Data Collection is Getting Cheaper, Better, and Automated: Sensors

My last entry was about the subtle delight my Chumby brings me as a device to have around the house. The value of it is two fold: the ease of use and the ability to connect to the internet.

Networking equipment is constantly getting cheaper and better, so the opportunity to innovate up the stack is there. Apple is widely regarded as the best at it, but other companies are very good too, you just don’t hear about it because it isn’t advertised.

Now there are companies taking networking to a greater level. HP, IBM, and others are partnering with enterprises and government agencies to install sensors where ever possible. The size of the sensors are small enough now so that no extra burden is added. The example I read about in a blog entry called Why HP Thinks Sensors Will Lead to The Next Big Wave of Computing by Richard MacManus describes a bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge with thousands of sensors installed and constantly relaying the health of the bridge back to a command center. Each sensor would correlate to a critical component of the bridge and create an opportunity for targeted preventive maintenance. And this is just one example. The internet of things makes these insights boundless.

The problem, and HP and others want to profit from it, is this will further accelerate an already accelerating data explosion. Most companies can barely deal with the data they have now. Privacy leaks, security breaches, and simple bone headed decisions happen frequently. We often want to look at the power of IT and say “fix it” but technology isn’t magic and the problem doesn’t reside there, it’s a people problem. Managing it has to be proactive. 

Here’s HP’s slide show about “Central Nervous System for the Earth” or CeNSE. I especially like slides 14-18:


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