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by Debora De Freitas last modified 2007-07-12 14:31

The Water Resource Observation Network (WRON) is interested in understanding the impact of current irrigation practice to the environment in the Queensland’s Burdekin area.  Saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers has been an ongoing concern for water managers globally. The principal decisions to be made in relation to exploiting these coastal groundwater resources are: where to place the extraction bores, and how much water can be extracted for sustainability.   The challenge however, is to obtain accurate real-time data of water usage patterns and the corresponding changes on salinity levels.  The use of wireless sensor networks to obtain this data through remote real-time monitoring was a logical choice.   The goal of Burdekin sensor network was to not only provide monitoring capabilities for decision and policy making, but to eventually control water usage as part of the management strategy.

 As with all real-world network deployments there were operational and technical issues encountered and lessons learnt. This presentation describes the deployment of the Burdekin irrigation sensor network, its purpose, design requirements and challenges.    Furthermore, the research challenges and directions required to make wireless sensor networks useful management tools are described.


Matthew Dunbabin is a senior research scientist in the CSIRO ICT Centre Autonomous Systems Laboratory based in Brisbane.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from RMIT and a PhD in robotics from QUT.   Since joining CSIRO in 2001, he has developed autonomous robots for the mining industry, both above and below ground, and for the last three years has been researching the interaction with underwater robots and sensor networks for complex task execution.  Matthew is currently a Stream Leader within the Wealth from Oceans Flagship and project leader for the development of Smart Field Monitoring Technologies for the offshore oil and gas industry.