Project Suma – Creating intelligent data

Project Suma – Creating intelligent data

With a goal of simplifying long-range, low-power IoT implementations, The Canopy Tools Group is trailing some technologies to answer the question of how to better gather and use data more effectively. 

The Internet of Things revolution is well and truly here. A plethora of devices are producing a veritable torrent of data, but the age-old question remains: But what does it all mean?  

Project Suma explores the exercise of adding insight to instrumentation. It is run along the lines of an Agile spike solution – the intention is to produce a realistic solution that closely resembles a production technology stack while retaining the flexibility to experiment and explore the problem space.  Sensors are critical to IoT deployments and while sensors are a solved problem to some extent, what Suma is really involved in is getting insights from the data, using Suma to mimic how the information is captured and how we replicate the environment and its changes in the form of data.  

The internet of things faces a significant challenge managing potentially thousands and thousands of dynamic devices compared to traditional asset management, with low-cost devices in a wide variety of geographical locations.  Each of these devices are like a miniature computer, which means they need data management, patches, hardware versions, firmware versions.  This cluster of concerns is called asset management.    

Suma extends asset management application to the internet of things with various types of sensors.  The first use case is a humidity sensor which will be used to combine temperature and humidity with the Gateways leveraging the LoRaWAN protocol to monitor and track subtle changes which can impact the environment.  This is useful in a variety of applications, such as protecting assets which are vulnerable to changes in temperature or humidity, from history museums to fine wines.  Or wildly changing in environment can create spoilage in food or deterioration in artefacts and encourage the growth of mould or bacteria.   

Using this as a design model from a whole system perspective by looking into the data and what the collective sensors are able to tell us about the current state and the predicted state of the environment being monitored.  Using this data to provide intelligence, analytics, automations and workflows around those assets and ideal states, it becomes a model for a complete end-to-end test bed to be able to trial different use cases and requirements.  

While the project necessarily engages with questions around sensors and the many concerns they enliven, particularly around management, SUMA’s primary concern is insight, said Peter McCool, CT4’s Dev Ops Manager. 

“Producing the data is only the beginning. A reading off a temperature sensor could mean anything; so could a hundred readings from a hundred sensors. You need to assess the data and the patterns and analyse them. Only then can you act with confidence. Project Suma is about developing the tools and the processes to underpin this. You need to understand your instrumentation before you can really understand what it’s telling you. That’s why we’re running this project as an Agile spike – we need to interact with real sensors and see how they really behave, in detail. We’re not about building sensors, though. That’s really a solved problem, and we’re content to leave that to the experts.” 

Suma is working to assist the insatiable appetite for useful data and more importantly, ways to make that data, make more sense; but in order to do that, the prototype needs to be designed to get enough data out of the sensors, in the time required and in the most usable and actionable format.  There are a variety of opportunities – ROI modelling, prediction, dynamic alerting and getting alerts out of models, just to name a few. There is a real need for useful, insightful information rather than just a torrent of data 

When Suma is a fully integrated device-to-cloud solution, with proven effectiveness in a number of critical use cases, the project will be ready for the next stage in its development.   Prototype.