Which IoT Applications will Benefit Most from Edge Computing?

Edge computing is growing in popularity. We look at which IoT applications stand to benefit the most from this technology.

1896
Illustration: © IoT For All

Edge computing refers to information being processed at the edge of the network, rather than being sent to a central cloud server. The benefits of edge computing include reduced latency, reduced costs, increased security and increased business efficiency.

Why Does Edge Computing Decrease Latency?

Transferring data from the edge of a network takes time, particularly if the data is being collected in a remote location. While the transfer may usually take less than a second, glitches in the network or an unreliable connection may increase the time required. For some IoT applications, for example, self-driving cars, even a second may be too long.

Why Does Edge Computing Reduce Costs?

Imagine a security camera that’s monitoring an empty hallway. There’s no need to send hours of large video files of an empty hallway to a cloud server (where you will need to pay to store them). With edge computing, the video could be sent to the cloud only if there is movement detected in the hallway.

Why Does Edge Computing Increase Security?

Sending less data through a network increases security. Any time you transmit data you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of it being stolen or hijacked.

Why Does Edge Computing Increase Business Efficiency?

Processing data at the edge of the network can reduce the amount of data that’s sent to a cloud server. By storing only the most relevant information on the cloud, it will be easier to locate the information your business needs and to perform analysis on this data.

For example, if a temperature sensor shows a reading of 5 degrees every second, then this information does not need to be sent to the cloud. It only becomes important to transmit this information if the temperature increases outside a preset range.

So, which IoT applications will benefit most from lower latency and costs and increased security and efficiency?

Healthcare, manufacturing and energy are all sectors that can benefit hugely from decreased latency and increased security.

Healthcare is a growing IoT sector. According to a report from research and consulting firm Grand View Research the global healthcare sector will invest nearly $410 billion in IoT devices, software and services in 2022, up from $58.9 billion in 2014.

For IoT devices that process such sensitive information, security and data privacy are paramount. By sending as little information as possible to a central cloud server, patients will retain greater control of their personal data and be less exposed to data breaches.

IoT healthcare devices also require as near to instantaneous as possible decision making. If a person’s blood glucose or heart rate monitor registers dangerous readings then that information must be acted on immediately.

By utilizing edge computing, these IoT healthcare applications become less dependent on network connectivity. Patients can feel reassured that, if anything is awry, their IoT healthcare application will notify them as soon as possible, no matter where they are or how strong their internet connection is.

Edge Computing Will Be A Key Part of the Coming Industrial IoT Revolution

Low latency is crucial for industrial IoT, which is one of the reasons why this sector stands to benefit the most from edge computing.

In a factory setting, if a sensor logs a reading as being too hot, then a machine may need to be shut down immediately. By not sending that data for processing in a central cloud server, action can be taken more quickly.

We discussed why edge computing is vital for IIoT in more depth in a previous blog.

Edge Computing Will Benefit the Energy and Environment Sector

By their very nature, energy and environment IoT applications are often deployed in remote locations. Oil rigs, gas pipelines, wind turbines, hydroelectricity dams, they all stand to benefit from deploying connected solutions and all tend to be located in remote areas where network connections are not always reliable.

Many energy and environment IoT applications need to be able to respond quickly to changing conditions but are too remote to be able to benefit from 5G. Edge computing will be immensely useful for IoT applications in this sector. Edge computing will also increase efficiency and reduce cloud server storage costs by only transferring any relevant information.

An IoT application on a wind farm which is collecting data on wind speeds or energy generated could process that data at the edge and only transfer it to a central cloud server if it records data outside a pre-determined norm.

The healthcare, industrial IoT, energy and environment sectors will benefit from adopting edge computing networks. However, this technology will also be beneficial to the Internet of Things as a whole and we expect to see it being widely adopted in the coming years.

According to Gartner, “Around 10 percent of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2025, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75 percent.”

More and more data processing will move to the edge, particularly within the world of IoT as IoT applications increase in number and collect more data.