The value of environmental monitoring systems through APIs

September 21 2022

What is a REST API and why should I care?

Figure 1: Setra CEMS architecture with REST API client examples.

Figure 1: Setra CEMS architecture with REST API client examples.

Awareness and use of APIs has exploded in recent years. Originally a domain for the software development community, these powerful interoperability enablers are now at the forefront of web, cloud-based, and mobile application development.

Although APIs have been around for decades, their increase in popularity and standardization can be attributed in large part to two major game-changing events in technology and culture.

  1. The 2006 launch of Amazon Web Services for S3 (Simple Storage Service), the first in the cloud. Amazon S3 was introduced via a simple interface (REST API) to store and retrieve data across the web. This provided developers with an easy-to-use, scalable, and inexpensive storage infrastructure service similar to Amazon’s internal IT. S3 was soon followed by Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which offered computing capacity of various sizes using a similar REST API approach. These two new Amazon Web services launched the cloud computing industry and, at the same time, created the means by which REST APIs will soon dominate the web services landscape at the expense of a plethora of more complex pre-existing standards.
  2. The launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007. The massive success of Apple’s new class of computing platform has created a massive demand for smartphones and mobile applications and the fundamental need for access to content and data for this burgeoning new market. The approaches and mechanisms for distributing content to websites had to be expanded to include content distribution on mobile devices and applications.

The result of these developments was the rapid creation of the REST API as a de facto industry standard.

REST API – stands for representational state transfer and data rendering using the lightweight JSON format. The vast majority of APIs use this standard because it provides fast performance, reliability, and scalability.

No need to reinvent the wheel.

Unified APIs allow complementary software functionality to work strongly within and between applications, locally or over the Internet. These applications are increasingly sourced from different suppliers, each with specialized expertise and capabilities. API repositories are now popular as collaboration and interaction between potential API consumers and API providers fosters thriving API communities and solution ecosystems. Leveraging the standardization of this interface and the huge variety of services and data sources available, developers and end users can now pick and choose between and easily combine best-in-class solution components to deliver new capabilities and business value.

CEMS REST API – The easy, powerful and reliable solution to integrate with EMS

Practical example. If you need secure, unified access to information from a cloud database filled with data from sensors and instruments in critical environments such as cleanrooms, Setra CEMS REST API is your answer. Candidate examples for a client application include: Historians/Data Lakes, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA), Quality Management Systems (QMS), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Statistical Process Control Systems (SPC), and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) distributed control systems (DCS), mobile applications, and a myriad of other applications.

As shown in Figure 1, parameters such as temperatures, relative humidity levels, differential pressures, air velocities, particle counts (and any three-way data sources from analog, Modbus, and BACnet communications) can be collected and sent through a Setra Edge gateway device to the Setra cloud-based CEMS platform. This information is encrypted to ensure data integrity during transmission.

The CEMS server includes a rich API that provides access to appropriately authorized client applications
Operations that can be applied to a wide variety of resources. These resources are accessed through HTTP
Methods like GET and POST – see Figure 2.

Figure 2: An example of a GET HTTP method for running a time-series data read operation.

Figure 2: An example of a GET HTTP method for running a time-series data read operation.

APIs, the backbone of digital transformation and pharmaceutical 4.0

Adopting and exploiting such powerful contemporary open software technologies support large-scale industry initiatives such as digital transformation and Pharma 4.0. As the industry evolves to produce smaller batches and customized drugs, the amount of accompanying information required to administer them will increase exponentially. APIs will break down silos within and between organizations by building bridges between industry, regulators, healthcare and all other stakeholders. In practical terms, it means more connectivity, more productivity, simplified compliance, and the organization of production information to respond to issues as they arise.

Get the program

If you want to evaluate the powerful capabilities of the Setra CEMS REST API by accessing a comprehensive list of resources and processes along with interactive JSON scripts, click over here.

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