At one of the most fundamental levels, the Internet of Things (IoT) involves sensing/detection of events, recognizing the address of where to route data about the event, routing the data, and storing the data.
Note: Processing the data can happen at any point after sensing generates event-related data, which means that Streaming IoT Data can be captured and processed in real-time via advanced analytics and with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
Sensors and Detection in IoT
Advances in wireless networking, micro-fabrication and integration (sensors and actuators manufactured using micro-electro mechanical system technology, or MEMS), and embedded microprocessors have enabled a new generation of massive-scale sensor networks suitable for a range of commercial and military applications.
Sensors can be programmed to sense the environment and share that information over the Internet. For example, ranchers are using wireless sensors on cattle to alert the rancher if a cow gets sick or lost.
In the future, tiny, inexpensive electromagnetic sensors, capable of communicating from remote places to central monitoring facilities (by way of Machine to Machine communications) will be found everywhere. Thanks to increasingly cost efficient miniaturization, improvements in battery life, and advanced power management, sensors will become the norm rather than the exception across a wide variety of environments for both human and non-human assets/objects.
As sensor technology improves, there will be a transformation in which information is no longer a stale commodity but rather a living, breathing asset as information is continually updated due to intelligent actuation and notifications based on event driven criteria and associated triggers.
Thermal sensors are designed to detect temperature variances. In real life, these are used to generate alerts about failed refrigeration units on food delivery trucks before the onset of spoilage.
Another kind of sensor is able to detect airborne particles. Typical applications for these are pollution monitoring equipment, or machines to detect explosive materials, biohazards or impurities in manufacturing facilities such as pharmaceuticals, where a an undetected foreign substance in a product can lead to massive recalls costing millions of dollars.
Sensors to measure voltage fluctuations can predict failures in electronic equipment. Sensors can trigger a preventive maintenance procedure that costs far less than emergency repairs after a system failure.
Heat sensors and motion detectors that detect vibration in machinery can not only shut down a system when it overheats or vibrates beyond a pre-set limit, but can also warn of impending system failure before an emergency. In the case of a manufacturer, it could be the source of a premium monitoring and maintenance service to trigger a maintenance call to dispatch a technician to the customer’s premises even before outward evidence of an imminent product failure. Not only does this enable incremental recurring revenue, but it is also a means to solidify customer loyalty as part of any comprehensive proactive customer relationship management program.
Labeling and Addressing in IoT
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is a revision of the Internet Protocol (IP) developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IPv6 is intended to succeed IPv4. The reason for the need for succession is simple: the demand for IP addresses is too great. For many years the industry has managed with IPv4 through the use of network address translation (NAT), the process of modifying IP address information in IP packet headers while in transit across a traffic routing device.
This is what allows one to have many devices connected to one router. The router has its own IP address, such as 192.168.0.1, and assigns other (non-public) IP addresses to connected devices (desktop, laptop, printer, etc.). The analogous topology in wireless is that the GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node) maintains a static IP address and the SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) provides IP addresses upon connecting to mobile cellular phones requesting a cellular data connection.
This is great so long as one can connect to a router of some type relying upon it to provide an IP address on demand. This falls short in a world of numerous devices, or even non-telecom assets, which require an IP address, and connect to a network in a non-traditional manner. This is the direction that the world is going in which there will be many items/things that require an IP address that go way beyond traditional IP telephony.
Unlike IPv4, which has relatively easy to remember numbers such as Comcast’s IP address 192.168.0.1, IPv6 numbers can be much larger and very hard to remember such as IPv6 addresses, as commonly displayed to users, consist of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons, for example 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. It is easy to see that the new addressing scheme for IPv6 provides for many more IP addresses than would be available through IPv4.
IPv6 will enable IoT by providing ample electronic addresses for the many “things” in the world.
Routing Messages in IoT
There is a need for a more intelligent Internet. Traditional Internet routing is based on “best effort” routing using standard IP routers. A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks (as opposed to a network switch, which connects data lines from one single network). From an addressing perspective, the Internet is dependent upon an Internet Routing Registry, which is a database of Internet route objects for determining, and sharing route and related information used for configuring routers, with a view to avoiding problematic issues between Internet service providers. The actual routing of packets themselves is based on available routes considering all of the routers between point A and point B.
Routing is different for certain IP enabled applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP), which relies upon virtual private network technologies to offer a method for delivering secure voice with a certain Quality of Service (QoS) level commensurate with the low latency requirements for voice communications. Because VoIP transmits digitized voice as a stream of data, the VoIP VPN solution accomplishes voice encryption quite simply, applying standard data-encryption mechanisms inherently available in the collection of protocols used to implement a VPN.
Because IoT is stateless and very bursty, there will different requirements than voice. However, one requirement that will be the same is there will be a need for QoS. Whereas with voice there is not a wide range of QoS (e.g. either you can understand each other speaking or not), with IoT there are many potential QoS levels commensurate with the many different applications that will rely upon IoT infrastructure and communications.
Accordingly, there is a need for a so called “Smart Internet” that is able to consider QoS requirements. These requirements may be listed in the IRR and included as part of the information to route packets (along with IP address), but more likely information associated with QoS (mostly associated with priority and therefore associated routing information through various VPN or the public Internet) will be driven by the applications needs and may therefore be handled with the router network with potentially gateway routers. Other solutions may entail the use of specific registries and databases associated with IoT routing only.
The specific solutions remain to be seen, but one thing is clear – for IoT to scale to many fold more messages than M2M has today, there is a need for a much smarter Internet (e.g. and IP routing over VPNs). There is a need for engineering solutions today to solve the problems of tomorrow, especially when that tomorrow is not far away with IoT.
IoT Data Storage and Management
Data storage/management is a key aspect of IoT because there will be vast amounts of data generated and harvested from enumerable IoT processes, many of which are autonomous.
Just as IoT has unique network requirements, it also has unique data management requirements.
Every communication deployment of IoT is unique. However, there are four basic stages that are common to just about every IoT application. Those components are: data collection, data transmission, data assessment, and response to the available information.
IoT Data Management infrastructure issues to consider including:
- Hybrid Database Support: There is a need for IoT Database Infrastructure with flexibility to handle semi-structured, unstructured, geo-spatial and traditional relational data. The varied types of data can co-exist within one single database.
- Embedded Deployment Database: IoT Databases often need to be embeddable for processing and compressing data and transmitting over and between networks. Good features to have are little or no-configuration at run-time, self-tuning and automatic recovery from failure.
- Cloud Migration: IoT Networks can store and process data in scalable, flexible Cloud infrastructure. The platform can be accessed using web-based interfaces and API calls.
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