Smart Cities Connect: Case studies show need for edge computing
AUSTIN, TX – What does the fog mean for smart cities? For Cisco’s Jim Haskins, the answer depends on which fog you’re talking about. As a communities solutions specialist, Haskins helps cities that want to connect infrastructure and analyze the data generated. One customer needed sensors and data analytics in high-traffic areas to create alerts when fog impaired visibility beyond a certain level. The challenge was to avoid diverting resources unless the fog was actually thick enough to jeopardize safety.
“It’s a matter of finding an analytic that serves the use case and then how do we get that analytics out to the edge,” Haskins explained to an audience this week at Smart Cities Connect. Of course, analytics at the edge involves the other fog — intelligent nodes at the network edge that can deliver computing, analytics and storage, enabling data to be acted upon more quickly.
“The network has become the platform,” said Haskins. “It isn’t the servers or the cloud.” He said that ruggedized hardware and fog computing enable micro services versus full applications at the network edge. One important service is data parsing, since endpoints collect data indiscriminately.
Clint Madsen, program director for IoT solutions at Ericsson North America, agreed that edge computing is key to the development of effective smart city solutions. He sees significant value in the ability to act on data generated by IoT sensors before that data is even stored. That requires analytics at locations close to the data collection points.
“One way we can show the value is to show interconnectivity of data and make actionable points,” Madsen said. He envisions cameras and acoustic sensors that can generate data to alert drivers and even first responders about traffic accidents, and can trigger street lights to increase brightness levels at accident sites.
Actuating smart infrastructure is a logical extension of connecting devices and collecting data from them. This can mean instructing steet lights to shine brighter or sirens to sound an alarm. Bidirectional communication with connected infrastructure can also mean that cities have the ability to push policy and software updates to the edge of the network.
Haskins said that Cisco’s acquisition of Jasper Technologies gave it the ability to push more policy and software updates to IoT infastructure. He said this also has important implications for security, because security updates can be accomplished with software upgrades.
“It’s not a question of if you’re getting hacked, we know you are. .. The question is what do we do about it,” Haskins said. He said pushing policy all the way to the edge nodes is key to combatting security breaches and minimizing their impact on the larger system.