Itron Named a Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide

Itron recently announced that it has been named a Visionary in Gartner Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide for the third time.

The report evaluates the global market for M2M services, which “enables connectivity, compute and decision services that are necessary for connected solutions…Gartner’s coverage of managed M2M services focuses on providers that bundle connectivity, technology and technology services that facilitate key business processes and related outcomes.” The report recognized Itron as a Visionary.

To read the full press release, click here.

To download the Gartner report, go to www.itron.com/m2m.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


A Practitioner’s Guide to Short-term Load Forecast Modeling

Over the years, numerous clients have requested a “recipe book” for building powerful short-term load forecast models. This guide to Short-term Load Forecast Modeling is a partial “recipe book,” providing the full list of possible ingredients with guidance as to when to use which combination of ingredients. The focus is on building the within-day and day-ahead load forecast models that system operators and energy traders rely on for scheduling, dispatching and procuring generation to meet demand. The information presented is based on 20 plus years of experience forecasting in the trenches with system operators and energy traders in Australia, Europe and North America.

The guide begins with the hard work of data review and analysis. In practice, the path to a powerful forecast model is through a very thorough analysis of the data. The first section outlines an approach for reviewing load data. This is followed by data cleaning approaches and philosophies. With the preliminaries complete, the Like Day, Multivariate Regression and Neural Network load forecast techniques that are the bread and butter of the industry are introduced, and the discussion includes descriptions of machine learning frameworks that can be used to complement today’s operational load forecast tools. Next is defining a set of explanatory variables that can be used in a load forecast model, including the treatment of calendar conditions, holidays and weather conditions. A series of load forecast model recipes and associated model building guidelines are introduced. The guide finishes with basic concepts related to incorporating behind-the-meter solar generation into a load forecast model.

Download the Guide: A Practitioner’s Guide to Short-term Load Forecast Modeling


Itron Idea Labs Attends LA CoMotion Leadership Conference

As an entrepreneur-in-residence for Itron Idea Labs, I was excited to be able to represent our organization at the recent LA CoMotion Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, Nov.15 - 17 . This three-day global forum, co-hosted by LACI (the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, which is an Itron-sponsored organization), brought together more than 1,000 elected officials, smart city thought-leaders, transit operators, public utilities, and transportation innovators and stakeholders from both the public and private sectors — all committed to realizing a new urban mobility paradigm and fulfilling the Paris Agreement.

Keynotes, expert panel discussions, workshops, test drives, demos and vendor exhibitions covered a range of topics like autonomous vehicles, digital mobility, electrification of the transportation sector, electric vehicles (both commercial and private), first/last mile-focused micro-mobility products (e-bikes, e-scooters — and even e-roller blades), and a host of mobility-related public policy, equity and social issues.

The future of transportation — connected, autonomous, shared and electric — will transform urban mobility, reshape cities and improve the quality of life for everyone. E-mobility will have a huge impact on the future of the grid, the utilities-of-the-future paradigm, urban infrastructure (how will all these public and private e-vehicles get charged?) and the transition to renewable energy. Blockchain-based (distributed ledge technology) information flows will provide the standardized, trusted, efficient, interoperable and immutable platform for transactions among all stakeholders and users.

To learn more about the LA CoMotion Leadership Conference, click here.


Short-term Load Forecasting: A Practitioner’s Handbook

Our final brown bag seminar of the year—hosted on Tuesday, Dec. 4—is entitled “Short-term Load Forecasting: A Practitioner’s Handbook.”

Ever wonder how to build a day-ahead load forecasting model? This Brown Bag provides a high-level walk through of the process. This presentation includes:

  • Data analysis and cleaning.
  • Weather stations and concepts selection.
  • Construction of key explanatory variables.
  • Technique selection.
  • Final model specification.

Along the way, we will introduce a handbook that Itron has written describing the practical steps involved in developing day-ahead load forecasting models.

To register, for this Brown Bag and other forecasting events, go to http://www.itron.com/forecastingworkshops. Participation is free, but prior registration is required. Each seminar lasts approximately one hour, allowing 45 minutes for the presentation and 15 minutes for questions. Seminars start at noon Pacific-time.

If you can’t attend a seminar or missed one, don’t worry! Your registration ensures that a link to the recording will be sent to you automatically approximately one week after the seminar date.


Itron-supported Legislation Signed by the President

This summer, Itron saw movement in Congress on some long-standing issues that we have been working on for several years, including the Disaster Recovery Reform Act and Water Resource Development Act.

With a coordinated effort by a broad coalition of interested organizations and other parties, including Itron, Congress passed – by wide bipartisan majorities – some critical changes to the Stafford Act, which regulates how federal disaster relief funds can be spent by local municipalities. In the past, because of a “in-kind” limitation, municipalities could only use federal funds to restore damaged infrastructure with the same generation/version of infrastructure. Hence, if a wooden utility pole fell over during a hurricane, any municipality using Stafford Act funds was forced to replace it with another wooden pole, no matter the likelihood of it falling over again in the next storm. With the reforms added to the Stafford Act in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act signed by the President earlier this fall, upgraded, hardened infrastructure can now be deployed, improving the resiliency of communities subjected to a growing frequency of major storms.

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on natural hazard mitigation, for every dollar the U.S. government spends on infrastructure hardening, it saves four dollars in restoration costs. While no one can stop the next storm from hitting, the Stafford Act can now ensure that taxpayer funds are being spent on the latest, most resilient technologies to minimize the impact when it does hit.

In addition, Itron, along with many other stakeholders, worked to help push the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) through months of difficult negotiations in the U.S. Congress. The bill was finally passed with nearly unanimous support earlier this fall. For the first time in decades, the WRDA reauthorizes the Safe Water Drinking Act, which funds the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) state revolving fund. The EPA provides billions of dollars in grants to states and municipalities for infrastructure projects. The WRDA also includes a new provision creating a water infrastructure resiliency grant program, which Itron supported with our Congressional delegation – i.e. states where Itron has a substantial number of employees and/or facilities.


Aggregation Bias Strikes Again!

The issue of aggregation bias should not be a new concept to any of us in the energy forecasting world. In April, my colleague David Simons posted about the potential pitfalls of aggregation bias when calculating weather concepts, pointing out the importance of calculating CDD and HDD concepts prior to averaging.

Traditionally, CDD and HDD concepts are constructed by first calculating daily average temperature— either averaging the 24-hourly observations or taking the average of the daily maximum and minimum— and then calculating CDDs and HDDs for the desired breakpoints. This is, by definition, aggregation bias, averaging before calculating the nonlinear values. This got me thinking, should we be calculating CDD and HDD concepts on the hourly values first and then averaging for the day? If you do not have historical hourly weather, the point is moot. But let’s assume you do. The table below contains 24 hourly temperature observations. The average temperature for the day is 63.8 degrees, calculating a CDD in base 65 would result in zero CDDs, but if you first calculated the CDDs and then averaged, you would end up with two CDDs. Was there cooling during the day or not? Thinking from a residential customer’s perspective, a few warm hours in the middle of the day wouldn’t necessitate turning on the air conditioner. During the height of summer or winter, it will not matter—when all hourly observations are above or below the breakpoint, the two methods will return the exact same value.

I set out to test if using hourly constructed CDD and HDD concepts would improve daily or monthly forecasting models. Using historical weather and system load data for a utility in the southeast, I built daily and monthly forecasting models. The daily model was simple—multiple HDD and CDD concepts, lags of weather, binaries for days of the week and holidays, hours of light, as well as a simple trend. I created two identical models, the only difference being how the daily weather concepts were constructed; one with the traditional approach of first averaging the daily temperature and then calculating weather concepts and the other calculated weather concepts from the hourly values, and then averaged. The models were estimated using three years of daily data, with the dependent variable being daily energy. The model with the traditional weather concepts had an Adj. R2 0.957 and a MAPE (Mean Absolute Percent Error) of 2.84 percent. The alternative model had an Adj. R2 0.951 and a MAPE of 3.03 percent. While not drastically different, the traditional weather concepts did provide a better fit and smaller errors. The monthly model was estimated with eight years of data and showed similar results with the traditional weather model having an Adj. R2 0.966 and a MAPE of 2.15 percent, while the alternative model had an Adj. R2 0.961 and a MAPE of 2.30 percent.

Conclusion: It appears there is nothing to be gained from calculating weather concepts from hourly values and then averaging.


Itron Wins Golden Peacock Global Award for Sustainability

Itron continues to create a more resourceful world. We have recently been recognized as the winner of the Golden Peacock Global Award for Sustainability from the Institute of Directors (IOD), India. The award was presented by the Baroness Verma, global chairperson for the Institute of Directors in India and former minister of energy, climate change and international development in the UK, during an award ceremony held in London on Oct. 26.

Itron’s commitment to caring for the environment begins with daily operations; we constantly seek new ways to reduce waste and minimize our impact on the environment – both within our own walls and in the work we do with our customers. Similarly, our corporate social responsibility programs are closely aligned with our business mission and vision to create a more resourceful world. We believe the way we manage energy and water will define the century and though collaboration, education and innovation, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference for future generations to come.

Nigel Hughes, Itron’s vice president of sales for EMEA, accepted this award and gave a case study presentation on Oct. 26 at the Institute of Directors (IOD) India’s 18th Annual London Global Convention on Corporate Governance & Sustainability and Golden Peacock Awards Presentation Ceremony at Hotel Montcalm in London.


What I Learned About Smart Cities at Itron Utility Week 2018

I had the opportunity to attend Itron Utility Week this year on behalf of Iguá Saneamento, a water provider in Brazil. This large event is focused on the utility sector (water, energy and gas) and hosted by Itron, which is innovating the way utilities and cities manage energy and water and committed to the development of the sector.

The theme of the event already points out the purpose: To Connect, Innovate and Transform. There were three days of learning and great inspiration about the challenges and opportunities we face in creating smart cities.

What are Smart Cities?

There is much talk about smart cities; it is cool, but we are still crawling. There are examples and initiatives of success, however, this is an embryonic business and an agenda to be explored.

In summary, we are talking about making cities intelligent, using information and data that is collected using smart city infrastructure to help improve the management of cities and enable more informed decision-making. The most important and central axis involves the objective: provide better services to the citizen! As it was well stated by Phil Nevels, director of the utility of the future at Exelon during a panel on smart cities at the conference:

"We are not talking about technology, this is about service delivery!"

To a large extent, talking about smart cities involves an exercise of futurism, navigating in the universe of possibilities that the new technologies may provide. If on the one hand, we are not capable of foreseeing a clear point of arrival, it is more than tangible to observe connection and integration solutions that make the relationship of the service providers with the clients more accessible, transparent and deliver a better level of control and efficiency for the city.

No one would have imagined using Google or Uber some years ago. However, today no one conceives the idea of being without this type of service. I do not think it will be different in the vision of a smart city. The form of relationship with the water, energy or gas service providers is still archaic, and the support of these operations in its current format will remind us of the telephone lists in a little while. Connectivity, undoubtedly, will be a field to transform our business models.

Who is responsible for developing smart cities?

The challenge to create the agenda of smart cities is very similar in the U.S. and in Brazil, in spite of the differences of history and institutional context. Listening to David Graham, the deputy COO of the city of San Diego, we have the clarity that this mission needs to involve the public-private partnership, and the protagonist should be increasingly more of the public service providers (the concessionaires). It is not possible to advance without the public sector, but the agenda of undertaking and assuming the risk has much more adherence to the private sector than to the governmental sector.

The sector of utilities needs to face its long-term relationship as a service provider. It is necessary to capture in its planning the premise that the technology cost will decrease consistently (the so-called Moore's Law), and that the present restrictions will be competitive differentials soon. It is a strategic positioning of thinking big! Understand that there is a potential besides the obvious service and that the basic infrastructure is a necessary investment that needs to encompass other variables beyond the form of the present service.

Create a virtuous cycle in which more investment results in a better service provision and this results in new components of revenue, feed-backing the capacity of investment and the cycle to bring solutions to the city.

A smart city is an innovative process. There are support layers for the evolution and emergence of new ideas and applications. It is necessary to provide some abundance to allow for the disruption. In this sense, the vision of the public authority gains great relevance. The strategic agenda is in the form of creating the regulation environment and the inherent incentives. It is necessary to create a sense of integration and sharing. As it was said by Nevels during a panel on smart cities:

"It is not about thinking out of the box, but to enlarge the box!"

If the entrepreneurial protagonist is the private sector, sustaining the environment for such innovation is inherent to the public sector. Courage to break the standard of "protecting itself through the negative response" and of a low environment of trust is crucial.

How can you make progress on the agenda of smart cities?

The U.S. and some other countries in the world are more advanced, in the sense of having had the courage to create initiatives and pilots. There are, in some cases, more synergies for utilities that allow for scale gains on this agenda.

In Brazil, the theme of public lighting seems to me to be a great catalyzer of the process. There is a large space to create solutions of public-private partnerships in this territory. There is space for this service to be a platform for the smart city by integrating other solutions.

Smart lighting applications that are activated only with the presence of people and adapt according to the density of the event, that are integrated with noise-capture systems for public security alarms (detection of gun shots, for instance), and still support of telemetry systems for reading of water, energy and gas consumption meters are some of the possibilities. Why not think of creating a city lit up in an environment with plenty of Internet Wi-Fi access? What would that represent for the agenda of development of new businesses?

As it was very well explained by Mike Beehler, Vice President Burns & McDonnell during the conference: this is the old and good, Think Big, Start Small and Walk Fast!

It is a matter of not losing sight of the need to put the customer at the center of the solution. Something that the utilities sector still is reluctant to adopt: a legitimate and continuous concern about perception and customer satisfaction. We are talking about providing solutions to the citizen. At the end of the day, it is the citizens who pay the bill. We have a new generation of consumers who are born with a different vision of what is free and who expect more of what is basic.

The vision of society as it relates to the conference’s theme reveals a little of the way. It involves the smart city connection with the necessary sustainability agenda. A study of this perception was presented by Itron and shows how there is a space for such territory (check out the 2018 Itron Resourcefulness Report).

We want to have smart cities (after all, nobody wants to be in "dumb cities"). There is the intention. It is necessary that we advance on the action agenda! Finally, more efficiency directly involves less waste and more sustainability of our natural resources!

In this intense immersion of the world of the utilities, I observed that even in the U.S. there is a lot of space for how we address the customer’s agenda. The agenda of having the active and continuous listening, by means of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which we have at Iguá, in fact is something unique and innovative in the sector.

Our way of progress requires building partnerships and the continuity and intensification of the innovation agenda. Transforming our reality focused on providing excellent service. To connect, innovate and transform!

P.S.: What about you? How do you get into this agenda? Do you have ideas or initiatives? Do you believe in the importance of the initiatives to create smart cities? Share and let’s create a network of entrepreneurs in this theme!

Eder Sá Alves Campos is the Corporate Management Manager at Iguá Saneamento in Brazil. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.


Odds and Sods

Probabilities and odds express the same information in different ways. In science and economics, people tend to think in terms of probabilities, while in gambling, people tend to think in terms of odds.

Probabilities express the likelihood of an event occurring as a percentage of all possible events occurring. Odds express the number of times an event will occur with relation to the number of times the event will not occur.

Imagine we have five marbles in a bowl—we have three red marbles and two blue marbles, as shown below.

If we randomly select one marble, the probably of picking red can be expressed as:

Where:
Pr = Probability of picking a red marble
Nr = Number of red marbles
Nb = Number of blue marbles

In the above example, the equation evaluates as follows:

Thus, the probability of randomly picking a red marble is 3/5 or 0.6 or 60%.

The same information can be expressed as odds:

Where:

Or= Odds of picking a red marble

This evaluates as follows:

The odds of picking red can be expressed as 3:2. In the case of betting however, odds are typically expressed as the odds of losing, rather than the odds of winning. In other words, it is generally described as the odds against an event occurring. In this case, the odds of not picking red are 2:3. If, for example, the odds are expressed as 9:1 for a particular team, the interpretation is that the team will likely lose nine times for each one win.

It is also easy to convert from probabilities to odds and vice versa. The conversion of probability to odds is calculated as:

In the above example, this evaluates as:

If we return to the original calculation above, the odds of picking red are expressed as 3/2, which is equivalent to 1.5 or 1.5:1.

We can therefore convert from odds to probability as:

People often use the terms ‘probability’ and ‘odds’ interchangeably. While these concepts ultimately can be used to describe the same phenomenon, they have distinct mathematical formulations.


Engaging Students with Conservation Station

Itron and Discovery Education’s joint educational outreach program, Conservation Station: Creating a More Resourceful World, launched last week. This new corporate social responsibility-based educational program was developed to engage and educate middle school students about smart cities initiatives and the interdependent relationship between energy and water through the lens of conservation. Designed to provide access to digitally immersive and educational experiences, this inaugural Smart Cities Virtual Field Trip premiered LIVE from Itron’s Innovation Center in San Jose, California on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Over 1,400 classrooms registered for the Smart Cities Virtual Field Trip that transported students beyond the walls of their schools and learning centers for a behind-the-scenes tour of Itron’s Innovation Center, where they learned about what makes a city smart and how sustainable communities play an essential role in conservation. Students also learned the relationship between energy and water, including how innovative urban technologies are solving today’s conservation challenges.

Itron is committed to teaching the next generation about the importance of conservation, and this new initiative aims to encourage a national dialogue on the importance of students’ understanding of current and future energy needs. The program material dives into the relationship between energy and water and how innovative technologies are working to conserve both resources through the core pillars of resourcefulness: effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

Itron is proud to partner with Discovery Education to create a more resourceful world.

To learn more, visit learntoconserve.com or read the full press release here.


Wi-SUN: The Chosen Technology Connecting the World’s Smartest Cities

Cities worldwide are ramping up deployment of smart technologies that accelerate progress towards sustainability goals, while empowering them with a toolkit for digital transformation. Offering a range of proven benefits, including energy savings, reduced maintenance cost, and enhanced safety, connected streetlights provide an ideal starting point for any smart city initiative.

While there are a variety of technologies to consider, two of the top 10 cities implementing connected streetlights—Miami (500,000) and Paris (280,000)—have chosen Wi-SUN networks as the foundation for their digital transformation initiatives, according to a new Connected Streetlights Market Report from IoT Analytics*: https://iot-analytics.com/top-10-cities-implementing-connected-streetlights/

Here are five reasons why:

Support to millions of devices
Public lighting is among the most ubiquitous assets for any city. Large cities often manage hundreds of thousands of light points. With existing deployments of millions of interoperable devices, Wi-SUN networks include some of the world’s largest industrial IoT networks. In fact, since Wi-SUN networks support peer-to-peer communications between endpoints, they actually become more resilient as new devices are deployed. Florida’s street lighting network of more than 500k streetlights, for example, is reinforced by an existing mesh network canopy that encompasses more than 5 million connected devices.

Protecting the network with enterprise-grade security
As new connected devices proliferate throughout our critical infrastructure systems, protecting the network with the most stringent security standards is essential. Enterprise-grade security is the gold standard among IoT networks. Wi-SUN-based networks have achieved this level of security, with the highest levels of protection at each layer of the network.

Delivering superior communication performance – in almost any environment
Whether it is from changing landscapes or new construction, urban network environments will evolve over time. This can be challenging for fixed networks, which often experience coverage gaps. Wi-SUN networks are engineered to evolve in these changing environments. Peer-to-peer communication provides devices with multiple redundant connection paths back to the network gateways, enabling devices to automatically re-route through their nearest neighbors in the event of an outage. This self-healing capability makes it possible for Wi-SUN networks to deliver reliable connectivity in some of the most challenging service areas on the planet, including the dense urban landscapes of New York and mountainous topographies like Hawaii.

Ensuring solution longevity
Delivering intelligent solutions is about creating lasting value, which is why a smart city should choose a network solution designed to last for decades. With over-the-air firmware upgrades, devices will always be able to support the most advanced features. Remote upgrades are essential for delivering security updates in the event that a firmware patch is needed. Wi-SUN networks are also designed to enable seamless interoperability across multiple generations of network technology, while reducing the total cost of ownership.

Enabling endless possibilities with open standards
Cities are living ecosystems with diverse needs. Delivering a truly “smart” city will require intelligent devices that support a wide range of operational issues. Deploying single-purpose networks would require redundant network infrastructure and support systems, which can be costly and complicated to manage. Wi-SUN networks utilize widely adopted industry standards to enable an open ecosystem of interoperable solutions. For cities, this gives them the flexibility to start with their top priority use cases and then connect new devices and sensors as their needs change.

As the deployment of smart technologies continues apace, leading cities like Miami and Paris have set the benchmark for demonstrating a truly “smart” approach. With connected streetlights as the foundation, these cities are already unlocking efficiencies while laying the groundwork for future applications that improve and enhance citizen lives and wellbeing.

* The Connected Streetlights 2018-2023 Market Report is 96- page report, which examines worldwide deployment, revenue and shipment of connected streetlights, with segmentation analysis by region, technology and product. Additionally, the report examines the market landscape, including a market share analysis, and identifies the 111 smartest cities in terms of deployment of connected streetlights by region and country.


What are Weather Groups?

If you’re a user of Itron’s Automated Demand Forecasting System, MetrixIDR, then chances are you’ve probably seen the words “Weather Groups” at some point while navigating the software. Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “What the heck are Weather Groups?” Well, simply put, Weather Groups are a method of configuring load forecast models to use more than one source of weather data. This can be especially useful not only for letting a model determine the weighting on different sources of weather data (saving you the hassle of doing the analysis yourself), but also for providing a quick avenue for bringing all the data into a single custom MetrixND model in case you feel compelled to do the analysis yourself.

So how does one go about configuring such an awesome feature? Well, it’s pretty easy, but you need to know what you’re doing. First, you must have weather data for at least two Weather Stations in the system. Once you have that, you are ready to configure the Weather Regions. Weather Regions determine how the weather data will get populated in the Custom MetrixND Model. They can be individual Weather Stations or Weather Zones and can be given any name you’d like (e.g., coastal and inland). To create a Weather Region, go to Tools -> Weather Configuration, and on the Weather Regions tab, simply press the green plus sign in the top-left corner and a record will be inserted.

Once the Weather Regions have been defined, you’re ready to configure the Weather Groups. Go to the Weather Groups tab and press the green plus sign to add a Weather Group. Once a Weather Group has been defined, the next step is to assign the appropriate Weather Regions to the Weather Group (note: you will also need to select a Weather Station or Zone as the source of sunrise and sunset times via the drop-down menu under the Sun Parameters Weather field).

Once the Weather Regions have been assigned to the Weather Group, you then need to select the relevant Weather Stations and/or Weather Zones with which to populate each respective Weather Region. That is, you’re telling MetrixIDR which data source you want to flow to the configured Weather Regions. To do so, select the stations/zones from the list via the drop-down menu in the Weather ID field.

 

When that’s all completed, and you’ve saved your edits, you can then assign the Weather Group as the source of weather data to a model that uses a custom MetrixND model template. Go to the Models Module, open the Model Properties for an applicable model, and from the General Tab, assign the Weather Group as the weather data source.

There’s just one caveat—the custom MetrixND model template must be configured in a certain style to receive the Weather Group data. That is, data tables in the template that get populated with the corresponding weather concept data must be prefixed with the name of the Weather Regions (e.g., CoastalDryBulb, CoastalDewPoint, CoastalWindSpeed, InlandDryBulb, etc.).

This can easily be done by taking an existing template, copy-pasting the weather data tables, and renaming them. You can then import the template into MetrixIDR, assign it to the model and export it to a MetrixND file with estimation data to do your analysis and/or construct a new model specification.


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