcare assistance. “Enhanced Service” means to provide secure and context-based services; “Right Person” means to allow user personalisation and privacy; “Proper Place” means to provide location-aware services; “Due Time” means to provide services in a timely manner; “Required Quality” means to improve service quality by means of radio resource management.

    In this frame, sensors play a key-role in several applications. Examples are provided by medical sensors in health monitoring, photonic sensors for robots in the area of universe observation, inertial optoelectronic sensors for Earth observation, photonic nanosensors for scientific payloads, optoelectronic sensors for stress and vibration detection in transport systems, inertial nanoelectronic sensors for satellite navigation, etc.

  • Benefits to Communications Systems.
  • Radio resource management using position and context information, context/location based communications services. Localization technology has reached today a good level of accuracy and resolution. This has recently led to the strong interest towards location-based services. However, once this information has been made available to the user and/or the network, it could be used for other purposes than providing services to the user. Some works has already shown that this information can be used to improve radio resource management or mobility management (i.e., horizontal handover) by properly designed mechanisms. We claim that location information, together with the knowledge of the user situation or context, could become the most important enabling function for design solutions over heterogeneous wireless networks, in order to provide efficient integration of different access technologies. The location and context information for managing the radio resources of heterogeneous access networks, aiming at improving their quality of service and availability should be exploited optimally.

  • Benefits to Navigation Systems.
  • Indoor navigation, high precision navigation, hybrid positioning require wireless communications systems. The performance of satellite navigation systems is affected by the non-uniform velocity of electromagnetic waves through the Earth atmosphere. Remote sensing systems can be used to extract useful information regarding the atmosphere so that correction can be applied to the solution of navigation equations thus improving navigation data precision.

  • Benefits to Sensing Systems.
  • Once the sensed data has been acquired by the sensing system, these data must be delivered via a communication system to the final user. Depending on the nature of the sensed data, the requirements on the communications system can range from high data rate delivery to energy efficient low data rate delivery and from real time Navigation systems can improve the information contained in the sensed data by including georeferences.

  • Services.
  • As a consequence of the previous consideration, a multitude of services for the information society can get benefit from the integration of Communications, navigation and sensing systems; some examples are in the area of: Air Traffic Management (ATM), real-time alert systems, nowcasting, Earth science and interplanetary space science, disaster monitoring, safety critical services, etc