Wi-Fi Delivers on Actionable Data
When planning Wi-Fi connectivity for sensor data, network managers must hammer out a few basic details before deployment.
As I mentioned in last week's post, "Sensing Need for Data, Wi-Fi," the growing use of sensor data within healthcare and other industry sectors is furthering the need for network managers and architects to establish robust and reliable wireless connectivity, deliver useable metrics, and ensure security.
Wireless sensors from companies such as Point Six Wireless collect a wide variety of environmental data across industries like healthcare, hospitality, food service, retail, high-tech, and transportation. In its case, Point Six Wireless uses radio frequency and infrared technology in proprietary and standard wireless sensors for gathering temperature and humidity levels, logging data, counting people, monitoring energy usage, and more. With this data on hand, enterprises can better monitor their energy consumption, optimize operations, and meet compliance mandates.
In healthcare, these sensors can help hospitals maintain appropriate room temperatures for proper functioning of ventilators, defibrillators, rhythm monitors and other medical equipment. Other sensors can help hospitals check air quality for prevention of the spread of viruses and bacteria from one room to the next. Point Six Wireless uses the term "actionable data" -- and with good reason since the healthcare applications can indeed be lifesaving and life altering.
In the food service and refrigerated transport industries, the ability to monitor and report on temperatures is critical, as well. Food stored under the wrong temperature for any length of time can become dangerous, even deadly.
When planning the Wi-Fi connectivity for sensor data, network managers and architects must hammer out a few basic details before deployment. For example, they must determine whether to have IP addresses statically assigned to these devices or whether to establish a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server. Mapping out the Domain Name System for the sensor network on paper is advisable, too.
Another pertinent decision point for monitoring and alerting devices connecting to a LAN switch is whether to place the edge ports in an isolated VLAN. In larger enterprise applications, key concerns will be availability of adequate Power over Ethernet, switch capacity, and intermediate distribution frame power and battery backup for the endpoints.
Regarding existing physical infrastructure, network managers must determine cabling requirements for connecting these devices to the equipment or systems they'll be monitoring. Understanding the wiring in use becomes important if noise, distance, or interference are concerns -- cable isn't all the same, just like all LAN switches range in quality, performance, and capability.
The Internet of Things brings opportunities and challenges to utilize Wi-Fi for the transport of actionable data. With this data, multiple use cases arise, and Wi-Fi takes on new applications. More importantly, the applications and industries that Point Six Wireless has targeted all share mission-critical elements. This translates to the need for high-availability, meaning always-on accessibility.