Read tech news today, and there are some buzzwords that you just can’t escape. Machine learning, analytics, data science, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) being some of the most common.
Of these, IoT is probably one of the most popular – and, unfortunately, one of the most misunderstood. It adds a futuristic air to many things, and many are fond of the term ‘IoT platform’ as a catch-all. Like most catch-all jargon, however, it is poorly defined, leaving it open to abuse.
Let me be blunt: when it comes to IoT, 90% of it is complete rubbish.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, as a new technology, IoT is subject to inappropriate regulations, contends with legacy protocols, and has more than its fair share of security blunders. Throw in some charlatans, and it’s quite the brew.
This makes navigating the IoT space quite a challenge for the inexperienced and a cakewalk for only the most confident. It’s not entirely abandoned hope all ye who enter here. Still, it is akin to uncharted waters – which means a knowledgeable guide is prudent for those who want to explore it.
Luckily, Umbric is that guide – and we’re here to help you navigate your way through mare incognitum to terra firma and slay some of those sea monsters and dragons along the way!
“Big Data is the New Black Gold!” – Everyone and Their Mother
As a bold new technology, IoT is exciting. It’s the darling of the latest academic work, a prized feature in innovative product releases, and a bountiful proving ground of endless opportunity.
It’s no surprise that the media can’t stop comparing it to oil. It’s also no surprise that the media doesn’t really understand what they’re cheerleading. Sure, data is valuable, but a vast lake of unsorted big data isn’t. It needs to be collected, validated, de-duplicated, pre-processed, structured, and stored to make that lake useful.
Just like crude oil needs to be refined, so does data. Which needs to be mined… from a lake. Don’t ask us – we didn’t create the fishy virtual terminology! How do you effectively mine that data so you can do something useful with it?
That’s exactly where IoT comes in.
IoT Data Collection Isn’t Really “The Internet”
Watch the news about IoT, and you’ll probably understand IoT as being a lot of sensors, a lot of connectivity, buzzwords galore, and even more graphs. To be fair, the “Internet of Things” is typically being explained here in the broadest of terms, making it a vast subject to address toward the average person.
There’s one thing that you’ll seldom hear, though:
Most of the Industrial Internet of Things Isn’t Accessible from the Internet!
IoT means things like CCTV, Amazon Echo, Ring doorbells, and similar tech for the average retail consumer. Despite being impressively futuristic, they typically have closed ecosystems. The same goes for the devices that companies use to capture telemetry data and transform that information into actionable information for operational profits.
A closed online ecosystem isn’t entirely “the internet” as most of us would consider it. Technically, these ecosystems are connected via non-routable cellular private APNs and non-cellular LPWAN connectivity platforms like Sigfox and LoRaWAN delivered to consumers via a secure private API on dedicated fixed WAN links.
So, the IoT is a great way to capture data on a closed ecosystem – but that’s not all. Rather than pour all of this raw data into a vast data lake, it’s typically processed before delivery. This might involve processing the time series data against other data sets using IoT data analytics from other sensors or third-party data feeds or using a consumer-friendly IoT web app with pretty visuals.
That isn’t going to mean a lot to most people, so let’s take a quick look at how IoT data collection and visualization work in the real world, using environmental and utility data in domestic, commercial, and industrial environments to deliver value to the user.
Example One: Using IoT Data for Optimized HVAC Systems
In the office, there is always someone who is too hot or too cold. Is it even possible to optimize the temperature for everyone? As it turns out, temperature data from sensors within an office building can offer interesting insights when joined up with other types of data: namely weather data, building occupancy data, and employee location data.
Getting all this information is easy enough using PiR data or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons embedded in employee passcards – set this up, and you’ll soon have a good understanding of how people react to changes in the weather outside. After all, the weather outside is the key variable here.
With this information and understanding, you can see:
- Which spaces constantly need to be heated and/or cooled.
- Which spaces have a usage pattern that allows the HVAC to be programmed to turn off earlier or later.
Simple IoT data analytics translates into a potential to save on energy bills and automated carbon reporting. As a side benefit, you may also manage to ensure most employees are happy with the temperature most of the time. Sadly, this war is not wholly winnable with current tech!
Example Two: Using IoT Data to Optimize Electricity and Water
IoT is also helpful for monitoring and optimizing electricity usage alongside water metering and submetering in residential and commercial buildings. While the data for both electricity and water can offer some interest in isolation, combine it with other data, particularly occupancy data, and you open up a whole new world of knowledge. To wit:
- Are some areas of the building using more electricity or water per occupancy hour than others – and why?
- Are some areas of the building not turning off the lights or power tools after hours?
- Are some areas of the building almost always showing water consumption when the space is completely unoccupied (water leak alert)?
- Are some areas of the building using a LOT more water per occupancy per hour – and why?
- Do you really need to keep the elevators on at all times, even if the building is empty?
As you can see, the provided data can be a huge resource. Not only will it alert you to unusual usage patterns and costly water leaks, but you’ll also find plenty of savings in utility costs and carbon.
Example Three: Using IoT Data for Optimized HVAC Systems
Can IoT, a trailblazer in the fourth industrial revolution, improve the tools born in the first? Yes, of course it can – and yes, that translates once again into savings. A simple example might be collecting high-resolution vibration data from a rotating plant – think compressors, pumps, and pulley motors.
Take this raw data and statistically characterize it, and you can train a neural network model. For manufacturers that rely on their plants, this data can be invaluable:
- Get early warnings of impending bearing failure by detecting changes in vibrational signal – a smart way to avoid catastrophic plant failure.
- Know the true duty cycles and run times, rather than relying on those determined by SCADA schedules set by external systems.
Again, IoT data collection offers information from collecting the information, analyzing it, then presenting it in a data web app that allows for more efficient management – and a higher rate of productivity for the business.
IoT Data Management and Analysis Is the Real MVP
All of the above examples are real-life applications of IoT today, not the visionary dreaming of futurologists – and it’s all down to the smart use of sensors and IoT platforms in business.
The key takeaway is this: while the original, raw data is interesting, collecting that data and analyzing it with other data sets delivers much more powerful and actionable information. The key here is managing that data to extract that information.
The benefits are clear to see – and the exciting thing about IoT is that it offers almost endless applications to deliver real-world optimizations and improvements around the world. From that point of view, it’s not difficult to understand why the media loves to talk about IoT as the new black gold. It’s a vast oversimplification – but it is valuable, and it does have the potential to change the world.
IoT Data Collection and IoT Data Management Made Easy
IoT is an exciting space at the cutting edge of technology. It’s also very much misunderstood. Today, we’ve barely begun to scratch its tremendous potential. After all, most IoT data collection today takes place in closed ecosystems.
The sky really is the limit here; once you capture data from your sensors, extract it, then store it in your databank, you effectively have a little data lake just waiting to be (somewhat illogically) mined. But before you think about mining that data, you’re going to want to set up an accurate, consistent process that delivers valuable results.
That bit can be tricky and require a certain level of skill and experience. Luckily, you’re in the right place for that. Umbric is a world-renowned company when it comes to working with data, and we can help you make your IoT data journey a successful one.
How? First, we need to know a little more about you and your business to give you tailored advice. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your productivity to skyrocket, then contact us today to start your free consultation (no strings attached!).
About Umbric Data Services
Forget knowledge; data is power – especially when hooked up to custom web applications leveraging the latest in big data, machine learning, and AI to deliver profitable results for business.
Umbric Data Services combines the latest in tech with good old-fashioned customer service to deliver innovative, efficient software that drives productive business insight and revenues in the click of a button. Isn’t it time you worked smart, not hard? Find out more about how we help businesses to grow – visit umbric.com today.