Community Garden Monitoring

Created by: Chandler Stewert

Resources used:

  • InfluxDB
  • TICK Stack

Chandler Stewert has been in Devops for around seven years, operating in every capacity from a level four support engineer to an SRE to a director of IT, and now as a Technical Account Manager, while also moonlighting as a consultant for local industry and friends in these spaces. In his personal life, he is a musician and rock climber, IoT tinkerer, and absolutely terrible 3D printer enthusiast. These different hobbies and career paths have helped him understand a very wide variety of use cases and methods of business handling, as well as garner interest in solutions that are flexible to assist his customers with their own individual problems without the need to reinvent the wheel multiple times.

Community Project: Community Garden Monitoring

Stewert is using the TICK Stack for all of his personal IoT projects. He runs a community garden where he has dozens of sensors measuring everything from soil moisture and heat to solar panel efficacy and water consumption. The TICK stack allows him to track and monitor all of these different inputs across the various plots, and keep the community happy with properly watered and treated plots. While this may sound small and goofy, implementing this project has reduced water consumption by 30%+, improved community happiness in the garden by almost 2x, and improved output of the gardens by an average of 25% per plot.

There is a suite of IoT sensors that monitor a variety of atmospheric conditions around the gardens. With almost 2000 sensors reporting in every five seconds, as well as external data reporting in every 30-60 seconds, Stewart can accumulate data at a very fast rate. The TICK Stack as a whole manages the ability to monitor and automate most of the day-to-day tasks, as well as alerting when more detailed tasks may need to occur. Being able to generate unique dashboards and graphs for each of his ~150 customers allows a much more detailed look at how their plots are doing, as well as receiving suggestions around improvements. InfluxDB handles all of this data in real time and is capable of ensuring Stewert’s garden team and customers are on top of all their problems before they start happening.

Stewart found that InfluxDB integrates well with other tools, is open source, and is highly performant. He uses a series of external tooling and APIs to ingest data as well as query resources for better instructions. The TICK Stack allows him to build out a very responsive system that can enable his customers to do what is best for their plots without needing to constantly ask questions of his staff. The opportunity to use all of this as open source also gives him the granularity to build out any custom plugins around InfluxDB as his project grows and receives ideas from the community.

Stewert cannot recommend InfluxDB enough to his clientele. He does a lot of consulting work, and almost every company he operates with has a need for metrics recording and monitoring to some degree. So far, he has recommended the TICK stack as a whole to every one of them as the performant, open source tool of choice. The ability to integrate with today’s hottest tech (paging utilities, incident response mechanisms, Atlassian Suite, etc.) ensures that it’s an easy fit for them, while also being so well-documented that you almost never have to come back and assist once the stack has been implemented. TICK is a fantastic tool to manage your metric data.

He recommends beginning with your use cases. Most people and clients don’t fully understand what they’re looking to see with their metrics; they just know they want them. If you can begin with a need, then you’ll be able to integrate the systems that much better, as well as establish an internal “best practice” method for implementation. Stewart would also like to call out that the flexibility for scaling in the TICK Stack is near limitless, so never feel daunted by the size or scale of your ingestion.

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