From an Irrational Fear of Basement Flooding to an Ongoing Amazon Web Services IoT Class

“It’s amazing where the paranoid mind can take you” – Bill Ayers.

What began as a project rooted in paranoia that my basement would flood initially evolved into a lunch-and-learn I hosted for Cardinal Peak employees. During my initial presentation, I focused on Amazon Web Services’ “internet of things” (AWS IoT) services and how I created “SumPy,” an AWS IoT-driven sump pump monitor and alert system. Now, due to the session’s success and the community’s collective desire to delve deeper into those and similar topics, Cardinal Peak is organizing an ongoing series of classes that will be open to the public.

Ever-Growing Internet of Things

As the digital revolution continues, an increasing number of companies are turning to the internet of things and connected devices as IoT technologies become easier to implement and IoT infrastructure becomes easier to build. According to McKinsey, the number of businesses that use IoT technologies has increased from 13% in 2014 to around 25% today.

Statistics from Statista reveal the global market for IoT end-user solutions grew to $212 billion in size by the end of 2019, with forecasts suggesting that this figure will grow to around $1.6 trillion within five years.

Everywhere you look, from our homes to factories, hospitals, city infrastructure and a seemingly endless amount of other locations, the world is seeing a proliferation of billions of connected devices. With the rapid growth of IoT devices, we increasingly need solutions to securely connect them and collect, store and analyze device data.

Enter AWS IoT.


Amazon’s service for connecting widgets to the cloud, AWS IoT provides device software, control services and data services, enabling users to securely connect, control, manage and secure their IoT devices, gather data and take intelligent actions — even when Wi-Fi connectivity is not available.

From multilayered security to superior AI integration, AWS IoT is built on a scalable, secure and proven cloud infrastructure, and it integrates with a myriad of other Amazon services so that users are able to build complete IoT solutions. Providing broad and deep functionality, spanning the edge to the cloud, AWS IoT enables users to build IoT solutions for virtually any use case across a wide range of devices.

During the lunch-and-learn I hosted, we focused on AWS IoT Core, a managed cloud service that enables connected devices to interact with cloud applications and other devices in an easy and secure manner. The service supports billions of devices and trillions of messages, and it can reliably and securely process and route those messages to AWS endpoints and to other devices.

AWS IoT Core also makes using AWS and Amazon services to build IoT applications that gather, process, analyze and act on data generated by connected devices simple — all without having to manage any infrastructure.

Building with AWS IoT: “SumPy,” My Paranoia Project

A few years back, I finished my basement and did a lot of the work myself. At the same time, my sump pump started running constantly, and I got paranoid that it would stop working and then flood, which would obviously be quite expensive and heartbreaking after putting in so much effort.

Leveraging AWS IoT to build this unique smart home application, “SumPy” utilizes a Raspberry Pi Zero-W that is hooked up to my home’s Wi-Fi. I installed the Amazon IoT Device SDK and got my Pi to communicate with Amazon’s services. On the back end, I was able to plug it in to send me daily text message updates, statuses, warnings about whether the sump pump is about to overflow and other things of that nature — all without writing a single line of code.

The lunch-and-learn presentation concentrated on:

  • AWS IoT device security and provisioning.
  • AWS IoT MQTT messaging.
  • How to set up AWS IoT rules.
  • How to quickly stand up a simple AWS API Gateway service backed by Lambda using Flask and Zappa.

There was also some attention paid to AWS SNS to send text alerts to my phone, as well as AWS DynamoDB to back a REST API.

Whether companies are in search of computing power, database storage, content delivery or other functionality, AWS is growing increasingly ubiquitous across the tech space. Consequently, it’s important that we enhance our understanding of the services like AWS IoT that help our clients build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability.

At Cardinal Peak, we excel in the IoT space, empowering our clients with the ability to quickly design products that seamlessly integrate with mobile applications and cloud systems. We possess detailed knowledge of communications protocols, security standards, data collection and analytics, as well as the skills and experience necessary to develop devices that will flourish in the networked ecosystems of today’s world of business.

At the end of the day, our job is to design, innovate, build and deliver solutions for even the most difficult engineering problems. By hosting this lunch-and-learn and putting together an ongoing series of educational, hands-on workshops, I’m able to share best practices and other tips and tricks I’ve learned, effectively creating opportunities for not only Cardinal Peak to grow together as a company but to build a community of experts who are well versed in AWS IoT.

If you’re interested in attending our AWS IoT workshop series, stay tuned for additional information. If you’re interested in leveraging our IoT expertise to reduce both cost and time to market for your connected device (or would like to request my lunch-and-learn presentation), get in touch with us.