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AWS Greengrass Hardware Enables Connectivity for IoT Edge Devices

POSTED 01/23/2023  | By: OnLogic

AWS Greengrass addresses the challenges faced by IT teams who have to manage hundreds or even thousands of IoT edge devices. But how can the IT team manage the plethora of Operation Technology (OT) network endpoints without significant investment in software development time? AWS IoT solutions running on qualified AWS Greengrass hardware were created to address challenges such as this.

Instead of spending hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of dollars developing and maintaining a custom IoT device management solution, why not invest in an existing one?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a suite of services for edge applications. Using AWS Greengrass hardware at the IoT edge can help you to effectively manage your endpoints in a scalable way and deliver actionable intelligence.

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What is AWS IoT Greengrass?

AWS Greengrass is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) product designed to bring the power of the AWS cloud to IoT edge devices.

AWS allows those devices to: 

  • Respond to local events in real-time
  • Operate independently of a network connection
  • Leverage AWS cloud connected services
  • Be remotely monitored

It does all that while operating securely with the end-to-end encryption that AWS provides. Using local hardware like OnLogic’s line of AWS Greengrass certified PCs brings the power of the cloud to connected devices at the edge.

Diagram of AWS Architecture showing the idea of Connected IoT Devices at the Edge

How does AWS Greengrass work?

Greengrass works by using a locally deployed AWS IoT Greengrass Core, in our case an OnLogic Greengrass qualified computer, as a local data aggregator for your connected devices, sensors, or other local connectors. The Greengrass core communicates to local devices in their native protocol such as OPC-UA, LoRa, or Zigbee using AWS IoT Connectors.

Data is sent back to the cloud via MQTT, a lightweight messaging protocol, and then routed through AWS IoT Core, an AWS managed service for managing your device connections to the cloud. From there you can easily connect to AWS Services like Amazon S3, EC2, or Sagemaker depending on your application needs.

AWS IoT Greengrass and AWS Cloud Services for smart city projects

IoT Greengrass supports smart city solutions. A smart city uses connected technology and data to improve the efficiency of city services and enhance the quality of life for its residents and businesses. Let’s walk through an example of a smart city solution.

Overhead photo showing traffic being monitored in a smart city solution using connected devices, like a surveillance camera, at the edge

Let’s say you are the supervisor for a city road system. You want to optimize your traffic management systems to improve traffic flow by leveraging data. To reach your project goal to reduce congestion, you plan to deploy a series of AWS Greengrass-enabled embedded computers. Those computers will interact with connected devices at the edge, such as local sensors and other IoT devices out in the field, to make smarter, more informed decisions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) with AWS Greengrass

A good smart city application is improving intersections and traffic flow. By deploying a Greengrass-enabled edge computer, local cameras can be used to detect the number of cars waiting at an intersection. Traffic lights can react in real-time on that data using machine learning (ML) inference. The result? You can reduce congestion and improve the driver’s experience by eliminating an unnecessarily long red light. You can also send data back to the AWS cloud to further train your machine learning model and improve device functionality for future traffic scenarios at that intersection. 

Since the application runtime is done locally on the device, you can send back the finished data to the cloud instead of a raw data stream. As a result, you save on transmission costs. Additionally, you can run the system offline if needed. That means that even if you have intermittent WAN connection, you can keep your systems running and collecting data.

IoT analytics with AWS Greengrass

Wondering how you can leverage the AWS cloud with the traffic flow data you’ve created? AWS Lambda functions can be used to create, test, and run code without provisioning and managing servers. You can then update the runtime Lambda functions on your AWS Greengrass hardware, all without needing to do any additional updates. 

You can use AWS IoT Analytics to process, organize, and route data while making it available to other AWS services for use in applications like AWS Quicksight for data analytics.


Why use OnLogic’s industrial computers as part of your IoT edge solution?

The edge of your network is typically not a good location for an off the shelf traditional tower PC. The environment at the edge will most likely expose your system to dust, temperature, impact forces, vibration, variable input power, and other non-ideal conditions. OnLogic’s line of Industrial and Rugged PCs are the ideal hardware solution for AWS IoT Greengrass core software. All of our reliable and durable PCs are built to order. That means if you need an internal 4G modem for remote connectivity, serial ports for legacy device communication, or additional functionality, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to connect your devices at the edge with AWS IoT Greengrass? Contact our technical sales team today, or explore our online store.