Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor



ICA, Kriging, PCA, Spatial data-mining, Spatial interpolation, Spatial outliers


Participatory sensing (PS) systems are a new emerging sensing paradigm based on the participation of cellular users in a cooperative way. Due to the spatio-temporal granularity that a PS system can provide, it is now possible to detect and analyze events that occur at different scales, at a low cost. While PS systems present interesting characteristics, they also create new problems. Since the measuring devices are cheaper and they are in the hands of the users, PS systems face several design challenges related to the poor accuracy and high failure rate of the sensors, the possibility of malicious users tampering the data, the violation of the privacy of the users as well as methods to encourage the participation of the users, and the effective visualization of the data. This dissertation presents four main contributions in order to solve some of these challenges.

This dissertation presents a framework to guide the design and implementation of PS applications considering all these aspects. The framework consists of five modules: sample size determination, data collection, data verification, data visualization, and density maps generation modules. The remaining contributions are mapped one-on-one to three of the modules of this framework: data verification, data visualization and density maps.

Data verification, in the context of PS, consists of the process of detecting and removing spatial outliers to properly reconstruct the variables of interest. A new algorithm for spatial outliers detection and removal is proposed, implemented, and tested. This hybrid neighborhood-aware algorithm considers the uneven spatial density of the users, the number of malicious users, the level of conspiracy, and the lack of accuracy and malfunctioning sensors. The experimental results show that the proposed algorithm performs as good as the best estimator while reducing the execution time considerably.

The problem of data visualization in the context of PS application is also of special interest. The characteristics of a typical PS application imply the generation of multivariate time-space series with many gaps in time and space. Considering this, a new method is presented based on the kriging technique along with Principal Component Analysis and Independent Component Analysis. Additionally, a new technique to interpolate data in time and space is proposed, which is more appropriate for PS systems. The results indicate that the accuracy of the estimates improves with the amount of data, i.e., one variable, multiple variables, and space and time data. Also, the results clearly show the advantage of a PS system compared with a traditional measuring system in terms of the precision and spatial resolution of the information provided to the users.

One key challenge in PS systems is that of the determination of the locations and number of users where to obtain samples from so that the variables of interest can be accurately represented with a low number of participants. To address this challenge, the use of density maps is proposed, a technique that is based on the current estimations of the variable. The density maps are then utilized by the incentive mechanism in order to encourage the participation of those users indicated in the map. The experimental results show how the density maps greatly improve the quality of the estimations while maintaining a stable and low total number of users in the system.

P-Sense, a PS system to monitor pollution levels, has been implemented and tested, and is used as a validation example for all the contributions presented here. P-Sense integrates gas and environmental sensors with a cell phone, in order to monitor air quality levels.