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Software manages data streams from M2M applications

Steve Rogerson
July 27, 2017



A software platform for managing IoT, M2M and generic data streams is available from UK company Fusion242.
 
Cloud242 provides a single place to manage data and documentation. It has evolved from systems designed to manage energy, water and sensor data for NHS Trust sites, energy consultancies, facilities managers, metropolitan emergency services, port authorities and other types of business.
 
Currently, it is used to manage energy data from CHP, PV (import and export), wind, solar thermal, biomass, electricity, water, gas, oil and more. In addition, users are managing data from wearable devices, capturing data about livestock and tracking assets.
 
As it is a fully managed service, no technical expertise is required. The support team will help set up new accounts at no charge. Users can manage access to data and documents for their own teams and customers, with an ability to manage multiple customers from a single account, and even multiple teams within each customer, for example if they manage regions or specific sites.
 
The software lets administrators use custom business terminology to map to their own or their customers' businesses. This is done by creating object types. These are used to create representations of people, objects, locations, events and files. This approach lets users represent anything, physical or conceptual.
 
Objects that are created in the system can be organised into a hierarchical tree view for easy navigation or found via search. Object types can be added at any time, meaning that new types of business, data devices, events or representations of roles can be added as the owner’s company grows.
 
Users can create default dashboards for object types or event specific objects. Administrators can create defaults that are available to all users across their system. Dashboards allow flexible layouts to be created and a selection of widgets such as time-series charts, pie-charts, leader-board lists and tree maps to be added. Mapping and weather widgets are planned for release at the end of August 2017.
 
Built-in data tools include a data viewer that lets data be retrieved and rendered in different ways. The data viewer also allows users to overlay multiple data-sets. A data workshop feature lets administrators access and modify the underlying data values for an object; individually or in bulk.
 
A JavaScript engine is included that can be used to perform analysis of objects and their data. This lets reports be created that generate HTML and spreadsheet outputs. These reports can be executed and then distributed via email or as a file stored within the Cloud242 instance.
 
Scripts can also be executed against a specific schedule to perform tasks such as marking missing data and checking data against alarms. Fusion242 provides assistance and services for building custom scripts and reports. Sample scripts are available and cover functionality such as reporting on devices that haven't received data within a specific time-period.
 
Scripting has been used to perform analysis on efficiency, calculations on renewable energy equipment performance and to calculate bills and cost analysis. Data sets can be combined to perform complex analysis such as comparing PV generation versus weather observations.
 
Access to Cloud242 is through an SSL connection, ensuring that all traffic is encrypted. The underlying system infrastructure is managed within a virtual private cloud, with systems separated by multiple network interfaces and firewalls. User access is managed using groups, and allows course or fine grained access control to objects within an instance.
 
This user access is mirrored in the application programmer’s interface (API), which is based on Rest and JSon. Uploaded files are stored within Amazon S3 and are accessed through uniquely generated secure URLs with encryption. Passwords are encrypted and use salts to impede brute force attacks.
 
The software is designed to manage time-series data alongside current state data. Each object in the system has attributes that can be managed manually or can be updated via a script. These attributes store details against the specific object such as a serial number or a last serviced date.
 
Data stores allow for time-stamped data records to be held for an object, comprising of a header record such as a serial number or device ID, a time-stamp and then a series of data fields. These fields can be customised to match the data stored by devices. Additional data stores can be used to store different sets of data within the same instance.
 
Data can be imported manually from CSV files or can be pushed into Cloud242 via the API. Fusion242 provides all supplementary services required for small or large volumes of data import via FTP, MQTT or custom approaches. The support team are available to help get data into the platform and advise on best practices for data formatting and device naming conventions.
 
Any file type can be uploaded. HTML, text, video, image and spreadsheet files can be viewed directly within the browser. Documentation such as templates, technical drawings, manuals, training videos and photographs can be stored alongside raw data. All files are stored in the Amazon S3 cloud using encryption.
 
Users can configure the software to show their own logo and brand colour, configure email templates that are sent to their users, and choose where to direct users after they log out of the system.
 
Cloud242 can be used to manage up to ten devices and five users at no cost. Additional device bundles and users can be purchased as required. Custom pricing plans are also available.