A real world IoT Platform Use Case.

Vertical gardens, or living green walls, are wall systems that provide a growing environment for plants on any interior or exterior wall surface. People construct these living walls because they purify and humidify the air, reduce volatile organic compounds, and promote a healthier environment for residents, customers, and employees. Plus, they are visually appealing and inspiring.

These walls vary in size, location, and plant type—you can find living green walls outdoors that are 3 stories high on the side of an office building that evoke a forest feel or indoors along a long corridor producing a calming environment. The setup varies based on the installation size, location and plants’ uses. There are cable systems to guide growing vines, wall buckets, hydroponic foam systems, or cassette systems to place plants in hard-to-reach places. These structures are supported by a number of irrigation and drainage systems such as hand-watering, drip, and spray and often have a drain system that completely contains the water used.

These living green walls are beautiful, yet due to some of the differences across installations that I listed above, can be difficult to maintain. Plant replacement may require a lift and be done at night when customers are not present. Irrigation requirements may vary depending on location of the plants in the installation and the climate outside or inside the building. Maintenance of the irrigation systems themselves will also depend on the water type (hard or soft).

Not to be deterred, our customer Spiio saw these challenges and realized that the only way to effectively manage these walls would be with sensor monitoring, data analytics and automation. With this inspiration, they built a cloud platform that collects data from the green wall installations, then analyzes and presents it with recommended actions via a mobile app to their horticulturist customers.

They do this by placing sensors with the plants to collect metrics like temperature, humidity, light and soil moisture. The data is sent wirelessly using the ElectricImp solution embedded in their sensors to gateways that are connected to InfluxData’s Telegraf agents. Telegraf sends this data into InfluxDB which is hosted in AWS with the other components of the Spiio Cloud platform. Data is normalized and analyzed, and key metrics and events are sent to Spiio’s mobile application for customers to track green wall health and decide when to take appropriate action to maintain plant health and irrigation systems. Customers are notified only when necessary—for example, if the pump fails, the lights switch on, or if temperatures suddenly drop. In addition, the data is combined with temperature forecasts to predict and schedule future irrigations, making it possible to reduce the chances of overwatering in challenging environments.

This kind of data at the fingertips of Spiio’s horticulturist customers frees them to build out more installations instead of having to visit a single wall every day to determine its health. Additionally, it helps them avoid the costly replacement fees which include the cost of the plant, personnel to remove/replace the plants, and potentially to replace the irrigation systems.

This solution showcases what an end-to-end IoT platform is all about. Collecting information that can be acted on in an automated fashion to make the end point, in this case, plants and sprinklers, continue to thrive and work, with minimal human intervention. It helps to minimize the maintenance cost and makes the horticulturists more efficient so they can spend more time building the next set of green walls for everyone to enjoy.

Click here to read more about the technical details behind Spiio’s sensor monitoring and management solution.

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