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The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a system of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables objects to collect and exchange data.  It also allows objects or environments to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into an IT system.

There is a wide variety of IoT devices such as utility meters, temperature sensors, carpark sensors, motion detectors, smell sensors in restroom/ rubbish dump, flood sensors, garbage level monitoring, vehicles with built-in sensors, live camera feeds of traffic, medical sensors, etc. Leveraging on such IoT usages will result in economic benefit from improved efficiency, accuracy and reducing the need for human intervention.

 

Essential Components of IoT

 

Figure A below shows the different components of an IoT system.

Figure A

 

IoT Sensors – In typical IoT systems, a sensor may collect information and route to a control center where a decision is made and a corresponding command is sent back to an actuator in response to that sensed input.  The sensors collect a wide variety of information ranging from Location, Temperatures, Grid parameters, Motion detection, Water level detection in flood prone areas, Utility Meter readings to Garbage levels in garbage bins.

IoT Gateways – IoT gateways perform several critical functions such as device connectivity, protocol translation, data filtering and processing, security, updating, management and more.  They are the gateways to internet for all the objects or devices that are being monitored. Gateways help to bridge the internal network of sensor nodes with the Internet. Data from sensor or nodes are collected and transmitted through the internet network.

Cloud infrastructure – After the IoT project is up and running, many devices will be producing lots of data.  An efficient, scalable and affordable way, such as using Big Data analytics engine, is needed to both manage the devices and process information to make them intelligent and workable.  The cloud is an efficient and effective way of storing, processing, and analysing data before sending them to the End-user for decision making.

End-user Control Device – Once the end-user receives information from the cloud infrastructure, decisions could be made remotely.  For example, once the water levels in flood prone areas reach a critical level, a command will be sent to open up emergency flood gates and warn shop owners in the area to take precautionary measures.  This could be done via the users’ mobile devices.

 

In summary

The benefits and forces that are driving the use of IoT are increasingly numerous, as more and more organisations, industries, and technologists are jumping on the IoT bandwagon.

Stay tuned for the examples of IoT in various industries!