iot_smart_city

Peek into How Smart Cities are Shaping across the Globe

ManagementTeamMouli1

Kavitha Gopalan

Smart City has become more than a buzzword in the recent time, Government and city officials are looking for ways to use the concept of smart cities projects for resolving the challenges faced by cities. According to various market research, Smart city market size will grow to around $1.4 trillion by the year 2020 which is quite significant.

It’s difficult to accurately define what is a smart city. The idea is to make a city “smart” and efficient to improve the living condition of its citizens and propelling itself for a prosperous growth. It’s a vision in which the challenges in the cities like environment, economic, demographic and social are overcome by using digital technology. A Smart City could help in cities betterment through

  • Efficiency improvement – prevent wastage.
  • Economic impact like reduce cost, increase revenue.
  • Environmental impact like reduced CO2 emission, pollution reduce the wastage of resources like electricity, water.
  • Social inclusiveness – providing open data to the public to help then in the decision and interacting with city officials.
  • City attraction.

The growth of Internet of things and AI will drive the adoption of smart cities quicker. Internet of Things allows the devices to be interconnected and allows them to communicate their status and data to others. This allows various services in the City to be interlinked and transforming them into a smart city

A smart city will have interlinked city services like trans portion, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, others. By interlinking the information from various city services the inefficiencies and challenges faced by the city could be mitigated.

A smart city should have implemented features like Smart Grid, Smart Traffic management, Smart parking, Smart street light management, Smart natural resource utilization.

Some of the smart City initiatives include

Smart Traffic management: The sensor data from the streets streamed live could transmit the status of traffic on streets and connecting this data to the transportation system could divert the traffic to a less congested route. This could also be interlinked to the home assistance device like Alexa to inform citizen on the status.

Other similar application would be a smart parking system. Here the parking spaces fitted with sensors could transmit the status of occupancy and interlinking it to the various parking spaces in the city could allow the citizen to find the nearest parking space to their destination through a mobile app.

Smart waste management in which the waste disposal happens in an efficient way and helps reduce the overall cost. Sensors fitted in a garbage can signal when they are full and waste disposal can be initiated. This helps in reducing the logistics management of the vehicle to only when required and helps in reducing unnecessary movement of the vehicle in the road.

Smart Lighting which helps to reduce electricity consumption through the use of smart lighting control, like turning on only when the ambient light is low and turning off when not needed. Smart Lighting systems are frequently also equipped with central management software that monitors usage and leads to maintenance efficiency.

A new report released this year by Juniper research ranked Singapore as the smartest City followed by Barcelona, London, San Francisco and Oslo. They used some 40 metrics to evaluate covering technology, transport, energy, open data and economy higher weight age for transport and energy. Some of the smart city initiative by them includes

Singapore: sensors to track smoking in an unauthorized zone, open data from sensors and cameras to track traffic which public can view, smart traffic light, smart parking, Singapore encourages the use of public transportation and has reduced the number of private vehicle on road.

Barcelona: smart traffic management system, smart parking technology, smart streetlights, and sensors for monitoring air quality and noise, smart grid pilot projects, smart meters, smart sensors for irrigation.

London: technology to help tackle congestion and make parking simpler and Smart transportation.

SFO: smart parking, smart urban development initiatives, smart transportation.

Oslo: reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, sensor network to help improve the care of sick, elderly patients, smart LED lighting and has launched a broad sensing network for monitoring traffic levels.

There are a lot of projects that could be done in a city which could deem itself propelling the city to being considered a “smart city”. But will there be a smart City “achieved” status? Probably no because there will always be room for improvement and it will be the ongoing process.

iot_block_chain

A Marriage made in Heaven – IoT & Blockchain

ManagementTeamMouli1

Chandramouli Srinivasan

One of the Forrester research predictions for IoT in 2017 is the marriage of IoT with Blockchain which could resolve all the potential security threats & vulnerabilities of IoT. Blockchain was originally designed for financial applications like virtual currency (Bitcoins). However, experts predict that its application in another area like IoT can offer an immense secure advantage.

Blockchain technology – that highly disruptive online general ledger or database – is poised to recast the Internet of Things, opening it up to networks and partnerships to accelerate its value. Blockchain “may have the most impactful potential of the entire portfolio of disruptive technologies that are now emerging.” That’s because blockchain is likely to impact many aspects of business operations and strategies – such as business models, processes, supply chains and customer relationships. The Internet of Things, in particular, is an initiative will see a re-arrangement due to the blockchain.

The definition of blockchain is in its ability to digitally deliver “peer-to-peer value exchange.” Security and verifiability are inherently protected through its “globally distributed computations and heavy duty encryption — that ensure the integrity of the data traded among billions of devices without going through a trusted third party. Trust is hard-coded into the Blockchain platform and the platform acts as a ledger of accounts, a database, a notary, a sentry and clearing house, all by consensus.

Here is the picture of a typical Blockchain transaction

iotandblockchain

How can Blockchain be used in IoT?
In an IoT network, the blockchain can keep an immutable record of the history of smart devices. This feature enables the autonomous functioning of smart devices without the need for centralized authority. Thus, the blockchain opens the door to a series of IoT scenarios that were remarkably difficult, or even impossible to implement without it.

By leveraging the blockchain, IoT solutions can enable secure, trustless messaging between devices in an IoT network. In this model, the blockchain will treat message exchanges between devices like financial transactions in a bitcoin network. To enable message exchanges, devices will leverage smart contracts which then model the agreement between the two parties.

In this scenario, we can sensor from afar, communicating directly with the irrigation system to control the flow of water based on conditions detected on the crops. Similarly, smart devices in an oil platform can exchange data to adjust functioning based on weather conditions.

Using the blockchain will enable true autonomous smart devices that can exchange data, or even execute financial transactions, without the need of a centralized broker. This type of autonomy is possible because the nodes in the blockchain network will verify the validity of the transaction without relying on a centralized authority.

PAASMER is one of the few platforms that already has a working prototype implementation of Blockchain for IoT. Production & commercial usage of this implementation is slated for general availability in PAASMER within the next couple of years.

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Prognosis 2017 for IOT

ManagementTeamMouli1

Kavitha Gopalan

IOT has seen unprecedented growth in last few years. But In 2016 IOT saw a lot of traction and the real value IOT brings to enterprise and Industry is driving wider adoption. This could well extend into 2017.

Forrester has recently published their prediction on what 2017 holds for IOT in “Predictions 2017: Security And Skills Will Temper Growth Of IoT”. There are also other research firms publishing IoT prediction for 2017. This blog compiles the key trends emerging from these researchers and what the industry experts.

Edge (Fog) Architecture evolution
Edge computing will become vital for Internet of things. Fog computing is a concept of moving the cloud closer to the devices collecting the data. This helps to restrict moving only the needed data to the cloud and thus saving on bandwidth, latency, and security. For Industrial IOT this will become a key architecture. Our platform’s key differentiating factor is our Edge innovation including Edge Operating system, Edge Database, Edge Analytics and Edge Machine Learning.
Know more about Fog Computing from this blog.

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence
Cloud will continue to be an anchor in almost all IOT implementation for data collection. A New mechanism for data collection could emerge and AI will play a key role in IOT.

Block Chain and IOT will form the partnership
“We will see the first prototypes of smart contracts built on blockchain” says this Forbes article. The marriage of blockchain and IOT could start emerging in 2017. Blockchain could play a key role in securing IOT. Here is see our article that talks about how we intend to do this marriage on our platform here

Network specifically for IOT will emerge
IOT network requirements are unique, they transfer lots of small bytes of data over the different communication channel. Different network topologies have emerged from Zigbee, Zwave and then we have continued using existing ones like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. New wireless communication technologies like LoRaWAN, Sigfox, or 3GPP’s narrowband (NB)-IoT are being designed specifically for IOT. Different countries have launched specific networks for IOT.

Security will be a key discussion point for IOT implementation
We have seen large-scale security breach from IOT devices in 2016 like the MIRA attacks. This could continue well into 2017, new types of attacks using IOT botnets could emerge and security could be a widespread discussion topic. This could lead to a higher focus on security for new implementation in 2017.

IOT will surely continue to emerge as a much hotter technology in 2017. We can definitely see IOT solving a lot of real problems and bringing transformation into this world. Only 2017 will tell if these predictions are true and any other new trends will be evolving in the field of IOT.

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A Guideline to CIOs for their IoT Deployments to be Successful

ManagementTeamMouli1

Chandramouli Srinivasan

The proliferation of the Internet of Things will drive widespread adoption of IoT solutions, including IoT platforms. IT leaders and directors of application infrastructure need to understand the capabilities, scope, and relationship of IoT platforms to existing IT infrastructure.

Key Challenges:

  • New IoT business solutions are composed of a complex, heterogeneous mix of IoT endpoints and platforms, and back-end systems and data.
  • IoT platforms typically offer many functionality capabilities, which vary (as do related marketing claims) from provider to provider, and IoT project requirements vary widely, making it difficult for enterprises and service providers to understand, compare and choose products.
  • IoT platforms are often bundled with specific renderings of IoT capabilities (for example, analytics) to solve specific business problems (such as predictive maintenance), but these typically, must be configured or customized to suit, and, at times, these capabilities augment and overlap (or look like) similar capabilities elsewhere in your application infrastructure.
  • Many business units are implementing use cases that include embedded Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. CIOs need to step up to provide leadership that can unleash and capture IoT benefits at the enterprise level.
  • The interplay between the four core capabilities of IoT — sense, communicate, analyze and act – makes it very different from traditional IT. This lack of familiarity makes planning difficult.
  • Confusion about the relationship between IoT, operational technology and digital business makes it a challenge to position IoT correctly within the organization.
  • The complexity and novelty of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions create challenges with controlling scope.
  • The market and technology for IoT are volatile and dynamic, increasing the risk that planned deployments can become obsolete by the time they launch.
  • Procurement options for IoT are evolving and include tying into third-party endpoints and IoT systems. In addition, emerging IoT ecosystems are forming around standards, and leading industrial and consumer brands are extending into IoT.
  • There is a high risk of IoT project failure due to technology complexity; limited internal skills; knowledge, cultural and organizational barriers; and difficulties realizing planned benefits.

Recommendations:

  • Use IoT Solution Scope Reference Model to help identify the key IoT solutions components and understand their roles, importance, and relationship to each other and existing infrastructure.
  • Commission an IoT center of excellence role to explore the potential business value of IoT solutions and their potential impact on existing IT infrastructure.
  • Plan a phased approach, to fully realize IoT project potential. Focus initially on IoT platform deployment and, over time, integrate the platform with back-end systems, data, and analytics.
  • Identify the core benefits of IoT that are most relevant to your organization. We define the eight core IoT benefits as improving operations, optimizing assets, enhancing services, generating revenues, increasing engagement, improving well-being, strengthening security and conserving resources. Link these benefits to high-level business objectives to set the strategic context for IoT.
  • Form cross-functional teams of business and technology leaders to brainstorm future business moment scenarios and the role that IoT can play. Then work collaboratively to prioritize those that warrant further development.
  • Plan how your organization can leverage the four capabilities of IoT (sense, communicate, analyze and act) in support of business moment scenarios.
  • Control the scope of early IoT use cases by reducing technology complexity, limiting the number of endpoints, and cutting down or eliminating complex integration with enterprise systems.
  • Monitor IoT market developments on an ongoing basis. Identify opportunities to substitute customized IoT components and related software with commodity mass-market components.
  • Pursue opportunities to tie into third-party IoT and emerging IoT ecosystems first, before engaging in the custom development of IoT solutions.
  • Conduct one or more IoT pilot projects before going into a production deployment. Be prepared to iterate through multiple pilots, which will reduce risk by applying lessons learned.
nodemcu1

How to Series Blogs: Connect ESP 8266 / NodeMCU to AWS IoT

ManagementTeamMouli1

Srinidhi Murthy

In this Blog we talk about connecting the simple ESP 8266 / NodeMCU to AWS IoT. Traditionally the simple and easily available ESP 8266 based boards could not connect to AWS IoT. There are two issues that prevent the use of AWS IoT for ESP8266 Arduino and pretty much every other 8-bit microcontroller-based device.

One is the requirement to either support certificates or uses a crypto library to create “signatures”.

The other is TLS 1.2 or higher. If they allowed TLS 1.1 and added a “pre-shared key” authentication system, similar to the rest of the IoT providers’ de-facto standard for devices like these, there would already be another billion devices on the net.
AWS IoT supports web-sockets with MQTT now, which works on ESP 8266 / NodeMCU but not guaranteed.
This is all about to change … Enter the ESP-OPEN-RTOS ….

The ESP-OPEN-RTOS, a community developed the open source FreeRTOS-based framework for ESP8266 WiFi-enabled microcontrollers. This RTOS is intended for use in both commercial and open source projects. Using the ESP-OPEN-RTOS, we have the ability to create a simple event driven RTOS for controlling all Things in the near field via Wifi and also has the support needed to create signatures and supports TLS 1.2 … which means connection to AWS IoT is possible.

ESP-OPEN-RTOS can be installed on any Linux based server like Ubuntu, RHL, SuSE and using the Xtensa tool chain can be cross compiled for ESP 8266 based boards like NodeMCU / Adafruit HUZZAH etc.

The procedure for installing the ESP-OPEN-RTOS, the pre-requisites, necessary SDK’s, toolchain etc is given in detail in the link.

We are not going to delve here on installing the RSP-OPEN-RTOS or the necessary software / SDK. We are going to concentrate on the RTOS Itself and its ability to connect to AWS IoT.

Let’s quickly move to the examples section of the ESP-OPEN-RTOS where we find the AWS IoT example.

Connection to AWS IoT needs the AWS command line Interface to be installed to create policies to allow the Thing (ESP 8266 / NodeMCU) to connect and an ECC based Certificate and private key .pem file to be generated. The detailed procedure is highlighted below.

  • Modify client_config.c to provide your own account-specific AWS IoT endpoint, ECC-based client certificate, and private key.
    1. Your endpoint is in the form of <prefix>.iot.<region>.amazonaws.com. It can be retrieved using the following command:
      1. $ aws iot describe-endpoint
    2. Your ECC-based certificate and private key can be generated by using the following commands:
      1. $ openssl ecparam -out ecckey.key -name prime256v1 -genkey
      2. $ openssl req -new -sha256 -key ecckey.key -nodes -out eccCsr.csr
      3. $ aws iot create-certificate-from-csr –certificate-signing-request file://eccCsr.csr –certificate-pem-outfile eccCert.crt –set-as-active
    3. To convert the certificate or key file into C string, you could try the following example:
      1. $ cat ecckey.key | sed -e ‘s/^/”/g’ | sed -e ‘s/$/\\r\\n”/g’
        Note, more information about using ECC-based certificate with AWS IoT can be found in the following blog
        https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/iot/elliptic-curve-cryptography-and-forward-secrecy-support-in-aws-iot-3/
  • Create and attach AWS IoT access policy to the certificate
    1. $ aws iot create-policy –policy-name test-thing-policy –policy-document ‘{ “Version”: “2012-10-17”, “Statement”: [{“Action”: [“iot:*”], “Resource”: [“*”], “Effect”: “Allow” }] }’
    2. $ aws iot attach-principal-policy –policy-name test-thing-policy –principal “arn:aws:iot:eu-west-1:892804553548:cert/2d9c2da32a95b5e95a277c3b8f7af40869727f5259dc2e907fc8aba916c857e”
      Note, the ‘principal’ argument is the certificate ARN generated from the previous command ‘aws iot create-certificate-from-csr’.
  • Modify include/ssid_config.h with your Wifi access Id and credential.
  • Build and flash the example firmware to the device using the command below:
    1. $ make flash -C examples/aws_iot ESPPORT=/dev/ttyUSB0
      Note, it assumes your ESP8266 is connected through USB and exposed under your Linux host as /dev/ttyUSB0.
  • Once the ESP8266 is connected to AWS IoT, you can use the MQTT client on the AWS IoT console to receive the messages published by the ESP8266 to topic ‘esp8266/status’. You could also publish ‘on’ or ‘off’ message to topic ‘esp8266/control’ to toggle the GPIO/LED (GPIO2 is used by the example).
paasmer_iot_solutions_1

IOT Solution Architecture Styles

ManagementTeamMouli1

Chandramouli Srinivasan

There are many ways to architect the Internet of Things implementations for enterprises. CIOs must consider security, privacy, cost, ease of access, agility and performance to determine the best architecture for each enterprise.

Enterprises will build and adapt their Internet of Things implementations based on a combination of these five main architecture styles:

  • Thing-centric. Things are smart on their own and store most of their data on-board. Things are self-sufficient and communicate to the Internet only for centralized coordination and analysis.
  • Gateway-centric. The gateway houses the application logic, stores data and communicates with the Internet for the things that are connected to it. Things don’t have to be as smart because the gateway provides these resources.
  • Smartphone-centric. The smartphone (or any mobile device) houses the application logic, stores data and communicates with the Internet for the things that are connected to it. Things don’t have to be as smart because the smartphone provides these resources.
  • Cloud-centric. The cloud will act as the central connection hub, power analytics, and provision data storage. Things don’t have to be as smart because the cloud will provide these resources
  • Enterprise-centric. Things are behind a firewall and are geographically collocated. There is little need to extend out to the external Internet.

Guideline:

Each architecture has its own advantages and disadvantages. These architectures are designed to be style models that most enterprises will want to combine according to their needs. The reason why the names of each of these architectures are appended with “centric” (for example, cloud-centric) is that we expect that most enterprises will not pursue a pure implementation. For example, an enterprise might favor a smartphone-centric architecture, but may still rely significantly on cloud resources.

Enterprise CIOs and IT leaders should use these steps as a way of thinking about how to implement these architectures:

  1. Find the architectures that fit your use cases. Use the criteria in the Choosing the Right IoT Architectures section. Expect to have different use cases that require different architectures within the same enterprise.
  2. Choose or build an IoT platform that can support these chosen architectures — (ideally, all architectures, even the ones you won’t adopt immediately).
  3. Consider emerging technologies that may eliminate the advantages and disadvantages of an architecture style. For example, high-performance messaging protocols (for example, Data Distribution Service remove the latency in the cloud to provide real-time communications as if the machines were locally close. The cost of computing, storage, and communications will also be an emerging factor. For example, a decreasing cost of hardware against a rising cost of communications would influence an enterprise toward a thing- or gateway-centric style, as opposed to a cloud-centric style.

Choosing the Right IoT Architectures by Prioritizing Constraints

To properly evaluate which architecture styles fit best, enterprise CIOs and IT leaders should consider the following criteria. There is no right answer. Often, what is perceived as an advantage in some situations (for example, using cloud resources to remove cost and complexity from things) is actually a disadvantage in other situations (for example, connecting to the cloud is problematic or less secure).

The Priority constraints that needs to managed are

  1. The cost of hardware, software, and data.
  2. Connectivity & technical requirements based on reliability and quality of service; Real-Time Performance.
  3. Data and Security.
  4. Users and Implementations complexity.