DMAD: Data-Driven Measuring of Wi-Fi Access Point Deployment in Urban Spaces

Jiaxing SHEN, Jiannong CAO, Xuefeng LIU, Chisheng ZHANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Wireless networks offer many advantages over wired local area networks such as scalability and mobility. Strategically deployed wireless networks can achieve multiple objectives like traffic offloading, network coverage, and indoor localization. To this end, various mathematical models and optimization algorithms have been proposed to find optimal deployments of access points (APs). 

However, wireless signals can be blocked by the human body, especially in crowded urban spaces. As a result, the real coverage of an on-site AP deployment may shrink to some degree and lead to unexpected dead spots (areas without wireless coverage). Dead spots are undesirable, since they degrade the user experience in network service continuity, on one hand, and, on the other hand paralyze some applications and services like tracking and monitoring when users are in these areas. Nevertheless, it is nontrivial for existing methods to analyze the impact of human beings on wireless coverage. Site surveys are too time consuming and labor intensive to conduct. It is also infeasible for simulation methods to predict the number of on-site people. In this article, we propose DMAD, a Data-driven Measuring of Wi-Fi Access point Deployment, which not only estimates potential dead spots of an on-site AP deployment but also quantifies their severity, using simple Wi-Fi data collected from the on-site deployment and shop profiles from the Internet. DMAD first classifies static devices and mobile devices with a decision-tree classifier. Then it locates mobile devices to grid-level locations based on shop popularities, wireless signal, and visit duration. Last, DMAD estimates the probability of dead spots for each grid during different time slots and derives their severity considering the probability and the number of potential users. 

The analysis of Wi-Fi data from static devices indicates that the Pearson Correlation Coefficient of wireless coverage status and the number of on-site people is over 0.7, which confirms that human beings may have a significant impact on wireless coverage. We also conduct extensive experiments in a large shopping mall in Shenzhen. The evaluation results demonstrate that DMAD can find around 70% of dead spots with a precision of over 70%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages29
JournalACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The work described in this article was partially supported by the funding for Project of Strategic Importance provided by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Project Code: 1-ZE26). It was also supported by NSFC/RGC Joint Research Scheme with RGC No. N_PolyU519/12 and NSFC Key Grant with Project No. 61332004.


  • AP deployment measuring
  • Data-driven approach
  • Room-level localization
  • Wi-Fi AP


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