SensorWAN 3.0#


The SensorWAN channel addressing scheme can be used for assigning telemetry data communication channels to individual sensor nodes in wide-area sensor network scenarios, or similar multi-node, multi-sensor environments.


The addressing scheme is essentially a path string using exactly four address components.


As such, it maps 1:1 to MQTT topics and HTTP URL paths, and provides other means for protocols which do not support path-based addressing.

SensorWAN is not an interoperability protocol, and as such, does not implement device discovery mechanisms like Home Assistant MQTT device discovery or Sparkplug do.

Instead, it is primarily a convention for implementing telemetry data transport subsystems, supported by corresponding reference implementations like Kotori, Terkin MicroPython Datalogger, and TerkinTelemetry C++.


  • Real-world topology.

    The channel address reflects the real-world topology, and is not obstructed by any technical details, similar to the Sparkplug B principle.

    This makes it easy to understand the topology of the sensor network, and to inspect the communication channels without further ado, and without much prior knowledge or technical assistance.

  • Freedom in topic design.

    The four address components realm, network, group, and name, can be freely adjusted to fit the jargon and semantics of your application or data acquisition scenario, see also Addressing examples.

  • Infinite number of channels.

    The “wide” addressing scheme allows to address an arbitrary number of channels, located at any level of the address hierarchy.

  • Semantic grouping of channels.

    Without any need for a registry and corresponding machineries, you are able to quickly establish address conventions. For example, it is both sensible and advisable to use address prefixes like <realm>/testdrive for designating channels to be exclusively used for testing purposes.

  • Permission control.

    Optionally, permission control can be established in a way coherent to channel addresses, where individual permissions can be adjusted according to the hierarchical levels of the network/channel topology, for example, by using MQTT topic ACLs.

Channel address#

This section explains the four individual address components of the SensorWAN channel addressing scheme, reflecting the data channel topology hierarchy.



realm is the designated system channel root, implemented as a channel address prefix.

It will be assigned by the operator of the data acquisition system. Operating multiple realms on the topmost address level effectively implements system-level multi-tenancy.

When using Kotori, it will be configured within the server configuration files, and as such, is a “fixed” address component.


network is your personal channel root, it designates the unique user/owner of the channel.

This identifier is used to separate channel groups, and to assign them to individual users, effectively implementing user-level multi-tenancy.

SensorWAN does not impose any restriction on the format of the network identifier. For maximum uniqueness, use UUIDv4. For better readability, use a custom identifier.


The group identifier addresses the channel group. You can assign it as you like.

For example, you can group your channels by reflecting locations/sites of your sensor nodes, or names of intermediary data concentrators/hubs/gateways.


name designates the channel name. For example, you can use it to reflect the device/node identifier. Choose anything you like.


In order to assign unique values as address components, you can generate them by using online or standalone programs, see Unique identifiers. In order to get a few ideas about possible topology address implementations, have a look at the Addressing examples.

Channel type#

On the last segment of a full-qualified channel specifier, the addressing scheme adds a suffix component, which designates the channel type. It can be used to discriminate between uplink, downlink, and other message types.

Direct addressing#

With SensorWAN 3.0, two “direct” addressing schemes have been added, which can be used to directly address channels and devices, either by using their identifiers as opaque labels, or by encoding the channel topology differently than using a path-based scheme. For example, the “dash” character can be used to separate topology fragments.

# Addressing a device.

# Addressing a channel.

Therefore, the channel and device labels became reserved identifiers within the network namespace.

Topology mapping and translation#

The SensorWAN channel addressing scheme defines a few conventions how to transparently map the channel address from the transport protocol domain to addressing schemes of other backend systems, like storage components.


For databases following the classic database -> table addressing scheme, or corresponding variants, the topology mapping from a path-based topic may look like:

SensorWAN address: <realm>/<network>/<group>/<name>
Database name:     <realm>_<network>
Table name:        <group>_<name>

Message buses#

For message bus systems following a path-based addressing scheme, the channel address usually can be used 1:1 across system boundaries. On specific occasions, it makes sense to translate topic identifiers to the syntax conventions used in downstream systems. For example, AMQP usually encodes topic identifiers (here: routing keys) with fragments separated by dots. In this case, a topic identifier mapping may look like:

SensorWAN address: <realm>/<network>/<group>/<name>
AMQP routing key:  <realm>.<network>.<group>.<name>

Object stores#

In S3, buckets and objects are the primary resources, and objects are stored in buckets. S3 has a flat structure instead of a hierarchy like you would see in a file system. However, for the sake of organizational simplicity, the folder concept is usually synthesized as a means of grouping objects.

Building upon the SensorWAN path-based addressing scheme, a suitable object address within an S3 bucket would be, for example, <realm>/<network>/<group>/<name>.parquet.

Payload formats#

SensorWAN does not impose any constraints on payload formats. You are free to select anything which fits your needs. However, it provides a mechanism to convey content type information over transport links which do not offer corresponding metadata fields, like HTTP’s Content-Type header.

For example, MQTT version 3 does not provide any means to signal the content type, so the convention is to add the file extension of the corresponding format to the channel type suffix.

For example, in a typical scenario where devices are submitting JSON data payloads over MQTTv3 on the “data” channel, a corresponding full channel path specifier would add a /data.json suffix to the channel base address.



Addressing examples#

To give you a few examples of possible addressing topologies for more specific use-cases:

  • continent/country/region/city
    Addressing a global/world-wide scenario, or corresponding variants thereof.
  • amazonas/ecuador/cuyabeno/hydro-1
    When looking at a more regional scenario instead. This is the canonical topology example we
    are using on a few spots in the documentation of the reference implementations.
  • organization/beekeeper/apiary/hive
    The data acquisition topology of the Hiveeyes project.
  • organization/plant/shop-floor/machine
    For addressing industrial data acquisition scenarios.

Unique identifiers#

In order to assign unique values as address components, you can generate them by using online or standalone programs.

For example, generate UUIDs, like 34f83b61-9044-4ca8-b310-84f412175a4d using the Online UUID Generator, or generate UUIDs and other kinds of random identifiers more suitable for human consumption using the Vasuki identifier generator, which you can use on your own systems as either a command line program, or as a library.


If you don’t fancy UUIDs, and would like to use shorter identifiers instead, like re69x8, or ZgBxoo, saving bandwidth both on the wire and on human communication about them, we recommend to use Nagamani19. Nagamani19 is a short, unique, non-sequential identifier based on Hashids and a custom Epoch starting on January 1, 2019.

For generating random, pronounceable pseudo-words like blaumaueff, or schnoerr, we recommend to use the Gibberish generator.

Even shorter names, like Gime, Togu, or Viku, suitable for assigning individual device names in a scenario with a few devices can be generated by using epoch slugs, available through the MomentName generator.


The SensorWAN convention has originally been conceived on behalf of the Hiveeyes project. In this context, and with its initial implementation as a channel address decoding strategy for the Kotori data historian, it had different names, like »MQTT topic addressing with a quadruple hierarchy strategy«, and later, just »MQTTKit«.