One of the most prominent aspects of the growing number of machine-to-machine connections – the basis of the Internet of Things – is the possibility of connected cities. Large U.S. metropolitan areas such as Palo Alto, Calif., for instance, have already begun to shift toward connectedness.
Aside from governmental leaders and citizens who are ready to transform the areas in which they live, it is also on the shoulders of private firms to create the technological structures for those transformations. One startup, VIMOC Technologies, recently announced the launch of its Landscape Computing platform which provides API-driven hardware sensors for the development of mesh networks that form the basis of smart cities. It is currently in a testing phase in the cities of Palo Alto and in Newcastle, Australia.
Aaron Hector, vice president of engineering and software development at VIMOC, explains how a mesh network of sensors across a city can collect data that VIMOC neutral boxes (nBoxes) can process.
“Sensor data gets collected on the nBox, so all the data is handled and processed at the edge,” Hector says. “What goes through the access gateway is the state transitions (for example, with the parking sensors, we pass on the data about whether a parking space is occupied or not), all the other data gets stored at the edge key. We are capturing all diagnostic information, as well signal strength and so on, but we are only uploading the raw state transitions. This significantly reduces data flow.”
This process, he continues, allows the bare minimum of data to make its way to the cloud. Landscape Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the cloud every day. Developers can access the data available to Landscape Computing sensors through a RESTful API the Hector assures is standards compliant. At present, the testing phase of the platform is primarily working with parking sensors, but developers will eventually have access to a range of sensor types that they can access via text/XML, application/XML, and applications/JSON formats.
Parking sensors in Palo Alto and Newcastle are able to determine the location of parking spots, when they are occupied, and the length of their occupation. Newcastle sensors are also gathering data about pedestrian movements that businesses could use to determine the shopping patterns of pedestrians in retail areas.
VIMOC says it intends to display Landscape Computing at upcoming expos in Barcelona, Spain. It has the potential to explain the differences in environments between Palo Alto and Newcastle and discuss the future of the M2M platform. The platform may be attractive to additional cities because of its lightweight nature and ability to collect data about large populations without sacrificing individuals’ privacy in the process. Before a more widespread release of VIMOC hardware, interested developers can test the Landscape Computing API in a live sandbox and register for an API key at the VIMOC website.
Edited by Maurice Nagle