M2M - The Industry

Ok, that is a first – I have never used a quote from Shakespeare before.  The title of this blog, in case some of you don’t remember your Grade 10 English class, is a play on Shakespeare’s line from Romeo and Juliet (“a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”).  It's inspired by a recent article that I read about some great work that GE is doing to help optimize and maximize the electrical transmission systems. What struck me was that while the term M2M (or IoT, for that matter) was nowhere to be found, that is exactly what they are doing.  GE has chosen to use “Industrial Internet” as its branding term.  This is a bit more of a ubiquitous term, as it often refers to applications that venture beyond traditional M2M  (like landline replacement).

The article further mentions some of the great “M2M” applications that GE is doing up in Canada to help improve energy infrastructure, including:

•   Smart metering (optimizing usage by offering better incentives to operate things like dishwashers in non-peak hours)

•   Technology to help load balance / optimize power derived from green sources such as Solar and Wind

•   Better insight / information from key pieces of equipment in the field, including generation stations and substations

•   Using the Industrial Internet (“Big Data”) to better balance the grid and to send alerts sooner to potential issues

This got me to thinking…..what else is just M2M under a different name?


Most of us think of vehicle tracking to be an application that falls outside of the M2M “zone” and I am not sure why.  For the most part, on-board modems/gateways are retrieving information from the field (vehicle usage, alarms, speeds, routes, etc), packaging it up into pre-determined formats and transmitting it to a cloud-based application.  Once there, the information is manipulated and presented in a format that is easy to use by an end user.  How exactly is this different than what GE is doing in the solutions above?

Big Data

Ok, before you jump in, there is an awful lot of data that is gathered to encompass “Big Data” that is not M2M-originated.  However, once Big Data gets going, the majority of data will be sensor related.  Think about how much data can be derived from a single minute of traffic in Manhattan?  Keeping track of car flow, weather conditions, road conditions and other things will produce GBs or more every minute…..that is a lot more data than Safeway gets from me shopping there once a week or so. 

An important distinction is also the quality of data.  Using that same Safeway example, Safeway is able to get a small amount of data from me that may result in large purchases, so the “per-byte” value may be higher, but from a sheer volume of data, a single generator from GE may produce more data than I do by a long shot….It is just not as entertaining or informative!

GIS mapping

Ok, this is not my area of expertise, so please don’t holler at me too much.  I have done a ton of work with municipalities over the years.  Some of them have the most complex GIS maps that I have ever seen (along with some of the Oil companies).  One of the maps I saw had a mind-boggling amount of information about every asset that the city owned……every asset!  I mean, they knew more about a single street light than I knew about the first car that I bought.  They also had integrated a lot of this information into the Field Force Automation solution that their hundreds of technicians used.

While a lot of this information was pretty static (the date of installation of a fire hydrant might not change for decades), they had also integrated a ton of sensor data into the mix.  They were using M2M to keep everything going and were alarmed when it was not.  This is M2M at its best.  As well, they were also using some early cloud-based solutions (with a cellular modem in the vehicle as the connection point), which is another M2M application.

Bottom Line

Why do I bring this up?  I think that M2M is much more prevalent in our society today than most of us even realize.  Many of us (even those in the space) are not always counting non-core M2M applications into their mix of just how widespread our space is.  I think we need to start to factor in more than we do today, and only then can we truly understand just how dominant M2M is (and will be in the future) in our lives.

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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