While many M2M/IoT systems are complex, an environmental monitoring system provides an excellent example for the various sensors and devices that must be combined to create a cohesive M2M/IoT system. Consider a cloud connected environmental monitoring system with high precision air pollution sensors and real time data access. The system must be rugged and compact to withstand the elements and designed to monitor traffic, industrial, construction and urban areas for temperature, gaseous pollutants, particulates, electromagnetic fields, radioactivity, and sound pollution. To add another layer of complexity, the system must be built to seamlessly connect to the cloud and send data from the field to the business application in real time.
The M2M/IoT marketplace is full of hundreds of piecemeal technologies that can be cobbled together from different vendors to form a solution, but the environmental monitoring system is best developed using the Multi-Service Gateway approach (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Multi-Service Gateways consolidate multiple business–relevant tasks.
A Multi-Service Gateway is ideally suited for the environmental monitoring system to connect sensors, actuators, and meters to the business enterprise. It enables bidirectional communication between the field and the cloud and offers local processing and storage capabilities to provide offline services and near real time management and control of the devices in the field.
The Multi-Service Gateway approach minimizes development risk by using off-the-shelf, purpose-built devices (as well as single board computers) to deliver solutions designed to meet vertical market value propositions. Data is delivered using a common protocol effectively decoupling data providers and data consumers, so this approach provides design flexibility and the ability to future-proof investments by integrating and consolidating data streams.
The Multi-Service Gateway approach solves a number of integration problems and unifies disparate components in the environmental monitoring system. An advanced software framework that leverages OSGi and Java isolates the developer from the complexity of the hardware, and the networking sub-systems complement the Multi-Service Gateway hardware to form an integrated hardware and software solution (Figure 2).
Figure 2: An application framework encapsulates the complexity of the underlying layers, making it easier for developers to write code on top.
Building on proven architecture and software building blocks that would require many years to develop, the use of an M2M/IoT application framework will result in shorter, more deterministic device software development. Consider a company working with dangerous chemicals that wants to set up an environmental monitoring system to ensure air quality and implement an alarm system. With the Multi-Service Gateway and standards-based application framework, the company could deploy 40 environmental sensor gateways with the required sensor packages at key points on the campus. The gateways could continuously send data to the cloud and have the data accessed, computed and presented by mobile and Web applications.
Using this IT-centric approach to implement the device logic in smart edge devices such as the environmental monitors offers a solid foundation for effective and secure data, device and embedded application management. Once this Multi-Service Gateway approach is in place, adding, changing and connecting sensors, actuators and the essential local applications as well as connecting them to the cloud is simpler than it ever has been before.