The ‘Smart Environment’ means the use of low power wireless sensors to detect changing variables in the environment.
There are three distinct stages of a Smart Environment system, which will be considered in terms of INPUT-PROCESS-OUTPUT.
The input stage is concerned with the gathering of the data source, and getting it to the process part of the system.
In terms of a typical LPWAN, or Low Power Wide Area Network system this might consist of a ‘sensor node’ that measures an environmental parameter, such as the ‘Ph’ of the soil in a field.
The sensor node gathers data and the data is transmitted via a suitable Low Power, Narrow Bandwidth wireless technology, such as Lorawan, Weightless or Sigfox.
At the receiving end of the transmitted data, the data is received by a device called a ‘Gateway’. The job of the gateway is to receive the wireless data signal, and put it onto the internet.
The sensor node, Narrow band Wireless Link, and Gateway device, can all be considered to be part of the INPUT section of the system.
The PROCESS part of the system occurs online, and is where software can be used to make smart automated decisions relating to the environment, based on analysis of the available data received from the INPUT section of the system.
An example of an automated decision, might be a vending machine that sends data onto the internet reporting that the machine is out of salt and vinegar crisps.
The online software would then logically decide a course of action, based on the received data. This is the PROCESS section, capable of automatically carrying out decisions that are normally done by human beings (clerical workers).
The OUTPUT section carries out an instruction, based on the decisions made by the online software, in the cloud, which is based on data from the INPUT section.
In this vending machine example the received data could notify a mobile delivery driver on a screen in his vehicle, to go to the machine and restock it (with salt and vinegar crisps, in this case).
The system could also automatically order new stock, as and when necessary from the crisp manufacturer.
Parameters that could also be monitored and analysed are, which products are the most popular, and if data is sent in real time, what products sell at what time of the day.
Knowing the time of day that a product sells can help marketing departments determine the socio-economic & demographic profiles of users,
How could marketers use this information you might wonder?
If the vending machine was located at a swimming pool, then data from the swimming pools website on class times, could be combined with product purchase data from the vending machine at the pool, to determine what products were most popular when the ‘Women Only’ swim session was on for instance.
Another possible data source could include ticket type sold (adult, child, senior citizen).
Some other uses of Smart Environment systems include the following examples:-
- Forest fire detection
- Early detection of earthquakes
- Remote Snow level monitoring
- Air pollution monitoring
- Landslide & Avalanche protection
This article will be expanded shortly, when we get some more time.
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