Edge Computing & IoT

Alex Mosso
May 2 · 6 min read

By moving computing power closer to the edge of the network or even into the Internet of Things (IoT) devices themselves, edge computing will transform the operational capabilities of the IoT devices, helping to create new products, shape new industries, build new business models, and transform mobile banking.

Edge computing & IoT technologies make it possible to collect a massive amount of data and act on it in real time, sparking advances that could reach beyond the promise of each technology alone.

What is Edge Computing & IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devises, vehicles, home applications, and other items enabled with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity that enable these things to connect and exchange data.

The term — centralized application — makes reference to applications hosted in a single server; from this concept comes another known as — distributed computing — which in simple terms is a set of hosts working all together; then we came to know — cloud computing —this concept is different, since we can have a cloud in a single host or distributed across multiple hosts. But all these concepts make reference to applications living remotely in big servers. On the other hand, the edge makes reference to those devices living at the border of what we know as computing, with few computational resources (small CPUs, short memory, etc.). Just one of these devices existing at the edge is insignificant, but if we aggregate their computational power we will have something more interesting.

Edge computing enables connected IoT devices to generate, store, and analyze data at the source rather than sending it to a data center or the cloud. This allows these devices to operate autonomously and communicate with each other, eliminating centralized processing and decision-making.

Edge Computing & IoT Vocabulary

IoT: Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity that enables these things to connect and exchange data.

Smart Sensor: Is a device that takes input from the physical environment and uses built-in computing resources to perform predefined functions on specific inputs and process data before passing it on.

5G: The 5th generation wireless mobile standard, which promises much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage, and more stable connections.

Edge: An edge is where actions are happening. What the edge of a network is depends on the use case. In telecommunications, the edge could be a cell phone or a cell tower; in the automotive field, the edge could be a car; in enterprise IT, the edge could be a laptop or smartphone.

Edge devices: Any device that produces or collects data, including sensors, industrial machines, and many more.

Edge Analytics: Is an approach to data collection and analysis in which an automated analytical computation is performed on data at an edge device instead of waiting for it to be sent back to a centralized data store.

Edge Gateway: Is the buffer between where edge computing processing is done and the broader network that the edge devices is part of. An edge gateway connects a variety of wired and wireless devices and systems, aggregates and analyses inputs coming from edge devices. The gateway sits close to devices and sensors and sends data to the cloud. Dell is one of first companies manufacturing these kind of devices.

Edge Computing Equipment: Edge computing uses a range of existing and new equipment. Many devices, sensors, machines, and edge gateways can be outfitted to work in an edge computing environment by enabling them to access the internet. A range of ruggedized network equipment, computer servers, converged systems, and even storage-based hardware systems can be used in edge computing deployments.

Fat Client: Software that can do some data processing (edge analytics) in edge devices. This is opposed to a thin client, which merely transfers data.

Fog Computing: Refers to a network that distributes resources (storage, control, networking, analysis, etc.) from the edge to the cloud. It allows data to be analyzed and collected outside the edge at its most efficient and logical point.

IIoT: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the application of IoT to the manufacturing industry.

Low Latency: Describes a computer network that is optimized to process a high volume of data messages with minimal delay (latency). These networks are designed to support operations that require near-real-time access to rapidly changing data.

Mobile Edge Computing: This refers to the build-out of edge computing systems in telecommunications networks, particularly in 5G scenarios.

Why is Edge Computing & IoT Important?

Three reasons:

  • Increases data transmission.
  • Increases decision-making speed.
  • Solves poor intermittent connectivity access.

As connected devices proliferate and their capabilities expand, so does the need for real-time decisions making untethered from cloud computing’s latency, and from connectivity in some cases. -McKinsey

Transmitting immense amounts of data the cloud is expensive and can strain a network’s resources. By distributing computing and decentralizing processing, edge computing enables smaller, less expensive processors to do much of the network. This significantly reduces the amount of data that is sent to the cloud, lowering traffic and allowing computing resources to be optimized.

In situations where the loss of milliseconds is unacceptable, the time lag of sending information from an edge device to the cloud and the reliance on large, complex clusters of data analytics can render certain solutions ineffective. Moving this analysis and computation to the edge can reduce latency, decreasing the time until a decision is made and opening up opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, and medical emergencies.

At times or in places where IoT devices have poor or intermittent network connectivity, edge computing can enable them to make decisions by processing the data “on-site”. This reduces their reliance on a network connection, allowing edge devices to act autonomously and independently.

Who is using Edge Computing & IoT?

Some industries are beginning to adopt edge computing already, while others are exploring potential use cases. Below you will find some areas in which edge computing & IoT could be leveraged.

For critical infrastructure in the oil and gas industry, safety monitoring is of the utmost importance. To safeguard against disaster, many utility providers are deploying IoT devices such as temperature, humidity, pressure, and moisture sensors alongside cameras and other technologies. These monitoring operations produce a wealth of data, on the health of their systems. Edge computing enables the devices to analyze en process the data, the deliver key insights to end users in real time, and allows control to access the data as it arises in order to prevent malfunctions or incidents before they occur.

The combination of edge computing technologies and cloud computing is enabling novel new retail commerce experiences. Some foot outlets in China have implemented a new shopping experience involving Alibaba’s Smile and Pay, a form of payment leveraging facial recognition. Many other retailers are adopting similar approaches, including extended reality (XR) technologies enabled by edge computing to simulate a customer’s experience of a product in real time.

Edge computing already performs a number of functions for commercial and public transportation. For complex vehicles such as airplanes, ships, and spacecrafts, accelerated decision-making requires much of the compute/analytics work to be done at the edge (than in a centralized host), only the most vital information is transmitted for further analysis.

Thermostats, alarm systems, appliances, entertainment systems, and of course speakers are “smarter” than ever. The growing smart home industry is creating demand for smarter technology. less latency, increased security, and more personalization. As connectivity grows and chip and operating system technology improves, the ceiling for smart home devices will rise exponentially.

Use cases for Financial Service

There are many potential use cases for edge computing & IoT technology in the financial services industry.

Edge computing can help banks develop “smart branches” that combine existing banking services with open banking applications in a smartphone.

A combination of emerging technologies could transform trading: sensors could monitor market conditions in real time while price engines keep watch over trading activity, allowing for faster adjustments and new approaches to navigating the market.

One of the challenges of distributed computing such as edge computing is how to safeguard network resources and transactions with an equally distributed security structure. This is where blockchain comes in, as it is designed to help manage trust in a decentralized, distributed manner among actors who do not necessarily trust each other. Companies such as HyperChain focus on solutions for financial services, leveraging edge computing and blockchain for fraud prevention, data trading, supply chain, and securities.

Geek Culture

Proud to geek out.

By Geek Culture

Subscribe to receive top 10 most read stories of Geek Culture — delivered straight into your inbox, once a week. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Alex Mosso

Written by

I solve problems to empower operations, maximize performance and increase profits.

Geek Culture

A new tech publication by Start it up (https://medium.com/swlh).

Alex Mosso

Written by

I solve problems to empower operations, maximize performance and increase profits.

Geek Culture

A new tech publication by Start it up (https://medium.com/swlh).

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store