How accurate do timestamps need to be for your organization’s Industrial IoT applications? If you’ve got a bunch of Industrial IoT sensors in the field that are constantly monitoring the environment and assets in real time, then you’ll want the time stamps associated with each sensor measurement to as accurate as possible. Especially if you’re comparing different nearby units and want to confirm exactly when an event happened. And you need to know if you’re witnessing the same event being captured by your multiple remote monitoring units.
For example, for our air quality monitoring customers, if a gas leak event or other air quality disturbance happens then you need to know if all of the Valarm monitoring units in the area are reporting high sensor values (e.g., gases like H2S, NO2, O3) at the exact same moment. Since these air pollution events can happen in the blink of an eye and last very little time that means having a more accurate timestamp lets you correctly correlate sensor readings in the field that come from multiple sources.
Now how do you get more accurate timestamps for your Industrial IoT sensor information? 1 way is to use a GPS timestamp, since GPS/GNSS sensor modules report time stamps up to 10 times per second! And since GPS sensors are all talking to GPS satellites the timestamps will be the same between all of the units. This helps mitigate time drift, which usually isn’t extreme, but with using the clock time reported by GPS units you can be darn sure that if multiple Valarm units are reporting a spike in temperature, humidity, water usage, specific gases, particulate matter PM2.5, or any other sensor value at 08:39:57, then all of those sensor readings are happening at the same moment in time!
There’s a new feature in Valarm Tools Cloud so that when you add GPS / GNSS sensor modules to your sensor hubs, your remote monitoring units have the following:
- GPS-tagged sensor data with populated columns / fields for latitude, longitude, altitude, geo accuracy and number of satellites in view. You can then view your geotagged sensor data on 3D maps or 2D maps.
- An option to use timestamps reported by GPS sensors, which will give you more accurate times associated with all of your Valarm units and let you better compare sensor measurements between your Industrial IoT units.
We added this new feature after a specific request by our customer SC-AQMD, the California government agency responsible for monitoring and compliance of air quality through the Los Angeles basin, Orange County, and the majority of Southern California. The air quality data scientists at AQMD needed a more accurate timestamp between the different air quality monitoring boxes. You can see the 3G GSM sensor hub + shield sensor expansion board that’s connected to the GPS sensor unit highlighted with a red oval in the photo of a Valarm air quality monitoring box that monitors O3, NO2, PM1, PM2.5, and PM10.
Since these Alphasense air quality sensor boxes will mostly be stationary in their deployments, the GPS time stamp isn’t as critical as with moving assets like industrial fleet vehicles with industrial equipment like vacuums and pumps. However, it is super critical to have highly accurate timestamps that can be correctly compared between air quality monitoring boxes. That’s the primary reason why each of these boxes has a GPS sensor.
Although now a Valarm customer knows exactly where the boxes are currently deployed since the boxes are rapidly deployable, easy to move around, and come complete with solar panels or another way for power. The Valarm units can be easily picked up and moved to another location, like from a specific refinery to another refinery or chemical processing plant.
How do you enable your Valarm sensor telemetry units for using the GPS timestamp for your Industrial IoT sensors? After you log in to Tools.Valarm.net go to your Device Manager page and click the name of your Valarm sensor hub you’d like configure for GPS timestamps.
On the device details page for the device you clicked you’ll see a screen similar to the screenshot image here. When you mouse over the blue Configure Hardware button you’ll see Configure Yocto Hub in the menu. It’s highlighted with a red oval in the upper right part of the screenshot example here.
Click Configure Yocto Hub to get to the options for Configuring Yoctopuce API Sensor Hubs. Here there’s a tab where you’ve previously mapped your sensors to columns / fields.
In the Hub Config tab you’ll see a checkbox that lets you use the Yocto GPS sensor for time stamps when the GPS / GNSS sensor is plugged in and has a fix. Check this box and then click Save. Now you’re all configured!
After you’ve turned on the GPS timestamps feature, your timestamps for sensor readings will be acquired from the GPS sensor module, so long as it’s got a fix on GPS satellites and is reporting latitude, longitude coordinates as you see in the screenshot. That’s how it’s done. See our blog for other new features and stories. Also please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a feature request for Valarm Tools Cloud.
Need to see your organization’s Industrial IoT sensor information on a real-time dashboard webpage? See our web dashboards for telemetry and remote monitoring. We can make them just for you and your organization’s specific needs.
Have a look at our Customer Stories page for stories on how our customers use Valarm solutions for monitoring assets in a variety of verticals / industries like high tech transportation, water resources management, tank levels + volumes, natural resources, governments, air quality monitoring and compliance, chemical resources management, oil & gas, vehicle fleet tracking with industrial equipment like vacuums, tanks and pumps.