Gartner, one of the world’s leading IT research and advisory companies, estimates that as many as 5.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices owned by enterprises and Governments will make use of edge computing for data collection and processing in 2020, while by 2019, as much as 40% of all IoT-collected data is expected to be stored, processed, analysed and acted upon close to or at the edge of the network, writes Duncan Cooke.
It is, perhaps, still relatively early days in terms of the electronic security industry fully embracing the undoubted benefits to be realised from the IoT, but what can we learn right now from developments in other sectors?
Within the food, pharmaceuticals and utilities sectors, the IoT is considered by many to be a seismic technology shift. However, it’s recognised that success lies with an infrastructure which can be trusted. The priority has therefore been to lock down the reliability and security of the network which is connecting all IoT-enabled devices. Having achieved this, operational management can the concentrate on identifying those IoT investments which will return powerful benefits to their business.
In the manufacturing and energy spaces, the primary benefits will be efficiency and productivity gains. For its part, financial services can expect improved performance, data integrity and business agility.
One of the hallmarks of the IoT is the gathering of data from a wide range of sensors and systems to gain valuable insights. This distributed intelligence is central to improving production efficiency, enabling predictive maintenance and also sparking innovation.
Many industries have already seen this. Oil and gas companies, for example, use data collected from sensors at remote pipeline compression stations to run analytics that detect early signs of component failure. With advance warning, these companies will be able to shrink maintenance windows and avoid costly and unplanned downtime.
What will the IoT do for the electronic security industry? There’s no doubt that it will set innovators free to use their imaginations in order to come up with creative solutions that combine the expertise, knowledge and intuition of ‘man’ with the processing power of ‘machine’.
In simple terms, IoT-enabled cameras equipped with or otherwise supported by analytics, Artificial Intelligence or deep learning applications will enable end users to achieve benefits from their video surveillance systems which would have been unimaginable even just a few years ago.
Cameras linked with a myriad of sensors connected to other types of security systems – for example, intruder detection, access control, building management and fire systems, etc – will result in an automated reporting process which provides security personnel with all the information they need to make instantaneous, correct and effective decisions as to the most appropriate course of action to take when an incident or an emergency occurs.
With compliance being a major issue for many organisations, the IoT also holds much promise in terms of the collection and synchronisation of data from many different sources in order to verify in real-time that rules and regulations are being adhered to and to generate alerts when they’re not.
Storage at the edge
Much of the data feeding into a central decision point is likely to be stored at the edge, perhaps on devices such as cameras, but more than likely on locally-based servers.
In addition to infrastructure security, another important element in ensuring the successful implementation of an IoT strategy will therefore be the need to ensure that the fountains of data collected at the edge are protected. No server manufacturer, no matter how reliable their servers have proven to be, is likely to guarantee zero downtime.
In order to mitigate the risk of losing valuable data, it will be essential for an end-to-end fault tolerance solution to be put in place.
Duncan Cooke is Business Development Manager (UK and Europe) at Stratus Technologies