Tech

A different take on smart cities – finding organic models for inter-weaved tech networks

Tech innovations can sometimes originate in simple ideas. They can also reproduce natural solutions. By observing similarities and connecting apparently disparate things, a Eureka moment is sometimes not far away. SAP Digital Interconnect shares an interesting parallelism between bees and sensors, and consequently between a smart city and a hive.

The common denominator consists of secure and efficient communications. When designing the IoT systems, this is often the underlining scope – getting the right data where you want it, while avoiding unauthorized access.

Let’s follow this story and see why SAP thinks that designers and managers have a lot to learn from the way bumblebees are organized.

 

Connected cities – the super-organisms of tomorrow

The overall tech weaving that goes into any smart city structure is impressive. The result is a sum of subsystems, a mega-system. With all the data flows taking place, the interconnections, and the necessary coordination – we may see it as a super-organism. How can the professionals design and program it, so that it would work as such?

It wouldn’t be for the first time in human progress that nature inspired humans in solving complicated problems. By getting our inspiration from the natural structures that work just fine for centuries, the easiest answer is often the best one.

The source article’s coauthors are also beekeepers. In this quality they have noticed how a beehive is in fact a collection of different cells. It’s the relationship between these cells and the way the bees understand to enact it that makes sure the whole system works together in a flawless way.

In a similar way, the design and management of IoT networks could make sure that all the sensors communicate seamlessly, that their hierarchy is respected, and their functions fulfilled.

What drew the attention of the two authors (one a Head of IoT products, and the other a Mobile Evangelist), are the pheromones. They are the common element that may activate or block communications, depending on the necessity. In a network packed with sensors that have a double function – independent and interconnected, this is critical.

 

Looking forward for a highly functional, organized IoT environment

The perspective of a medium packed with sensors, devices, data flows and streaming information does not rhyme with functionality, nor does it inspire an ergonomic structure.

However, layering, categories and distributed activities could make it so that the sensors take turns in communicating with each other. For example, when collecting data that is not needed in real time, the sensors could save activity and bandwidth and stay in a local mode. When receiving the designed signal, they could go into transmit mode.

By using the bees’ behavior as a model, the authors recommend three scopes in planning various systems that go in a smart city structure:

  • Simplicity;
  • Security;
  • Smart communication.

Following these guidelines (that you may see explained, by accessing the source article), any involved professional may get a better version of the system he/she is in responsible for.