Innovation and growth

The Internet of Things

Use of cloud computing to date has emphasised processing, sharing, and other uses of cloud-resident data. However, the loading and aggregation of data into the cloud is of equal importance, although lagging in practice. The rapid evolution and widespread deployment of sensors - in the soil, tree canopies, in gene sequencing machines, in telescopes, on the sea floor, in point-of-sale terminals, in pallets in containers, and so on - are causing an explosion in data volumes. Within a short time, businesses, governments, and science will structure their information sources and needs as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1
Aggregation of data from sensors, camera, phones, etc

Luo, L, A Kansal, S Nath and F Zhao, 2008, Sharing and exploring sensor streams over geocentric interfaces, Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGSPATIAL international conference on Advances in geographic information systems, Irvine CA accessed on 22 June 2010 at

This diagram envisages several applications of wireless sensor networks, which are collections of tiny nodes which communicate their location, identity, and local measurements of their environment wirelessly over low-power computer networks. One simple form of this, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID),1 is beginning to be used in supply chain management in the retail sector. Richer forms are being planned for factory management, agriculture, mine safety, energy exploration, and defence. Battery life and cost are two key design parameters of tiny nodes, often called ‘motes’, as researchers will want to deploy thousands of them over their domain of interest, and let them gather data unattended for long periods.

A special case is the use of variety of sensors to collect data on water sources and water use to aid in water management.

Source: J Craig Mudge

1 RFID is a tracking system that uses intelligent bar codes to track items.