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The Era of Edgeless Computing

Welcome to the first of a series of articles to introduce some of the most cutting edge thinking about new computing and network architectures, bringing new forms of machine intelligence to where both digital and biological events occur.


Turtles all the way down

There was a time when the Earth was flat, supported on the back of a giant turtle. Stray too close to the edge and there was a danger of falling off. Happily, the Earth turned out to be shaped rather differently (and didn’t rely upon turtles for support).

Our edgeless world is expressed by a huge amount of data. The quantity and variety is increasing every day: cameras, smartphones, building sensors, and many more. PlanIT Edgeless Computing™ pushes the thinking out to meet the data, rather than sucking everything back to the cloud for processing. Now don’t get me wrong –the power and flexibility provided by the cloud is immensely important – but it is just one part of the story. Particularly when looking at the complex environment of a modern city.

There are several reasons why it makes perfect sense to adopt an Edgeless Computing approach:

Living PlanIT started the ball rolling when we developed the PlanIT Urban Operating System™ (UOS). This is a real-time data platform that turns the data that is all around us into interventions that improve the efficiency, availability and wellbeing of the things and people that move through a city. Crucially, the software can run concurrently in the cloud, on premise and at the edge of the network. This so-called “multi-node” capability is transformational, opening the way to truly Edgeless Computing.

Situational awareness begins close to the action. Local analytics assess data quality and process and frame different streams of disparate data. Aggregated data then moves up the network, where new information and context can make sense of how local behaviors affect the neighborhood, city and surrounding areas. The approach is conceptually simple and natural for large-scale implementations in a city, but imperfections of the physical world make it a difficult problem to solve. Apart from anything else, the data is often messy and incomplete and rarely synchronized perfectly in time or in space. And some of the data is just an approximate expression of the world it is sensing.

The UOS deals with these imperfections head-on, making data reliable and accessible to apply business rules, analytics and visualizations to extract meaning and provoke interventions. It is built upon the following principles:

Sensing and software can and should be used to get more value from the buildings and infrastructure that make up great cities. Edgeless Computing embeds intelligence throughout the network in a way that provokes performance and resilience at scale. And by restricting unnecessary movement of data, it helps deal with the very real concerns around security and privacy of data and the people and physical systems this data represents.

The first step is distributing the processing closer to the data.

The next step is federating the data and modeling so that it can be exploited across a city.

We then extend the sensing down into the biological world, so that the bacteria all around us can inform us about the health and wellbeing of the city.

A problem with a flat earth on the back of a turtle is picturing what the turtle is standing on. Simple. Turtles all the way down! We know differently now.

Edgeless Computing lets the processing use the data it needs as soon and as close as it is available. That is the key to making cities smarter.

See more of this series of articles here...
Part 1 – Turtles all the way down
Part 2 – Living in real-time
Part 3 – Back to the future
Part 4 – Elephant in the room
Part 5 – Needle in a haystack
Part 6 – Tale of two cities
Part 7 – Need to know
Part 8 – Gut feeling
Part 9 – Welcoming strangers
Download the full series as a PDF


About Living PlanIT

Living PlanIT is a technology company that created the world’s first Urban Operating System (UOS) which, in combination with the products it supports, unlocks the full potential of data to make cities better, safer and more vibrant places to live.

Living PlanIT has built an extensive partner network around the concept of a shared, unified approach to smart urban technology architecture in which machine intelligence moves ever closer to originating sources of data and control. We call this architecture PlanIT Edgeless Computing™ and it is implemented throughout the PlanIT Urban Operating System™, providing a framework for resilient and secure computer and systems architecture for digital and biological sensing, control, analytics, machine learning, applications and visualization techniques.

Most recently, Living PlanIT has received the 2015 Global Smart Infrastructure Platform Visionary Innovation Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan. Living PlanIT contributes to the Clinton Global Initiative on Smart Cities and Infrastructure, is a member of the UK Government's Smart City Ministerial Forum and board member of the Cities Standards Institute. The company has received numerous awards including “Best Investment in High Tech in Europe” from the World Investment Conference, “Technology Pioneer Award” from the World Economic Forum, “Business Internalization Award” from UK Government Trade & Investment, “Growth Excellence and Leadership Award for Smart City Projects” from Frost & Sullivan and both “Best Company for Innovation in Urban Development Technologies” and “CEO of the Year” from IAIR in 2015.

www.living-planit.com or follow us on Twitter @Living_PlanIT