What Does IoT all mean?

The number of articles about the Internet of Things [IoT], Machine-to-Machine communication [M2M], the Industrial Internet, the Internet of Everything [IoE] and the like have been increasing since I wrote my post introducing my IoT mindmap almost a year ago. I learn from some of them, some I nod sagely in agreement, and others cause me to scratch my head in confusion. One in particular this last week fell in that last category, when they claimed that all the terms listed here all mean the same thing.

From my reading, briefings and research over the past year, I've come to a different conclusion. The following definitions are my opinion. I can't say that any authority has certified these definitions. I believe them to be accurate, and if any vendor with an interest in any of these definitions strongly agree or disagree, I would be very much interested in talking with you.

Types

The first thing to be considered is Machine-to-Machine communication. M2M is really just one of four types of interchanges that occur over the Internet, intranets and any command, control, communication, computing or intelligence network. The other types are Human-to-Machine [H2M], Human-to-Human [H2H] and Machine-to-Human [M2H]. H2M and H2H interchanges have been around since the beginning of ARPAnet, which evolved to become the Internet. From the many different protocols at the beginning, such as FTP and Gopher [among many more], two have come to dominate Internet traffic:

  • simple mail transfer protocol [SMTP] at the heart of email, and
  • hypertext transfer protocol [HTTP] at the heart of the world wide web [WWW or Web].

Every transaction made using a computer: online transaction process [OLTP] electronic data interchange [EDI], and eCommerce; every purchase you make at your favorite web store, is an example of H2M.

Of course, starting with email [still the dominant form of communication over the Internet and for businesses and individuals] and expanding to Twiter, Facebook, Waze, Yelp, Foursquare, Yammer, all the various instant messaging networks, voice over Internet protocol [VoIP] and your favorite public or private social network, we have many examples of Internet enabled H2H communication.

These two, H2M and H2H, have become so prevalent, and so important to business, governments and our personal life, that the over-hyped phenomenon "Big Data" was born. But the importance and pervasiveness of M2M, and soon, M2H data will swamp the so-called data tsunami of the past decade. Predictive maintenance, building automation, elastic provisioning, machine logs, software "phoning home" and automated decision support systems are all good examples of direct M2M interchanges where one sensor, device, embedded computer or system has a productive exchange with another such machine, without concurrent human intervention. Self-quantification, gamification, personalized medicine and augmented reality [AR] are all early examples of M2H interchanges, where sensors, devices, embedded computers or system directly provides relevant information to an individual, allowing for better informed decisions.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton. Since then, the term has come to mean any device that is connected to the Internet. Most people don't consider computers, routers, edge equipment and other Internet infrastructure hardware to be a "device", and usually exclude such hardware from consideration as a thing that uses that infrastructure. For many, the devices are only smart phones, feature phones and tablets. This has led to predictions by Cisco and GSMA to declare that there will be 30 to 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. However, even these organizations, and most people with whom I speak who have skin in the IoT game, feel that my own prediction of one trillion devices connected to the Internet by 2020 is more likely. These devices span from individual, but connected sensors, to heavy machinery. However, as companies come out with Tweeting diapers, glowing clothing and other such silliness, the Internet of Things is in danger of becoming a fad. So, what is the Internet of Things? To my mind, the Internet of Things comprises any sensor, embedded sensor, embedded computer, component, package, sub-system, systems, or System that is connected to the Internet and intended to have meaningful interchanges with other such items and with humans. The Internet of Things primarily uses M2M and increasingly M2H interchange.

Smarter Planet

The first treatment of the IoT as large, complex system, to which I was exposed was at networking event in 2008… One of those events where IBM was introducing their new initiative for a Smarter Planet. The Smarter Planet brings complex systems such as the Smart Grid, building automation across facilities, water management, traffic management, Smarter Cities and Smarter Farms under one System. One approach and one initiative that raises the IoT to a new level of importance for world governments, global businesses and individuals from the poorest village to the most cosmopolitan city. The Smarter Planet initiatives go beyond IoT, beyond the individual things, to treating all such things, the Internet, the protocols, process and policies as one very large, complex, possibly cognate system.

Industrial Internet

The Industrial Internet is a term coined by General Electric [GE] in 2011. At a very simple level, the Industrial Internet can be thought of connected industrial control systems. But the impact is much more complex, and much more significant. The first thing to be realized is that connected sensors and computing power will be embedded in everything, from robots and conveyor belts on the factory floor, to tractors and irrigation on the farm, from heavy equipment to hand drills, from jet engines to bus fleets; every piece of equipment, everywhere. The Industrial Internet also primarily uses M2M and M2H. While this sounds much like the Internet of Things, the purpose is much different. The Industrial Internet is about changing business processes and making data the new coin of the realm. GE is very serious about the Industrial Internet, and while they don't use the term yet, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems. Data Marketplaces are rapidly becoming core to GEs businesses, as proven by their recent 140 million dollar investment in Pivotal, the new Big Data Platform as a Service [PaaS] by EMC. Another excellent example of the importance of the Industrial Internet comes from Salesforce.com use of The Social Machine by Digi International and its Etherios business unit, in bringing sensor data into customer relationship management [CRM] by allowing sensors embedded in industrial refrigerators, hot tubs, and heavy and light equipment of all types to open SFDC chatter sessions and to file cases.

Internet of Everything

Cisco has recently started two initiatives related to the IoT, the Internet of Everything [IoE] and Fog Computing. IoE seeks to bring together H2H, H2M, M2M and H2H interchanges. On June 19th of this year, Cisco introduced their IoE Value Index [link to PDF]. By bringing together people, processes, data, and things, and with some impressive research to back it up, Cisco feels that the IoE, in 2013, could bring 1.2 Trillion Dollars in added value, and by 2022, 14.4 Trillion dollars in added market value to business around the world. Fog Computing tends more to the infrastructure of the IoE, bringing the concepts of Cloud Computing, such as distributed computing and elastic provisioning, to the edge of the network, with an emphasis on wireless connectivity, streaming data, and heterogeneity.

Industry Overview

While some of the above are corporate initiatives, they each represent important and distinct concepts. In addition to these from IBM, Cisco, GE, EMC and Salesforce.com, there are other initiatives and products, in this sphere, coming from HP, Oracle, SAP, MuleSoft, SnapLogic, Nuance, Splunk, Mocana, Evrythng, Electric Imp, Quirky, reelyActive, Ayla, SmartThings, Withings, Fitbit, Jawbone including BodyMedia, Nike, Basis, Cohda Wireless, AT&T, Verizon, Huawei, Orange, Belkin, DropCam, Gravity Jack, Alcatel-Lucent, and Siemens. Platforms, software, sensor packages and services, are being developed by a wide variety of innovative companies:

These innovative companies, and others, are implementing one or more of these concepts in a variety of ways. As I stated at the beginning, I don't think that these concepts are the same. While the IoT was first named 14 years ago, it is still early days in its implementation. There are many ways that the Internet of Things might evolve, and many missteps that could lead the IoT to be a passing fancy, leaving some important changes in its wake, but never reaching its full potential. I think there is one way, and one way only, that all of the concepts and initiatives will come together and change everything that we do, how we make decisions, how we think about ourselves, how governments make policy, how businesses make money: The Sensor Analytics Ecosystem [SAE]. Here's a tease of a mindmap giving a hint of what I mean by the SAE. Look for my upcoming report "Sensor Analytics as an Ecosystem" and a series of research reports delving into each area introduced therein. The companies listed above are building out parts of the SAE, and will feature heavily in these reports.

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Sensors Sensors Everywhere

A sensor is anything that can create data about its environs. A more formal definition is

a device that detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it -New Oxford American Dictionary

A very simple example is a thermocouple.

A picture of a k-type thermocouple showing the standard connector
This is a picture of a k-type thermocouple taken from the FAA under a CC By license

Essentially, two metals are bound together such that when the environment around this wire becomes hotter or colder, the metals produce a voltage. Through this thermoelectric effect, this strain translate into a voltage differential across the wire, producing an electrical signal. A simple voltmeter can read this signal, and one could calibrate that electrical signal to be read as degrees of temperature change.

You likely have one of these in your home thermostat. Perhaps you have a very simple thermostat that turns your home heater on and off.

A picture of an older home thermostat with cover removed
This is a picture of an older model, simple home thermostat, with the cover removed, showing the inner workings, under a CC By license

Perhaps you have a more complex, programmable thermostat that can control the temperature and humidity of your home through a furnace, air conditioner, humidifier/dehumidifier and fans, with different settings for different times of the day and days of the week.

This is a picture of an advanced Honeywell Programmable Thermostat
This is a picture of an advanced Honeywell Programmable Home Thermostat with a green backlit LCD display from the Honeywell website.

Perhaps you have something that looks very simple, but is now part of a complex system that includes not only your home HVAC system, but your computer and smartphone, and computers and analytic software at your utility company.

This is a picture of the very advanced Nest home thermostat.
This is a picture of the very advanced Nest home thermostat, which looks very simple but connects to your computers, smartphones, tablets and more, from the Nest website press downloads.

And this progression is why the Internet of Things is about to explode with Connected Data, with sensors being the new nerve endings of an increasingly intelligent world.

A Section of my Internet of Things mindmap showing the sensor branches
This is a section of my Internet of Things mindmap showing just the sensor branches.

Imagine sensors streaming Connected Data from your home entertainment system, refrigerator & most of its contents, toaster, coffee maker, alarm clock, garden, irrigation, home security, parking on the street in front of your home, traffic flowing by your home to your destination, air quality, and so much more.

We will interact with the world around us in ways that will change our decision making processes in our personal lives, in business, and in the regulatory processes of governments.

If you want to learn more, join IBM and my fellow panelists on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET to chat about cloud and the connected home using hashtag #cloudchat.

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The Internet of Things and Change

Will You Be Ready For the M2M World?

The Internet of Things, the Connected World, the Smart Planet… All these terms indicate that the number of devices connected to, communicating through, and building relationships on the Internet has exceeded the number of humans using the Internet. But what does this really mean? Is it about the number of devices, and what devices? Is it about the data, so much data, so fast, so disparate, that will make current big data look like teeny-weeny data?

I think that it's about change: the way we live our lives, the way we conduct business, the way we walk down a street, drive a car, or think about relationships. All will change over the next decade:

  1. Sensors are everywhere. The camera at the traffic light and overseeing the freeway; those are sensors. That new bump in the parking space and new box on the street lamp; those are sensors. From listening for gun shots to monitoring a chicken coop, sensors are cropping up in every area of your life.
  2. Machine to Machine [M2M] relationships will generate connected data that will affect every aspect of your life. Connected Data will be used to fine-tune predictives that will prevent crimes, anticipate your next purchase and take over control of your car to avoid traffic jams. The nascent form of this is already happening: Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police are using PredPol to predict & prevent crimes, location aware ads popping up in your favorite smartphone apps, and Nevada and California are giving driver licenses to robotic cars.
  3. Sustainability isn't about saving the planet, it's about saving money. Saving the planet, reducing dependence on polluting energy sources and reducing waste in landfills are all good things, but they aren't part of the fiduciary responsibilities of most executives. However, Smart Buildings, recycling & composting, and Green IT all increase a company's bottom line and that does fall under every executive's fiduciary goals.

Making Sense of Inter-Connectedness - Introducing My Internet of Things Mind Map

As you can tell from the mindmap associated with this post, I've been thinking about the Internet of things quite a bit lately. It's a natural progression for me. I'm fascinated by all the new sensors, the Connected Data [you heard it here first] that will swamp Big Data, the advances in data management and analytics that will be needed, the impact upon policy and regulation, and the vision of the people and companies bringing about the Internet of Things. But more, as I've been reading and thinking about the SmartPlanet, SmartCities, SmartGrid and SmartPhones, and that ConnectedData, I realized that I can never look at the world around me in the same way again.

Let's look at some of the "facts" [read guesses] that have been written about the IoT.

Looking to the future, Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020. From The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything by Dave Evans, April 2011 [links to PDF]

Between 2011 and 2020 the number of connected devices globally will grow from 9 billion to 24 billion as the benefit of connecting more and varied devices is realised. The Connected Life: A USD4.5 trillion global impact in 2020, [links to PDF] February 2012 by Machine Research for the GSMA.

Two different estimates, one of 24 billion devices of many different types, connected by wireless broadband, and one of 50 billion mobile devices using different types of cellular networks, all by the year 2020. And neither of these estimates include the trillions of other types of things that will deployed over the next eight years. Trillions, not billions, using a variety of personal, local, and wide-area wireless networks.

My Focus Starts at The Intersection of Sensors, Analytics and Smart Cities, with Energy Management and Sustainability

One of the things that will change over time is the way that I look at the Internet of Things. All of it is interesting. But for now, I'll be focusing on the intersection of Sensors, Analytics and Smart Cities, with Energy Management and Sustainability.

Count RFID, Zigbee, MEMS, Smartdust and more traditional sensors, Robots, autonomous vehicles, Healthcare monitors, Smart Meters and more, being distributed in cities, cars, factories, trains, farms, planes, animals and people, and the number of connected devices in 2020 will be in the trillions. Data generated by less than one billion humans using the Internet a few times a day swamped traditional data management & analytics systems, spawning "Big Data". Trillions of devices updating ConnectedData every few nanoseconds will indeed change everything.

Of paramount importance moving forward is determining how to extract business, personal and social value from the intersections, interfaces and interstices of the infrastructure, connected data, objects and people building relationships through the Internet of Things.

Come join me as I look at this convergence and the business impact ahead of us.

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Renewables and Smart Grid

03/21/10 | by Joseph A. di Paolantonio [mail] | Categories: CleanTech

We are currently in, at least, the fourth era of growth and interest in renewable energy. The first two of which I'm aware, in the late 1800's into the turn of that century, and in the 1950's, both concentrated on solar (Photovoltaics and Solar Thermal), with some wind power in the first. The third was during the Carter Administration in the 1970's (famously ending when Ronald Reagan ordered the solar panels off the roof of the White House). Disclosure: I was doing photovoltaic research at SES, Inc (now part of Royal Dutch Shell) as a physicaleletrochemist during this time.

During the recent upswing in interest, investment and installations of renewable energy sources (photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, biomass, etc.) I've been worried that the bubble would soon burst. But today, I've had a thought that encourages me, that maybe renewables will take their place along side coal, oil and nuclear. The reason for this is complex, more social than technical, more due to business than to science.

Many point to the past failures of renewables, of whatever type, due to inefficiencies and to long periods, or infinite time, for a return on the upfront investment. But I think that much of what prevented adoption of renewables is more for social and business reasons. For the most part, the past marketing effort for renewables was to get people off the grid. This was scary for the individual, not justified by the ROI, and inimical to business interests.

Today however, we have the prospect of the Smart Grid. What exactly defines the Smart Grid is still being debated, but here's my hopeful thought. Just as the Internet evolved to combine data, communication and collaboration protocols into what we now term Web2.0 or read-write-web or social media, allowing anyone who desires to do so, become a producer of content as well as a consumer, the Smart Grid will not force users of renewable energy sources off the grid, but will allow whoever desires to do so become a producer as well as a consumer of utility services, starting with electricity, but perhaps evolving to include other utility services as well. Let me also point out that I'm not [just] talking about the individual, I'm talking about communities and small businesses. For example, the Smart Grid would allow a small business such as our local Coastside Scavengers to install an AdaptiveARC reactor, transforming the waste they pick-up from our homes into electricity, and additional cash flow.

This possibility has social, business and economic implications that the previous generations of renewables lacked. This gives me hope. This also strengthens my desire to see workable standards, and working implementations of the Smart Grid(s) - whatever that turns out to really mean.

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Agile Project Management

In response to a comment that I left to a blog post of his in Herding Cats, Glen Alleman said "... phrase Agile Project Management, were so clearly defined". While I'm not an official source of definitions, I would like to take a stab at answering "What is Agile Project Management?". There are really four questions here:

  1. What is Agile?
  2. What is a Project?
  3. What does it mean to manage a project?
  4. How does one manage a project in an Agile fashion?

What is Agile?

Agile is a mindset, a philosophy, for software development. The Agile Manifesto lays it out quite clearly. Any software development, product management, project management or other methods that claims to be Agile must embody the mindset laid out in the Agile Manifesto. You really must read the whole manifesto. I won't copy it here, but I will discuss the main ideas. The emphasis in the Agile Manifesto is on satisfying the customer and responding to changing user needs for competitive advantage. Self-organizing teams, ongoing communication and working end products are preferable to formalized, stultifying processes. Supportive environments for sustainable efforts using simplicity, technical excellence and good design allow the sponsors, developers and users to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. Reflection on the process at regular intervals allows for continual and appropriate tuning and adjustments to the agile process.

Most of this isn't strange to project management, though the concept of "self-organizing teams" might seem a bit odd to a traditional, hierarchical organization. :>>

What is a Project?

A project is a temporary, collaborative effort to achieve a specific goal in a set time. At least, this paraphrases the definition I first saw in my first project activities in the Aerospace & Defense industry back in 1979. I've seen definitions that add things like "create a unique product", but the end result can be almost anything: a product, a pyramid, a rocket engine, a scientific advancement, a data warehouse, etc, etc, etc.

The emphasis for a project is that people and other resources come together temporarily to deliver a well-defined result by a specified due date.

What does it mean to manage a project?

Whips often come to mind. That was the main tool to manage the various pyramid building projects. ;) Ok, maybe not.

Project management is the skill of leading people and controlling the expenditure of resources to achieve specified goals on-time and within budget.

There are a variety of schools of thought, methodologies and guides to managing a project. I agree with Glen in that a good starting point is the Project Management Institute (PMI) Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). I would also add PRINCE2 to that. Updated 20100308 per Jay's comments, below: The Prince2 link given is to a USA based training organization; Jay gives a link in his comments, which redirects to a UK based training and accreditation organization, APMG-UK.

I also need to step onto one of my favorite soap boxes for a moment. Project Management does not equal Product Management. Program and Portfolio Management are also unique and separate disciplines. These four professions often get confused. Product Management is a blend of marketing and engineering with the goal of translating user needs into technical specifications that result in marketable goods or services. Program Management specifies, implements and governs large initiatives that impact cross-disciplinary groups within a organization, and changes the process by which an organization conducts its daily affairs; examples are things like a Quality Program or a Decision Support program. Portfolio Management is the art and science of prioritizing and coordinating a set of Projects, often large capital projects, that may or may not overlap in goals, but definitely compete for money, people and resources. Ok, stepping down off the soap box and getting back on point now. :p

How does one manage a project in an Agile fashion?

Ah, well now. This is the point isn't it? Agile project management requires reconciling the discussion of Agile above with the definition of a Project and Project Management and developing a methodology that uses the Agile mindset of customer satisfaction, responding quickly to changing market needs for competitive advantage with self-organizing teams that reflect upon how they work and change their processes on the fly, while delivering working, valuable, as-specified results in an incremental fashion, on-time and in-budget.

Hmm, that doesn't sound so hard, does it?

Over time, we have evolved our project management methodology for delivering data warehousing, business intelligence and MDM solutions in such a way that, in the words of Todd McGrath of supergloo, inc. have become quite agile, and are now deliberately agile. We've gone from five dimensions of a project to eight over the eight years that IASC has been in existence.

Here's a mindmap that gives you an idea of what we're doing. Though there's a lot more to discuss about this, including the strategic, tactical and implementation tracks, and how iterative waterfall and agile mindset must work together to keep everything and everyone working a sustainable fashion, without burn-out and without missed deadlines, while learning from each iteration, and responding to changing user needs.

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This Web Log (Blog) is intended as a discussion of the business processes, life choices, management challenges, wireless networks, mobile devices, collaboration software, social networks and technical issues facing organizations and individuals: distributed workgroups, digital lifestyle aggregation, telecommuting, road warrior and all ways in which you can live the TeleInterActive Lifestyle™. It is a service of InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc.

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