Contributions from: “Nelson” Nelson, Gowri Ramachandran, Kurian Karyakulam

This is the first in a series of articles about programming for the Internet of Things, marketplaces for data, and distributed ledger technology for mobility and smart city apps.

Pronounced “i-three”, the I3 Consortium is a group of technology leaders focused on improving our daily life in the City of Los Angeles and beyond. Faculty and Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) created the I3 marketplace for buying and selling data. Its design allows both humans and IoT devices to participate. By design, the I3 marketplace doesn’t store data, but acts as a broker for the sale of information.

Buyers who subscribe to data streams need a place to store their data. The IOTA protocol is a distributed ledger for transferring value and data. By harnessing this I3, subscribers can use the Tangle to immutably store their data. Researchers at USC experimented with the IOTA protocol to see how this could work.

The series of blog posts share our key findings and provides links to tutorials so you can get involved. To learn more about the I3 marketplace, go to

The experiment included setting up four simple IoT devices. We used various devices to capture various streams of data: an AstroPiOTA device gathers environment data every 30 minutes, an EnviroPhat equipped Raspberry Pi collects the temperature every 30 minutes, an Autonomous Gardener buys water when plants in the community garden are thirsty, and finally, a CO2-TVOC sensor checks the air quality every 20 minutes.

A product was created on the I3 marketplace for each stream of data. We subscribed to each product and stored the sensor data in the Tangle. Then, we investigated trends in the data. We got the results we expected. We also got some unexpected benefits.

The LA CO2-TVOC monitor reports CO2 levels. This type of data is useful for public safety. Health care professionals need to know CO2 levels and public safety professionals use it to monitor air quality. The AstroPiOTA and EnviroPhat weather stations are reporting local weather. The Autonomous Gardener notifies local gardeners when plants are buying water.

On July 4th, we had a 7.1 magnitude earthquake near L.A. Data from AstroPiOTA appears to reflect this. AstroPiOTA is a clone of AstroPi that flies onboard the International Space Station (ISS). On the ISS, it monitors their orientation in space using an accelerometer and gyroscope. On Earth, AstroPiOTA doesn’t fly. It sits on the ground. If the device reports movement, that may indicate that the Earth is moving! We’re discussing this with earthquake specialists and will report our findings in the future.

Something else happened. The data from my Autonomous Gardener alerted us that the soil moisture sensor was malfunctioning. This sensor is stuck in the ground near the vegetables to determine when the soil is too dry and they need water. It was failing because it had corrosion on it that is poisonous. In this local community garden, we’re too busy for traditional gardening, so the Autonomous Gardener helps us grow food and keep our yards in compliance with city landscaping rules. Food and plant safety is important.

We’re just getting started with simple devices and we already have beneficial results. I can’t wait to see what I3 Phase 2 will bring. We’re adding a camera with AI that reports foot traffic and parking spots. IOTA is adding a new electric vehicle charger where you can refuel using the Iota tokens. IOTA is also inventing a new technology that will make the process of collecting and sharing sensor data easier. We’re teaching others how to onboard their IoT devices so they can start buying and selling data. And we’re experimenting with combining data from different streams.

If you live near Los Angeles and wish to participate in hands-on learning, sign up for the Eventbrite Meetup Series:Intro to IoT, I3, and IOTA at  

Here are step-by-step guides for building your own devices:  

Here’s a recap of the blog posts in this series:

Blogpost 1 — Intro to IoT, I3, & IOTA

Blogpost 2 — Connecting your Device to I3 Marketplace (coming soon!)

Learn more about IOTA  

Join our community on Discord  

IOTA Technical documentation  

Learn more about USC Marshall  

Learn more about USC Viterbi  

Learn more about the I3 Consortium  

S. D. Nelson (“Nelson”)works as a Technologist at the IOTA Foundation. He shares IOTA’s passion for zero-cost transactions for the Internet of Things so that society can benefit from these emerging technologies. He recently teamed up with Researchers at USC to participate in the I3 Intelligent-Integrated IoT Conference and Workshop. Previously, he tested the Curiosity Mars rover at NASA-JPL, taught in China, and worked in 27 countries validating robotic lab equipment. He recently moved to Los Angeles.

Special thanks toWenChen Meifor his advice regarding data visualization. He is a graduate student pursuing his Master of Science in Material Science at Auburn University.

Dr. Gowri Sankar Ramachandranis a postdoctoral researcher at Center for Cyber-Physical System and the Internet-of-Things (CCI), USC Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California (USC). He has more than eight years of research experience in the area of Internet of Things including wireless testbeds and middleware technology as well as applications ranging from medicine delivery in Africa to improving fairness in Policing. Gowri is also involved in the development and management of USC’s Intelligent Internet-of-Things Integrator (I3), which is a data marketplace platform for smart cities.

Kurian Karyakulam Sajanis a technology enthusiast and a student pursuing a Master’s of Computer Science at the University of Southern California. He has five years of professional experience as a full-stack developer in Oracle, Creditvidya startup in the Financial Technology domain and research programmer at the University of Southern California. Presently, he is privileged to be working with a team of dedicated intellectuals on I3 data market under the guidance of Professor Bhaskar Krishnamachari. A revolutionary idea that is a conglomeration of IoT, Blockchain, Distributed Systems, Economies and Machine Learning, which has the potential to dive deep into a plethora of research questions that were never investigated before. He is also passionate about adventurous sports and soccer.

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