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Passive Data and The Internet of Things
There's A Whole World Out There Within the IoT World Out There

Within the world of Big Data & the IoT, there's a significant sub-culture of what @CloudExpo & @DevOpsSummit faculty member Lori MacVittie has recently termed "passive tethering."

Her example was a little barcode reader she carries around that scans food items for gluten. The device hooks into databases "out there," as she puts it-probably in the cloud somewhere out there.

Let's take a look at how this device interacts among the dimensions of Big Data and the IoT that I outlined the other day. These dimensions are urgency, importance, frequency, consequences, remedy & cost.

The final analysis also includes size, ie, dataflow of course. I leave size out of the group of dimensions as I see it as a function of them, particularly frequency. Also, it seems to be a habit to focus on the size of the problem-eg, how many cloud instances do we need to buy-rather than the data's real significance to the organization.

Small Size, Big Impact
In Lori's use case, the dataflow from even millions of such devices will not be particularly large, but it's the other dimensions that matter more. The importance of this information is critical to buying a particular food item. To the merchant and supplier, it's critical to the sale. The urgency of this information is thus very high as well.

The consequence is a lost sale, the remedy an awareness that people will have this device, and presumably many others checking for all conceivable aspects of what's in the food they're buying.

I could see the activity or passivity of these devices--and of the data they eventually generate--as fitting in nicely with the frequency dimension. Lori's key point, as the term passive tethering implies, is that her device is not tethered to the Internet around the clock, not "always on." But as she also notes, it is a thing, a thing in cyberspace, not saying much but demanding urgent attention when it does speak.

The bottom-line here seems to be that the actual cost of deploying and serving this application and others like it won't be particularly large per se, but the potential of opportunity cost lost will be very high.

In my particular case, not that anyone wants to know other than for use-case reasons, sugars are the big killer. I'd like my smart watch, smart belt, or smart ring to let me know, when I prompt it, whenever something has less than X milligrams of sugar. I'm sure we can think of at least 100 other things, and perhaps will see the Swiss Army knife approach to such devices in the future.

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About Roger Strukhoff
Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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