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The Internet of Things requires thoughtful architecture and standard selection. The Internet of Things, which is rapidly connecting everything from doorbells to dams to the web, requires scalable, future-proof, and cost-effective architectural choices in order to thrive. By building on already-established reference architectures, companies and governments can develop standards with robust interfaces, and ensure healthy environments capable of addressing performance and safety issues. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for IoT architecture - whether it is in relation to sensing, communication, analytics, or actuation (turning an electric signal into a physical action). However, two specific models have become most common; the first is the concept of digital mirroring (sometimes referred to as Digital Twins), where real-world physical objects are duplicated as purely digital objects. These digital objects are able to interact with the physical world, with other digital duplicates, and with computing services - often using the cloud as a platform. Cloud services can in turn accommodate massive increases in computing power, which can be used to analyse large amounts of data or to create “Cognitive Firewalls” that protect physical systems against digital misdeeds. A second approach to an architecture for the Internet of Things relies on “edge,” or “fog” computing, which splits processing duties between responsive local computers and the cloud (where more heavy-duty, latency-insensitive analytics can take place). Dividing up processing like this enables devices and services to provide more prompt responses or perform more data-intensive analysis, albeit at a cost of greater power consumption. The importance of architectures cannot be overstated; they define the points and interfaces where standards can take hold. Developing a comprehensive set of IoT standards can in turn address networking, communication, and data handling, and can also help to improve overall interoperability (the ability of devices and services from different vendors to work together, share data, and improve utility and value). While emerging architectures and standards are helping to reduce the fragmentation that plagued early IoT systems, care must be taken to select and develop the right options - because the technical decisions made today will lock the Internet of Things into long-term, make-or-break trajectories, and over-standardization could lead to “vendor lock-in” limiting options and use.

Architecture and Standards

KEY TRENDS

Internet of Things