What are the layers of the IoT?

The Internet of Things. An increasingly powerful tool that promises huge transformational opportunities in every sector. As the technology enters a more realistic and functional chapter, organisations and technology leaders are becoming more practical and informed when it comes to adopting IoT solutions.

The unprecedented amount of data processed by IoT underpins any digital business and provides a huge number of business benefits such as increased operational efficiency and productivity.

To celebrate IoT Day on 9th April, we stripped back the layers of an IoT solution to see what goes on at each stage. Let’s take a look under the hood…

Layer 1: The Things

The physical layer. This is where you find the sensors and actuators that have the ability to sense and record data, perform light computing and are able to connect to a network and communicate data.

They can detect and monitor anything from temperature, air pressure, occupancy, location, light, heartrate, blood pressure, to weight, you name it there’s probably a sensor for it.

Some of these sensors can be as small as a grain of sand, but they are what makes smart spaces smart and provide us with an all-important data source.

Layer 2: The Gateway

This stage still largely involves the physical sensors, but this is where the internet gateways appear, and data acquisition happens.

IoT gateways are enabled with multiple communication capabilities, such as WAN, to talk to the IOT devices on one end and a network-based connection to the Internet on the other side. It’s here where the IoT gateway aggregates data from various sensing devices and feeds it into the cloud.

What’s important here is the crazy amount of data that is collected and squeezed into optimal size for further analysis.

Layer 3: The Edge

This layer can be considered an ingestion point for all connected sensors and gateways. Edge IT systems, such as a cloud platform, has tools to implement data flow and stream processing. The incoming data is stored, processed and made visible to decision makers who can then make data-driven decisions.

As with any cloud solution, these services can be hosted in a public, private, or hybrid cloud setting.

Layer 4: The Analysis

This is where the magic happens and the collected raw data is transformed into invaluable business insights. These actionable insights can help improve business operations, productivity and efficiency, and it can even predict future events such as machine failure.

This layer draws on data science and analytics techniques like machine learning algorithms to make sense of the data and enable corrective action.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to IoT solutions, but you can expect to see these components included in one way or another.

Find out what we learnt when we installed IoT sensors in our offices, there results might surprise you…

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