The Future of IoT: Sensing-as-a-Service

We keep reading about how data is the next frontier. Businesses will need to fully understand their data in order to keep a competitive advantage. This is true, but there is an issue with keeping common data siloed. I’m all about protecting proprietary data, but some data doesn’t need to stay private. What if companies were able to exchange data they already have to create a better picture of their consumers? Sensing-as-a-Service (SEaaS) enables the exchange of non-proprietary data to truly connect the Internet of Things (IoT).  

What do you mean by Sensing?

We’re certainly using the most generic sense of the term, no pun intended. Data must be collected by something, we’re referring to that collector as a sensor. Whether that means a GPS location of a phone, thermometer at a weather station, camera aimed at a parking space, or the time on a clock, all of these data points are coming from sensors.  

How about as-a-Service?

Honestly, I’ve lost track of all the different “aaS” acronyms. That doesn’t change the fact service oriented architecture is still a powerful concept. Creating services allows for increased abstraction, allowing service providers to focus on providing the service and consumer to focus on consuming. Consumers of “aaS” resources don’t have to worry about what’s under the hood, they can simply rely on the service to provide the desired output. 

Alright, so what is Sensing-as-a-Service?

The delivery of sensor data either on-demand or via a data stream. At the end of the day, the consumers of data from IoT sensors are interested in the data points, not necessarily the ins and outs of where they came from.  

Who could be a Sensing-as-a-Service provider?

Examples of Sensing-as-a-Service providers could be Fitbit or Waze providing activity and GPS data. Data could come from energy companies providing usage statistic. DarkSky has been providing weather data like this for years. Essentially, anyone with data that could be shared/sold. Plenty of organizations already have existing sensor infrastructure out there. The easy and obvious one is the smartphone network. Everyone is carrying around a sensor pack that is constantly monitoring and providing a treasure trove of sensor data. But what about the not so obvious ones? There are shipping networks constantly monitoring trucks, which implicitly monitors traffic. Weather stations all around the world monitoring temperature, precipitation, pollen, pollution, and all other kinds of weather related data. We have mall parking lots that detect exactly where every available parking space is, which implicitly tells us how many people are at the mall. There are tons of examples of sensor networks available that are waiting to be untapped. By offering SEaaS these companies can easily add an additional passive revenue stream with minimal initial investment. It also opens the door for companies to specialize exclusively in sensing.  

The Vision

The promise of IoT has always been the ability to automate the world in which we live. That means a steaming hot cup of coffee waiting for you at just the right time in the morning or a supply chain that delivers just the right amount of goods the the perfect place in minimal time. These kinds of things require sensors everywhere. But in order for my coffee maker to the exact time it should start my coffee in the morning it needs to know a few different factors: what time my alarm is set for, how long it takes my lazy self to actually get out of bed (which can range from 10 seconds to an hour and half), how long it takes me to shower in the morning, etc. Imagine if my coffee machine had to have sensors all over my apartment just to gather that data. What if every IoT device needed a network of sensors? We would have an unnecessarily large amount of redundant sensors everywhere. But what if instead we created a shared network of sensors, all communicating with each other and that are available to as a consumable service? Now we reach the real potential of the Internet of Things. Sensing-as-a-Service enables more developers and organizations to create IoT devices without having to worry about all of the external details. It’s specialization at its finest.  

The Future

IoT is here, but it has not even remotely reached its full potential. The future is IoT devices everywhere, constantly automating and making daily life and operations easier and more efficient. SEaaS is one of many new concepts that will help unify Internet of Things. Here at HarperDB we believe we can help make this future a reality today. All of this data has to go somewhere, why not store it in a simple, easy to use database that works both on the edge and on a server? Configuring a replicating cluster between the edge and a main server farm enables ¢aaS providers to easily gather data and give a simple interface for accessing the data. HarperDB is the simple solution to a complex problem. Give us a try today!