Model-driven data acquisition techniques aim at reducing the amount of data reported, and therefore the energy consumed, in wireless sensor networks (WSNs). At each node, a model predicts the sampled data; when the latter deviate from the current model, a new model is generated and sent to the data sink. However, experiences in real-world deployments have not been reported in the literature. Evaluation typically focuses solely on the quantity of data reports suppressed at source nodes: the interplay between data modeling and the underlying network protocols is not analyzed. In contrast, this paper investigates in practice whether i) model-driven data acquisition works in a real application; ii) the energy savings it enables in theory are still worthwhile once the network stack is taken into account. We do so in the concrete setting of a WSN-based system for adaptive lighting in road tunnels. Our novel modeling technique, Derivative-Based Prediction (DBP), suppresses up to 99% of the data reports, while meeting the error tolerance of our application. DBP is considerably simpler than competing techniques, yet performs better in our real setting. Experiments in both an indoor testbed and an operational road tunnel show also that, once the network stack is taken into consideration, DBP triples the WSN lifetime—a remarkable result per se, but a far cry from the aforementioned 99% data suppression. This suggests that, to fully exploit the energy savings enabled by data modeling techniques, a coordinated operation of the data and network layers is necessary.
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