New GE network could give smart cities access to really big data

Fri, 2015-07-17 06:00 -- SCC Staff


As the Internet of Things grows by leaps and bounds, one lingering question remains: Are the network pipelines big enough to get all that data where it needs to go in a timely manner? While companies are exploring a variety of solutions, GE is working to make the pipeline bigger.

GE, a Council Lead Partner, is starting to use a new fiber optic network that can transfer data at well beyond gigabit speeds. The new line can transmit data at 100 gigabits per second, capacity cities and industry may one day need as they move beyond big data to really big data. Another Council Lead Partner, Cisco, is also lending support to the project.

Really big pipeline
It’s hard to imagine that volume of data, so GE explains it in terms of movies. A typical high-speed residential Internet connection is capable of downloading one high-resolution movie at a time. Its new data pipeline is 6,000 times larger.

So who needs that much data? GE says industry could already make use of it. In fact, it’s putting the new network to use to connect its 400 manufacturing facilities. The high-speed networking lines will give GE wide visibility into the operations of each of its plants, allowing it to monitor and optimize them. That large capacity also allows it to deliver more data to remove users who are on wireless, mobile devices.

Data needs are growing
While GE certainly has data needs that far surpass cities and most businesses today, everyone’s needs are growing exponentially. Growth of sensors and connected devices are likely to result in an explosion of data in just a few years.

Gartner forecasts that more than 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things in five years – that’s more than five times as many devices that are connected today and more than eight times as many as were connected just two years ago.

So far, network managers have managed to avoid data bottlenecks, although some have had to devise schemes to manage, compress or process the data at the point of origination. But as the amount of data generated increases dramatically and more see the benefit of making use of it, experts warn that we’re going to need a bigger data pipeline sooner rather than later.

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