WinterSense aims to tackle weather-related travel delays

WinterSense aims to tackle weather-related travel delays?

A road surface temperature sensor system, WinterSense, from the University of Birmingham looks set to address seasonal travel woes.

Winter is coming and at Internet of Business, we love a story about British inventiveness, especially when it combines IoT sensors and communications to solve a familiar problem. And what could be more familiar at this time of year than the frustration of weather-induced travel delays?

That’s why we are pleased to hear that a road surface temperature sensor, which provides real-time data on road conditions, is set for adoption on the UK’s road and motorway network.

The technology, WinterSense, was developed at the University of Birmingham and recently won a national award at the Highways UK 2017 Intelligent Infrastructure Challenge.

Lee Chapman, Professor of Climate Resilience at the University won the award for his low-cost, non-invasive and self-contained road surface temperature sensor, which uses infrared thermometry to identify where roads need to be gritted and where they don’t.

Read more: Transport Scotland turns to IoT to keep roads clear this winter

True grit

The WinterSense sensors are IoT-enabled and use a new generation of low-power communications to provide a real-time measurement of road-surface temperatures to send gritting lorries to where they’re needed most.

“The key issue in this prioritisation is having a good spatial resolution on observation of road surface conditions,” said Professor Chapman. “Our sensors are an order of magnitude cheaper than existing solutions and light enough to be mounted to any lamp post or road sign, which means that a dense network of sensors can be rapidly deployed along a road network to provide a highly granular picture of road surface conditions.”

WinterSense is available through Altasense, which develops sensors that are Wi-Fi enabled (to leverage existing communication networks), low-cost (enabling dense networks to be deployed) and self-contained and battery powered for easy deployment.

Read more: Britain’s motorways lag when it comes to 4G connectivity, says report

Leaves on track

This isn’t the first travel-related, IoT-enabled technology from Professor Chapman and his team, however. They are also the brains behind AutumnSense, which aims to put an end to the frustrations of railway travel interrupted by the dreaded issue of leaves on the track.

Like WinterSense, AutumnSense also uses low-cost sensors, in this case to continuously measure the level of moisture on railway lines at potentially thousands of sites across the UK rail network. By linking this data with a leaf-fall forecast, operators can identify where and when the risk is greatest. That, in turn, would allow them to deploy automated treatment trains which clear the lines before the morning rush hour begins.

According to Professor Chapman: “Even though leaf loss and damp conditions can largely be predicted – and despite automated treatment trains working round the clock from October to December – a windy, rainy night still causes havoc for commuters.”

Read more: FindMy IoT saves Nordic reindeer from train collisions

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Hazelcast Jet aims to DAG-propel IoT data flow

Hazelcast Jet aims to DAG-propel IoT data flow

Open source in-memory data grid (IMDG) company Hazelcast is increasingly aligning its ‘application-embeddable’ technologies to  IoT use cases. 

Apache Spark rival Hazelcast recently hit the 0.5 version release for Jet, its application-embeddable distributed computing platform for fast processing of big data sets.

This release features the company’s Pipeline API [application programming interface] for creating data connections for both batch and stream processing.

Read more: Future Grid aims to power up the Internet of Energy with Hazelcast

IoT application architectures

So what makes this technology a good fit for the IoT? For a start, Jet is delivered as a single library with no dependencies. Hazelcast executives claim that this means it suffers from fewer system incompatibilities when deployed across architectures where threading, parallelism and concurrency concerns could hamper other code sets.

This, in turn, means that it can (arguably) be suited to deployments in embedded systems where multiple systems connectivity does not exist. As a result, standalone IoT use cases come to the fore.

Hazelcast suggests that typical application use cases include online trades (where, presumably, an entire transaction execution has to happen inside a defined contained space of logic), sensor updates in IoT architectures, real-time fraud detection and system log events among others.

The Pipeline API is the primary programming interface of Hazelcast Jet for batch and stream processing, so one imagines that this should make it more appealing to a wider Java audience. Indeed, the Java 8 Stream API is also available in Hazelcast Jet 0.5, a well-known and popular API in the Java community which supports functional-style operations on streams of elements.

Read more: Hazelcast aims for cleaner windows on IoT data

DAGs, not the Aussie kind

Overall, this is a big update to the Hazelcast Jet low-level core API, which uses directed acyclic graphs (DAG) to model data flow – allowing detailed DAG assembly of processing jobs.

As explained here, DAGs are used to model probabilities, connectivity and causality, so that a ‘graph’ in this sense means a structure made from nodes and edges – so kind of like a graph database.

“Since its first release, Jet has put the ‘fast’ in Fast Big Data with performance up to 15 times faster than Spark and Flink,” said Hazelcast CEO Greg Luck. “In this release we have been working on bringing Hazelcast’s programming simplicity to Jet, which we think we have now achieved with the Pipeline API. Programmers, start your Jet engines.”

Also new is fault tolerance using distributed in-memory snapshots – in Hazelcast Jet 0.5, snapshots are distributed across the cluster and held in multiple replicas to provide redundancy.

Jet is now able to tolerate multiple faults such as node failure, network partition or job execution failure. Snapshots are periodically created and backed up. If there is a node failure Jet uses the latest state snapshot and automatically restarts all jobs that contain the failed node as a job participant.

Not so daggy on DAGs after all then? Well, Hazelcast Jet accumulates records into micro-batches for processing ‘as soon as they come in’, if you will… and the software itself is built on top of a one-record-per-time architecture (sometimes we call this ‘continuous operators’).

To be honest, you had me at continuous micro-batch processing parallel-execution model (remember our lack of dependencies?), yeah? The IoT data flow rate is getting faster, some of this stuff is going to matter.

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UK-based IoT device manufacturer Pycom aims to kickstart the New Zealand market

Pycom, a UK-based IoT module manufacturer, will launch its FiPy device worldwide at the end of November and will be presenting a seminar and hackathon in New Zealand.

FiPy claims to be the first to support five different radio communications technologies: WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox and dual LTE-M (CAT M1 and NB-IoT) and to “contain all the core capability for developing the sensing devices needed by IoT applications.”

New Zealand is now in a prime position to develop world-leading IoT applications

The device features a built-in operating system with support for MicroPython, a light version of the popular web programming language. It’s hoped this support will help developers to rapidly build and deploy new applications using FiPy.

Fred de Haro, Pycom CEO, Daniel Campora, CTO, and Bettina Rubek Slater, COO, will be presenting a day-long seminar and hackathon in Auckland on November 27th.

John McDermott, IoT Auckland Meetup group founder and workshop organiser, says “This is a very timely visit by Pycom to launch their new device and accelerate the local expertise of IoT development.

“Vodafone recently announced the upgrade of their 4G LTE network to the NB-IoT standard, and Spark has also announced a competing LoRaWAN and LTE CAT-M1 wireless service. With the Australian network operator Thinxtra having already deployed a Sigfox network during 2017, New Zealand is now in a prime position to develop world-leading IoT applications.

"Pycom devices are an enterprise-grade solution and suitable for industrial, smart city, environment as well as agricultural and many other IoT applications. Kiwi entrepreneurs will have more ability to create solutions as a result of the Pycom visit," McDermott adds.

The workshop is being hosted at Auckland’s TechBunker on November 27 from 9am to 5pm. Details can be found here.

What are your thoughts on the IoT market in New Zealand? Let us know in the comments. Latest from the homepage

M2M Cellular Innovation Aims to Increase the World’s Food Supply

M2M Cellular Innovation Aims to Increase the World’s Food Supply

M2M Cellular Innovation Aims to Increase the World’s Food Supply

Unearthing the IoT in Agriculture.

Increasing the world’s food supply is a major issue. Crop diseases can have a devastating humanitarian and economic impact and with sustained global population growth it is estimated that by 2050, a 70 per cent increase in food production is required to ensure the world is fed.

Against this backdrop global IoT cellular communications specialist Eseye is today announcing a new product partnership, with agricultural manufacturer Burkard Engineering, to fight against crop disease.

With 20-40 per cent of the world’s crop losses attributed to disease, the accurate prediction and prevention of diseases is a vital area to address. Burkard Engineering has developed connected real-time pathogen monitoring equipment to provide an early warning system of crop disease risk. The system uses Eseye’s AnyNet Secure global cellular data services to deliver data onto the AWS Cloud to provide farmers with tailored information from their own fields.

The Burkard Auto Sampler sits permanently within a farmer’s field remotely collecting DNA. Crop data is then transmitted back to the AWS Cloud where it is analysed and reported in a matter of minutes, enabling farmers to see exactly which fields are at risk and act accordingly to treat the crops. Once out of trials the product, which is part of the UK Government’s Innovate UK project, is expected to scale globally.

Stuart Wili, Managing Director at Burkard, says:

“We are finally giving farmers an answer to their concerns over the ramifications of crop disease. This not only provides peace of mind, but the solution also supports the environment, removes risk and saves precious time, resources and ultimately money.”

Paul Marshall, Chief Customer Officer at Eseye, says:
“Eseye’s work with Burkard and AWS is a prime example of the range of economic, social and environmental benefits which can be reaped through IoT. By using AnyNet Secure cellular and AWS Cloud solutions, the agricultural industry can harness the knowledge and foresight from accurate data in making informed decisions. We are delighted to be part of this project and look forward to seeing the benefits rolled out across the globe.”

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Medigate aims to take a new approach to IoT healthcare security with $5.35m funding

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all set to revolutionise the end to end healthcare process; from wearables which collect patient data in real-time, to algorithms which can come up with new diagnoses. Yet securing all of these devices is the major risk.

Meet Medigate. The startup, based out of Israel, has just secured a $ 5.35 million (£4.08m) funding round for its platform, which secures networked devices alongside medical records, device servers, and other enterprise systems. The capital was raised by YL Ventures with additional funding from Blumberg Capital.

As the company explains in an FAQ, medical devices are not regular IT endpoints, and therefore current security solutions do not provide an appropriate layer of protection as they do not address the medical workflow. Medigate’s solution, the company claims, through offering discovery and identification, threat detection and attack prevention, fuses medical understanding with cyber security expertise.

In a blog post, seen by IoT News prior to publication, the company’s CEO, Jonathan Langer, cited the WannaCry ransomware attack back in May as the ‘big bang’ for both the industry and his company vision. Langer went back and forth with healthcare CISOs to determine both the immediacy of the threat – quickly confirmed – and that his idea both resonated and was unique to the market.

“I went back to the CISOs and tried to understand what made the clinical networks so susceptible to cyberattacks,” Langer wrote. “The short answer was that the ‘defence in depth’ cybersecurity paradigm just doesn’t apply to clinical networks and a new paradigm was needed.

“The reason is the endpoint solution (EPS) layer in medical devices, whether legacy or newly manufactured, are not ‘normal’ IT infrastructure end points because they are situated in mission critical environments, are not internet-facing, and use [Food and Drug Administration]-approved software.

“These unique characteristics were exactly what I was looking for,” Langer added. “What if we could create an additional layer of defence, compensating for lack of EPS, that was dedicated to the medical devices and the clinical networks?

“The thought of this prospect was incredibly exciting.”

According to a blog post from Yoav Leitersdorf, managing director of YL Ventures, the next few months will be spent packed full of meetings with US-based healthcare CISOs and medical device manufacturers, building an R&D team, and thinking through go-to-market strategies.

From the investment side, Leitersdorf noted his team were struck by a ‘superb team solving a huge problem in an open space with deep technology.’ “The case here was obvious – the proliferation of connected medical devices in healthcare creates a lot of value for providers and their customers, but it also represents an ever-expanding number of entry points for cyber attacks,” wrote Leitersdorf. “As we see often in this industry, novel technologies are usually accompanied by novel threats.”

According to a study issued by ZingBox in July, there remains a series of ‘misconceptions’ around IoT healthcare security. More than three quarters of IT decisions polled within healthcare organisations were said to be confident, or ‘over-confident’, about the security of connected devices on their network.

You can find out more about Medigate here.

Picture credit: Medigate. From left: Pini Pinhasov, Oran Avraham, Jonathan Langer, Vitali Sepetnitsky, Nir Benudiz, Itay Kirshenbaum Latest from the homepage