We’ve all heard of them, most have a general idea of what they are, but few have any idea how they work: we’re talking about computer networks. The complex nature of these networks shrouds them with mystery and intrigue (or perhaps just plain old curiosity).
IoT (Internet of Things) networks are ubiquitous across a variety of industries, connecting devices, sensors, and other objects embedded with IoT technology. This fast-flowing exchange of data and information allows businesses to have more visibility into their assets than ever before. IoT networks provide valuable insights into the performance of systems and processes while reducing cost and improving efficiency across the board.
Read on to learn more about computer networks and IoT technology across construction, agriculture, and industrial industry categories.
At Morey, we’re working hard to provide cutting-edge IoT devices to connect you to actionable data. Full visibility into your assets allows you to make better business decisions – we want to see you succeed. Contact our team today to discover what a partner in IoT can do for your business.
Fundamentals of Computer Networks
To understand IoT networks, we first need to understand what computer networks are and how they deliver information. There are four main components of a computer network. Here is an overview of them and their roles.
Network devices or nodes: These are the physical devices that connect computers and other devices to the network, and include: computers, mobiles, servers, routers, switches, and gateways.
Links: Links are the physical pathways for data to be transmitted across a network, and include wired and wireless options such as ethernet cables, fiber-optic cables, or wireless connections.
Communication protocol: If you’ve ever typed a website address into your browser bar, you’ve likely seen “HTTP” – this is a type of communication protocol that transfers data over the internet. Other communication protocols include TCP/IP and FTP. TCP/IP is the primary protocol used for communication between devices on the internet.
Network defense: Keeping the bad actors at bay is critical to ensuring that your devices and your networks stay safe and operational. Firewalls, antivirus software, and threat detection and prevention systems are important in ensuring the safety of the data on the network.
So how do IoT devices and computer networks work together? We’re glad you asked – let’s dig in.
IoT Network Architecture
The IoT network is a type of network that connects and enables a large number of devices such as smart devices, sensors, and other IoT devices, to efficiently communicate and share data between them and the cloud-based IoT services that manage them. In a nutshell, it connects enabled devices together to allow businesses to review data rapidly, often in real-time, to make the best decisions for safety, and efficiency, and to maximize ROI.
Depending on who you ask, IoT network architecture can consist of anywhere between three and seven layers. At a high level, a three-layered approach to IoT architecture is most easily understood, which we will detail below.
Perception layer: Data collection from the various IoT devices in your system happens here. Sensors, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, edge devices, and actuators function at this layer to collect data and connect with its surroundings.
Network layer: At the network layer, gateways, routers, and other networking devices transmit and receive data using various communication protocols and networks. Here, routing decisions are made and large packets can be broken down into small blocks for the network to transport and reassemble at the receiving end.
Application layer: Finally, this layer connects the data to its user. It processes and analyzes the data collected by the connected devices and sensors in the network, often in cloud-based IoT platforms and applications.
IoT Network Protocols
As we mentioned before, IoT networks use different protocols to get data from devices to their intended destination. There are several different IoT network protocols that are used to enable this data exchange – some of the most common are detailed below.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol): One of the most reliable and secure protocols used in IoT applications, TCP/IP is responsible for routing data packets between the devices in your system.
MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport): This is a messaging protocol that is typically used for the transmission of sensor data. It is designed for use in low-bandwidth, high-latency networks.
CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol): This protocol is typically used in the transmission of sensor data and control commands, and is designed for use in low-power, resource-constrained devices.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): This protocol is typically used for web-based (including IoT) applications, and is designed to transfer data between IoT devices and cloud-based IoT services. HTTP is not a secure protocol, so it should be used alongside additional security measures to ensure the safety of your IoT devices and data.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Basically, a file transfer protocol is used to transfer files over the internet. Like HTTP, FTP is not a secure protocol and the issue of security should be a priority to ensure the safety of your IoT devices and data.
As you can see, there are a variety of protocols utilized to enable communication and data exchange between IoT devices, and are a critical part of the modern IoT landscape.
IoT Network Technologies
IoT networks would be nothing without the technologies that support them. Here, we’ll cover some of the pieces of technology that support an IoT network.
Leverage Wireless Technologies
At Morey, we offer a host of wireless technologies to complement your business and help you understand your assets like never before. Our suite of telematics products, for example, leverages wireless technologies like Bluetooth to enable devices to communicate with each other, and with the cloud, without needing physical wires.
Necessary Security Measures
To protect these sensitive devices, IoT networks require robust security measures to keep threats a bay. Malware attacks, data breaches, and unauthorized access – these threats can be mitigated with proper security measures such as regularly updating software and firmware, implementing encryption mechanisms, utilizing next generation firewalls, and limiting access to sensitive data.
Upgrade to Cloud Computing
Long gone are the days when storage, processing, and analyzing data required a fixed platform. With cloud computing, IoT networks are better poised to scale and respond with flexibility.
While cloud computing has afforded IoT networks the flexibility and analytics needed to scale, edge computing brings the data even closer to users and offers real-time analysis. With edge computing, latency is reduced, network efficiency is increased, and security is enhanced. These are incredibly important for applications such as industrial automation and autonomous vehicles.
Applications of IoT Networks
The omnipresent nature of IoT networks in today’s world makes understanding them and leveraging them critical as we head into the future. No matter the size of your business, there is an opportunity for IoT technologies to reduce cost, increase safety and efficiency, and maximize ROI. Need an example for your industry? Read on.
Industrial IoT (IIoT)
One of the largest concerns for any industrial enterprise is the safety of its employees. Industries such as oil and gas and manufacturing have historically been exposed to hazards on the job site that can have dire consequences. Vehicle collisions, explosions and fires, machine hazards, and ergonomic hazards immediately come to mind. IIoT networks can be leveraged to remotely monitor and predict maintenance of machinery and equipment leading to decreased incidents and the resulting downtime.
Construction and Agriculture
In the world of construction and agriculture, a smart job site is a safe and efficient job site. With many similarities between the two industries, many of the same sensors and accessories can be easily adapted to each particular use case. Accurate tracking and monitoring of small tools, static assets, and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment through IoT-enabled devices provide increased onsite productivity and worker safety. That’s music to any manager’s ears.
When fleet management meets IoT, you’re easily able to locate your vehicles at anytime, anywhere – and provide an extra layer of security that is significantly more discreet than in-cab telematics. Beyond this, fleet safety demands modernization and adaptation. All of this can be achieved using video telematics, trackers, and sensors from Morey.
Make the Best Business Decisions with Morey IoT Solutions
Computer networks are the foundation of any successful IoT solution. Understanding the fundamentals of these networks can assist businesses in making the right decisions when it comes to integrating IoT solutions.
If you want to alleviate the decision-making fatigue associated with selecting best fit IoT solutions, work with Morey – we’re here to help. Schedule a demo with us today.