Innovative Edge Computing for Automated Monitoring Systems
Authors: Anabela Fernandes, Dr Lidija Špiranec, Megan Hansen
Deformation monitoring systems gather and analyse real-time data about structural and land movements. Permanent installations that monitor transportation infrastructure, environmental hazards, developing urban areas, open pit mines and more report movements and enable immediate, data-based decisions that enhance safety.
However, these decisions are only possible when data is reliable and continuous. Therefore, missing data or data losses caused by communication, power or data server failures and environmental effects pose a large threat to permanent monitoring. Adding intelligence to hardware and software enhances geodetic monitoring solutions and ensures as few data gaps and losses as possible – an important solution because data availability is the only way critical hazards can be discovered and casualties avoided.
In this article, monitoring systems expert, Dr Lidija Špiranec describes the latest technological advancements of Leica Geosystems’ autonomous monitoring solution.
What are the components of automated monitoring?
There are typically four components of automated monitoring systems. These include monitoring sensors that generate raw measurements within defined intervals, a 24/7 power source with back-up power, a communication device to facilitate data transfers and monitoring software to detect and report movements.
Each monitoring component carries its own complexity and potential for malfunction, but data gaps can be reduced to a minimum when all components contain autonomous capabilities and are seamlessly integrated into the monitoring system.
The latest technological advancements in Leica Geosystems’ geodetic monitoring solution address potential problems to deliver continuous and uninterrupted dataflow. This solution includes:
- Leica Nova TM60 monitoring total station
- Leica ComBox60 communication device with embedded monitoring software
- Leica GeoMoS Edge enables autonomous features and local data storage using EdgeConnect technology, powered by Hexagon’s Xalt, providing secure IoT connectivity between monitoring sensors in the field and Leica GeoMoS Monitor office software
Which TM60 innovations are unique to monitoring?
The Leica TM60 total station was designed with several monitoring specific features to perform measurements automatically, in variable environmental conditions and from long distances. These innovations help ensure continuous, comprehensive data acquisition.
Equipped with Leica Captivate onboard software and image based ATRplus technology, the TM60 automatically adapts measurement settings to current environmental conditions and ensures targets are measured automatically up to 3,000 metres away, much farther than traditional surveying total stations. Additionally, ATRplus recognises and rejects non-target reflections, like headlights or sunlight, to focus on the correct monitoring prisms.
The TM60 is equipped with a Piezo-drive system for smooth long-term operation, Leica PinPoint EDM for distance measurement accuracy and optionally an overview and telescope camera for remote positioning and photo documentation. Another monitoring specific innovation for the TM60 is AutoLearn, which rapidly detects, measures and learns all targets in a defined area. Automated point learning speeds up the initial set-up of monitoring projects and the integration of additional prisms and eliminates human errors like omitted points.
How does edge computing ensure automated monitoring and consistent data acquisition?
Leica Geosystems’ specialised monitoring software, GeoMoS Monitor, acts as a server and can be installed on a personal computer or a virtual machine. Depending on project requirements and security standards, the connectivity to the field devices is utilised either via EdgeConnect cloud technology or within local area network (LAN). As numerous causes could disrupt this connection, it is crucial that the field components can run autonomously without a permanent connection to the office software. This is achieved with GeoMoS Edge, a data acquisition software component, which is embedded on Leica M-Com communication devices. Using edge computing technology, GeoMoS Edge executes the measurement cycle, which is pre-configured in GeoMoS Monitor, computes raw measurement data quality, triggers the repeated measurements and delivers the data to GeoMoS Monitor.
With the new Leica ComBox60, the measurement cycles will run uninterrupted based on the last available configuration, even during power and/or communication failure. This is possible because of the internal battery, which acts as a secondary power source and can provide power to the monitoring sensors for hours or even days depending on the frequency of measurements. These measurements are stored locally until communication with the server is restored, eliminating data gaps.
How is the data securely transferred?
Transferring measurements from the field to the office is a critical step in the monitoring process. Communication protocols for data transfers must fulfil the highest security requirements because of the sensitivity of monitoring data and the overall security of the server’s local network. However, robust security measures involving complex IT configurations are often time consuming and costly.
EdgeConnect technology, powered by Hexagon’s Xalt, is a cloud service that simplifies this process while retaining the required security levels. Integrated into GeoMoS Edge, it enables secure cloud IoT connectivity between the field and the office. EdgeConnect’s clever pairing procedure between GeoMoS Monitor and the Leica M-Com communication devices utilises a standard, open HTTPS port and enables setup without additional IT modifications. Once paired, GeoMoS Monitor takes ownership of the device, making hijacking or stealing data impossible. The user has full control of the device and can move it from one project to another.
EdgeConnect removes the IT complexity from the monitoring installation equation, reduces costs and significantly shortens the time until the monitoring can start.
Long story short
A monitoring system is as failsafe as its weakest components. Robustness and resilience of the highest quality monitoring solutions can be attributed to reliable edge computing technology within the field devices. Leica Geosystems monitoring solution adds intelligence and autonomy to monitoring hardware and software with the ultimate goal of ensuring data completeness and reliable information about the movements in the monitored area.