Ask the right questions, get the right data and identify the right sensors.

Let’s take an example of an IOT application called Smart Garbage Collection. We need to probe and ask the necessary questions before identifying what kind of sensors are required. We need the answer to the “who,” “what,” “when” and “where” questions, such as:

  • Who is collecting the garbage?
  • What is the status of garbage bin?
  • When was the garbage collected?
  • Where is the location of full bins?

But it will be more useful if this information can be turned into something more knowledgeable by answering the question of “how” such as:

  • How to plan the route of the trucks?
  • How many days till the next collection?
  • How much garbage produced in an area?

But the ultimate goal if we can actually get the answer to the question of “why” such as:

  • Why is the garbage truck not picking up the garbage?
  • Why this particular area produce more garbage than the rest?

By asking the right and important questions, we are able to identify what data need to capture and thus able to identify what sensors need to be deployed. Pure M2M alone will not be able to answer all the questions because gone are the day when data are collected in silo manner. IOT requires aggregation of many sources of data. Deriving insights require the skills of Big Data scientists and Data Story Teller.

About the Author

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is an IOT Evangelist, Thought Leader and CEO of REDtone IOT. You can follow him on LinkedIn at or Twitter at . For further details, check out


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