Welcome to ProximaSafe, an
evolution of Smart Cities!
Wait, what on Earth is Proxima and why is it Safe?
In 2018, Oracle developed ProximaCity, a physical product showcasing how cloud services can
resource-intensive processes which make communities functional. This was an exciting
outgrowth of Oracle’s
City initiative. It was a big hit.
Then there was a pandemic.
ProximaCity needed to adapt from a sprawling physical model to something more streamlined.
still a priority, but safety came first.
ProximaSafe extends the goals of the old ProximaCity, but uses data to proactively defend
threats (monitoring environmental parameters and ensuring sanitation stations, for example).
What to expect from this series
This series walks you through creating a personal development lab which you can build at
home, or just read
to follow along. The theme of the lab, its use cases and sample data, borrows from the COVID
APIs, edge components, and sensors, you’ll use OCI services to build safety-related use
The goal here is to enable teachers, students, developers, and tinkerers to use and improve
lab” and develop new safety-oriented use cases to explore and expand its necessary back-end
The Briefcase Dream
I’ve always been a fan of Marvel superheroes comics, long before the successful movie
franchise known as MCU.
Actually, around 1972–1975, I could find several Marvel comics carefully translated and
lettered in my
native language by visiting my friendly (actually, he wasn’t) news vendor, strategically
placed in the
market street corner few hundred yards from where I lived.
The hard limit — at the time — was the number of physical coins I was allowed to spend within
a month without
incurring into Mum’s inevitable semi-verbal reproach.
Few years later, my tastes and interests turned to the Golden Age Sci-Fi (Asimov and all of
Heinlein, Bradbury ). The news vendor corner was always there, my monthly allowance was a
tad more generous
and I could smuggle sci-fi books in my school bag without arousing suspicion. With a notable
pooled with the books, a comic, the Iron Man episode where the iconic Mr. Stark briefcase
was introduced to
my ‘magnets and miracles’ world.
I wish I had that briefcase available in a number of situations, getting a bad grade or
running into the
inevitable school bully: my curiosity about the relationship between miniaturization and
a fixed point even today.
Then, decades later, the briefcase idea surfaced again while having fun with an iteration of
the Oracle’s Proxima City model
made by the Italian Innovation
Team, a whimsical (as it’s been called) construction made with Legos, Arduinos, sensors and
During the 2020 lockdown we had no access to the city model, installed in the Customer Visit
Center in Rome.
I was struggling to find a way to show a functioning demo either via Zoom or bringing some
customer premises (no Star Trek transporter available, so far), and urged to prepare
something smaller than
a city model but powerful enough to show the concept.
“I should definitely do it” was my inner morning echo while sipping my favorite daily
Changing the model to be portable also meant changing the use cases perimeter: the year 2020
required — for
obvious reasons — a rapid transition from Smart City services to an extended and appropriate
Requirements were clear: small enough to fit in my backpack, programmable, made with
components, easily connectable to OCI services, and capable to show the end-to-end message
flow by means of
physical interaction. The stretch goal was to enable teachers, students, developer and
tinkerers to improve
this ‘portable lab’ and develop new use cases oriented to safety, exploring and expanding
back-end cloud services.
From Briefcase to Cloud, and Back
Here’s the link (Note: insert link) to the article series about what I call
showing how to build some Cloud and Edge capabilities to make a testbed for safety-related
(included, but not limited to) using a number of technologies and tools, such as:
Oracle Golden Gate Streaming Analytics, to analyze data in motion and
OCI Streaming, the messaging backbone
OCI Functions, the serverless infrastructure used to enable the
upstream messages to
the M5Stack family of development boards, acting as Edge Components
enabled to publish
and subscribe to IoT topics
a Raspberry Pi 4, the inevitable Edge gateway taking care of
sensors & boards to Cloud — and viceversa
a suitable battery pack to power the whole stuff.
The overall architecture designed for this mobile lab includes the representation of the edge
inside the briefcase) and the communication flow edge -> OCI -> edge with return
anomaly detections and alarms.
So, given a number of messages that can be recognized as an uptrend/downtrend pattern or a
number of messages
within a time frame (maybe few seconds), the stream analysis within OCI may (or may not)
throw an alarm,
sent back to the edge to make something happen.
I’ve divided the whole path in chapters that will be published every fortnight or something,
trying to avoid
the ‘War and Peace’ syndrome (I’m not sure I achieved that). Here’s the breakdown of the
In chapter 1, we’ll set up OCI resources to implement an even-driven
engine, capable of
analyzing the stream of events (and data) from the edge
In chapter 2, we’ll set up the feedback mechanism to return alarms to
the edge in order
to make something happen locally
In the final chapter (three is the magic number), we’ll select and
program the edge
components (thingies in our briefcase) and we’ll design some pipelines in the cloud
corresponding to a
number of use cases.
It was fun to build it. The boy I used to be would be proud of it.
The briefcase needs more engineering. I became no Tony, no superpowers, no millionaire, and —
overall — my
once dark goatee has become white (alas!), so the distant reflection of that boy slipping
comics and books
in the backpack while wondering about future technology maybe it’s gone forever. My morning
reminds me that, indeed, it is.