First Digital Delivers Real World IoT

First Digital, a First Technology company, helped Modac bring their Environment Monitoring solution to the cloud using an enterprise internet of things approach.

As a leader of quality, cost-effective construction of data centers and provider of building management systems, Modac embarked on a journey to bring their Axil environment monitoring solution to clients using a software as a service model. First Digital evaluated the technical requirements to meet a growing demand for dashboard and cloud based visibility of data centers and helped Modac deliver the solution to clients including First Technology’s own FirstNet division.

“When you look at the world of internet of things (IoT), the challenge started back in the 2000’s when non-human computing devices started sharing more data over the internet”, says Gabriel Malherbe of First Digital. “The challenge is therefore not new, but the demand from consumers is growing and key pieces of technology has matured and become accessible.”

The basic principle of remote things feeding information to a central reportable repository applies equally to fitness armbands as it does to a vibration sensor on an industrial robot.

The three basic components include the sensory-aware device with edge computing capability, a robust and secure transport over the internet and the ability to collect and process information as well as controlling the remote device.

On the Edge:

This is the most obvious part of the solution. Advances in technology allow us to deploy monitoring devices to somebody’s arm or deep inside a data center as is the case with Modac’s Axil solution. The challenge is to deliver edge computing capability close to the source of data. Filtering and analysis is required to minimize the mountain of data that real-time sensors will generate. The basic job of the edge device is to distinguish between ‘noise’ and data that is of value. Development of low powered computing devices and sensors open up a host of applications including the monitoring of water depth, heat via the infrared spectrum and current flow inside an office building or data center.

The Axil edge device supports up to 20 sensors and various outputs. It can run without mains electricity for almost a week. It is used for the monitoring and controlling of all data center components including air conditioning, access control, uninterruptible power supplies and the release of fire suppressing gas. Working with First Digital, the Axil unit was reprogrammed to communicate to a software as a service repository called AxilView.

In the Cloud:

A robust and secure transport platform is required to act as the link between the edge device and the visualization platform. With the availability of cloud services, this key part of the solution is now available to vendors as a simple commodity. Microsoft, for instance, offer a dedicated feature called the IoT Hub as part of their Azure services. These services offer all the core plumbing, for instance, authentication – your TV or other smart thing does not always give you the opportunity to enter a traditional username and password to identify itself.

The transport provider needs to be accessible and available. It needs to support exponential growth of connected devices, remain available and act as a buffer between the smart thing and the destination of the data in case either becomes unavailable.

Conclusion:

The internet of things is not new. It is however becoming pervasive and unlike other internet innovations that normally starts with consumers, the value for the enterprise is apparent and far reaching. Before we realize the value of a self-replenishing-internet-connected fridge, the ability for companies to predict breakdowns, auto schedule maintenance and gain insights from remote devices will give them a competitive edge and transform their businesses.

First Digital is a digital transformation company and part of the First Technology group. Helping various national and international clients, they deliver innovation, digital transformation and bespoke software solutions.