Edge computing is getting a lot of attention in the world of IoT. Though we don’t see cloud computing going away anytime soon, if ever, there are several exciting opportunities for edge computing to continue to advance IoT technology. Here’s what you need to know about edge computing, including the capabilities of this technology and examples of it in use today.
Edge computing is a model where IoT data that is captured by sensors is then analyzed and stored (at least in part) at or near the physical site where it’s captured. For example, LoRaWAN sensors communicate with a cellular gateway that does some of the computation on the device (“at the edge”) before transmitting some information back to a cloud-based infrastructure. This distributed computing model decentralizes data processing. It also decreases dependence on the cloud overall, even though it doesn’t fully eliminate it. Though many IoT ecosystems can rely heavily on cloud infrastructure for the bulk of computation, an IoT architecture that leverages edge computing can mitigate bandwidth requirements and result in longer device battery life, enabling even more IoT use cases than ever before.
Since data is processed on or near the location where it’s captured, edge computing is appealing for a number of different reasons. These will come into play when considering your business needs and the various connectivity options for your IoT ecosystem.
Here are some of the reasons to consider edge computing with IoT:
Here are some examples of edge computing in areas that we expect to grow over the next few years, given their reliance on real-time responsiveness, minimizing downtime, and privacy.
Whether it’s a personal vehicle or a fleet of trucks hauling consumer goods or equipment, autonomous vehicles are a great example of edge computing at work today. By processing more data locally, these vehicles have the ability to react in real-time to traffic conditions, weather, detours, and more without the need to send data to an off-site location for processing.
Advances in IoT have given rise to smart cities that are leveraging this technology to address societal needs and urbanization. In this way, cities around the world like New York City, London, and Singapore are improving their residents’ quality of life and safety. They are using intelligent traffic control systems to reduce congestion and also managing city fleets by enabling them to adapt to shifting needs in real-time. Buses, trains, and other public transportation systems are using edge computing systems to improve the safety and comfort of passengers and drivers. Delay notifications can be handled with onsite processing via mobile applications and digital signage, and re-routing can be done quickly to avoid an accident or traffic congestion.
Cities aren’t the only ones leaning into edge computing. Manufacturing and industrial businesses are also harnessing the power of this advanced technology to bring processing on-site, where it’s needed more quickly for things like temperature and pressure monitoring. It’s also used for monitoring industrial equipment for predictive maintenance needs, improving workers’ safety and the efficiency of equipment while reducing downtime. One of our customers leverages edge computing to monitor high-value machines, compressing data to enable higher sampling rates with an efficient and cost-effective transmission. They pair it with alerts and battery backup, so this system provides secure, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for manufacturers.
Have you ever gotten on a conference call or watched a video and had to deal with buffering? With edge computing, content delivery and video streaming can take advantage of low latency to meet consumer expectations. Media companies use this technology to support live events and to create a more personalized experience with customization and interactive capabilities.
Healthcare is another exciting field benefitting from IoT advancements in edge computing. From research improvements to patient monitoring, edge computing is helping identify outlier data more quickly to provide faster insights and real-time care improvement. Edge computing is also used for robot-assisted surgery wherein latency can be disastrous. And by processing data locally, patient confidentiality can be better assured.
IoT has markedly improved all aspects of food production, including agriculture, livestock management, and fish farming. Farmers track growing conditions to guide their decision-making and grow food sustainably. It’s used on large farms and in greenhouses. IoT and edge computing are also used for fish farming to monitor complex environmental variables to ensure the health of the fish. This not only helps to reduce the cost, but takes the guesswork out of the care required for ongoing sustainability.
Customization is key for retail ads, and targeting based on parameters like demographic information makes for an improved customer experience. Furthermore, with edge computing, businesses can protect user privacy by encrypting data and maintaining it at the source instead of sending it to the cloud.
Whether companies decide their IoT solutions should rely more heavily on edge computing or cloud computing, they are still able to monetize their solutions using Zipit’s subscription billing platform. IoT solutions that are designed to maximize edge processing still usually communicate with a remote back end to some extent and this communication can be enabled securely through Zipit’s connectivity services too. To learn more about how Zipit can help you connect and monetize your IoT solutions, contact us.
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