The Importance of a Good Monitoring and Alarm System for your IoT Network
Your IoT network may have hundreds or even thousands of end devices (sensors) with each sensor sending messages on a regular basis. It's important to make sure that sensors are getting to the gateway in a timely manner.
A robust and scalable wireless technology, proper network planning and testing, and an optimal architecture are critical to a well-functioning network. However, unexpected issues including interference, changes in the environment, hardware and software problems, batteries running out etc., can impact your network. You need a solution that can monitor the network for problems and if a problem occurs, can alert your team in real time.
At a minimum, a good IoT monitoring solution consists of two elements:
- Configurable thresholds that warn you of a potential issue.
- Real-time alerts sent to your team in the event of one of these thresholds being reached.
A good IoT monitoring system includes thresholds that you can set to inform your team of activity that might bear investigating. Useful thresholds include the following:
Signal Level – Part of planning and testing is determining the level at which your gateway might stop receiving signals from a sensor. It's useful to set a threshold that warns you if the signal strength is getting close to this level. For example, if you know that your gateway stops receiving signals around -135 dBm, you could configure a threshold of -125 dBm (10 dBm above this level). If the system detects a signal level below this, then an alarm is triggered, and you can investigate.
Signal Level Drops Below an Acceptable Limit – While it's important to know if the received signal has dropped below a certain level, it's also helpful to find out if the signal strength from a sensor has dropped from one message to the next, as this could indicate an issue.
Missed Messages – Perhaps the gateway has stopped receiving messages for a short interval before receiving them again. There could be some unexpected interference or maybe a sensor has malfunctioned. In either case, it's important to know as quickly as possible to ensure that you are not missing important data. Once you identify that there is a problem, you can locate and troubleshoot the sensor.
Messages Are No Longer Being Sent – Maybe a sensor has stopped transmitting messages altogether or for a sustained period of time. For example, perhaps a sensor is supposed to send data every 10 minutes and it has suffered a battery failure. You could set a threshold of 30 minutes. If the 30 minutes have elapsed with no messages, an alert is triggered, and your team can investigate.
Real Time Alerts
Equally important to the thresholds themselves are the ways in which the alerts are sent to your team. While there are many ways to send messages, email and MQTT represent two good options.
Email is still a key method of communication in the enterprise and timely emails help ensure that you are able to act on it immediately.
MQTT is a standard messaging protocol for IoT offering lightweight communication between the gateway and the consumers of the data and it remains an excellent way to receive data in real time.
In conclusion, a robust and stable wireless sensor network helps your IT and OT teams sleep peacefully. Even the best networks, however, can suffer problems from time to time. Having a solution that is capable of monitoring your network for issues and provides proactive real-time alerting to your team when problems occur helps to keep minor issues from becoming big problems.
The BehrTech wireless IoT management platform - MYTHINGS Central includes a number of plugins that extend system functionality. In addition to plugins providing connectivity to platforms such as AWS, Cumulocity, and Losant, MYTHINGS Central also includes the BehrTech Network Monitoring and Alarm Service to alert you of potential issues before they become problems.
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