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Cloud and fog collaborate closely for the Internet of Things

Telekom Cloud

The Internet of Things is setting new clock rates in M2M communications. In both the private and the business sector new applications are taking shape that frequently require ultrafast data processing and short latencies. Fog computing, establishing itself on the edges of the cloud and increasing the pace of data processing significantly, provides the tried and tested solution scenarios that are required.

The Internet of Things (IoT) poses a new challenge to IT. IoT components already generate enormous amounts of data that are more than a match for most corporate infrastructures. That explains the triumphant advance of cloud computing, which helps companies to achieve more agile business processes and paves the way for them to tackle digital transformation without having to make costly investments.

Much of the data that IoT applications generate is stored in the cloud. Most IoT devices are small, have a very low power consumption and perform narrowly defined functions. So the cloud is the perfect partner for the processing power that is required because it offers, in addition to computing capacity, storage options and security solutions. If information is required locally or at short notice, it is a different matter. That requires short latencies, which are not, as a rule, available in the cloud. Data generated in use cases of this kind mostly need to be processed extremely fast, preferably in fractions of a second and on the spot. Storage plays only a minor role (if any). So the computing power for these uses does not need to come from the depth of the network or from a cloud; it can comfortably be provided from the edges of a network. What used to be called edge computing is now known as fog computing. The term is considered to have been coined by Cisco as an extension of cloud computing. “The main task of fogging is positioning information near to the user,” Maher Abdelshkour explains in the network equipment vendor’s blog.

Distributed computing power for swift responses

Using this technology, data is not processed centrally in the network but at its edges. As technology has advanced in terms of rising chip performance and falling electricity consumption, small computers are now able to carry out the complex calculations required and are optimally suited for use in a fog computing scenario. Powerful servers are not required; smaller, distributed computers are used in the fog, serving as digital contacts for different devices, production facilities, streetlighting or vehicles and much more.
A use case for fog computing is, for example, Car2Car communication in the event of emergencies. If a vehicle initiates an emergency braking maneuver on the road, other vehicles within a certain radius must be notified to prevent rear-impact crashes. This situation calls for lightning-fast reactions, so it makes no sense to first send the acceleration data via the cloud to a data center for affected vehicles to be identified and notified. The time delay would be too significant. That is why the data processing and notification of nearby vehicles must be undertaken with the assistance of local computing power. For this task, fog computing is the right platform.

Cloud and fog make perfect partners

Fog computing will not supplant the cloud; experts see it more as a perfect partner. It can be visualized as an additional, virtualized layer between the terminal devices that generate the data and the cloud. It serves as what might be seen as a local decision-making and processing level that eases pressure on downstream facilities. This is the layer in which the rules for individual use scenarios are formalized, the rules on which the processing and provision of data are based. It reduces bandwidth requirement and optimizes response times so that fog computing makes applications possible that would not be possible with the cloud alone because the bandwidth required does not exist – and because these applications generate data that is only of relevance at a specific location and in the context of local conditions and does not require central processing.

The trend toward fog computing is only just beginning and is closely coupled to the IoT’s increasing market penetration. For an efficient and inexpensive Internet of Things, fog computing is set to become a key criterion as more IoT devices enter into our working lives and our private surroundings.

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Smart City: Fitting the pieces together

Port_of_Hamburg1Smart Cities do not take shape from one day to the next. They are formed more like mosaics. The initiatives of individual departments, for example, need to be connected in order to realize the full potential of the Internet of Things and create synergies. Which other obstacles might occur and how they can be solved is the topic of the second part of Ralf Nejedl’s blog post about the future of our cities.

The Smart City is on its way. Its aim is to connect all areas of municipal infrastructure – parking lots, street lighting and traffic lights, even garbage cans and entire stadiums. Amsterdam, Dubrovnik and Budapest belong to the pioneers, as you can read in the first part of this blog post. The city of Prague has similar plans. The Czech capital uses mobility information generated by the Rodos Transport Systems Development Centre to optimize the city’s integrated public transport system. By combining data from mobile networks and traffic monitoring the initiative has been able to build a complex mobility model. Anonymized signaling data from mobile networks enable planners to observe, with full respect of privacy regulations, the distribution of people in time and space and how they move around. This data is combined with several other data sources like Floating Car Data (FCD), toll stations, census data, digital maps and sensors from traffic monitoring. The wide array of possible use cases ranges from urban planning and improving public transport to acquiring tourism statistics and optimizing retail networks.

What all these Smart City applications have in common is the simplification and reorganization of administrative processes. Municipalities are not only cutting their operational costs in this way but are also able to provide a better service to their citizens. This is especially helpful because nowadays cities are in competition with each other. They are in the paradoxical situation of facing major challenges due to massive population growth while at the same time depending on this very growth. They seek to attract people and businesses in order to strengthen their economic position, create jobs, and ensure prosperity.

Meet the challenges ahead

In order to achieve this, some challenges have to be solved. The more areas of a city’s operations benefit and rely on ICT-based applications, the more important is the security of all systems involved. Every single component of Smart City solutions has to be safeguarded – from the applications running on smart devices and the communication network to the backend server. With its reliable networks and highly secure data centers, Deutsche Telekom can provide cities with the trustworthy foundation for an integrated security concept. To ensure the protection of personal data, the data centers comply with the strictest interpretations of local data privacy regulations. Furthermore, connected solutions must provide the greatest possible degree of transparency about the data collected while maintaining the anonymity of users.

Another important challenge for the implementation of Smart City concepts is that the initiatives of individual departments cannot remain cut off from one another. They must be connected in order to realize the full potential of the Internet of Things and create synergies. These include not only cooperation between different departments but also participation of citizens in innovation processes. To build such bridges, open platforms and open standards must be used.

A common language for urban infrastructure

Cities thereby solve another challenge at the same time because connected devices range from traffic lights and signs to parking spaces and waste bins. For managing such a diverse set of objects horizontal platforms are essential. They establish a common language for all the connected parts of the urban infrastructure. Even though today’s application platforms provide basic functionalities for analyzing the data collected, more elaborate and powerful evaluation methods for continuously growing data sets are becoming more and more important.

Evaluating these growing data volumes presents a special challenge. Cities often lack the resources to evaluate them meaningfully. That is why many cities and local authorities are starting to make these records available to citizens and local firms free of charge. The aim is to mobilise the innovation potential of the masses while at the same time safeguarding the privacy of individuals.

Collaborate with reliable partners

Wellington E. Webb, a former mayor of the city of Denver, once said: “The 19th century was a century of empires. The 20th century was a century of nation states. The 21st century will be a century of cities.” To make this happen, the challenges named above must be solved. Cities should look for partners that are experienced in large scale rollouts at both infrastructural levels. Partners should ideally cover a wide range of services from providing city administrations with consulting services to realizing projects. Deutsche Telekom is able to provide cities with suitable products, solutions and the necessary professional expertise. A local presence across Europe enables Deutsche Telekom to operate closer to the country-specific needs of a city. This makes Deutsche Telekom the right partner for successful smart city projects.

It will take time before cities harness connected infrastructures, applications and services in a similar way to the port of Hamburg. What already works in these micocosms is much harder to transfer to cities as a whole due to the larger scale and the sheer number of use cases, stakeholders and interests. But the move to Smart Cities is inevitable in the long run to tackle the challenges municipalities are facing today and in the near future. Since it concerns both citizens, visitors, authorities, businesses and manufacturers, a city only becomes smart if everybody involved can share and participate in technical solutions in equal measure.

Connected-City-WhitepaperWant to learn how integrated infrastructures enable the digital transformation of urban space? Check out our white paper on the future of our cities. Download it now.

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Interview with Alexander Lautz: “Reliable and inexpensive from the machine to the server”

Foto AL kurzThe Internet of Things is on the advance in nearly all areas of life. Until now it has often been telecommunications companies like Deutsche Telekom that have taken development forward via wireless-based M2M solutions, but this is now changing. All about M2M discussed with Alexander Lautz, Senior Vice President M2M, Deutsche Telekom, the role of telcos and joining the connected economy.

Mr. Lautz, the Internet of Things is on the advance in nearly all areas of work and life. What is the role of telecommunications companies in this development?

Telcos contribute a crucial ingredient – connectivity – toward connected products and services. On the Internet of Things, products and solutions must be cost-optimized because readiness to pay extra for connectivity is very low. With GSM-based solutions low connection charges are countervailed by high prices charged for wireless modules. That is why many applications are relying on local networks with gateways. If, for example, a smoke alarm is to be connected, the wireless module must not cost more than a few euros, and that is not yet possible with GSM technology. Use cases of this kind can in the future be developed using Low-Power Wide Area Networks such as are currently being standardized in the 3 GPP project. That is because the hardware costs are significantly lower. Deutsche Telekom sees enormous potential here, which is why it is supporting standardization.

What does that mean for Telekom’s connectivity offering?

We ensure that data is relayed securely, reliably and inexpensively from the machine to the server. We adapt the transport route to the customer’s needs. For the customer it is not of decisive importance whether data is transferred via a mobile network or via DSL. They merely want to be able to access their sensors’ information at any time in a secure environment and not to be bombarded with technical details and concepts. We as an industry must find a simpler language.

Why is that such an important criterion?

We increasingly observe that investment decisions on ndustrial Internet applications are not made by the person in charge of IT or telecommunications but actually by management. The reason is obvious. M2M solutions deliver clear economic benefits and also affect many business processes. If a service company is paid an annual fixed sum per machine as a maintenance fee, its earnings depend to a large extent on how often the field service is called out. If a technician visits the customer, connects his laptop to the equipment, sees which spare parts he needs and then collects them from the depot, these are costs the company does not really need to incur. A simple remote maintenance solution delivers significant savings.

How can a solution of this kind be implemented?

Let us take for example an elevator manufacturer, who would like to connect an elevator. They must first check which hardware is suitable and how it can be built into the elevator. The next step is to deal with data transmission and storage. In other words, the SIM cards must be activated and installed, the control system has to know where to send the data and the server must be able to process and evaluate it. Many solutions end right there. Yet this is where the exciting part – integration into other systems – begins. Service companies could feed the elevator’s data to their IT system, for example, and thereby improve their employees’ scheduling.

Can one provider on its own implement M2M solutions of this kind in full?

That may be possible in individual instances, but it is usually not the norm. This is why Deutsche Telekom has for several years collaborated with M2M and IoT industry partners. These partners provide individual components such as hardware or software. We with our certification ensure that the devices function without problems with our network and our platforms. Together with T-Systems, however, we also supply one-stop shop products and solutions. That enables us to provide our customers around the world with a very wide-ranging and, where needed, a very specialized offering.

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All about M2M – The Highlights of 2015: From Home Automation to Hollywood

NewYearsEve_Berlin_SourceFor major telecommunications providers like Deutsche Telekom, M2M or IoT solutions are no longer just a matter of SIM cards. The focus is now on the globally connected industry of the future based on a common infrastructure. Join us on a journey through the trending topics of ‘All About M2M’ in 2015.

Home Automation: “When you collaborate, it takes the world further forward”

When 12-year-olds experiment with switchable power sockets, most parents will probably break out into a cold sweat, but Kai Kreuzer’s parents weren’t scared. Today, Kreuzer is a developer evangelist at Deutsche Telekom. In this interview with ‘All about M2M’ the Connected Home expert talks about the development of home automation and the advantages of open source projects.

Industrial Internet: From the steam engine to the connected factory

With the Internet of Things digitization is setting foot in factory workshops. Business and politics are talking about the fourth industrial revolution or the Industrial Internet. We have summarized the most important technical achievements of previous industrial revolutions in a timeline starting in 1769. Jump into the history of the Internet of Things here.

What happens when all the things become part of mobile networks?

By 2024, wireless networks are forecast to handle 2.3 billion M2M connections a year, generating 3.2 exabytes of data traffic. Are our current mobile networks prepared for this onslaught? ‘All about M2M’ discussed this with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Wietfeld, head of the Communications Networks Department at the TU Dortmund University. Read the interview here.

What the M2M industry can learn from dystopian Hollywood productions

Nowadays all areas of life and work are connected by M2M to one network: the Internet of Things. Box office hits like The Matrix or The Terminator show where this can lead. They depict a dystopian future in which machines gain control and humankind is on the brink of extinction. But what does this mean for the future of M2M? Read the answer in our blog.

M2M Summit 2015: Keep it simple and secure

M2M solutions are driving the networking of our everyday lives forward on a massive scale. The opportunities seem almost unlimited. At this year’s M2M Summit in Düsseldorf it was clear, however, that along with the success stories the industry has yet to work on standardization and security solutions that are suitable for a mass market.
Dr. Alexander Lautz, Senior Vice President M2M, Deutsche Telekom, highlighted uncertainty among small and midrange enterprises: “We are constantly overloading customers with technical details and terminology. They aren’t much interested in them,” he said, “what they want is simply a secure and reliable solution to their problem.”
That is why the industry must reduce complexity in customer communications and applications. A first step into that direction is the Cloud of Things. Find out more about this cloud-based administration platform for M2M solution here. If you are interested to find out more about the innovative role of telcos in transforming the M2M market, watch Dr. Alexander Lautz’s key note speech at the M2M summit here.

In 2016 the globally connected industry of the future will continue to gain in importance, with more and more tangible applications pointing the way. Alongside mobile communications alternative transmission technologies will establish themselves in order to connect the different industrial applications optimally. That is why Low Power Wide Area networks will gain significant momentum in 2016. Furthermore, Telekom is developing a comprehensive service offering under the Industry Grade Connectivity label. It includes the M2M Service Portal and the Multi Domestic Service, which in turn includes, under the aegis of the Global M2M Association, a platform as an interface for global M2M services.

Secure, reliable, inexpensive

Mobile networks are now well adapted to the constant growth in data volumes, although data-intensive and time-critical applications are still competing with each other in today’s networks. A quality of service differentiation for mobile communications might, for example, ensure in the future that system-critical applications are sent across the Net faster. In the final analysis data must be transmitted securely, reliably and inexpensively from the machine to the server all over the world and in all areas of private and industrial environments.

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Smart City solution for Amsterdam: Intelligent waste disposal with M2M

Smart-City-Amsterdam-2From the Royal Palace to the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, the list of tourist attractions in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, is long. The picturesque city center with its canals and parks is best explored on foot. To ensure that the city always looks clean and neat as visitors walk around downtown Amsterdam, the municipal administration now manages its waste disposal smartly and cost-effectively with an M2M solution.

At heavily frequented locations the garbage cans were always full to overflowing and trash accumulated on the sidewalk, whereas elsewhere they were almost unused when the truck came round to empty them. Amsterdam urgently needed a clean solution for its city-center garbage problem. The aim was to empty and clean all garbage cans and a number of public toilets reliably and cost-effectively. The specification when the project was put out to tender was that garbage cans were as precisely as possible to be emptied when they were two thirds full and the cleaning schedules were to be adapted to actual requirements. The city now has a sophisticated emptying and cleaning schedule. An M2M solution developed by Telekom partner WSS Infocard BV shows in detail which container and which facility is to be cleaned or serviced and when.

Connected garbage cans reveal themselves

To implement the WSS solution, the 2,000 or so garbage cans and a number of public toilets in downtown Amsterdam were first equipped with an RFID chip. The next step was to register each of them in the management software. Municipal employees access the application via a simple Web interface because the system runs on WSS servers. That is an advantage for the municipal administration because its existing IT architecture is not involved. Each street cleaning team now has a handheld device, and before they start cleaning a member of the team scans the RFID chip and records the exact condition of the container or the public along with all of the work that the cleaning team has carried out. This data is relayed straight to the WSS servers via the mobile network and the municipal administration has a real-time overview of how clean the city is.


Automated data flow ensures smart waste management

Smart-City-Amsterdam-1The solution provider, WSS Infocard Systems, is a Dutch company that is specialized in IT solutions for smart monitoring and management of waste flows. Since 1992, WSS has developed, manufactured and installed systems for modern municipal and local authority waste disposal. Its customers include companies in Benelux, Switzerland and Germany. That is why WSS relies for its M2M solutions on the reliable mobile network of Deutsche Telekom and its partners across Europe.

Amsterdam provides an on demand service

In the course of a few months Amsterdam drew up a detailed emptying and maintenance schedule that is continuously updated. The result is that some garbage cans are emptied six times a day and others only twice a week. All cleaning and maintenance work is done on demand and in budget. Data transmission costs are readily calculable thanks to special M2M mobile phone tariffs.

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