Main fields of research performed at BioSense Center involve ICT as the core tool to address challenges in Environment, Agriculture, Forestry and Ecology, such as: Sustainable Agriculture, Water Management, Desertification, Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Habitat Preservation etc. This structure consolidates and shares knowledge and experiences from a range of fields and allows the Center to address different research and technological challenges: from development of novel sensors for detection and measurement of specific pollutants, to the integration of EO data into a unique data base.
ICT presents the main cohesion factor of the Center due to the fact that the very same underlying technology is used to support novel research in different BIO fields. At the same time, ICT benefits from challenges brought by BIO fields: research efforts are focused towards specific solutions for ecology, environmental engineering and protection, disaster management, forestry and agriculture.
Successful application of ICT in all listed BIO-related fields depends on intensive research and the development of a comprehensive ICT infrastructure which includes devices, systems and data processing.
Research at the BioSense Center is, therefore, performed in such a way that it covers all these three distinctive levels:
- Devices: The quality and reliability of monitoring data directly depend on sensing and imaging technologies, i.e. on the availability and quality of sensors, sensing devices, corresponding electronic circuitry, and imaging techniques. Commercially available sensor solutions are insufficient, and the BioSense Center staff works in the field of microelectronics and microwave engineering to design specific sensors, sensing devices and electronic circuits required by WSN and RS systems, coordinated with the needs existing in different BIO-related application areas. The ‘’smart dust’’ concept, especially important in precision agriculture, relies on great numbers of extremely small, low-consumption and low priced sensors. This concept is backed up by the ‘’Internet of Things’’ approach, which offers huge address space and allows individual addressing of more than 1038 various sensors! However, a critical input for future development of ‘’smart dust’’ systems and ‘’Internet of Things’’ are sensors themselves – their size, cost, consumption, robustness, accuracy and reliability. That is why sensors present a significant research focus of the BioSense’s researchers.
- Systems: Sensors are rarely stand-alone devices. To provide valuable geo-referenced data, they need to be integrated into systems such as WSN. Another way of monitoring is application of different RS technologies. A number of research challenges exist in application of WSN and RS, such as development of novel communication protocols, energy efficient communications, denoising of satellite images, data fusion, etc. Since 2006, BioSense Center researchers have significantly developed and successfully applied their expertise in RS and WSN in precision agriculture and in ecosystem monitoring, and today the Center is recognized as a regional leader and center of excellence in these fields.
- Data processing: On the other end of data gathering lies a need for efficient storing and manipulation of huge amounts of geo-referenced data generated by WSN and RS systems, as well as for data analysis. The BioSense Center focuses on the development of data bases which offer fast and reliable access to all collected data, its analysis, aggregation and representation in the form suitable for the end-users. Research is also performed in data mining and knowledge discovery technologies such as artificial intelligence, process modeling, prediction, and data aggregation, with the goal to generate new knowledge previously hidden in data sets, but much needed for the decision making.