The beginnings of my personal journey to sustainability began in 2009 when I learned that almost a billion people were unable to find the clean drinking water they needed to survive. I started donating the proceeds of the books I authored to water.org. Water issues further compounded in 2012 when drought ravaged trees and crops in the Midwest while lakes drained and massive wildfires sparked in California. It was clear that climate change was taking an increasingly greater toll on our planet.
Along the way, I had a career designing and developing large-scale mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies at Microsoft and Hitachi. Over time It became apparent that these technologies combined with ubiquitous wireless networks and analytics had an important role to play in tackling many of the world’s biggest challenges. Use cases popped in my head, and I would write them down and share them with friends or speak about them at conferences.
There was just one problem. The commercial technologies I knew could help were expensive and designed for large corporations. The selfless people doing good work on the front lines did not exactly have a lot of extra money to buy hardware, software or cloud services. I had to embrace open source.
While knowledge is power, you cannot manage or improve a situation without assessing the facts on the ground through measurement. The key is to connect people, machines, and environmental systems with analytics to reason over collected data to deliver the situational awareness needed to make a positive impact. So, building on all my experiences, I created the Moab Connected Intelligence platform.
I had several “first principles” to follow to ensure Moab would be a fit for NGOs and non-profits. Economics were critical so I had to keep the bill of materials (BOM) costs as low as possible. This meant I had to use free, low-cost, and/or open-source technologies. Moab needed to be flexible enough to run at the Edge on a low-cost PC, or in any data center or public cloud. It was not enough to follow open standards to interface with Moab, they had to be ubiquitous, universally-embraced standards that everyone already understood. This meant sticking with things like HTTP, RESTful APIs, JSON, Security Tokens, URIs, SSL, SQL, WebHooks and HTML5 because I could not expect Moab users to have expert IoT skillsets. To keep hardware costs low, the software had to be super-efficient with low memory, CPU, storage and power requirements. Finally, I could not skimp on security since it’s proven to be the Achilles heel of IoT. The star of the show would be Digital Twins as I have found them to be the best way to represent physical objects and processes found in the real world in a way that people can understand.
While the creation of SDG use cases and evolution of the Moab platform will always be a work in progress, it has been an extremely satisfying process. Getting to collaborate with passionate people in solving global problems is nothing short of exhilarating.