Algro has recently advised and provided IoT data extraction, processing, and reporting solution to a fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies.

An IoT solution consists of more than the things:

Data source or physical layer

The sensor, actuator, or hardware makes up the data source or physical layer. Sensors collect data from the environment (such as location, vibration, temperature, humidity, light levels, moisture levels, chemical composition, angle, force). Actuators produce a change in the environment (adjust temperature, move objects, adjust light, or adjust sound, for example).

Connectivity layer

The connectivity layer leverages communications protocols and network technology to communicate with the sensors and actuators. Communications protocols and network technologies are chosen according to the use case and operating conditions. Some considerations include security, battery life, transmission frequency (for example, once a month, every day, every second), and reliability. One key driver of IoT growth is the price: Connectivity is getting close to free. Most IoT devices do not need to transmit a lot of data.

Platform or analytics layer

The IoT is all about making data actionable, and that is the role of the platform or analytics layer. A sensor reading that indicates water is leaking in your basement is useless unless some sort of alert or action can take place. A platform enables an alert or action by performing three tasks: data aggregation, event processing, and analytics and presentation (visualization). Data aggregation is a challenge in the IoT, because the devices use different languages and the data must be framed in the context of business rules. Event processing turns the data into insights or action. This processing can be done at the edge or in the cloud, depending on the use case. A typical use case is predictive maintenance. For example, sensor readings (temperature, vibration, and so on) are collected on a pump. Algorithms are then used to determine when parts are wearing out and need to be replaced. And visualization displays the results.

Interaction layer

Finally, the interaction layer creates the notification or action. For example, if a sensor shows that water is leaking from a burst pipe, the platform must alert the proper person (through a mobile dashboard, Short Message Service [SMS], or web console, for example) and provide business context (for example, what is the service level agreement to fix the issue), along with recommended actions (dispatch a technician immediately, for example).

Multiple platforms have emerged, and each has its strengths and weaknesses for different use cases.