Home » IoT

Tag: IoT

Look in the Mirror and Foresee the Future of Telecommunications

By Martin Laesch, Chief Technology Officer, Neural Technologies

The adoption of 5G will unleash the full potential of augmented and virtual reality, Smart Cities, and the Internet of Things (IoT); this will present opportunities for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to strengthen current revenue sources or create entirely new revenue streams. Consumers continue to display an insatiable appetite for data and with the consumption of data-hungry applications securing a place in consumers’ daily lives, data usage is set to continue increasing exponentially into the future.

CSPs currently face the ever-increasing challenges of leveraging 5G networks and offering customers new types of services. To overcome these challenges, new digital technologies are required to automate complex business processes to provide customers with the personalized service they have come to expect in a fast-evolving, digital world.

By 2025, CSPs should already be leveraging 5G networks to offer new types of services to various customer segments. The challenges of this endeavor will lie in the ability to scale telecom platforms, automate lifecycle management of network slices, and incorporate predictive demand and maintenance – all while ensuring operational efficiency and a behind-the-scenes workforce to support platform optimization.

Using automation to improve customer services

To address these challenges, an Analytical Data Model (Artificial Intelligence [AI] Data Model) and Machine Learning (ML) were used to develop the Digital Twins technology and tested as part of the 2019 TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project. The technology serves as a virtual representation of a real-world entity or system, which acts as a mirror to provide a means to simulate, predict, and forecast behavior in the digital world. As part of the catalyst project, the Digital Twins technology was applied to various use cases, such as networks, individuals, organizations, and processes, to determine their effectiveness for telecom industry applications in order to address the aforementioned challenges predicted for 2025.

For the Digital Twins technology to be possible, a common data model is essential. All data needs to be classified and structured in the same way for the digital technology to perform. Digital Integration is the first step to making this possible.

One example of a Digital Twin is that of a customer. A customer’s Digital Twin will be represented in a heatmap with icons to help visualize aspects of their digital lifestyle, such as whether they spend a lot of time gaming, have high mobile usage, or are physically inactive. This twin can then be used by the CSP to tailor messages to that individual. For example, the Digital Twin may show that the customer has a low step count, which could trigger a notification to the individual to be more active.

Using a Digital Twin, operators can also determine where there will be a significant increase in latency within the network, and then share that information with the customer’s Digital Twin to find out what is going to be affected and determine the next best action.

The Digital Twin can also speed up product development cycles, save time and money, and create new business models based on intelligent outcomes. This allows enterprises to personalize the customer experience and meet their precise demands, thereby enabling the enterprises to grow and improve their customer base through targeted campaigns, tailored services, and promotions. In turn, this generates greater customer loyalty and retention as well as customer spending through personalization with timely, individually tailored offers.

Proven methods for the future

The TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project proved that Digital Twins not only work for the manufacturing industry, but for the telecommunications space as well. As part of the project, Neural Technologies successfully created a Customer Twin alongside the collaborative development of a Mobile Network Twin and an Enterprise IP Network Twin, all originating from the core AI Data Model.

In addition, the catalyst project also demonstrated real-time communication between the twins. Using the proposed TM Forum Open Application Program Interfaces (APIs), Neural Technologies was able to share such simulated, forecasted, and predicted outcomes so that each individual twin was able to recommend a more informed action, instead of a siloed view.

Ultimately through using Digital Twin technologies in the telecommunications industry, a more holistic view across the whole of the operator’s network will be achievable, making it possible to not only make more informed recommended actions, but also make equally fast decisions. As a result, all such “what if” scenarios could now be done in the virtual world without affecting the real world.

Next to the challenges the telecommunications industry will face with the ever-growing volumes of usage data, software vendors like Neural Technologies need to provide solutions that are able to exchange data with any kind of connected system. Information exchange between systems will be key. and the usage of real time APIs will grow. Industry standards for these APIs, like those specified through the TM Forum Open APIs, will help to standardize the exchange of information which Neural Technologies fully supports already today.

With more data becoming available through the Internet of Things and 5G in the future, operators need to prepare themselves to leverage this data. Data is every operator’s asset, and using AI and ML, these assets can be mobilized to enable CSPs to strengthen current revenue sources by creating entirely new revenue streams. Ready to help CSPs achieve these goals, Neural Technologies’ state-of-the-art digital transformation and analytical technologies can help CSPs leverage this data and create new revenue streams.

Bio

Martin Laesch joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 as Senior Vice President of Professional Services and is now the Chief Technology Officer. Martin is responsible for the global Strategy and Products, Solutions development as well as the Consultancy Services to customers. Martin has more than 20 years’ experience in telecommunications services and the software industry, filling roles from Project Manager to Managing Director. Martin joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 by acquisition of Enterest GmbH, which he co-founded in 2003. Martin holds a Master of Computer Science degree.

 

IoT’s Impact on the Data Center and the Role of Intelligent Power

By Marc Cram, Director of New Market Development, Server Technology

Once dubbed the next Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things (IoT) has proven to be the movement that will drive the evolution of network, IT, and data center design into the future. To sum up the net impact of all of the new devices situated at the edge of all of the networks, consider this: there will be some 24 billion Internet of Things devices online by the end of 2020, which is actually more than double the 10 billion devices that will be used directly by people. Intelligent PDUs will play a critical role in the management of networks that support that traffic.

In fact, IoT has had a number of impacts on data center infrastructure, as well as data center services. Not only has IoT driven the creation of more robust networks and IT systems, it has also pushed the boundaries of what was previously understood as cloud and edge computing, and the networks that support those systems.

Lean and mean

When we look at the impact of IoT on data center infrastructure, the greatest tangible effect has been on data center networks. Most facilities have had to adapt in order to keep up with IoT—especially 5G IoT. This has meant an increase in the number of connections and in the overall speed of networks in most deployments, even ones that lean heavily on edge computing. Those edge devices still need to push data back to a central hub for more detailed computing and analysis.

Because of this, the majority of data centers are upping their networking and connectivity game. Another key impact IoT brings to data centers is a different type of capacity demand. IoT devices are continually running and delivering data, meaning that many data centers now have a much smaller window than before to take a network offline or make adjustments. Traditional maintenance windows are now closed, and network architectures have to be adapted to support uptime. The impact on data center infrastructure? It needs to be equally flexible.

More secure

An unexpected impact of IoT on data centers has been the need for an increased security presence at the edge. This new security challenge is the unwanted passenger on the train of network safety. It is the result of having more passengers on the new IoT touchpoints and endpoints.

This increase in the number of devices has presented a unique challenge for those in charge of their company’s networks. The proliferation of traffic has meant that companies are investing in new tools to monitor and manage traffic on their networks. While these tools are mostly in the form of software and IT appliances, there has also been an increase in the adoption of network PDUs.

Everything needs power

While they may seem like an unlikely player in new IoT data center infrastructures, intelligent PDUs are serving a key role in securing networks, supporting uptime, monitoring traffic, and managing systems.

Switched PDUs are the gatekeepers of all the power that is fed to the rack. After all, everything needs power, right? Not only is the rack PDU the bridge between the data center’s entire electrical infrastructure and the devices that run the network, it also provides the nearest touchpoint to monitor and manage that power. Talk about up close and personal!

Monitoring the edge

IoT computing demands more sophisticated monitoring solutions at the rack and PDU level. By definition, edge compute sites are not adjacent to the core data center facility. Lack of proximity means that there is an increased reliance on the ability to monitor power and cooling conditions remotely, as well as the ability to remotely control and reboot single outlets. As IoT has pushed monitoring to the distant reaches of the network, intelligent PDUs have likewise been deployed to provide feedback and control.

Monitoring the core

Intelligent PDUs arguably play a more critical role at the core, thanks to IoT. They provide information about equipment operation by metering the input and output power at the PDU. They also provide remote control operations that allow you to turn power on and off to individual receptacles. Having a network connection allows the data center manager to enable or disable outlets from a remote location or within the facility itself. As IoT has required more flexibility and fewer maintenance windows, intelligent PDUs have stepped in to assist with controlling the computing environment.

Monitoring to manage

Increased data traffic and shifting workloads increase the complexity of the data center manager’s power and cooling resources within the facility. By using intelligent PDUs, you can access real-time usage data and environmental alerts. All power usage data is easily tracked, stored, and exported into reports using intelligent PDUs and DCIM software. By analyzing accurate power usage information at the cabinet level, data center managers are now able to more accurately shift power resources within the white space.

In short, an intelligent PDU can be the control your data center infrastructure needs to support IoT applications. This is increasingly important as this infrastructure is being pushed closer to the edge with even less time for maintenance. Higher device demand comes with higher power demands, which means more challenges to the network. PDUs help you meet them and anticipate the next IoT evolution.

Marc Cram is Director of New Market Development for Server Technology, a brand of Legrand (@Legrand). A technology evangelist, he is driven by a passion to deliver a positive power experience for the data center owner/operator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rice University and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of electronics. Follow him on LinkedIn or @ServerTechInc on Twitter.

Customizable Cloud-Computing Ensures Successful Commercial Drone Missions

By Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO, Aquiline Drones

Although awareness of and appreciation for commercial drone systems is growing, many businesses remain unaware of the opportunities drones offer to achieve better business results, help streamline business solutions, and elevate profitability. Drones are unique aerial vehicles and are ideal for providing crucial aerial perspectives to assess emergency situations like the recent Australian wildfires, and for delivering critical medical supplies to those in need. Drones are even being used to deliver information to the public, as in the current coronavirus pandemic.

However, most businesses do not realize the intrinsic benefit of integrating drones into their day-to-day operations, whether it be for asset inspection and management, perimeter security, precision farming, aerial ranching, video production, or surveying and mapping. The list continues! But a point of note is this: A drone is just mechanical hardware unless used optimally to gather information. Such reconnaissance activity allows users to capture, analyze, manage, model, and share data insights – usually in real-time. This level of application calls for a robust computing platform that supports complex drone operations and the footage they generate. This is facilitated with cloud computing technology.

According to a recent survey by RedLock, only 7% of businesses firmly believe they have decent visibility over all important company information from drone usage in a well-structured and well-secured enterprise cloud. To address their inadequacies, companies are now seeking out unique, customizable, technical platforms such as the AD Cloud. These platforms offer everything involved in completing commercial drone operations in one centralized setting. The AD Cloud in particular provides a variety of salient features ideal for building highly customizable and large-scale solutions.

Building a Cloud from the Ground Up

Core features and services offered by some of the nation’s most notable cloud companies that have mastered and integrated artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) include:

  • Modularity – Scalability for high-density drone operations across industries requires a modular cloud design, in which services can be added a la carte, allowing businesses to start small, then scale up as needed.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Specific – It is important for cloud environments to cater to the industries for which they are being used. Specialized cloud platforms such as the AD Cloud provide algorithms for UAV operations, manufacturing, and maintenance, making the AD Cloud more valuable and more desirable for businesses that want to integrate UAVs into their operations.
  • Aviation Compliance – Drones are aircraft. Accordingly, they must operate and should be held to the same or similar standards as manned aircraft. These standards should be established and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A drone-specific cloud should maintain built-in compliance rules to ensure that connected devices remain safe and compliant with regulations and the law.
  • True Autonomy – Allows for autonomous UAV operations with plug-and-play mission capabilities.
  • Data Insights – Specialized algorithms can be created for flight control, traffic management, enhanced awareness, terrain modeling, and image recognition, along with specific additions for more sophisticated scenarios.
  • Full Lifecycle Governance – This includes providing connectivity and insights across the drone lifecycle – from product development, to manufacturing, to UAV operations and MRO – resulting in greater efficiencies and reduced downtime.
  • Dynamic Dashboard – A full-capability digital dashboard accessible on any device delivers a comprehensive, standardized, and flexible user experience (UX) with the power of the cloud at one’s fingertips. Users can plan, collaborate, and execute missions, livestream data and video, and obtain real-time data insights – all from within a single and customizable enterprise asset management (EAM) system.

Further, a comprehensive cloud system such as AD Cloud can also aggregate data, which enables companies to make statistical forecasts and logical inferences for future resource planning and allocations.

A Bright and Lofty Future

Despite its extreme growth within the past decade, the global cloud computing market is forecast to exceed $623 billion by 2023 as 80% of organizations – many using drone technology – migrate to the cloud by 2025.

One key projection is that cloud computing will change the hardware architecture of drones by simplifying these flying robots. With low latency, higher bandwidth, and a highly reliable connection to the cloud, a drone only needs to carry sensors, without requiring any additional power.

Drones and edge computing technology will continue to grow exponentially, allowing for more resolution, more sensor types, and more flight capabilities, while supporting demand for higher frequency and more data. In fact, drone fleets and swarms will have the ability to launch from edge computing hubs to further automate the process.

Another major highlight will be the quick creation and activation of a comprehensive cloud computing-drone infrastructure as directed and overseen by the FAA, the regulatory agency for all UAVs – ensuring safety remains paramount.

Lastly, the recent introduction of a bipartisan bill in Congress entitled, The American Security Drone Act of 2019 essentially bans the use of foreign drones – mainly Chinese drones – and other unmanned aerial systems that have been purchased with federal dollars.

The drone industry continues to gain in purpose and popularity, empowering companies that use them with powerful, customized cloud computing capabilities. Cloud-enabled drone technology increases these companies’ operating efficiency, efficacy, safety, and ultimately, their bottom line. As more of these cloud computer-connected devices take to the sky, we’ll see a world that is truly interconnected within the technological atmosphere.

Bio

A veteran pilot, serial entrepreneur, and visionary leader, Barry Alexander is founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones, a full-service, US-based commercial drone company that boasts an integrated manufacturing and supply chain, world-class MRO services, and real-time data insights to improve ROI across a variety of industries. Barry’s ultimate goal is to revolutionize the entire American drone market through innovative technology and key community and governmental partnerships to create a world in which humans and drones live and operate in harmony for the betterment of society.

How IoT Adaptation in 2020 Will Boost Manufacturing Profit, Not Destroy Jobs

By Darren Sadana, CEO, Choice IoT

IoT platform spending is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent over the next few years, from $1.67 billion in 2018 to $12.44 billion in 2024, globally. Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is just now getting underway and will transform conventional manufacturing methods like never before.

More intelligent sensors are gathering and transferring larger amounts of data at faster speeds, and are now capable of making decisions on the spot. Their agility makes them ideal substitutes for the large software-driven manufacturing execution systems currently in place.

These valuable changes active in manufacturing plants, as a part of Industry 4.0, are substantially boosting manufacturing ROI instead of putting people out of work.

Presently, the bulk of manufacturers considering the use of industrial IoT are focused on assessing what digital infrastructures need to be in place to ensure Industry 4.0 takes off smoothly.

Industry 4.0 comprises the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and smart manufacturing, marrying conventional operations of standard manufacturing with smart digital technology. The basic technologies that fall under 4.0 are artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing (additive manufacturing) and blockchain.

The result? A better, faster ecosystem for companies to process supply chain management in real-time.

How Manufacturers Can Make the Most Out of IoT

Fundamental technologies like AI and blockchain rely on constant access to each other and to the cloud. This process depends on 24/7/365 wireless connectivity, which confers to manufacturers an essential commodity—the ability to obtain accurate, current information, including pricing and contract requirements.

Deleting a primitive central application that determines output, real-time data will now require an explosive increase in data analysis, making it absolutely imperative to create actions around the data gathered.

Still, speed will not hamper accuracy as the intelligence of these machines grows, and only those manufacturers who can make to stock, order and assemble-to-order will win.

In addition to increased efficiency, predictive maintenance will become conventional. No longer will idle time associated with repairs be a concern, because with IoT adaptation, sensors will monitor and analyze multiple signals and alert operators to machines that require servicing.

Since most US manufacturing plants are at least 20 years old, their in-house machines are not equipped to operate in an Industry 4.0 environment (and are also much more prone to breakdowns).

These breakdowns account for up to $50 billion per year in lost manufacturing time, something IoT adaptation can mitigate.

With discrete manufacturing and predictive maintenance, IoT will contribute to the safety of workers by directing them to an emergency evacuation, safeguarding them from serious accidents. With new and improved inventory and equipment tracking, thousands of man hours will be also saved, and businesses will see an expansion in profit without an inflation in data costs.

Industry 4.0 and The Age of 5G Manufacturing: Creating More Jobs

Despite saving man hours, more jobs will be created—those “saved” man hours will be put to use creating jobs that have to manufacture new and smarter devices. With 5G’s multi-trillion-dollar rollout, the number of new jobs predicted for manufacturing alone will triple, according to the World Economic Forum via Forbes.

“Machines and algorithms in the workplace are expected to create 133 million new roles but cause 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022.” Today, businesses are waking up to the new staffing and organizational demands of IoT.

At the industrial level, IoT will increase the use of robotics, automation, and analytics, creating a higher demand for cognitive occupations, increasing productivity, and producing a more engaging work experience.

As with every industrial revolution prior to Industry 4.0, there will be a net increase in jobs. Technology always opens new opportunities, so we must account for potential job mutations that IoT adaption will continuously bring.

Just like the Amazons of the world emerged after the crash of the dotcom bubble, only made possible by higher internet speeds and faster data transmission, a new era of creative destruction is now on the rise—paving the way for the Amazons and Facebooks of tomorrow.

Healthcare, hospitality, transportation and numerous additional industries will be radically transformed, but only companies taking advantage of IoT will thrive, along with employees who commit to knowledge-intensive sectors.

Vending machines will be gamified so consumers can engage with interactive games to win prizes and create loyalty. Retina scanners can be installed to read customer reactions to gain insight into how they react to different packaging, messaging, colors and games.

IoT will impact additional industries such as healthcare as well, with similar gamification or new devices. Leveraging IoT will allow healthcare providers to make better, faster care decisions including, but not limited to, smart pills, robotics, and Real-Time Health Systems (RTHS).

In the security industry as well, the use of IoT will spike.

Preparing for Innovation while Controlling Costs: 5G Management

Industry 4.0 will transform plants into digital powerhouses, especially as 5G becomes a non-negotiable utility for consumers and dependency on IoT concepts increases.

5G will transmit data faster—which in turn will cause some devices, for various reasons, to work overtime. This will increase costs, and companies won’t realize this until they get the carrier bills at the end of the month and see that the devices went over their allotted MBs.

This makes having the right IoT wireless connectivity partner critical. Platforms must be able to deliver huge amounts of data down to the session level, and be capable of deploying thousands of devices at a time with error-free provisioning.

With 5G Wireless connectivity happening right now, ChoiceIoT is a master agent for T-Mobile, which has already launched 5G in more than 200 cities. Choice IoT can provide the technology and guidance for solution providers to transfer or build their solutions on the network of the future.

As of now, only 14 percent of machines in current US manufacturing plants are equipped to transmit and receive real-time data. Those companies that do not adapt to IoT will compete with existing solutions in the marketplace and become obsolete very quickly.

Solutions providers need to stay ahead of the curve with R&D to make sure they are competitive in the 5G landscape of tomorrow. As they develop solutions that can take advantage of 5G, they can also increase their profitability and relevance in the marketplace.

Due to intense competition among the wireless carriers, 5G costs are not predicted to increase. There are also no cost increases due to carrier competition or the data itself, but the opportunity for expansion of data and overload, and increased number of devices utilizing the technology will result from dramatic increases in speed.

The key to controlling data costs is to get data scientists to evaluate the data and see what data solutions bring cost savings. With Edge Computing, for example, smarter devices and sensors will reduce the need for data to be brought to a central cloud to be analyzed.

Along with data monitoring, using alerts and analysis forms a good connectivity platform that can help businesses see where the data leakage is happening and if that data is relevant.

Most importantly, drilled-down usage by session level is key to good data analysis. This can help identify rogue software and assist solution providers in minimizing data connectivity and storage costs as 5G rapidly approaches.

For example, the vending machine, a common and universally manufactured product, is closely tied to micro markets. This automated, self-checkout technology operates unattended, keeping labor costs down—but would not be possible without a connectivity partner with a real-time IoTSaaS or IoTPaaS to help control devices at the platform level by receiving notifications of rogue or stolen devices incurring roaming charges. Without such partners, these micro markets could lose the momentum gained by heavy carrier charges.

The Revolutionary Potential

This fourth industrial revolution was precipitated by the transition from handwork, to machinery (in the late 18th century), to computerization (that began in 1950). This is a very exciting time, as devices are able to communicate with each other and make decisions without the data having to pass through a central server. This greatly increases the scope and possibilities of new solutions being developed in the marketplace, and consumers will benefit from a better quality of life.

With IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) converging to form a powerhouse of smart manufacturing, there is no pause in its arrival. Experts also predict that the total bill for the 5G rollout, globally, will exceed $2.7 trillion by the end of 2020.

Bio

Darren Sadana, CEO of Choice IoT, Master Agency for T-Mobile. T-Mobile has already launched 5G in over 200 cities—and Sadana’s first-in-industry IoTSaaS is providing the new era of wireless connectivity control of costs for millions of Internet of Things devices within new smart cities as well as the transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, security, retail, hospitality, engineering & energy industries in the US and globally.

Unmanned Edge Operations Are the Future

By Michael C. Skurla, Chief Technology Officer, BitBox USA

The growth of edge is an interesting phenomenon. The rise of edge computing closed the IT infrastructure gap with edge data center deployments. The rise of public cloud and centralized computing paved the way to hybrid cloud and decentralized computing. However, within a distributed infrastructure, the IT ecosystem demands a mix of telecom and web services.

Whether on-premise, or closer to end-users, edge computing complements the current public cloud or colocation deployments.

The increased demand for connectivity-driving data proliferation positions IoT’s critical role as an edge enabler. But adding more “client” devices to networks isn’t the only role of IoT within an edge ecosystem. The often-overlooked side is for the required IoT technology to enable edge operations.

While cloud computing shifted the data center to a third-party network operations center (NOC), it didn’t eliminate on-premise data center operators who manage and respond to facility problems. Edge introduced a new challenge to network operations: autonomous management with limited access to the individuals who are local to equipment to address problems or perform maintenance. The new norm does not have in-house IT staff, equipment and machines under one or several roofs. It distributes data center operations into thousands of smaller facilities, most of which are not readily accessible in a short drive or walk.

Describing the edge as, “the infrastructure topology that supports the IoT applications,” Jeffrey Fidacaro, Senior Analyst for 451 Research Data Centers, underscores the importance of building a “unified edge/IoT strategy” that taps into multiple infrastructure options to manage the onslaught of IoT and facility systems while dealing with the needs of constant change.

Interestingly, the platforms around IoT solutions, not the hardware itself, are the answer to this quandary. Based on IT standards, IoT sensing and monitoring hardware offers granular, a la carte-style monitoring solutions. These solutions are often easy-to-install, flexible form-factor hardware packages that equip small sites, from shelters down to small electrical enclosures. Since these devices offer a multitude of functions and data points, they make reliable and remote facility management possible.

For instance, the sensing technology of ServersCheck allows granular site data to be generated from hardware, which complements an IoT platform that allows large amounts of sites to be monitored in concert while also tying in more complex control sub-systems such as HVAC, generators, access control, and surveillance equipment. These IoT platforms expand monitoring and remote management to a global scale, allowing customized alarming, reporting, dashboarding, and more, for a geographically distributed portfolio of locations.

This style of IoT management solution allows a flexible, customized design for each site. Its scalable infrastructure reduces the need for NOCs to monitor multiple separate software packages to determine conditions at each site. This facilitates rapid remote diagnostics and a triage of problems before dispatching staff to remedy issues.

Edging to Cellular Levels

Telecommunications keeps pushing further to the edge. In particular, remote monitoring is more crucial than ever, with the planned 5G rollout that ensures rapid growth of small-cell technology piggybacking on shared infrastructure such as streetlights, utility poles, and existing buildings.

As wireless transmitters and receivers, small-cell technology design allows network coverage to smaller sites and areas. Compared to the tall cell towers enabling strong network signals across vast distances, small cells are ideal for improving the cellular connectivity of end-users in densely developed areas. They play a crucial role in addressing increased data demands in centralized locations.

The rapid scalability of small cell technology can not only meet the demands of 4G networks, but can also easily adapt to 5G rollouts to expedite connectivity functions closer to the end-users. In clustered areas, small-cell technology allows for far superior connectivity, penetrating dense areas, and in-building sites.

Consider small-cell technology as the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution. Enabling the transmission of signals for transmitting even greater amounts of data at higher speeds, small-cell technology empowers IoT devices to receive and transmit far greater amounts of data. It also enables 5G technology, given the density requirements of the technology.

Enterprises face a flood of data from IoT connectivity. In fact, Cisco estimates this data flood to reach 850 zettabytes by 2021. This is driving edge buildouts of all sizes and shapes. To accomplish this, edge operators must rethink how they manage and monitor this explosion of sites. IoT platforms have proven to have the scalability and flexibility to take on this challenge in a highly affordable way.

As Forrester research predicted, “the variety of IoT software platforms has continued to grow and evolve to complement the cloud giants’ foundation IoT capabilities rather than compete with them” and it expects the IoT market to continue to see dramatic and rapid change in coming years.

It’s time for the technology that edge is being built to support – IoT – to play a role in managing the critical infrastructure that enables it. IoT platforms can tie the knot for this marriage.

Bio

Michael C. Skurla is the Chief Technology Officer for BitBox USA, providers of the BitBox IoT platform for multi-site, distributed facilities’ operational intelligence, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Mike’s in-depth industry knowledge in control automation and IoT product design sets cutting-edge product strategy for the company’s award-winning IoT platform.

Edge Infrastructure Meets Commercial Property

By Michael C. Skurla, Director of Product Strategy, BitBox USA

Until very recently buildings had tacked on the Smart prefix with promises of solving issues that we didn’t care about or hadn’t dreamed up yet. Such things as personal control solutions, even personal temperature control cropped up. Much of these smart extras were woven with grand marketing promises of future enabled ecosystems.

At the heart of the matter, the building industry has been highly proprietary and fractured, with each solution competing for monetary attention along with numerous other building trades on any construction budget. Lighting, security, irrigation, elevators, HVAC, wayfinding and dozens more; each vying for core competency and right to play – with a desire to gain revenue share of a fixed size pie of a commercial building budget.

With the introduction of IoT in the marketing envelope, a new lease was offered on an old marketing game in commercial buildings. There was a twist, however, since commercial building companies were somewhat behind the times compared to residential buildings. People had already enabled their home or at least embraced the advantages of Connected things in their lives powered by platforms such as Alexa, Siri and Nest by Google.

Commercial Building Gaps

Building management system (BMS) companies were exceptional at adapting to the game. With a core competency grown out of HVAC, BMS solutions superbly integrate and manage HVAC, and are sudo-network based. They naturally expanded their scope using their existing frameworks as a base and excelled at building automation. However, given the siloed building industry as a whole, they still lacked the expectations residential building occupants demanded in their homes and personal lives, while meeting the newly evolved demands of commercial buildings. These gaps included:

Scale – Managing one large building is one thing but managing hundreds under one portfolio is challenging – with existing building management frameworks being cost prohibitive on a scale.

Synergy – BMSes are good at control, but lack leveraging inter-system data sets. Hence, although the BMS may control lots of systems simultaneously, it lacks (without the customization) the learning and interacting process between the systems to leverage sensing platforms for greater efficiency and insight.

Micro-Analytics – While BMSes enable facility management and facility trades analytics, they could not be used beyond the facility context. The data remained private in the context of building infrastructure.

Commercial solutions needed a new methodology to address these needs, and the IT space, ironically already had it.

Enter IoT platforms.

For years, Edge Data Centers faced the same struggle as the market matured. It’s important to note that Edge data solutions are deployed en-masse – in the hundreds or thousands across large swaths of geography. Much of the same infrastructure used in commercial buildings, such as HVAC, security and power monitoring, are similar between traditional and Edge deployments. What differs, however, is the sheer quantity, technological diversity and geographic swath. Staffing these edge locations 24×7 is impractical hence the operations must be monitored and managed entirely remotely; while also using this monitoring technology to take on tasks typically handled by on-premises staff.

IoT Platforms Offer Scale

Unlike BMSes and SCADA systems of the past, IoT platforms at their core are built with the concept of diverse data at massive scale, and with the simplicity of installation and growth. Instead of relying on onsite commissioning and often custom programming to bridge the hardware, IoT platforms natively extract data from dozens of in-building protocols and subsystems. They also normalize the data and move it to a cloud location. Additionally, the setup of these solutions is vastly nimbler and generally consists of an Edge Appliance, wired and connected to a port that allows communications with a cloud infrastructure. Everything is then provisioned, managed and monitored remotely from the cloud – making this a perfect solution not only for Edge Data Centers, but the likes of commercial building portfolios.

IoT Platforms Bring Synergy

Given the number of subsystems in a building and the growing number of technologies and IoT sensing devices, there is an exceptional opportunity to leverage data between diverse systems. There is a significant amount of redundancy in these building trades in the way of sensing, which makes this technology, when viewed holistically, expensive to install and maintain. A prime example is evident in the simplicity of an office building meeting room where most likely there are three occupancy sensors detecting if someone is there. One for temperature control, another for lighting and security, and a third for a room reservation system. But why can’t one sensor provide all this data? Each of these requires wiring, programming and a separate system to monitor.

Beyond this, there is a strong case for external data to be applied and combined with in-building data for AI-related functionality. Google Maps for traffic information, external business databases, Twitter feeds; the sky is the limit.

IoT Platforms Enable Micro-Analytics

With all of this data collected in the cloud from a portfolio of sites, the data’s value is worth significantly more to the emerging field of Micro-service Analytics. These analytics services and visualization engines tap organized data-lakes, such as those provided by the IoT platform, and transform them into context-specific outcomes. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • Building data making actionable recommendations on building performance to reduce energy spend
  • IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management Systems) using the same data to analyze space utilization and recommend leasing adjustments
  • Retail marketing engines analyzing traffic patterns for merchandising

The analytics possibilities are endless through an ever-expanding marketplace of third-party micro-service companies, all enabled by the IoT platform and offering a consolidated API as a single source of “data” truth.

An Edge Site as a Commercial Building

IoT Platforms in the commercial property sector aggregate what is already integrated into buildings on a scale, to allow the building technologies to become alive as part of the business, and less of what is seen as a necessary evil of simple facility maintenance.

Traditional building technology solutions have met the mark on improving facility performance from an operation and maintenance perspective. It is time to move beyond this, however. Facility data can be used for considerably greater purposes to generate meaningful outcomes beyond the physical building when integrated with the breadth of other system data commonly referred to as “business operational information”.

This mix of information availability opens doors to analytics and visualization data, driven by analytics that has wide-reaching potential to have implications on the enterprises’ top and bottom line.

This certainly does not advocate an end to SCADA or BMS solutions, quite the contrary. The IoT platforms perform vital control and operations of some subsystems that should neither be duplicated nor replaced. An IoT platform layered on top of the systems discussed enhances the performance competency of the traditional silos of their core functionality to the best of their trade ability. This is done while leveraging the analysis of every bit of data, from vastly different angles, to impact the greater business good beyond just the facility sector.

In our fast-paced digitized infrastructure world merging various systems is critical to allow for profitable outcomes while enabling facility operators and managers to confidently make data-driven business decisions.

Bio
Michael C. Skurla is Director of Product Strategy for BitBox USA, which offers a single, simple and secure IoT platform solution for enterprises to collect, organize and deliver distributed data sets from critical infrastructure with a simple-to-deploy Edge Appliance with secure cloud access.