Crowdsensing Under (Soft) Control,

John P. Rula and Fabián E. Bustamante
Northwestern University


Crowdsensing leverages the pervasiveness and power of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, to enable ordinary citizens to collect, transport and verify data. Application domains range from environment monitoring, to infrastructure management and social computing. Crowdsensing services' effectiveness is a direct result of their coverage, which is driven by the recruitment and mobility patterns of participants. Due to the population distribution of most areas, and the regular mobility patterns of participants, less popular or populated areas suffer from poor coverage. In this paper, we present Crowd Soft Control (CSC), an approach to exert limited control over the actions of participants by leveraging the built-in incentives of location-based gaming and social applications. By pairing community sensing with location-based applications, CSC allows sensing services to reuse the incentives of location-based apps to steer the actions of participating users and increase the effectiveness of sensing campaigns. While there are several domains where this intentional movement is useful such as data muling, the paper presents the design, implementation and evaluation of CSC applied to crowdsensing. We built a prototype of CSC and integrated it with two location-based applications, and crowdsensing services. Experimental results demonstrate the low-cost of integration and minimal overhead of CSC.