First IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC 2015) was a big success

Feedback from the large number of attendees who visited PrismTech booth at the first annual IoT Solutions World Congress that has just ended was that the event had been a big success.  Held in Fira, Barcelona, Spain and in partnership with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) the congress brings the world’s IoT players together to showcase the Internet of Things’ market.

Attended by over 4000 international IoT decision makers, with 120 speakers and 83 sessions spread across 6 different congress tracks, this year’s congress theme “Putting IoT to work” highlighted hot topics such as government’s role in IoT, collaboration and partnership models and dealing with start-ups amongst businesses. At the same time core issues such as security, interoperability, big data management, insights and analytics; and mobility remained the focus of many discussions.

Many attendees enjoyed exploring excellent exhibits such as Intel’s Automated Smart Greenhouse, Vodafone’s Connected Car, Carriots’ Lego Smart City and NEC’s Face/Age detection technology to name but a few.

PrismTech announced its Vortex Innovator Program (VIP) on the first day of the congress. The VIP provides access to Vortex Products to qualifying IoT startup companies with innovative new ideas, by removing any up front licensing costs and helping them to kick-start their IoT journey.

On the final day of the event, PrismTech CTO, Angelo Corsaro presented to the main conference on subject of “Smart, Secure and Efficient Data-Sharing in IoT”. The presentation was very well received and discussed the many capabilities of DDS fundamental to efficient real-time data sharing in IoT systems.

With a great atmosphere throughout the 3-day event, the feedback that PrismTech received from delegates, speakers and exhibitors alike was that the IoT SWC conference had been a massive success, roll on IOTSWC 2016.

 

The Bottom Line for Enterprise IoT – Business Value from Ubiquitous Data

Analysts and forecasters are predicting extremely high market growth rates for the IoT and often they are referencing enterprise/industrial applications rather than consumer products. But how can these predicted growth levels be justified when for many years islands-of-automation and domain-specific integrated systems have already provided valuable tactical OT and IT solutions for enterprises? Whether SCADA, corporate IT applications or tactical M2M systems, these solutions have delivered a self-contained return-on-investment (RoI) from their operational benefits. So one may be tempted to ask, “How is enterprise IoT different and where is its RoI to justify these impressive growth forecasts?”

The business value of enterprise IoT is based on a premise that there is a huge amount of potential value in the data generated by existing systems (legacy sub-systems in IoT terms) and newly connected Things (sensor networks, brilliant machines, mobiles, gateways, etc.)… if only it can be unlocked through ubiquitous data availability for apps and analytics to extract new and actionable insights. Let’s look at some specific examples where new data accessibility can produce new value and good RoI:

For OEMs and system vendors the focus of the IoT will often be on enabling new products, new services, and an enhanced customer experience. The ability to generate in-operation data from products, access and analyze them remotely (by other devices, a Smartphone app, by a cloud service, etc.), and generate new insights into product performance, integrity, energy consumption, utilization, etc. gives vendors the ability to more closely align their offerings with their customers’ business needs and add new services (and thus new revenues) to their portfolio. The IoT can thus revolutionize the way a required business solution is delivered and dramatically increase user-friendliness, interoperability and the efficiency of post-sales customer service. At PrismTech we see many OEMs moving quickly from offering stand-alone products to selling connected systems and the valuable data they generate and services they enable. The quest for sustainable competitive advantage (and fear of falling behind) will fund OEM investment in the IoT and provide the RoI projections that executives require to fund new product and system development.

One such example is in power generation and distribution. In 2013 US utility giant Duke Energy formed the “Coalition of the Willing” (COW), a consortium of grid technology vendors focused on the promotion and adoption of an Open Architecture approach to standardizing the way grid-edge technologies are integrating together.

After successfully demonstrating in real-time how different grid devices could talk to each other and reducing the feedback control process from minutes to less than 10 seconds, the energy industry has really started to take notice. This work is also helping address the key issue of intermittent availability of supply when deploying renewables as part of an integrated generation system. Thus users and device OEMs are collaborating and using the IIoT to unlock new value from device data generation, connectivity and interoperability. From products to systems.

For End Users the focus will often be on operational efficiency and the potential for significant productivity gains and cost reduction. With operational assets (devices, machines, people, buildings, street furniture, etc.) producing more real-time data… and new apps, analytics and interoperability providing the ability to convert them into actionable insights and superior coordination, the scope for operational gains of many percentage points has been identified in industries as diverse as manufacturing, energy, transportation, healthcare, cities and critical infrastructure. Projected savings driven by superior energy efficiency, resource utilization, staff deployment, capital asset longevity and reduced cycle times will fund End User investment in the IoT and provide the RoI projections that executives require. Already the City of Nice and its residents are seeing real benefits from improved city mobility. By having real-time access to car park space availability data via mobile devices, drivers are taking much less time to park and parking income from reduced fraud is up by 35%. This in turn is helping improve traffic flow and has reduced congestion by 30%. Air pollution and noise levels have been reduced by 25%. In the future, better city management will see savings of between 20-80% in areas such as street lighting and waste management while improving overall environmental quality.

To read the full article, visit www.iiconsortium.org

Connected Boulevard — It’s What Makes Nice, France a Smart City

Known as the capital of the French Riviera, the city of Nice, France, is many things. It’s beautiful, it’s cosmopolitan and it’s vibrant. But it’s also something else — it’s possibly the smartest city in the world.

Among spectacular panoramic views, the rich culture, and all the shopping and nightlife opportunities is an underlying connectivity. It’s actually an intelligent data-sharing infrastructure that is enhancing the city’s management capabilities and is making daily life more efficient, enjoyable and easier for the more than 300,000 residents that call Nice home and the more than 10 million tourists who visit each year. It’s what makes this city smart… really smart.Chart for Angelo's Blog Post

Nice has been gaining much attention lately thanks to a series of innovative projects aimed at preserving the surrounding environment and enhancing quality of life through creative use of technology. Connected Boulevard is a great example of this.

The city launched the Connected Boulevard — an open and extensible smart city platform — as a way to continue to attract visitors while maintaining a high quality of life for its citizens. Connected Boulevard is used to manage and optimize all aspects of city management, including parking and traffic, street lighting, waste disposal and environmental quality.

A number of companies played a key role in the launch of Connected Boulevard, including Industrial Internet Consortium members Cisco, which is providing its Wi-Fi network, and PrismTech, which is providing its intelligent data-sharing platform, Vortex (based on the Object Management Group’s Data Distribution Service standard) at the core of the Connected Boulevard environment for making relevant data ubiquitously available.

Architecture Maximizes Extensibility and Minimizes Maintenance Costs

Think Global, an alliance of innovative start-ups and large companies, designed the Connected Boulevard architecture with an eye toward maximizing extensibility and minimizing maintenance costs. In a smart city environment, the main costs typically come from system maintenance, rather than initial development and launch efforts. A big part of these maintenance costs come from the replacement of sensor batteries. To help reduce these operating costs and maximize battery life, the Connected Boulevard project team made an interesting and forward thinking move — one which was in direct contrast with some of the latest thinking by those in the smart device and edge computing community.

Connected Boulevard relies on “dumb” sensors. These sensors typically are simply measuring physical properties such as temperature and humidity, magnetic field intensity, and luminosity. Once collected, these measurements are sent to signal processing algorithms within a cloud, where the data is then “understood” and acted upon. In the Connected Boulevard, magnetic field variation is used to detect parked cars, temperature and humidity levels are used to determine when to activate sprinklers, luminosity and motion detection are used to control street lighting.

The sensors in the Connected Boulevard rely on low power protocols to communicate with aggregators that are installed throughout the road network. Powered by the power line, the aggregators use Vortex to convoy the data into an Amazon EC2 cloud. The data is than analyzed by a series of analytics functions based on the Esper CEP platform. Finally, relevant information, statistics and insight gained through the data analysis are made available wherever it is needed within this connected ecosystem.

The applications within Connected Boulevard use caching features to maintain in-memory, a window of data over which real-time analytics are performed. The results of these analytics can be shared with applications throughout the overall system, where decisions are then made, such as what actions should take place. For example, the Nice City Pass application checks for free parking places and can also be used to reserve them. If a car is occupying a parking space that the driver has not paid for, a notification is sent to the police to ensure that the violating driver is fined.

Significant Benefits

After the initial installation of Connected Boulevard a few years ago, traffic congestion was reduced by 30 percent, parking incomes increased by 35 percent and air pollution has been reduced by 25 percent. It’s also anticipated that savings on street lighting will be at least 20 percent, but possibly as high as 80 percent. These are real, tangible results… and are clear examples of a smart city at work.

The smartest city in the world

In my last post, I explained how the OMG’s Data Distribution Service standard provides the ideal data-sharing platform for Internet of Things and Industrial Internet applications. In this post, considering that it is time for summer vacations, I decided to take you on a voyage in the smartest city of the world: Nice, France.

Besides being placed on the heart of the beautiful Côte d’Azur (a.k.a the French Riviera) between Monaco and Cannes, Nice has recently gained media attention thanks to a series of innovative projects aimed at preserving the environment and improving the quality of life through creative use of technology. In particular, Connected Boulevard, the project I’ll describe in this post, targets and enhances city management capabilities.

To give you some context, Nice attracts approximately 10 million visitors a year and in 2013 it was named as one of the best European destinations. To continue to attract visitors and improve the living experience of its citizens, the city launched the Connected Boulevard project as a way to develop an open and extensible platform that could be used to manage and optimize all aspects of city management, such as parking and traffic, street lighting, waste disposal, and environmental quality. DDS (specifically PrismTech‘s Vortex platform) was used at the core of the Connected Boulevard platform for making relevant data ubiquitously available. But before telling you how DDS was used, let me explain the architecture of the system.

Connected Boulevard architecture

The Connected Boulevard architecture designed by the ThinkGlobal Team aims at maximizing extensibility and minimizing maintenance costs. As for any long-lived system, the main cost comes from the system maintenance as opposed to its initial development. In smart city applications, one of the main sources of maintenance costs is the replacement of batteries. Thus, to reduce the operating costs and maximize the battery lifespan, the Connected Boulevard project took a decision that was in contrast with the trend promoted by the many supporters of smart devices and edge computing. The sensors used throughout the Connected Boulevard project are quite “dumb.” In most cases, they simply measure physical properties such as temperature and humidity, magnetic field intensity, and luminosity. These measurements are then collected and elaborated by sophisticated algorithms within a cloud, where the data is then “understood” and acted upon. For instance, the variation of magnetic field is used to detect parked cars; temperature and humidity are used to decide when to activate sprinklers; luminosity, sometime used in conjunction with motion detection, is used to control street lighting.

As shown in the figure below, sensors use low power protocols to communicate with aggregators that are installed throughout the roads. The aggregators, powered by the power line, use DDS to share the collected data. Through DDS, collected data is made available wherever required. Recall that DDS is equipped with a dynamic discovery protocol that matches new interests dynamically and establishes appropriate communication paths. Consumers of this sensor data include applications running on an infrastructure that perform analytics.

These applications use DDS’s caching features to maintain in-memory, a window of data over which they perform real-time analytics. The result of analytics is shared through DDS with applications that have to decide what to do, as well as with other applications that are interested in receiving it – such as the mobile applications including the Nice City Pass, used to check free parking places as well as to reserve them. As an example, if a parking place is occupied by a car and that parking place is not paid for, a notification is sent to the traffic police to ensure that the violating car is fined. Finally, it is important to remark that all data is collected, owned, and managed by the city of Nice.

Measurable benefits

Nice’s Connected Boulevard has been operating for nearly two years and – besides being a very cool project from a technology perspective – it has had a measurable positive impact on the city. After its initial installation, traffic congestion was reduced by 30 percent, parking income improved by 35 percent, and air pollution reduced by 25 percent. In addition, the forecasted saving on street lighting is 20-80 percent, depending on the type of roads and their lighting constraints.

In conclusion, regardless of the hype and the fad that at times is glazed around the Internet of Things and Industrial Internet, the reality is that these systems are being built and are delivering measurable benefits. In addition, DDS is a standard that has proven its applicability and value on key Internet of Things and Industrial Internet applications, of which the Nice smart city infrastructure is one example.

Building the Internet of Things with DDS

The real value of the () and the () is ubiquitous information availability and consequently the decisions that can be made from it. The importance of ubiquitous data availability has significantly elevated attention on standards-based data sharing technologies. In this post, I’ll analyze the data sharing requirement characteristics of IoT/I2 systems and describe how the Object Management Group (OMG) Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard ideally addresses them.

Data sharing in IoT/I2

Data sharing patterns within IoT/I2 systems can be classified as follows:

Device-2-Device. This communication pattern is prevalent on edge systems where devices or traditional computing systems need to efficiently share data, such as plants, vehicles, mobile devices, etc. Device-2-Device data sharing is facilitated by broker-less peer-to-peer infrastructures that simplify deployment, foster fault-tolerant, and provide performance-sensitive applications with low latency and high throughput.

Device-2-. Individual devices and subsystems interact with cloud services and applications for mediating data sharing as well as for data collection and analytics. The Device-2-Cloud communication can have wildly different needs depending on the application and the kind of data being shared. For instance, a remote surgery application has far more stringent temporal requirements than a application. On the other hand, the smart city application may have more stringent requirements with respect to efficient network and energy management of the device. Thus depending on the use case, Device-2-Cloud communication has to be able to support high-throughput and low-latency data exchanges as well as operation over bandwidth constrained links. Support for intermittent connectivity and variable latency link is also quite important.

Cloud-2-Cloud. Although few systems are currently being deployed to span across multiple instances or multiple IaaS regions (such as deploying across EC2 EU and U.S. regions), it will be increasingly important to be able to easily and efficiently exchange data across cloud “domains.” In this case, the data sharing technology needs to support smart routing to ensure that the best path is always taken to distribute data, provide high throughput, and deliver low per-message overhead.

Besides the data sharing patterns identified above, there are crosscutting concerns that a data distribution technology needs to properly address, such as platform independence – for example, the ability to run on embedded, mobile, enterprise and cloud apps, and security.

The (DDS)

The DDS is an OMG standard for seamless, ubiquitous, efficient, timely, and secure data sharing – independent from the hardware and the software platform. DDS defines a wire protocol that allows for multiple vendor implementations to interoperate as well as an API that eases application porting across vendor products. The standard requires the implementation to be fully distributed and broker-less, meaning that the DDS application can communicate without any mediation, yet when useful, DDS communication can be transparently brokered.

The basic abstraction at the foundation of DDS is that of a Topic. A Topic captures the information to be shared along with the Quality of Service associated with it. This way it is possible to control the functional and non-functional properties of data sharing. DDS provides a rich set of QoS policies that control local resource usage, network utilization, traffic differentiation, and data availability for late joiners. In DDS the production of data is performed through Data Writers while the data consumption is through Data Readers. For a given Topic, Data Readers can further refine the information received through content and temporal filters. DDS is also equipped with a dynamic discovery service that allows the application to dynamically discover the information available in the system and match the relevant sources. Finally, the DDS Security standard provides an extensible framework for dealing with authentication, encryption, and access control.

Applying DDS to IoT and I2

Among the standards identified as relevant by the Industrial Internet Consortium for IoT and I2 systems, DDS is the one that stands out with respect to the breath and depth of coverage of IoT/I2 data sharing requirements. Let’s see what DDS has that make it so special.

Device-2-Device. DDS provides a very efficient and scalable platform for Device-2-Device communication. DDS implementation can be scaled down to deeply embedded devices or up to high-end machines. A top-performing DDS implementation, such as PrismTech‘s intelligent data sharing platform, Vortex, which can offer latency as low as ~30 usec on Gbps Ethernet networks and point-to-point throughput of several million messages per second. DDS features a binary and efficient wire-protocol that makes it a viable solution also for Device-2-Device communication in network-constrained environments. The broker-less and peer-to-peer nature of DDS makes it an ideal choice for Device-2-Device communication. The ability to transparently broker DDS communication – especially when devices communicate through multicast – eases the integration of subsystems into IoT and I2 systems.

Device-2-Cloud. DDS supports multiple transport protocols, such as UDP/IP and TCP/IP, and when available can also take advantage of multicast. UDP/IP support is extremely useful in applications that deal with interactive, soft real-time data in situations when TCP/IP introduces either too much overhead or head-of-line blocking issues. For deployment that can’t take advantage of UDP/IP, DDS alleviates the problems introduced by TCP/IP vis-á-vis head-of-line blocking. This is done through its support for traffic differentiation and prioritization along with selective down-sampling. Independent of the transport used, DDS supports three different kinds of reliability: best effort, last value reliability, and reliability. Of these three, only the latter behaves like “TCP/IP reliability.” The others allow DDS to drop samples to ensure that stale data does not delay new data.

The efficient wire-protocol, in combination with the rich transport and reliability semantics support, make DDS an excellent choice for sharing both periodic data, such as telemetry, as well as data requiring high reliability. In addition, the built-in support for content filtering ensures that data is only sent if there are consumers that share the same interest and whose filter matches the data being produced.

Cloud-2-Cloud. The high throughput and low latency that can be delivered by DDS makes it a perfect choice for data sharing across the big pipes connecting various data centers.

In summary, DDS is the standard that ideally addresses most of the requirements of IoT/I2 systems. DDS-based platforms, such as PrismTech’s Vortex, provide device solutions for mobile, embedded, web, enterprise, and cloud applications along with cloud messaging implementations. DDS-based solutions are currently deployed today in smart cities, smart grids, smart transportation, finance, and healthcare environments.

If you want learn more about DDS check out this tutorial or the many educational slides freely available on SlideShare.

SUDE Selects PrismTech’s OpenSplice DDS for Smart City Services in the City of Nice

OpenSplice DDS delivers smart parking systems enabling better interoperability, data sharing and integration of new and existing city services

Boston, MA, USA – April 12, 2013 – PrismTech™, a global leader in standards-based, performance-critical middleware, today announced that its OpenSplice™ DDS product suite has been selected by SUDE as the foundation to implement The City Operating System project providing the City of Nice with new intelligence to coordinate and connect all of the parking services and mobility in the City.

SUDE specializes in the management of urban space and mobility for the City of Nice.  SUDE focuses on the implementation of Think Global – The City Operating System®, an ecosystem that aims to improve the efficiency of city services.  Smart systems add value to citizens by providing real-time information on traffic, transportation, wastage, air/water quality etc. countering the problems faced by cities due to rising population and urbanization.

PrismTech’s OpenSplice DDS has been selected as the information backbone for this City Operating System project, to ensure Intelligent Mobility and Environmental Quality in the City of NiceSmart Parking systems allow drivers to make informed decisions on their movement by combining traffic information and parking availability (on street and garage), as well as alternative transportation (public transportation, bicycle sharing and electric car services).  Smart Parking increases parking efficiency, safety, and reduces pollution.

OpenSplice DDS has been deployed throughout the city and has shown its ability to scale extremely well delivering the right information to the right place at the right time every time.  OpenSplice DDS enables sharing of real-time information about parking availability, and traffic density.  OpenSplice DDS powered sensors inform commuters in real-time about the availability of a parking space, and re-routes traffic alleviating congestion along with facilitating the information through smart phones.  A detailed Smart Cities use case is available from PrismTech’s website at http://www.prismtech.com/vortex/industry-solutions.

The project was launched in March 2013, French news coverage includes:
http://www.nicematin.com/nice/video-appli-mobile-et-services-high-tech-pour-un-stationnement-intelligent-a-nice.1171585.html
http://www.wat.tv/video/application-pour-stationnement-5v13h_2exyh_.html
http://www.francetvinfo.fr/nice-le-stationnement-intelligent_279017.html

“Helping to solve mass urbanization challenges is one of the most socially important, impactful and exciting uses of OpenSplice DDS that I have seen.  PrismTech is thrilled to be part of this pioneering project in the City of Nice and looks forward to the adoption of The City Operating System in other great cities,” said Andrew Lloyd, OpenSplice SVP, PrismTech.

“The OpenSplice DDS middleware layer fits perfectly well with the SUDE vision: a global answer to the multi-facetted challenges of the management of urban space,” said Jean-Louis Fiorucci, President, SUDE.

Further information about OpenSplice DDS is available from PrismTech’s website at: http://www.prismtech.com/vortex/vortex-opensplice.