Vadim
Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software

How to Build an IoT Dashboard: Benefits, Challenges, and Process

IoT

Many companies that use IoT technology find the data they receive from various devices and sensors overwhelming. So they look for ways to make its comprehension much easier and faster. Creating an IoT dashboard is one of the most effective ways of overcoming this challenge.

Relevant is experienced in solving business problems with the help of software solutions, including those based on IoT technology. Our expert development team knows how to build a decent IoT dashboard, and this article will bring you up to speed with what you need to know if you are considering this option. 

Bonus: check out the real-world IoT dashboard development case study at the end of this post.

IoT data visualization 

According to the Statista report, the number of connected devices is expected to grow to 30.9 billion by 2025. As you can imagine, this generates an excessive amount of data for businesses to deal with. 

To see patterns and trends in the information collected by an IoT ecosystem or to get valuable insights from it, all the data must be structured and visualized. Data visualization is critical since it allows users to get the maximum value from the information gathered. 

Data visualization is critical since it allows users to get the maximum value from the information gathered.

Most often, IoT visualization takes the form of an IoT analytics dashboard. Simply put, an IoT dashboard is a functional platform consisting of backend and storage that can process data and an interface that displays information in a clean and simple way. Based on the visualized data, enterprises can build their strategy and vision. 

But let’s take a look at the benefits IoT visualization brings to the table:

  • Easy data sharing. Data visualization makes sharing information with new people and companies more manageable and faster.
  • Straightforward data analysis. The human brain comprehends laconic visual data better than massive information assets. So, IoT dashboards make daily data processing a simpler task to handle. 
  • Better control over the performance of IoT devices. If any malfunctions or drops in performance happen, you will see it right away on an IoT dashboard.
  • Real-time decisions. Having an insightful IoT dashboard with comprehensive multi-layered data allows managers to make faster and more informed decisions.
  • Unveiling of new business opportunities. With a web dashboard for IoT devices, you can compare your real-time data with information you stored from a given period in the past to identify new opportunities for growth and development.
  • Improvement of business operations. IoT data enriches other business data. By combining data from different sources, you can significantly improve your business operations.

That said, IoT visualization comes with some challenges. Here are the most significant ones:

  • Data generalization. This can bury some insights since data anomalies can hide behind a generally positive picture.
  • Tool limitations. All visualization tools have limits when it comes to functionality, scalability, and infrastructure. There can be issues with insight generation and evaluation of data. 
  • The human factor. The focus points of the people reading the visualized data may vary. Data is not self-explanatory, so while some users get objective insight, others come up with alternative interpretations by focusing on different elements.
  • Design issues. Since big data visualization is a new form of business communication, some design flaws may distort it. 

Although these challenges may seem deterring, it’s easy to overcome them by choosing a reliable partner for your project. Relevant comprises a team of professionals who can help you with the custom development of an IoT dashboard that will meet even the most complex tech requirements.

Things to consider before developing an IoT dashboard

A custom IoT dashboard can summarize tons of data in graphs, charts, diagrams, etc. But creating a high-quality IoT visualization system is not an easy task. It requires a lot of resources, work, and expertise. Below is a list of things to consider before getting down to IoT dashboard development. 

User experience

User design is one of the first things to consider when building a dashboard for an IoT project or infrastructure. The look and feel of the IoT dashboard should ensure trouble-free data comprehension and management. It’s best to go for an intuitive, minimalist design. It’s also possible to create a customizable design so that different users can choose what information they see on a dashboard. 

The precise components of your IoT dashboard will differ based on what you build it for and the data you want to show. For instance, supermarkets may use sensors to collect data on how many visitors walk through the aisles, what products they get, and how much time they spend inside. An IoT dashboard for such a system is likely to include elements like time, status, map, graphs, and cameras.

IoT connection types

The IoT connection type required for an industrial IoT dashboard and ecosystem will differ from the IoT connection type required for a small IoT solution for retail or a household. Here are the most popular connection types available today:

  • Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs). These can provide long-range communication on tiny and long-lasting batteries. Data is sent in small blocks at a low rate.
  • Cellular (3G/4G/5G). Cellular networks are convenient and well-established. However, they are costly and have high power requirements. 5G networks have high data transmission speed and low latency. Yet, 5G networks are not globally available at present.
  • Mesh protocols (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread, and others). These have a physically short range and are usually combined with Wi-Fi connections.
  • Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It’s a conventional short-range network suitable for consumer IoT apps. BLE-enabled devices usually work in conjunction with smartphones. The downside is the need for the close proximity of all the connected devices.
  • Wi-Fi. This enables high-throughput data transfer. The downsides are coverage, scalability, and power consumption. 
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). This connection allows transferring small chunks of data from an RFID tag to a reader nearby using radio waves. 

The table below shows the strengths and weaknesses of each of the six connection types. 

Popular IoT connection types: pros and cons

Besides these basic characteristics, each connection type has other benefits and limitations, as well as best and worst application options. To make the right choice, hire an IoT developer who can select the optimal option for your business.

Protocols

A protocol is a data transfer standard technology that connects IoT devices with one another and to the applications they transfer data to. Thus, every IoT dashboard needs a suitable protocol. Here is a list of protocols used in web dashboard software development.

  • MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport). A lightweight protocol, mainly used for transmitting small data from sensors to middleware and apps. This protocol is the best for gear with low budget, memory, and power requirements.
  • DDS (Data Distribution Service). An IoT basic protocol for transmitting scalable data in real-time mode. You can deploy it in the cloud as well as in low-footprint gear.
  • AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol). A basic global protocol for message-centered middleware. It allows messaging between servers regardless of their architecture. 
  • Bluetooth. This can be used separately or as a part of other protocols. It can either connect sensors with each other or connect sensors to the gateway.

If you opt for custom web development, your development team will choose the protocols that are the best fit for your business and IoT project.

Team composition

To build а web dashboard for an IoT project from scratch, you need to hire a software development team with the relevant expertise and a clear understanding of your business goals. The number of team members you will need will depend on the project complexity, budget, deadlines, technology stack, and some other factors. In general, you need developers, designers, business analysts, quality assurance specialists, and a project manager.

One option is to hire a dedicated team of developers. This choice will allow you to save time and effort on hiring and integrating every new engineer into the project, as well as manage communication more effectively. What’s more, it’ll be easier to explain project details and convey your product vision to a dedicated team. 

The development of an IoT dashboard from scratch usually requires significant financial investment. Yet, you can keep to your budget by outsourcing to Ukraine. This is a popular choice with global companies and for a good reason. By choosing Ukrainian programmers, you can get some of the world’s best engineers at a reasonable rate.

MVP development

When building an IoT dashboard, it’s always a good idea to start with MVP development. An MVP IoT dashboard contains only the most essential features and helps you gather user feedback in the shortest time and with minimum investment. As your system evolves, you can add more features based on priority and user expectations.

Starting with an MVP gives you many advantages. It allows you to follow ever-changing market tendencies and keep your project goals updated while minimizing the risks. New challenges, competitors, opportunities, and technologies may emerge at any moment. An MVP approach allows you to respond to them with an easily adaptable product. 

Key components of an IoT dashboard

When you build your own IoT platform, you can tailor its dashboard to the unique needs of your business. The complete set of components will differ based on the information you collect, the insights this gives, and what you plan to do with the information you gather and visualize.

Must-Have Components of Modern IoT Dashboards

Let’s take a closer look at each component of modern IoT dashboards.

Data collection

Every IoT device collects tons of data, for example, temperature, moisture, weather conditions, humidity, pH, location, proximity, voltage, pressure, motion, acceleration, chemical composition, air, and water quality. This data is sent to the IoT dashboard to be processed and then displayed as insights on the interface. 

Data storage

This is another essential element of an IoT dashboard. As a rule, IoT devices with sensors are lightweight and can’t store a lot of data. Thus, the data needs to be continuously sent to the backend of your dashboard for further storage. 

At first, the amount of data might not be that large, but you will need sufficient storage over time. The storage should also allow users to retrieve past data quickly. This way, you can see changes or patterns and track behaviors effortlessly.

Data visualization

Data visualization is one of the core functions of IoT dashboards. It usually takes the form of geographical maps, heat maps, infographics, tables, bubble clouds, line graphs, bar or pie charts, gauges, histograms, statistics, and timelines.

Alerts

Alerts help users not to miss anything while using a dashboard. If your sensors detect any change, abnormality, hazard, or suspicious behavior, they’ll send a warning, and you’ll see a notification on the dashboard. If you create a custom IoT dashboard, you’ll be able to choose which alarms are urgent and should be instantly displayed on your interface.

Analytics

This is a common feature of IoT dashboards that enables data-driven decision-making. Many modern platforms use artificial intelligence to improve analytics capabilities. For example, predictive analytics can help you anticipate system failures and make business forecasts based on historical data. 

Device and asset management

If you plan to create a dashboard web application for the IoT project, device and asset management should be a priority feature. This allows you to turn the devices on or off, roll out updates, change the device mode, monitor performance, and so on. It also makes it convenient to register, categorize, and group the devices and assets using a single control panel.

Security

Last but not least, any IoT software development company you hire to create a dashboard web application must be able to ensure that your IoT data is safe and secure. IoT systems collect a lot of sensitive data, and any data breach or leak can be extremely damaging to your company’s reputation. Make sure to secure your dashboard controls properly for maximum confidence. It’s a good idea to create role-based access levels since it’s important to prevent users from seeing data they shouldn’t see. 

How we developed a web dashboard for an IoT project

At Relevant, we provide Internet of Things development services, as well as web and mobile app development services. As experts in the IoT field, we helped a Norwegian company create an IoT dashboard for visualizing air quality sensor data.

About Airthings

Airthings is a Norwegian tech company that creates smart indoor radon monitoring products. It uses a custom dashboard that displays air quality data measurements. Our client wanted to implement new dashboard features that would allow the system to collect, process, and visualize data from their IoT devices in real-time.

We developed the following features:

  • Monitoring and alert system—tracking air quality in multiple rooms and sending alerts
  • Dashboard customization—adding and removing, dragging & dropping, and resizing tiles to fit specific user preferences
  • CSV export—downloading data in a CSV file
  • Multiple types of tiles— showing different data layers of device tiles and sensor tiles

We also worked on map performance by optimizing maps for fast loading and eliminating transition lag.

With this new feature, the Airthings devices can connect and be customized per user requests. 

Technologies we used

Our expert engineers know how to create an IoT web page dashboard with the right set of technologies. For Airthings, we used React, Mapbox, Express.js, Node.js, AWS, and Canvas.

The outcome

We helped our client develop a solution that opened up new opportunities for its business marketing, growth, and analysis. With the advanced IoT dashboard, the client has the opportunity to:

  • attract and engage more users 
  • monitor the spread of their devices
  • discover potential new markets

Plus, the users of Airthings loved the new dashboard. 

Summary

A custom IoT dashboard enables easy data sharing, straightforward data analysis, and better IoT assets control and management. What’s more, it empowers businesses to make more effective real-time business decisions, unveil new growth opportunities, and discover insights that would be otherwise hidden.

The road from learning how to create a web IoT dashboard to having one built is long and challenging. That’s why you need to team up with a reliable partner who will advise you on critical matters, including essential elements of your system, protocols, connection, features, and data security.

Relevant has the necessary expertise to complete an IoT project according to your business requirements. So if you need to build an IoT dashboard that will fit your unique needs, drop us a line

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Tags: IoT
Written by
Vadim Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software
For more than 6 years, I've been working as Business Analyst and Product Manager at Relevant. I'm responsible for requirements engineering and management and solution implementation control.

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