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.


Enabling Smarter, More Scalable Cities, Sooner – Part II

One of the most engaging discussions at Itron Utility Week (IUW) was the Big Picture Session, which explored new business models to fund and activate smart cities. We were lucky to have industry expert Jennifer Runyon lead the compelling conversation, which gave the audience a chance to glean insights from a trifecta of industry experts, which included:

  • David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Smart + Sustainable Communities, City of San Diego
  • Jim Mazurek, Accenture Strategy, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy - Utilities
  • Phil Nevels, Director Utility of the Future, ComEd - an Exelon company

There were a ton of excellent takeaways from this discussion, with four key themes emerging from the conversation. This blog post is the second in a two-part series that will recap all four themes from the Big Picture session. Still need to catch up? Read the first installment here.

III. Expect (and be open to) the unexpected
An audience member pivoted the conversation when he grabbed the mic and asked one of the tougher questions of the day: “What’s your advice on how we can best keep up with technology?”

“You’re not ever going to keep up,” Graham said. His fellow panelists smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as he went on to clarify that keeping up with technology doesn’t have to be a success criteria in this case.

“Look at dockless bikes and scooters,” he continued. “Someone came into San Diego and dropped thousands of these things all over the place. Nobody ever thought of that, and suddenly you find yourself having to react, but you don’t have to regulate. We do not regulate dockless bike or scooter shares at all - that’s shocking to some! But we’re waiting to see how it plays out. You have to set up an environment that’s accepting and fluid enough to support and adjust to the pace of technology, but you don’t have to keep up with it - you simply can’t.”

IV. Move the conversation from evangelist-centric to engineer driven
As the panel discussion came to a close, Runyon squeezed in a final question and asked panelists to comment on what they envision the industry will look like 10 years from now.

“We need to move this conversation from evangelists to engineers,” Graham said.

All three agreed and noted that 10 years from now the concept of “smart cities” will not just be one small department supported by a few. It will be a priority of the senior leaders from all sides of the conversation, and the desire to progress will permeate day-to-day activities of utilities and municipalities alike.

Graham closed out the conversation on a high note and boldly stated “Itron will be the communications juggernaut.,” As the audience laughed, he took the opportunity to make a more serious proclamation about public and private sector collaboration to the utilities in the room:

“From a longevity perspective and an efficiency perspective, utilities are in a much better place to do this [vs. cities handling themselves], and our paths to the future are so inextricably linked that 10 years from now my vision is for the CEO and the mayor working hand-in-hand to push multiple deployments followed by a continuous stream of press releases year after year, because the cities and the utilities have finally figured it out.”


Enabling Smarter, More Scalable Cities, Sooner – Part I

One of the most engaging discussions at Itron Utility Week (IUW) was the Big Picture Session, which explored new business models to fund and activate smart cities. We were lucky to have industry expert Jennifer Runyon lead the compelling conversation, which gave the audience a chance to glean insights from a trifecta of industry experts, which included:

  • David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Smart + Sustainable Communities, City of San Diego
  • Jim Mazurek, Accenture Strategy, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy - Utilities
  • Phil Nevels, Director Utility of the Future, ComEd - an Exelon company

Pairing the hands-on insights of Graham and Nevels with Mazurek — who has advised 50+ utility industry leaders on C-level topics such as industry disruption, emerging technologies, customer-focused transformation and more — gave attendees the unique experience to be a part of the dynamic discussion that can take place when cities and utilities lock arms to explore the ways connectivity can enable new business models while also enhancing the lives of the citizens who live within them.

There were a ton of excellent takeaways from this discussion, with four key themes emerging from the conversation. This blog post is the first in a two-part series that will recap all four themes from the Big Picture session.

I. Maintain a “citizen-first” mentality to move the needle
Runyon’s first question focused on how to build effective public/private partnerships, and the panelists articulated their advice by offering a couple of examples, including the City of Amsterdam and Chicago’s Bronzeville Community of the Future.

Mazurek noted that Amsterdam has a progressive and unique approach to smart city deployments, describing the government’s role as similar to a “matchmaker,” pairing three audiences — innovators, investors and infrastructure owners — with one another. “They’ve also got their act together when it comes to cultivating and activating an open data platform; it allows them to monetize the information and subsequently subsidize the cost of infrastructure.” His fellow panelists agree that the best examples of public/private partnerships are those where everyone’s a winner, including municipalities, utilities and most importantly, people.

A follow up question on best practices came from the audience, calling on Nevels - who led the Bronzeville Community of the Future project, and asked him to share any partnership best practices he’s learned since working on the Chicago Microgrid Demonstration.

Nevels responded by sharing that the collective team took an equity- and accessibility-first mentality, noting, “as we look at smart cities, they can’t just be subsets of the population; it needs to be a smart city for all. Everyone needs equal access to anything a smart city offers. We’re a utility company — we’re in the business of equity — that’s what we provide: the same quality of power to all 10 million of our customers across country and the structure enables us to do this affordably while making it accessible to all citizens.” He recommended that all engaged partners maintain an equity-first mindset when approaching collaborative projects.

Graham agreed and went on to expand on a powerful point he had made during that morning’s general session, “we’re here to talk about scaling — the ideas, the projects, the technology are all there, we know that, we’re at a point where it’s all about gaining community support...and it’s the people — the public — that need to be the big “P” in [public/private] partnership conversations.”

II. Don’t ditch “inside-the-box” thinking just yet - now is the time to get tactical
Nevels also recommended that utilities keep infrastructure investment in mind when it comes to new business models. “Generally thinking ‘inside-the-box’ has a negative connotation, but what if you can make that ‘box’ bigger? We - as people - default to a need for new products and new services when discussing new revenue models and that is one very viable avenue to take. However, we don’t want to exclude the idea of investing in infrastructure, the same path that got us here.”

Nevels gave an example of fiber implementation to further his point and explained how the opportunity to lease fiber back to private entities as an example of a new revenue stream that could bring down total costs for everyone. “It’s a win, win,” he said.

As the conversation continued, it became clear that actionable, tactical ideas that offer high community impact will be most effective. But what about speed? A question from the audience requested that the panelists share their best examples of quick wins that utilities and municipalities can hang their hats on as they work to demonstrate the value of smart city technology.

Graham was eager to jump in and noted “streetlights is a big one — there’s so much scaling that can be done.”

Mazurek agreed and elaborated further on the benefits smart lighting solutions can offer: “If you haven’t fully harvested the value of smart street lighting and you want a quick, high-impact win, this is a slam dunk. The slam dunk business case is the immediate cost savings associated with electricity, but there’s so much more to it - the opportunities are nearly limitless when you think of everything you can put on top.”

Read on for two more insightful themes in Part II.


IUW18 Day II: Turning Expert Insights into an Actionable Approach

Nearly 1,200 attendees reconvened this morning ready to absorb all that they could during the last day of our Knowledge Conference at one of our largest Itron Utility Weeks (IUW) yet!

Our high-impact speakers, engaged attendees and innovative partners kept up Monday’s momentum throughout day two, which started with inspiration from David Graham, deputy COO for smart and sustainable communities at the City of San Diego.

Miss day 1? You can get the rundown on the kickoff to our annual event here.

Graham took the stage and touted his obsession with future-driven conversations before taking us for a quick trip back in time to revisit the predictions made by earlier generations of tech industry innovators. While he had us laughing at some of the more outlandish ones – including red flying robots taking over the world – we were equally impressed by a few hypotheses that align closely with some of today’s most promising innovations from the tech sector.

Graham, who led the City of San Diego’s strategic and successful installation of thousands of smart streetlights in 2014, went on to say, “who could have predicted that we’d have streetlights that could see, smell and hear?!”

And while his infectious enthusiasm had captured the attention of the whole room, he used his IUW platform to share an important message. He acknowledged that while out-of-the-box “Star Trek-esque” discussions are both inspiring and important, it’s critical that utilities and municipalities lock arms and focus on actionable discussions that allow them to explore the opportunities that matter here and now to their communities.

“These [smart street lighting solutions] are the technologies that are far more transformative than anything I showed a few minutes ago,” Graham proclaimed. “This kind of connectivity is what will change the ways we live and have lasting impacts on the way we exist. The future is happening and [utility companies] are making it happen.”

He referenced an app that was launched under his leadership, “Get It Done San Diego” to illustrate another way that the city is taking advantage of connectivity to improve the lives of citizens in the ways that matters most to them; while also eliminating the inefficiencies that had challenged the local government and utility companies.

“Technology is so cool, but if we forget about the people in the city and what’s most important to them, we’ve already forgotten what becoming a smart city is all about. We have to put people first.”

As Graham wrapped-up his presentation, Itron CEO Philip Mezey joined him on stage for a fireside chat focused on a few hot-button topics related to smart cities, including grid data and security as well as potential business models and driving smart city conversations for action.

Mezey asked Graham to explain how he addresses concerns about cyber threats in connectivity conversations. He responded by articulating the way he and his city have shifted their collective mindset on the topic:

“We talk about the importance of building resilient cities all of the time, and this is no different. Unfortunately, it’s not about whether you’ll get attacked; it’s about how quickly you can recover once it happens. We need to change the public perception and you do that by taking the appropriate measures to prepare in advance.”

Mezey pivoted the conversation to focus on measurable outcomes, asking how Graham and his team establish key performance indicators (KPIs). Graham underscored the importance of aligning KPIs with citizen pain points and explained how he is launching programs like The Free Ride, a shuttle service that uses electric vehicles to help people get around. He is directly addressing KPIs attached to citizen challenges, and - in this case - the results achieved also include greater sustainability, less traffic congestion and a direct solution to the “last-mile” struggle so many cities face.

For more on business models and driving conversations for action, stay tuned for Tuesday’s Big Picture session, where Graham elaborated on these topics during a panel discussion that also included some of our other progressive customers and partners.


IUW18 Packs a Serious and Sustainable Punch: Day I Recap

Itron Utility Week (IUW) kicked off in high-gear yesterday, and the General Session presenters set the pace with a compelling kickoff!

We had a strong lineup of speakers to get the week started, including: Itron CEO Philip Mezey; Luis Frisby, who oversees the Central Arizona Division of Southwestern Gas Corporation, and Marina Donovan, Itron vice president of global marketing and public affairs.

Transformation was a common thread throughout these initial presentations. However, IUW 2018 has offered new, compelling and – most importantly – actionable insights for utilities and municipalities to work from. The speakers zeroed-in on the areas where utilities and municipalities need to focus in order to maximize the impact of their efforts, as we look toward 2019 and beyond.

Itron CEO Philip Mezey took the stage where he covered what it takes to spark meaningful transformation in the utility industry. He spent time defining what “transformation” really means for the utility industry, reminding attendees that “we can’t get to transformation if we can’t fulfill our duty of delivering clean, reliable energy and water.”

He intentionally noted the greater challenges associated with achieving this transformation and highlighted that this transformational, global shift will have a wide-reaching impact; not only on utilities and municipalities, but on consumers of energy and water as well.

In short: truly achieving “transformation” is no walk in the park. But you all knew that, right?

And in the same breath he articulated our entire team’s sense of accountability in sharing that Itron is “moving beyond metering to enable smart cities, outcome-based solutions and the future of IIoT.”

Our CEO also set the tone for this week by sending us off with a bold message that underscored Itron’s confidence in the entire industry and noted that despite the challenges associated with antiquated infrastructure and widespread scarcity that plague the industry - we have no doubt in our shared ability to help our customers overcome these challenges, especially given the fast-paced innovation the industry has achieved; even in this past year alone. As he noted, “together, we have the opportunity to accelerate innovation.”

And with that, we headed into #IUW18!

Luis Frisby, the VP who oversees the Central Arizona Division of Southwestern Gas Corporation, took the stage next. He drew a clear line of sight between what Mezey articulated by sharing real-world examples of how Itron has worked with Southwestern Gas Corporation to optimize efficiencies with smart metering technology and real-time data insights, a couple of key insights that stood out include:

  • Since 1996, Itron has helped us to reduce 736 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually
  • More than 1.3 million miles of unnecessary driving (i.e., truck rolls) have been saved as a result of this collaboration thanks to the 160 vehicles taken off the road, enabling greater efficiency and enhancing sustainability

Marina Donovan, our vice president of global marketing and public affairs, took the stage after Frisby. She validated the key takeaways from the preceding speakers by highlighting key stats from our latest research initiative, the Itron Resourcefulness Report, which was also announced yesterday.

The report analyzed opinions of more than 1,000 utility executives plus more than 1,000 consumers and – while there were many intriguing findings in the robust analysis – Donovan focused on the core themes which centered around assessing the current risks, taking a shared approach to resourcefulness and the keys to a more resourceful future for our global community.

She also emphasized that the path to optimizing efficiency is one that can’t be achieved in a silo. As noted in our latest report, the next generation of resourcefulness will require the establishment of rock-solid alliances between all parties, from utility companies, to municipalities, device manufacturers, carriers and consumers alike.

The general session wrapped up with the Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards where we announced the winners in energy and water and recognized their contributions to reducing the waste of energy or water resources. Congratulations to Pepco Holdings and City of Bismarck!

The rich insights shared during our general session, which concluded around 9:30 a.m. MST, seemed like enough to pack a full day! But #IUW18 is just getting started – stay tuned for more updates and thanks to all who’ve joined the conversation in Scottsdale and remotely! We’ll be back with more updates. In the meantime, you can keep up with the #IUW18 conversation in real-time on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Frost & Sullivan Lauds Pepco Holdings and City of Bismarck with Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards at Itron Utility Week

Frost & Sullivan announced today Pepco Holdings and the City of Bismarck, North Dakota's water utility as the recipients of this year's Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards for energy and water. The annual awards honor companies that have demonstrated their commitment and ability to significantly reduce energy and water use based on a recent and successful technology implementation. The achievements of these utilities were recognized during Itron Utility Week in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pepco Holdings includes Atlantic City Electric in southern New Jersey, Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, and Pepco in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The companies deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy service to more than 2 million electric and natural gas customers. Pepco Holdings was recognized for its Energy Wise Rewards program, which is one of the most successful and widely recognized demand response programs in the industry. The program allows the utilities to remotely cycle more than 400,000 air conditioners and heat pumps on and off for short periods during peak energy periods.

"The program's impressive penetration rate of 60 percent among eligible customers in Maryland is a true testament to the trust that Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco have gained with their customers," Farah Saeed, Research Director Digital Grids at Frost & Sullivan. "Through the Energy Wise Rewards program, these utilities are walking the path to becoming premier energy customer partners."

The City of Bismarck, North Dakota's water utility completed a major network improvement in 2017 to ensure all customer meters were smart meters. The utility modernized its system with Itron's advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and Itron Analytics, which delivers advanced analysis and insight. With these upgrades, the utility changed the way local residents and the city government understood water management and utility operations, which has allowed the city to bill customers with accurate consumption and track usage and/or loss throughout the system..

Frost & Sullivan believes, the City of Bismarck has delivered exceptional results through its strategic investments in advanced solutions that resourcefully manage its water supplies.

"The winners of this year's Frost & Sullivan's Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards both succeeded in creating commendable programs that manage water and energy more resourcefully. Pepco Holdings implemented a highly successful demand response program that improved overall customer satisfaction and optimized energy efficiency, which distinguished them as a clear winner in the energy category," said Saeed. "The City of Bismarck obtained impressive water reduction results from their AMI implementation and analytics solution, making them the exemplary winner in the water category."

As a part of the selection process, Frost & Sullivan conducted in-depth research and interviews, and evaluated utilities against industry best practices and the decision criteria, including societal impact and business impact for each category. Indicators for societal impact included improving customer awareness and participation; enabling behavioral change to reduce waste through customer engagement and technology-driven programs; and yielding impressive waste reduction results that benefit the overall served community. Indicators for business impact included drafting a clear vision to address excessive waste through technology implementation; achieving operational effectiveness as a result of successful strategy for sustainability; and strengthening a utility's brand image as a leader for sustainability.

Read the press release here.


“Future Proof” with Itron on SAP HANA

One year ago, SAP prepared for Itron Utility Week (IUW) with a clear plan, purpose and a vision of success. SAP and Itron outlined an ambitious plan to bring the Itron Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (IEE MDM) solution onto the SAP HANA platform. With high expectations and a short timeline, the team committed to releasing the combined solution before the end of 2018. Not only was that goal achieved, but performance results have been impressive.

Itron is Live on HANA with Groundbreaking Performance Results
SAP and Itron are proud to show IEE MDM live on SAP HANA at IUW 2018. SAP HANA, SAP’s flagship in-memory OLTP/OLAP platform, opens a new world of possibilities to our customers. No longer is data visibility, data structure or system integration a gating issue as it relates to meter data. With meter data residing on a common platform, utility customers can more easily leverage that and other relevant data to gain operational insights and efficiencies.

In mid-2018, using the SAP Co-Innovation Lab and a representative set of three months of data for 5 million meters (1TB of data in HANA), SAP and Itron stood up IEE 9.1 on SAP HANA to prove the power of the SAP HANA platform. The performance gains realized by SAP HANA over legacy technologies was amazing! Itron’s solution performance improved by over 60% or more than 2.5 times, leading to drastically compressed batch times with greater access to real-time meter data. Not only are we seeing increased performance in batch processes, but it revolutionizes the data management and integration process for utilities. As much as SAP can tout the performance of an in-memory platform, the real key is the reduction of the data footprint by eliminating the replication and duplication of data.

Data Model is the Key
To eliminate the need for the replication of costly meter data, it is important to understand the concept of a virtual data model (VDM). A virtual data model is a structured representation of HANA database views for an application and follows consistent modeling rules. It provides direct access to data available in the IEE MDM system using standard SQL or OData requests.

The important data in the MDM, such as billing reads or event data, is exposed through well-defined database views, operating directly on the tables of the Itron database and transforming them into consistent and easily understandable views. These views can be consumed directly by rich-client UIs (such as HTML5, SAP BusinessObjects and Excel) or, more importantly, can be consumed by a Customer Information System (CIS) without moving the data, but simply pointing back to the data model.

Why is the Data Model Important?
Meter data replication leads to increased integration costs, a more expensive data footprint and takes us further from a real-time view of the data. However, there is a bigger issue that SAP HANA solves. With a direct extract from any application or MDM, the critical data, like billing reads, may be buried or embedded in a longer string of non-usable data. Extract, transform and load (ETL) is then necessary to translate this data into a usable form. Customers have tried to address this issue by setting up ETL to a secondary data warehouse, passing only the critical information to the end billing system. If we could seamlessly view the data at the heart of the MDM, without moving or transforming, we could do so much more to the data without having to transform it. Fortunately, with SAP HANA, this is now possible!

SAP HANA, with virtual data models, eliminates the complexity and customizing dependencies of Itron to make data available without requiring a deep understanding of models. Think of the VDM as a pointer to data as it resides in the application. There is no need to move the data or transform it. Since all processing happens on primary data, there is no need to wait for data warehousing loading jobs to finish. The cycle time from recording to reporting is dramatically reduced. As illustrated in the architecture below, all data across the enterprise is now available on one data platform. This allows SAP to join meter data with other data sources across the organization, including customer data or asset data, directly from the VDM without moving the data.


In the future, with these views, all customers have to do is edit existing Virtual models/Views or create new HANA Models to support new development creating a more efficient and faster process. This reduces development time and cost of support, while increasing usability through a faster development time.


Residential Solar From a Consumer’s Perspective

I live in Southern California with a kid who runs the air conditioning like electricity is free and pretends that he lives in a frozen tundra. This factor made me the perfect candidate for going solar. And since I’ve worked in Itron’s forecasting department for almost 27 years, it also makes sense that I would share the whole experience.

My 1,500 square foot house is in San Diego. In 2015, my annual electric bill was approximately $2,700 (9,000 kWh)—summer bills were in the $400-500 range, an average 800-900 kWh, and always hit the tier two rates. This usage seemed a bit excessive for me since I work full-time and I am not home during the week. As I watched the bills through the beginning of 2016, I was on target to exceed cost and usage from 2015. So, I decided to get serious about this solar stuff.

Unfortunately, by the time I looked into it, the cap on the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program was reached in San Diego Gas and Electric’s (SDG&E) service territory on June 29, 2016. Going forward, interconnection applications for net energy metering would be governed by the rules of the NEM Successor Tariff (Schedule NEM-ST, NEM-ST or often called NEM 2.0). With NEM 2.0, non-bypassable charges were now going to be assessed and there was a nominal interconnection fee. In addition, NEM 2.0 participants are only allowed to stay on tiered rates for five years after a system went live. Then, participants would need to move to the mandatory TOU rates—but, five years was better than nothing.

After much interviewing, I opted to have a friend do the installation versus one of the big companies. Not surprisingly, once the project started, other things came up. My roof is old and required that I have a lift and relay done where existing tiles are lifted and the flashing and paper are replaced, but the existing tiles are re-used, only replacing broken ones. There was no need to do a full replacement since the roof tiles would not be visible to anyone under the solar panels anyway.

There are many kinds of calculators available that determine monthly peak sun hours by zip code and help to estimate the system size. I needed at least a 6 kW system and was thinking ahead for a possible electric vehicle, so I ended up with a 7.25 kW system with 25 panels. My house faces southwest, which is the ideal location for solar panels. As a home owner, I wanted the panels to be mounted on the back of the house for aesthetic reasons, but due to the roof design of the house and garage, there wasn’t much space to have all the panels facing southwest. Plus, I had two giant palm trees in the front that blocked the sun. So, I opted to install about half of the panels on the back of my house. These panels were mounted at an angle to maximize output. Seeing solar panels on nearly every rooftop in San Diego is normal, so I didn’t mind too much that the panels would be visible on the front of the house.

The re-roofing and the solar installation started at the end of September and was done so fast that it was hard to believe how much time the big companies quoted. Below are pictures of the front and back of the house with the installed panels.

 

The application process wasn’t exactly fast, but everything was ready to go by the end of October with final approvals occurring in early November.

The graph below illustrates my monthly 2015-2017 billed energy usage. You can see the significant impact that the solar panels have had on my billed usage.

From the solar monitoring services, I can look at cool, colorful energy production grids. The darkest colored blocks in the winter months represent the least amount of power produced by the solar arrays and the lighter colored blocks during the summer months represent the most power produced.

I also receive fun emails with my monthly carbon offset.

Being on a NEM rate, at least with SDG&E, means that I no longer receive monthly bills. I receive one true-up bill on the anniversary date of my start date, which is in November. The bottom line for me—I went from spending $2,700 annually to $48 the first year! This is turning out to be a quick five-year payback after the tax credits. I’ve had a positive experience and highly recommend installing solar panels.

Tune into part two of my story—coming soon—where I added that electric vehicle to the mix.


Prep List: Time to Get Ready for a Great IUW 2018

Itron Utility Week (IUW) 2018 kicks off at the end of this week—and we’ve got all the details to help ensure your trip is a success. As you’re prepping for your trek to Scottsdale, Arizona, be sure to keep these items in mind:

  • Download the IUW app to stay in-the-know. Review the list of attendees and check the app out to see who from your network is attending this year.
  • You’ll be in Mountain Standard Time (MST). Set your watch accordingly—you don’t want to miss anything!
  • It’s going to be warm. Phoenix averages a daily maximum temperature in October that's between 86 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 34 degrees Celsius).
  • Conference attire is business casual. But be sure to pack your comfortable and fun cowboy attire for Dust Up in the Desert on Monday night.
  • You can build your schedule ahead of time. Check out our program at a glance or master our app to build your schedule of everything you want to attend at IUW. Please remember that adding a session to your personal schedule does not guarantee a seat if you haven’t registered for it already. You still have time to register, so do not delay any further.
  • Sign up for a Knowledge Center tour. Have you ever wanted to see Itron’s solutions in action? Join us for a guided tour through our interactive demo space.
  • Join the trail clean up. Lend a helping hand on Sunday morning during IUW by joining us to champion preservation and the conversation of our natural resources at the beautiful outdoor McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. Let’s give back to the Scottsdale community and support sustainability of the preserve for future generations. Register now.

We can’t wait to see you in Scottsdale in a few days!

Be sure to visit www.itron.com/iuw for all things IUW 2018.


What to Do and See in Scottsdale

Next week, 1,000 industry leaders, technology visionaries and peers will come together in Scottsdale, Arizona for Itron Utility Week (IUW). If you’re attending IUW 2018—Itron’s premier customer-focused conference—be sure to check out some of the fun and entertainment Scottsdale has to offer. If this is your first time in the city, be sure to check out:

  • The Desert Botanical Garden: The garden’s five paved trails introduce you to thousands of arid-land plants from around the world.
  • OdySea in the Desert: This shopping and dining center is home to the OdySea Aquarium, Dolphinaris and Butterfly Wonderland.
  • The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: View modern art, architecture and design on display in this renovated old movie theater.
  • McDowell Sonoran Preserve: This urban preserve has nearly 400 miles of scenic shared-use trails in the McDowell Mountain foothills that are great for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
  • IUW Extracurriculars: Join the Desert Dash on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday morning; compete in the IUW annual golf tournament; or volunteer with peers. Details and schedules can be found in the IUW conference app.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you enjoy your time in Scottsdale connecting with peers, networking with industry experts and learning more about the comprehensive solutions offered by Itron and our trusted partners.

To learn more about IUW 2018, click here.


DON'T MISS A POST!
I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )
Opt in to receive notifications when a blog post is published. Don't miss the thought leadership, insight and news from Itron.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.