Depending on how many of the 30 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices forecast for global deployment by 2020 rely on the cloud, managing the deluge of IoT-generated data makes proper processing seem near impossible. Furthermore, traditional cloud computing has serious disadvantages, including data security threats, performance issues, and growing operational costs. Because most data sourced to the cloud often bears no practical value and goes unused, it becomes a waste of resources and storage space.
In many instances, it would be incredibly beneficial to handle data on the device where it’s generated. That’s where edge computing comes in. The main purpose of edge computing is to decentralize data handling and lower dependence on the cloud.
Edge computing has several advantages, such as:
- Increased data security and privacy
- Better, more responsive and robust application performance
- Reduced operational costs
- Improved business efficiency and reliability
- Unlimited scalability
- Conserved network and computing resources
- Reduced latency
Edge Computing Use Cases
Prime use cases, which take full advantage of edge technology when speed and accuracy are crucial, include:
Autonomous Vehicles: The decision to stop for a pedestrian crossing in front of an autonomous vehicle (AV), which can be facilitated by edge computing, must be made immediately. It’s not practical for a moving vehicle to rely on a remote server to process the data. Additionally, vehicles using edge technology are able to communicate with each other more efficiently on the road because they’re not required to send data related to accidents, weather conditions, traffic, or detours to a remote server first.
Healthcare Devices: Health monitors and other wearable healthcare devices can keep an eye on chronic conditions for patients and save lives by instantly alerting caregivers when help is required. Additionally, robots assisting in surgery must be able to quickly analyze data in order to assist safely, quickly, and accurately. Should these devices rely on transmitting data to the cloud before making decisions, the results could be fatal.
Security Solutions: Because it’s necessary to respond to threats within seconds, security surveillance systems can also benefit from edge computing technology. With on-device video processing, security cameras can detect motion, identify trespassers, and alert users to suspicious activity.
Retail Advertising: New retail advertising systems and digital signage deliver targeted ads and information based on key parameters, such as demographic information, set on field devices. In this use case, edge computing can help protect user privacy by anonymizing, analyzing, and keeping the data at the source rather than sending identifiable information to the cloud.
Smart Speakers: On-device machine learning can enhance natural language interfaces. This would allow smart speakers to interpret voice instructions locally in order to run basic commands such as turning lights on or off, or adjusting thermostat settings even if internet connectivity fails.
Video Conferencing: Poor video quality, voice delays, frozen screens— a slow link to the cloud can cause many video conferencing frustrations. By placing the server side of video conferencing software closer to participants, quality problems can be reduced.
Further Enhanced Security
Although edge computing is a sensible alternative to cloud computing in many instances, there’s always room for improvement. According to “Reconfigurable Security: Edge Computing-Based Framework for IoT”, a paper published by IEEE Network, existing IoT security protections consisting of authenticated key exchange and access control for communications must be enhanced.
A possible solution to better secure IoT-generated data is the Security Agent, a new IoT management component to be installed at the edge. Routers, base stations, and other near-edge boxes acting in this new security role would handle the computing that the IoT device can’t manage. In addition to being more secure, it’ll simplify the management of keys. The Security Agent box can operate numerous, remotely located sensors that are difficult to access. The researchers point out that IoT applications will fail if the necessary and intensive authentication can’t be completed fast enough.
Getting Up to Speed
Designed for organizations investing heavily in this critical technology, IEEE Introduction to Edge Computing is a five-course program designed to train your entire team to support edge computing. The online, on-demand courses included in this program are:
- Overview of Edge Computing
- Practical Applications of Edge Computing
- Research Challenges in Edge Computing
- Designing Security Solutions for Edge, Cloud, and IoT
- Tools and Software for Edge Computing Applications
To learn more about getting access to these courses for your organization, connect with an IEEE Content Specialist today.
Aleksandrova, Mary. (1 Feb 2019). The Impact of Edge Computing on IoT: The Main Benefits and Real-Life Use Cases. Eastern Peak.
Nelson, Patrick. (10 Jan 2019). How edge computing can help secure the IoT. Network World.
Caulfield, Matt. (23 Oct 2018). Edge Computing: 9 Killer Use Cases for Now & the Future. Medium.
Talluri, Raj. (24 Oct 2017). Why edge computing is critical for the IoT. Network World.