The OpenSensorHub project was initiated by Mike Botts of Botts Innovative Research and Alex Robin of Sensia Software. Although the project officially started in November 2014, it is the natural evolution of 15+ years of research, design, and development of standards and software aimed at reducing the inertia and difficulty in connecting sensor, actuators, and processing into an interoperable and integrated environment. The drive for sensor integration for us really began around 1991, with attempts to integrate disparate multi-sensor data within a common 3D visual environment (e.g. the above image shows the first attempt to integrate several weather sensors used to determine “go” or “no go” for the NASA Space Shuttle launches). While we discovered that it could be done with “a very big hammer”, the lesson learned was that we needed to try to support these sensors in a common way if we were to have any hope of doing this on a day-to-day basis. From these challenges, the idea of Sensor Model Language (SensorML) was born and took root thanks to funding from NASA in 1999.

OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) standards. In 2000, SensorML was brought into the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and served as a catalyst for the creation of a suite of open standards to support the discovery, access, and tasking of sensor systems through web services and XML encodings.  Following many years of testing and redesign, the SWE standards are now at version 2.0 and are being deployed around the world in support of disaster warning and management, environmental monitoring, and intelligence and defense. This OpenSensorHub team has been heavily involved in the design and testing of the SWE standards, as well as the development of supporting software since the beginning. The SWE standards are a tested, proven, and mature technology that offer an excellent framework to support geospatially-aware sensor, actuator, and processing systems including Internet of Things.

Drivers for OpenSensorHub. While the SWE standards have been deployed around the world and have proven to be solid and powerful, we recognize that the full vision of SWE will only be realized if deployments of these technologies become much more ubiquitous than they currently are. The biggest challenge to this is that SWE consists of a suite of diverse standards making it difficult for the newly initiated to fully understand the vision behind these standards, much less to develop software to support the full vision of SWE. While there are open and non-open source implementations of various components of SWE, they still require too much programming to implement and fail to support the full vision of SWE.

For us, OpenSensorHub is the natural evolution of our efforts designing the SWE standards and developing supporting software. Our goal is to provide an open source implementation of an easily deployed and easily extended sensor hub that incorporates our knowledge of SWE and encompasses the full vision of SWE. This “full vision” supports the seamless integration of sensors, actuators, and processing, as well as support for real-time and archived streaming data in efficient data structures and encodings.

We  have more recently embraced the  development of additional OGC standards for supporting sensors, including the SensorThings API and an evolving standard we call Sensor Web API. These standards support more Restful approaches and and make use of encodings such as JSON. These standards have  been incorporated in OpenSensorHub within a highly interoperable framework which supports the option to task and retrieve observations using any of these three standards. In addition, we have supported other technologies and standards for publish-subscribe technology that have proven useful for the support of sensors, actuators, and processing.

Although the team is committed to the development of the OpenSensorHub Core and related technologies, we truly wish for this to be a community effort where those interested in deploying these services and advancing the technology feel comfortable sharing ideas and code and become a part of the future of OpenSensorHub.

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