SWoT Part 3 - Finding Space - A Spatial Web of Things

A Spatial Web of Things - How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Specialising in Spatial Technologies throughout my career, I have been conditioned somewhat to repeatedly ask the question “Where is The Geo?”. Applying this question to the Internet of Things produces a remarkable revelation that “Things” always have a location …

Woohoo! - Homer Simpson

A common anarchism within the spatial industry is that 80% of all data contains a spatial component. Clearly, in terms of the IoT, 100% of all IoT data generated has a spatial component. All Things have a location and it behooves us as experts in the industry to realise the potential of this.

That’s a lot of location!

Drawing again from research published by Gartner, the colossal scale represented by the IoT has deep and pervasive side-effects which will be realised in nearly every corner of industry. This is especially true for the Spatial/GIS industry with a never-before seen flood of location-aware sensor and actuator data becoming a reality. What, then is the potential scale of this influx we can expect?

50 Trillion Gigabytes of data flowing from 25+ Billion embedded intelligent devices in 2020 (just 4 years from now) is an obvious and compelling prospect for the Spatial industry. Never one to shy away from a little hyperbole, even if we assume mere fractions of this data explosion to be pure and usable Location-Based content, the representation of so much spatial content will pose significant challenges and opportunities to the Spatial Industry.

Taking a somewhat conservative estimate, let’s assume that the IoT will be evenly categorised as comprising of SensorThings and ActuatorThings. Addressing only the geoenriched sensor data being reported by The IoT in 2020; this could involve the processing of up to 25 Trillion Gigabytes of remote sensing data! By any measure this is certainly the realm of “Big Data” and will manifest the most extreme forms of the common challenges we face with the processing the “Massive” volumes of BigData in 2016.

Traditionally, BigData processing is realised through the implementation of Hub-and-Spoke architectures which aggregate individual streams of information at key locations within a network. Raw data flows from spoke to hub and, through the utilisation of common server-based architectures, is processed (often in near-realtime) using clustered computing services. This approach is pervasive throughout Geospatial Information Systems as exemplified (at least withing the ArcGIS ecosystem) by technologies such as ArcGIS Server and GeoEvent Processor. During the nascent early stages of The IoT, such technologies will be strongly prominent however as the remote, disconnected and shared nature of The IoT emerges and mesh-like networks become popular and familiar, the mainstay structure used for BigData processing will need to evolve.
As with any communications revolution such as that expected to be instigated by the emergence of The IoT, the network effects predicted by the Metcalfe Effect will most likely be realised through a saturating decentraliazation and distribution of the elements of our networks. As this occurs, Hub-and-Spoke architectures and purely server-based architectures will struggle and fail to effectively harness the potential of data produced and communicated on networks which are increasingly offline, disconnected and locall-connected. Just as the Metcalfe effect describes the computing power of a network increasing with the number of interconnected nodes, it also is charaterised by a dissemination of that computing power aross the entirety of the network. Slowly declining are the days of “Big Iron”, large servers, server farms and clouds of processing making way for an army of smaller more ubundant nodes which can collectively harness the capabilites of their neighbours


DISCLAIMER I am currently employed as a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Esri Australia Pty. Ltd. The views expressed in this article are purely my own and do not represent the views of my employer. The recommendations and outcomes of this treatise are in no way affiliated nor endorsed by Esri Australia

SWoT Part 2 - Industrial Revolution Four-Point-Oh!

Two big reasons the IoT Matters.

There are two main effects we see in the Internet of Things. First, things are connected to a service that manages them. We can now monitor things, predict when they break, know when they are being used or not, and in general begin to exploit things as managed resources.

The second, bigger effect comes from the Metcalfe effect, or simply the network effect, of connecting things together. Bob Metcalfe once stated that the value of a communications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected compatible communicating devices. Since then it’s used to refer to users, but maybe Bob was thinking way ahead. Notice the word compatible. In this context, it means to be able to meaningfully exchange data.

When we connect physical objects to the network, and connect them together in such a way as to manage them as a larger system, we can exploit the Metcalfe effect applied to the resources. We are converting capital assets into managed resources and then applying network management. [Michael Koster - Makezine]

1. The IoT lets us manage, consume, monitor and maintain our Physical Things better

2. The IoT extends the reach of human-to-human, machine-to-machine and also human-machine communications

Industry 4.0 - The next phase of The Industrial Revolution

First we used water and steam to power machines to do tasks better/faster/cheaper …..

Then we built Machines to build our machines and do the tasks we couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t ….

Later, we made Virtual Machines to manage other machines ….

Will the Next Machines will manage themselves?

By examining Technological history through the lens of The Industrial Revolution it can be said that each major Revolutionary Phase can be categorised as having several significant revolutionary components:

  1. An extreme increase in the demand for product/machines/things and the associated Industrial Boom to supply the increased demand.
  2. An exponential growth in the communications capability between devices and within/between users and communities operating and using the evolved network of devices.
  3. A broadening in the Spatial Reach of the communities operating and using the evolved network of devices.

In all cases, we see some aspect of society experience a rather complete inversion of its’ previous Modus Operandii. The Model used to manage or understand some aspect of society becomes inverted and the ensuing chaos dispells complacency and allows society to enter the Change Lifecycle once again.

In reference to the IoT this has the potential to change things from a scarcity model, where the value is in restricting access to resources, thus driving up price, to a distribution centered model, where value is in the greater use of the resource. Connecting things to the network is going to reverse the model, from a model of “excluding access” to “inclusion access”, a model where you push toward better experience for consumer/customer/co-business.

This potential remains relatively unadressed in the context of the 3rd aspect of any phase in The Industrial Revolution: the broadening spatial reach of society. In the next part of this treatise -Part III: Finding Space - A Spatial Web of Things. we examine the implications of Industry 4.0 and the IoT to the Spatial/GIS realm.


DISCLAIMER I am currently employed as a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Esri Australia Pty. Ltd. The views expressed in this article are purely my own and do not represent the views of my employer. The recommendations and outcomes of this treatise are in no way affiliated nor endorsed by Esri Australia

SWoT Part 1 - IoT!? What is dis?

What on Earth are all these new things!

If accepted predictions are correct, 2016 is ear-marked to herald a new eara in computing which some predict will hark humanity’s entrance into the 4th stage of Industrial Revolution. However for some, the question still remains as to what the rather fuzzy term “Internet of Things” truely means.

Wikipedia perhaps most correctly describes the IoT in the following way:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure,creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit; when IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.

Oh! I see; It is an Internet … Of Things!

“Things,” in the IoT sense, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, DNA analysis devices for environmental/food/pathogen monitoring or field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue operations. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring.
Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand into, IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations that is aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data. IoT is one of the platforms of today’s Smart City and Smart Energy Management Systems.

At its’ core, the IoT is a general description of the vastly connected array of devices which litter our modern life. From SmartPhones to home automation devices, “InternetFridges”, Driverless vehicles, Pacemakers, FitBit’s and tinkerings with Raspberry Pi, the Internet Of Things describes the network of such devices talking to each other and traditional servers whilst diligently serving their masters as they are consumed by “MeatBags” using the common Internet.

And, by all accounts, there will be a Lot of these things (20-50 Billion by 2020!!) and they will be Everywhere:

Why does the IoT matter?

Put simply, the IoT drives two major and imporant changes within our society with effects so far reaching and pervasive that they may well be hailed as Revolutionary.

  1. The emergence of a vastly improved capability to manage our existing and future services and resources. Managed resources benefit society at a deep level by reducing waste, improving metering and billing and extending the reach of services to new physical frontiers.
  2. A never before seen depth and reach of communications. From communication of real-world measurements and values to the capacity to deliver timely alerts of critical events, the possibilites enabled by such vastly improved communication channels will shape society in ways yet to be understood.

In the Second part of this series - Part II : Industrial Revolution Four-Point-Oh! we explore exactly how the IoT matters


DISCLAIMER I am currently employed as a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Esri Australia Pty. Ltd. The views expressed in this article are purely my own and do not represent the views of my employer. The recommendations and outcomes of this treatise are in no way affiliated nor endorsed by Esri Australia

Towards a Spatial Web of Things (SWoT)

Standing at the edge looking down.

Entering a new year always calls for a liberal dosage of reflection and prediction as we struggle to embrace the changes of the diverse technological world we live in. As a Technologist and Technology pundit i try to embrace the changes around me and seek to divine the directions such changes may take us as a technologically advanced society.

This year I find myself looking into the Abyss of Technological Progress with a feeling that meaningful change is afoot; that we are rapidly approaching a precipice over which we will either plunge to our doom or soar to new heights. I Choose to Soar

This change comes in the form of about 21 billion or so itty-bitty-devices reporting, sensing, actuating and communicating our every move and every memorable moment of time passing on this wonderful blue marble. This change is, of course the emergence of the Internet of Things - the IoT!

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.

Gartner estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015. Services are dominated by the professional category (in which businesses contract with external providers in order to design, install and operate IoT systems), however connectivity services (through communications service providers) and consumer services will grow at a faster pace. “IoT services are the real driver of value in IoT, and increasing attention is being focused on new services by end-user organisations and vendors,” said Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

In this series of articles, I will investigate the depth and importance of the changes which the IoT represents, the impact that such radical change can bring to the Spatial/GIS industry, the resilience we need to develop in order to weather the storms of change in the new era of connected devices and how we can emerge triumphant leaders in a brave new world.

To allow focus on the various facets of this discussion, i have chosen to write this treatise in several parts:


DISCLAIMER I am currently employed as a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Esri Australia Pty. Ltd. The views expressed in this article are purely my own and do not represent the views of my employer. The recommendations and outcomes of this treatise are in no way affiliated nor endorsed by Esri Australia

Hello Blue Marble

Hello BlueMarble! Happy 2016.

(this is my kung-fu and it is < strong >)

Greetings fellow travellers upon this wonderful blue marble and welcome to Geo5.org.

You have now entered the 100Acre Woods, that strange, inbetween space inhabited by a friendly Tiggr.
This is the new home for the thoughts and postings of TIGGR, previously strewn across the bitstream of TehInterweb.

If you have (filled with suspicion) clicked upon a link or opened a shell from MrTiggr anytime since 1991 then welcome back - i knew you couldn’t stay away :)
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Nothing here is quite how it would seem; some of those stickers you put behind your ears to stop sea-sickness may help; whatever you need to stomach the rich brew in this forest should be taken NOW!

Here Be Dragons.