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Security and Communication Networks
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 2593537, 15 pages
Research Article

A Privacy-Preserving Incentive Mechanism for Participatory Sensing Systems

1School of Computer Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
2Collaborative Innovation Center of Geospatial Technology, Wuhan, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Xiaoguang Niu

Received 6 September 2017; Accepted 4 December 2017; Published 16 January 2018

Academic Editor: Krzysztof Szczypiorski

Copyright © 2018 Xiaoguang Niu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The proliferation of mobile devices has facilitated the prevalence of participatory sensing applications in which participants collect and share information in their environments. The design of a participatory sensing application confronts two challenges: “privacy” and “incentive” which are two conflicting objectives and deserve deeper attention. Inspired by physical currency circulation system, this paper introduces the notion of E-cent, an exchangeable unit bearer currency. Participants can use the E-cent to take part in tasks anonymously. By employing E-cent, we propose an E-cent-based privacy-preserving incentive mechanism, called EPPI. As a dynamic balance regulatory mechanism, EPPI can not only protect the privacy of participant, but also adjust the whole system to the ideal situation, under which the rated tasks can be finished at minimal cost. To the best of our knowledge, EPPI is the first attempt to build an incentive mechanism while maintaining the desired privacy in participatory sensing systems. Extensive simulation and analysis results show that EPPI can achieve high anonymity level and remarkable incentive effects.