Itron Collaborations Recognized at IoT World Awards

Last week at IoT World, Itron was shortlisted for its
nomination of Con Edison’s methane detectors for the Best Industrial IoT
Solution Award and for its
nomination of Utilidata’s grid-edge optimization application for the
Best Edge Computing Solution Award.

In the Best Industrial IoT Solution category, New York City’s
utility, Con
Edison
, was recognized for its deployment of 9,000 smart natural gas
detectors on Itron’s Industrial IoT network to proactively identify natural gas
leaks and improve safety. With these devices on its smart meter network, Con
Edison can detect natural gas leaks and quickly alert its emergency crews to
improve the safety of the communities they serve.

The battery-powered natural gas detectors were developed as
a collaborative effort between Itron, New Cosmos and Con Edison through Itron’s
developer program. The detectors are the first battery-powered solutions
deployed on Itron’s secure, standards-based industrial IoT platform. The
devices are easily integrated on Con Edison’s existing network infrastructure
from Itron, which they already utilize to manage 3.6 million electric meters
and 1.2 million gas modules.

Itron’s collaboration with Utilidata,
a software company committed to driving resiliency, sustainability and
efficiency for utilities, was also recognized in the Best Edge Computing
category. Through the collaboration, Utilidata will offer its industry-leading
AdaptiVolt™ voltage optimization capabilities as an application on Itron
Openway Riva meters. This grid-edge optimization application enables utilities
to leverage the real-time information and distributed intelligence capabilities
of Itron meters to optimize the delivery of electric power and reduce energy
usage.  

By transforming meters into intelligent edge devices,
utilities and software developers can create the next generation breakthrough smart
grid applications. This third-party application will be the first available and
demonstrates Itron’s commitment to developer enablement and to providing an
open platform for third-party innovation.

Itron is committed to bringing innovative IIoT solutions to
cities and utilities to transform existing processes and deliver greater
safety, innovation and resourcefulness. Congratulations to Con Edison and
Utilidata for their recognition at IoT World.


Itron Showcases the Potential of Intelligent Streetlights and Smart City Use Cases at LIGHTFAIR International

Cities around the world are beginning to implement smart city solutions to ensure greater safety, efficiency and convenience for their citizens. For many cities, smart street lighting is the first step to creating a smart city, with its proven business case and ability to create a network canopy under which additional applications can be deployed, such as smart parking, water leak detection, natural gas leak detection, gunshot detection and more. With a connected network, cities can modernize their infrastructure with connected lighting, while providing a platform to manage additional smart city devices as their needs evolve.

Recognized as a global leader in smart streetlight solutions, Itron is collaborating with many cities, including London, Paris, Melbourne and Chicago, who are benefitting from our technology today. In fact, the City of Chicago recently installed its 100,000th light, an important milestone in its overall plan to upgrade more than 270,000 lights.

Itron’s partner Ameresco, a leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, is continuing to drive momentum in this ambitious initiative, which is currently the largest municipally led smart streetlight project in the United States. With these streetlights on a connected network, the city will improve safety on the roadways while significantly reducing energy usage. The project is currently expected to save the City of Chicago over $10 million annually.

Intelligent streetlights deployed at scale unleash the potential of smart city solutions for its citizens. By starting with smart lighting, cities can lock-in immediate ROI while laying a foundation that encourages continuous innovation and accommodates an array of applications and use cases, from intelligent transportation, resilient and sustainable infrastructure, public safety and security, and municipal digital services.

Be sure to visit Itron at LIGHTFAIR International in booth #3731 this week to learn more about the potential of smart streetlights.


Improving Financial Analysis with AMI Data

Smart meter data is more granular and more timely than monthly billing data. Access to this data supports a paradigm shift in forecasting processes, allowing analysts to develop more powerful methods and to implement new approaches.

In our next brown bag, we focus on the shift from monthly to daily modeling and show how this shift can improve clarity and visibility in forecasting and variance analysis processes. Join Stuart McMenamin in this second brown bag of the year on Tuesday, May 21 at noon PDT for “Improving Financial Analysis with AMI Data”.

You can register for this brown bag and other forecasting events at www.itron.com/forecastingworkshops.


Unlocking Action at the Edge: Announcing Itron’s New Developer Tools for Distributed Intelligence Applications

The frontier of smart grid innovation is continuing to accelerate with more devices and applications proliferating across the electricity distribution grid. At Itron, we believe that open platforms will provide the connective tissue that enables all of these systems to work together in concert to deliver reliable, efficient and cost-effective services. Our developer program provides technology venders with the tools they need to connect their device—like power line monitors and smart inverters—to our proven, globally deployed networks. These solutions are already empowering grid operators with unprecedented visibility and control. True transformation will occur when these systems can work together in real-time, leveraging live data streams to generate insight and take action.

Now, we are excited to announce the expansion of the Itron Developer Program to enable developers to build applications that run on Itron meters.

Our Distributed Intelligence Software Developer Kit allows developers to tap into the compute power and real-time data available on Itron OpenWay Riva™ meters. Developers can create applications that leverage meter data in real-time and combine this with critical information like grid location-awareness. In addition to making the meter available as an app platform, Itron will also be providing an app store that enables utilities to securely deploy and manage a portfolio of distributed apps created by both Itron and its developer partners.

This week at IoT World in Santa Clara, our first distributed intelligence (DI) partner, Utilidata, will be in our booth demoing their Volt-VAR optimization application, the first-ever third-party application for Itron meters. The interactive booth demo will highlight how signal processing, embedded in the meter, enables agile grid management and operations through real-time responses to precise conditions and variables. As booth visitors adjust meter voltage, they will see how the technology reacts instantaneously and optimizes energy delivery. Additionally, visitors to the booth will learn how seamlessly this technology integrates into existing infrastructure, maximizing grid investments and powering a new approach to smart grid deployments. The demo will simulate a reduction and increase in voltage supplied in order to optimize grid performance and reliability, meet energy efficiency goals, integrate Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and save energy.

The next wave of innovation has arrived and the possibilities are endless!

So, what will you do with the power of distributed intelligence? We can’t wait to see. Our DI SDK will officially launch in June.

Come visit us at IoT World this week, booth #602, to learn more.


Industrial IoT Takes Center Stage at IoT World 2019

Next week, Itron heads to the IoT World Conference and Exhibition hosted May 13-16 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. Throughout the show, Itron will exhibit its latest Industrial IoT (IIoT), smart city, smart utility and developer ecosystem capabilities as well as present in a keynote and educational breakout sessions. Our partners will demonstrate various IIoT applications in the Itron booth, including two new demos from Cleverciti and RWI Synthetics.

Cleverciti, a German company specializing in smart parking solutions, will showcase for the first time how it is utilizing Itron’s IoT Edge Router to integrate its solution with Itron’s networks and enable consumers to find parking in real time. RWI Synthetics utilizes behavioral research and historical data to create synthetic environments, which give cities an opportunity to design human outcomes alongside their trials of sensors, control systems, communication infrastructure and emergency notifications. During his keynote, Philip Mezey, Itron president and CEO, will showcase how cities can utilize these synthetic environments to better design cities for disaster response.

During IoT World 2019, we will also participate in a number of speaking opportunities, covering a wide variety of topics from natural disaster preparedness to the IIoT product development process:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019:

Be sure to visit booth #602 at IoT World to learn more about Itron’s IIoT solutions and growing developer program and partner ecosystem, including:


Methane Detection on Itron’s IoT Network

During this year’s AGA conference, we’ve been discussing natural gas safety. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the role of methane detection in improving gas safety. Undetected natural gas leaks can deal devastating damage to a utility and its customers. To increase safety for natural gas utilities, Itron, New Cosmos and Consolidated Edison (Con Edison) collaborated to integrate New Cosmos’ battery-powered methane detectors on Itron’s IoT platform through the Itron developer program.

With these devices on Itron’s secure, standards-based industrial IoT platform, utilities can detect natural gas leaks and quickly alert emergency crews to improve safety in the communities they serve. The detectors are the first battery-powered solution deployed on Itron’s network and can be easily integrated on Itron’s network infrastructure. The New York City utility, Con Edison, is currently deploying 9,000 of these smart natural gas detectors on its existing Itron network, which the utility uses to manage 3.6 million electric meters and 1.2 million gas modules.

The innovative detector will sound an audible alarm to immediately alert anyone nearby if it detects natural gas in the atmosphere where the device is installed. In the case of a leak, the device will also immediately communicate with the utility, which will respond with a crew(s) and notify the local fire department so they can also respond and investigate. The alarm, which includes a voice recording that advises building occupants to evacuate, will continue to sound until the utility silences the unit. Learn more about the deployment in this video.

By alarming the utility and building occupants quickly of a potential leak, these detectors can help save lives. Con Edison’s deployment demonstrates the revolutionary potential of Itron’s network and developer tools to successfully deliver Industrial IoT solutions to scale for utilities and cities globally.

Since the start of Con Edison’s natural gas detector deployment, the device has helped the utility mitigate potential issues, demonstrating the device’s effectiveness in ensuring safety. Learn more about Itron’s natural gas solutions here. Also, be sure to check out our previous gas safety blog articles on Ensuring Safety in Natural Gas Delivery Amid Natural Disasters and Enabling the Active Network for Natural Gas.


Enabling the Active Network for Natural Gas

Continuing our blog series on natural gas safety, in this blog we will discuss the role of the Active Network in improving the delivery of gas. Aging infrastructure, natural disasters, leaks and tampering can create costly incidents for natural gas utilities, consumers and first responders. With these challenges to natural gas delivery, it is important for utilities to establish visibility, control and awareness. With smart gas meters, like the Intelis gas meter, operating on an open network, gas utilities can proactively address challenges and improve operational efficiency.

A connected network of smart devices is called the Active Network, which is characterized by intelligent devices with computing power working together to respond in real time. The Active Network harnesses the power of IoT to improve safety, reliability and profitability for gas utilities and consumers.

Intelligent devices like the Intelis gas meter are a crucial building block for the Active Network because they enable interactive communication for gas utilities. With built-in edge computing, the meter has integrated safety and control capabilities that give utilities access to high-resolution data in the field and near real-time and post-processing analytics. Harnessing this innovative technology, gas utilities can identify vulnerabilities in the system and respond in real time to ensure safe, efficient delivery of natural gas to their customers.

With the Active Network, utilities have increased awareness of their gas distribution system, which equips them to enhance their operations. Utilities can carefully monitor all conditions in the network, recognizing even the smallest irregularities in the network, such as meter removal. The Intelis gas meter is equipped with air detection alerts, which send an alarm to the utility operations center in the case of a potential meter removal. With this connected network of smart meters, utilities can also remotely shut service for move-outs and line maintenance to ensure safety and revenue protection.

The modern natural gas utility network must be active, responding to problems in real time and delivering detailed analysis of threats to the network before incidents occur. With Itron’s IIoT network and smart meters, natural gas utilities can not only measure, but communicate to solve problems in the distribution network in real time.

Learn more about Itron’s Active Network solutions and see a demo of the Intelis Gas Meter at the 2019 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee by visiting us at booth 1011, and be sure to visit the Itron blog on April 29 for the next blog in our series. Also, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our first blog on Ensuring Safety in Natural Gas Delivery Amid Natural Disasters.


Ensuring Safety in Natural Gas Delivery Amid Natural Disasters

For cities and utilities, it can be challenging to ensure the safety of citizens especially when natural disasters occur. Incidents such as hurricanes, floods, fires and gas leaks are unpredictable and often impossible to prevent. In advance of the AGA Operations Conference and Biennial Exhibition, we will discuss how Itron’s technology is enabling the safe, reliable and efficient delivery of natural gas in a series of blog posts.

In this first blog, we are focusing on how natural gas utilities can deliver safety to their customers amid natural disasters. To ensure that natural gas utilities are equipped to proactively provide a safe response to these events, Itron developed the award-winning Intelis gas meter, which is creating a safer world through connected metrology on the Active Network.

In areas with large numbers of people, it is vital for utilities to be able to monitor potential hazards to keep customers safe. With a built-in high flow alarm and temperature sensor, Itron’s smart gas meter can quickly recognize an open fuel line, heat or unusual flow conditions. In the case of a fire or open fuel line, the meter will detect the potentially dangerous situation and send an alert to the utility.

To provide greater safety for utility workers and first responders, the Intelis gas meter also has an integrated safety shutoff valve, which will virtually stop the flow of natural gas in the instance of an open fuel line or fire. Utility workers are usually the first to arrive on the scene when a leak or unusual situation is detected in the gas network, so it is vital to ensure their safety. With remote safety shut-off, the utility can prevent hazardous conditions for workers.

In addition to workforce protection, utilities can temporarily shutoff gas service ahead of natural disasters. Utilities can manage flow to impacted areas before flooding and other hazardous situations occur that may cause gas meters and appliances to become displaced and potentially cause free flowing gas at customer sites. With smart meters like Intelis, utilities are empowered to be proactive and enhance safety for citizens and their employees in new ways.

Utilities can proactively enhance safety with a network of connected smart meters like Intelis. See a demo at the 2019 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee by visiting us at booth 1011, and be sure to check the Itron blog on April 26 for the next blog in our series.


A Few Thoughts on P-Values

I recently read an article about P-Values that led to some discussion with my Itron colleagues, along with some thoughts on the matter.

In the context of regression models, we utilize P-Values to evaluate the statistical significance of our X-variables, which are the driver variables (e.g. weather, economics, etc.). The NULL hypothesis is that there is NO relationship between the X-variable and the Y-variable. The P-value is the probability with which we can REJECT the null hypothesis. So, if the P-value is 5%, we can reject the NULL hypothesis of there being no relationship 5% of the time. By extension, we fail to reject the NULL hypothesis 95% (100%- 5%) of the time (if we ran the “experiment” a large number of times). In layman’s terms, we can say there is a relationship between these two variables 95% of the time.

One of the common misconceptions about statistical significance is that it implies causality. I can build an overly simple model in which daily energy is a function of a constant and cooling degree days (CDD):

This model generates the following coefficients and P-Values—the constant and the CDD variables are highly significant. In fact, they are significant at a level even lower than 1% as evidenced by the fact that we can’t see any non-zero values even when two decimals are displayed.

What if I turned my equation around? Instead of energy being a function of CDD, what if I built a model of CDD being a function of energy?

This model is awesome too. Both variables are highly significant. Does this mean higher energy usage makes it hot outside? That’s clearly not the case. Rather, higher temperatures change human behavior and the behavior of cooling equipment, both of which lead to more energy consumption.

Here is another example. When we develop monthly residential average-use models (kwh per customer), we tend to include a variable for the price of electricity. I can build a very simple model in which average use is a function of a constant and the price:

In this case, the coefficient on the price term is positive which suggests that higher prices lead to higher energy consumption. That is a clear violation of the laws of supply-and-demand. What kind of madness is this?!

Again, this is an issue of causality. Remember, the delivery charges for electricity are regulated. Utilities know that people use more electricity in the summer. So, they set their rates higher for the summer months. It is not that higher prices lead to higher usage. On the contrary, it is the well-understood behavior of the seasonal nature of electricity consumption, wherein higher summer usage leads to utilities setting their rates higher at that time. As a side note, this is exactly why we tend to use a 12-month moving-average of the price in models, which allows us to capture the overall trend in prices rather than the seasonal pattern.

We can see from these two examples that the P-value itself is a very powerful indicator of correlation, but not necessarily an indicator of causality. You should beware when implying causality from your models.

Be sure to tune in for our next blog and attend one of our upcoming workshops or brown bags. Stuart McMenamin’s next brown bag is on May 21 focusing on Improving Financial Analysis with AMI. Visit our workshop page to register today at www.itron.com/forecastingworkshops.


2019 Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting

Two pre-conference classes. Three conference days. Eighteen industry presentations. Forty-nine companies. Sixty-nine attendees.

These are the numbers from Itron’s 17th Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting held in Boston, April 2 – 5. While the numbers suggest that this is the largest gathering of electric and gas forecasters in North America, the meeting was more than just numbers.

Throughout the week, participants discussed economic issues, climate trends, energy storage challenges, financial analytics, applications of AMI data, distributed energy resource forecasting and a host of other forecasting problems. Among my favorite discussions were the following.

  • Ryan Sweet (Moody’s Analytics): While challenging the notion of a 2020 recession, Ryan presented a range of economic indicators and how they capture the overall health of the economy.
  • Erin Boedecker (Energy Information Administration): Erin updated us on the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) and illustrated the impact of including the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) into the forecast.
  • Bob Smerbeck (Accuweather): Bob introduced us to “teleconnections”. For those who missed it, teleconnections are climate signals that influence the jet stream, temperature and precipitation patterns throughout the world. Bob showed how the 2013 blob (yes, it’s a technical weather term) mixed with multiple climate signals (teleconnections) created unusual weather patterns over the subsequent years.

While the presentations started the conversations, some of the best interactions occurred over a bowl of clam chowder, walking the historic streets of Boston and arguing over the best cannoli. These moments allowed forecasters to discussion ideas, gain insights and find solutions to their everyday problems.

As Meghan Figalora from Eversource said, “I had a phenomenal time! I intend to harass my manager biweekly to make sure he lets me go next year”.

So, mark your calendars and begin harassing your managers -- the 18th Annual Energy Forecasting Meeting is scheduled for April 22 – 24, 2020 in New Orleans. And be sure to tune in for our next blog where Rich Simons will provide thoughts on P-Values.

Visit our site for more forecasting information at www.itron.com/forecasting.


Five Ways to Be More Resourceful This Earth Day

At Itron, we’re all about resourcefulness. Our technology connects people, devices and insights to better manage energy and water resources, all around the world. As Earth Day approaches, it is important to remember that small acts of resourcefulness add up to make a big difference. Here are five ways you can be more resourceful this Earth Day:

Use Reusable Straws and Water Bottles

Humans buy about 1 million plastic bottles per minute and only around 23 percent of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S., according to the Earth Day Network. By using reusable water bottles, coffee cups and straws, you can play a part in reducing plastic pollution and save money.

Replace Light Bulbs

By replacing inefficient incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year. Speaking of lights, remember to turn them off when you leave a room to conserve energy. While you’re turning lights off, Itron is making sure streetlights around the world are efficiently keeping your communities safe.

Conserve Water

There are many simple ways to conserve water in your everyday life, even a few small changes can add up to hundreds of gallons in water savings. A great place to start is the shower. Take a shorter shower and use a water-saving shower head. It’s also more efficient to only run the dishwasher when it’s full and conserve water outdoors by only watering plants or the lawn in the early morning.

Rethink Transportation

Carpool, ride your bike or use public transportation when possible. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road results in less carbon and pollutants in the air. For every mile you do not drive, your carbon footprint goes down one pound.

Give Back in Your Community

Creating a more resourceful world starts in the communities where we live, work and play. Whether it’s planting a tree or volunteering at a local park, trail or beach clean-up, what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by spending time outdoors.

The way we manage energy and water will define this century—join Itron in taking action to create a more resourceful world this Earth Day. To calculate your carbon footprint, click here.


DistribuTECH 2019: The Full Itron Experience

Participating in the Itron Experience strengthened my understanding of Itron’s vision for smart cities—and provided an important visualization of how energy and infrastructure could be connected and coordinated. The most impressive part of the Itron Experience was being able to dive into specific use cases and see how Itron technology interactions could solve real problems. For example, one demonstration showed how metering and lighting infrastructure could interact and respond during a natural disaster like an earthquake, disconnecting gas and water service, and illuminating exit signs and pathways out of a parking garage—all simultaneously. It showcased the full integration of communications and controls that make smart cities more than just a possibility.

At Exelon, we see the future grid as providing the connective tissue for communities taking on three interrelated challenges: climate change, economic development and quality of life. To do this, we need to design a coherent strategy which focuses not only on grid technologies, but also includes the customer service model and an enabling policy framework. Connected technologies, especially those reliant on grid infrastructure, form the basis for many of the new services we see desired by consumers and communities, and help stakeholders imagine what is possible.

Today, our utilities are investing in infrastructure foundational to our modernization vision, providing a platform to better connect with our customers and strengthen our communities. One recent example is the planned deployment of up to 140,000 municipal smart streetlights in ComEd's service territory, responding to a need of our customers and helping provide lighting to places the city infrastructure currently does not reach.

With the Itron Experience playing a role in helping utilities and cities visualize the technologies that are central to achieving modernization, it’s exciting to imagine what’s possible with a strengthened energy ecosystem and the right technology partner. An intelligently connected world that responds to climate, cyber and physical threat, immediately, securely and autonomously, is one we can all get behind.

Check out the Itron Experience in action here.


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