The views expressed are that of the author and are not those of Turbid. The author was previously a director and co-founder of Turbid but is now CEO of eagle.io. Originally published Aug. 2018. Updated Jan. 2019.
Turbid was formed in 2011 to commercialise a new type of stormwater treatment device for landfills, the High-Efficiency Sediment Basin (HES Basin). HES Basins were designed to capture three times more sediment than standard basins while only occupying 25 per cent of the footprint.
Unlike the traditional batch treatment system which required manual treatment and discharge, HES Basins continuously treat and discharge contaminated water.
Regulators were nervous about the change to automated discharge, despite the potential for increasing total sediment capture from a site by 300%.
For a pilot project to be approved, it was necessary to find a solution to remotely monitor the pilot devices, and receive notifications if things did not go to plan.
Turbid searched the world for a system which would achieve its remote monitoring needs.
The best option available at the time of the first pilot was Xively (now a Google Company).
It worked, to a point.
The team learnt soon into the deployment of Xively that coding would still be required to achieve the monitoring solution we needed. Without software development skills, we were at the mercy of third-party developers, but c’est la vie; it was easier than building a solution from scratch.
Turbid became the poster child for Xively around the world.
Xively also won a prestigious ‘ovum on the radar’ award for the Turbid application.
The Honeymoon is Over
At some point after the PR (circa Q1 2014), I recall overhearing a conversation amongst other Turbid staff about the need to add another y-axis to one of the existing Xively charts.
It was going to cost an additional $5k for the programming to add this functionality — which made some of the coffee I was drinking at the time come out through my nose.
“$5000?! For an axis on a chart?! There has to be a solution out there that isn’t going to cost us $5k to add a new axis to a chart.” I said.
After trawling through a few pages of google for remote monitoring visualisation software alternatives, I came across a (then) little known Australian start-up offering a cloud solution to my problem, eagle.io. It had opened its doors for business only months earlier.
A few phone calls, and matter of weeks later we’d migrated from Xively to Eagle.io as one of their early customers. The change was transformative.
Solution 2.0 — Eagle.io
In transitioning from Xively to eagle.io, we gained an appreciation of the difference between a platform that requires development, and software that can be modified by configuration.
Xively was the former. Eagle.io is the latter.
The most significant change we experienced was that we no longer needed to keep paying a programmer (or at least not for the remote monitoring side of the equation). The problem of adding a second axis to a chart was now solved with a few clicks by someone who’s programming experience extends to using vlookup in excel in minutes.
|Turbid Case Study — Read Full Story here (https://www.eagle.io/stories/turbid)|
The Campbell Scientific dataloggers could be managed within the eagle.io software package. Firmware and local control programs could be pushed from the single cloud platform, and public variables (allowing remote control of attached devices) could be triggered without leaving the visualisation solution.This meant we could deploy real-time capture, storage, visualisation and notification solutions for every client using our internal resource, rapidly.
In addition to being a vastly superior application for Turbid’s use case — the costs were almost an order of magnitude lower.
Horses for Courses
To be clear, I’m not proposing that eagle.io is the best solution for all applications. If you’re making a smart widgit of some sort and are looking to offer a standardised monitoring solution on a per-device basis — Xively/Thingworks/Cumulocity would probably be a better solution.
In this case, the costs of software development could be amortised over lots of devices, and the benefits of more granular customisation achievable through a programming interface may be realised.
End business users aren’t going to want to view data from your widgit it a single locked down dashboard. They’re going to want to pool the data with other sensors and devices in a single platform that is simple for business operators to configure and modify themselves.
Turbid was held up as one of the best use cases for Xively at the time. From first hand knowledge, I and the current team at Turbid can testify that eagle.io is a better solution for their business case
You can read more about the Turbid case-study here https://www.eagle.io/stories/turbid.
Register for a trial eagle.io account here — https://eagle.io/trial