Future proofing enterprise with intelligent IoT F

Neil Hamilton, VP of Business Development at Thingstream, explains how intelligent IoT will allow businesses to streamline overall costs and improve operational efficiency

rom your heating at home to large- scale industrial applications, sensor-

driven equipment talking to and receiving instructions from the internet is growing at an unprecedented rate - so far exceeding all expectations. This expansion is set to continue with the number of IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices likely to grow almost fivefold to 125 billion by 2030. This translates to a contribution of around US$15 trillion to global GDP. To put that into perspective, that is more than China’s current total GDP. While this sounds like good news, this rate of growth is already outstripping the infrastructure that supports it. As the number of connected devices and sensors increases, so too does the loading on the local network, internet, and even the power grid. Without changing the way we look at things now, by the end of the decade we could easily end up completely swamped with sensor data and a sub-par network to support it. With this in mind, it is important to change the way we think about what data needs to be sent to the internet, how we send it and when we should or should not send it.

REDUCING THE LOAD WITH IOT AT THE EDGE The obvious solution to growth is to improve the infrastructure, however, this can be very expensive. In the modern world, data is a commodity and the more you use, the more it costs. Another option is to reduce the amount of strain you are putting on the infrastructure. To reduce the load on the infrastructure

the mindset needs to change from one of “big data” to “small data”. Instead of sending everything all of the time and doing all of the processing in the cloud, a more strategic approach needs to be taken to what is sent to the internet and how. To best tackle this we look to the Edge Computing method. By handling more of the heavy-lifting closer to the source of the data, at the Edge of the logical network, it is possible to reduce and in some cases, eliminate data sent to the cloud. With this, IoT devices could also be programmed to make more intelligent decisions about when data needs to be sent, effectively reducing the amount of data from the realms of megabytes to just a few bytes. For example, instead of sending regular updates, an IoT device could be programmed only to send data when there is data to send, as


several pieces of information to allow a single device to perform functions that would otherwise include require multiple connected devices, helping to deliver a truly intelligent, efficient network. IoT devices set up in this way can automatically connect with a corresponding IoT application wherever GSM connectivity is present, hopping on to the strongest available network. This network-agnostic approach is both more reliable and considerably cheaper than cellular data. Reliability is further boosted by the

Using MQTT-SN, devices can be programmed to only send data to the cloud or process and act on the data locally depending on local conditions. By ensuring that only the right information is sent at the right times, device battery life can also be vastly extended

opposed to sending regularly scheduled updates that might contain little or no important information. Carrying out analytical tasks at the edge

also creates an opportunity to improve the reliability of the network by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable predictive maintenance. IoT devices could be programmed to alert engineers in advance of any maintenance tasks that need to be carried out, enabling the engineering team to manage capacity and supply of spare parts more efficiently. A more strategic approach to what is sent and when could immediately reduce data costs, lighten the load on local or wide-area networks and servers as well as reducing analysis costs by reducing the amount of data needing to be analysed.

LEVERAGING THE GSM VOICE NETWORK WITH USSD Operating a truly intelligent IoT network requires a reliable platform with the ability to keep working under adverse conditions. This can be achieved by using USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), a low-power, low-bandwidth communications protocol which allows short messages of up to 182 characters to be sent directly via the GSM voice network. Because USSD uses the existing GSM voice network, expensive cellular data contracts can be avoided. By using a GSM network agnostic connectivity platform, near-global connectivity is possible, making it ideal for applications that need to work across international borders. For the communication of small packets

of data, USSD is best combined with the publish/subscribe messaging protocol, MQTT-SN (Message Queue Telemetry Transport for Sensor Networks). This can communicate with cloud systems, sensors and can also be programmed to relay

inclusion of QoS (Quality of Service) which ensures that important messages reach their target, regardless of how busy the network is. Using MQTT-SN, devices can be

programmed to only send data to the cloud or process and act on the data locally depending on local conditions. By ensuring that only the right information is sent at the right times, device battery life can also be vastly extended.

SECURING THE FUTURE WITH INTELLIGENT IOT Another benefit of using this GSM technology is its inherent security. By not using the internet to communicate between devices and applications, there is no external IP address. This makes the devices themselves virtually invisible to external parties, greatly increasing the overall security of the network. Using a messaging protocol based on the GSM voice network is the only way to provide long-term viability for wide- scale IoT in a world that is becoming saturated with data. This is due to the availability of the network’s existing infrastructure, near-worldwide coverage as well as the added security that comes with not being connected to the Internet using a publicly visible IP address. An MQTT-SN-based Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) answers the need for a truly global IoT network, especially in areas with limited connectivity. By only transmitting what is needed,

when it is needed, across a secure, low-power network, businesses will be able to streamline overall costs and improve operational efficiency, as well as potentially opening up new revenue streams.



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