Addressing Infrastructure Pressures in Asia-Pacific

We’re excited for Itron Utility Week to make its debut in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region on April 21 and 22, 2021. Itron’s flagship event for our customers and partners is focused on giving utilities, cities and thought leaders the opportunity to discover new ways to solve problems, improve operations and redefine the industry in APAC.

From the rise of urbanization to the increased need for water management and decarbonization, utilities, municipalities and cities in APAC face a wide variety of challenges and opportunities. We’ll address these and more at IUW APAC.  

The Rise of Urbanization

Nearly half of the 4.6 billion people in APAC currently live in cities, and by 2050 the population of Asia’s cities will be over 3.5 billion. As the region’s cities absorb over 40 million people a year, keeping them sustainable, livable places with adequate infrastructure is a key focus.  It’s not just about building the right infrastructure, but also making sure that the infrastructure can be properly managed for the good of the community, with sustainable environmental impact. This requires a smarter approach to urban development.

Working with smart city leaders in APAC and around the world, smart streetlights prove to be an ideal foundation for smart city initiatives. Providing dramatic energy savings, intelligent streetlights are enabling cities and utilities to unlock efficiencies while building a foundational network to be used by other smart city applications.

Water Management

The Asia-Pacific region has over half of the world’s population, yet less than 35% of the world’s fresh water. As populations grow and migrate to increasingly dense urban centers, and climate change exacerbates already stressed water systems, the need to carefully manage every precious drop is key to ensuring that people have access to water now and in the future.  As cities and utilities build new infrastructure to expand access to piped water, there is a clear emphasis on ensuring that as little water as possible is lost between the pumping stations and the end user. The focus is the same in developing countries building entirely new infrastructure or developed regions where aging infrastructure must be managed carefully. Utilities across the region are implementing systems to help them locate leaks in buried pipes and support customers in reducing consumption, all in an effort to ensure access to clean water.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

From developing countries deploying new infrastructure to serve surging demand, to developed nations targeting a zero-carbon future, the push toward decarbonization of our energy supply is driving transformational thinking about energy infrastructure. Some concepts are simple, like the injection of hydrogen into the gas supply. Others are far more complicated, as the growth of rooftop solar reverses the traditional power flows and threatens the stability of the low-voltage power grid, pushing the need for real-time monitoring and decision making to manage power flows in residential neighborhoods.

Ultimately, this is driving new thinking about how energy infrastructure needs to be managed. First, the required monitoring of power flows at the medium and low voltage level, then the integration of other technologies, like batteries, to help modulate the intermittent nature of renewable generation.

The Automation Transformation

What all of these challenges have in common is that the key to managing them is a transformation in the way we think about and manage our infrastructure. Understanding and optimizing behaviors beyond where we have traditionally been able to manage and control is critical. New technologies provide better visibility and control of what is happening at the edge of our infrastructure, allowing utilities and cities to solve problems and manage rapidly changing conditions in real time. Whether it is a slowly leaking pipe buried underground, or a solar panel that sits behind a customer meter, we now have the ability to understand and react to things happening at the edges of our networks.

We’re excited to have a number of utilities sharing their experience in starting and mastering this transformation at Itron Utility Week APAC. 

To keep up with live updates throughout the conference, follow Itron and #IUWAPAC on social media. There is no charge to attend and event registration is now open for Itron customers, prospects and partners. For more information about Itron Utility Week APAC: Empowering Innovation, visit www.itron.com/iuwapac.


The Energiewende – Germany’s Energy Revolution – Starts Here and Now, Here’s How We Go About It

We often hear people talk about renewable energy, the energy revolution and a transition for individuals from user to actor in how they consume energy. Although the story sounds familiar and maybe even a bit fatigued, we are not there yet, and we have plenty more to do to get there.

Just as climate change awareness has shed light on our world reaching its tipping point for resource availability, a deep understanding of how the electricity network behaves is the first step toward better managing it tomorrow. Whether thinking about balancing the loads between energy sources efficiently or simply providing clarity for day-to-day operations, the starting point of understanding the distribution network is knowing what is happening on the ground.

And it all starts with a smart meter.

Over the last four decades, Germany's energy supply has effectively shifted from traditional power generation to incorporating more renewables in the mix. While investments for infrastructures delivered on the promise of more wind and solar-generated power, their proper integration in the distribution grid is pending a larger adoption of connected endpoints.

We know that utilities and cities are the keys to the next stage of the Energiewende, Germany’s energy revolution, and that such transformation will require a dependable partner along the way. At Itron, supporting our customers in their modernization efforts is what we do, and we embarked on this journey early by deploying Forum Network Technology/Network Operation (FNN) compliant smart meters since the beginning of the transition. Building on this, Itron recently launched its eHZ-B base meter with the ambition to keep supporting our customers in laying the foundation for making this energy transformation in Germany a reality.

Integrating and balancing energy sources is only one of the challenges smart meters can help solve. Looking at the future, with electric vehicles and microgeneration on their way to becoming integrated parts of our daily lives, implementing the right smart meter infrastructure today will open the door for more energy-efficient initiatives tomorrow.

Lear more about Itron’s smart meter portfolios: https://www.itron.com/emea/solutions/what-we-enable/smart-metering-rollouts



Bring Your Smart City Solution to Life with Itron

Itron has invited IoT developers to submit their solutions to the inaugural Itron Smart City Challenge. The Smart City Challenge will bring together leading IoT technology providers to tackle the challenges some of the biggest cities in Europe are facing today.

These challenges have been designed by city leaders with the goal of identifying breakthrough solutions that enhance citizen well-being, while improving operational efficiencies and creating a more resourceful world. There is still time to submit your IoT solution! The deadline to apply is Jan. 4, 2019.

Europe’s premier technology accelerator program for smart city innovators will include the cities of Glasgow and London in its inaugural cohort. We are recruiting technology providers to help solve a key set of business and societal challenges within each community:

  • Glasgow: Improve the experience for residents and visitors during high traffic events
    The City of Glasgow is one of the world’s top sporting cities and a major destination for conferences and concerts. Many thousands of people come to the city on a regular basis to experience its year-round calendar of events. However, this brings significant challenges in getting people safely and conveniently around the city to their location. It also impacts the lives of residents and the local business community in terms of pressures upon the public transport system and connectivity to retail destinations in particular. In order to maintain its position as a top destination and attract even more visitors, Glasgow needs to look innovatively at how best it can manage large scale events and the movements of such large numbers of people and ensure that their experience and that of our resident and business communities is a positive one.
  • London: Enhance safety along the River Thames in central London
    London has opted to focus on improving safety along the River Thames in central London. The City of London would like to find new ways to improve river safety through technology to meet the city’s safety and health priorities. Due to the life-threatening nature of river entries, the city is seeking solutions that accelerate emergency response times and that protect citizens by ensuring the availability of safety equipment when it is needed.

Technology providers will leverage Itron’s open IoT platform and developer tools to prototype new smart city solutions. The winning companies will receive product engineering assistance, marketing and promotional support, and an opportunity to deploy their solution in a real-world environment.

Are you – or is someone you know – ready to step up to challenge? Review additional information and sign up here.


IoT World Continued: Partner Engagement Demonstrated During IoT Live! Tour

In last week’s blog post, we highlighted what we said on stage during IoT World. This week, we’re going to discuss how our partners helped us showcase the technology that has made Itron a leading provider of IoT technology.

During the IoT Live! tour at our booth, we showcased significant, real products and services that were developed in collaboration with our partners. Ten different Itron partners exhibited how they use our technology to integrate third-party devices and software applications to drive innovations within energy, water and smart cities. We also demonstrated our smart grid and smart city management technology.

Here’s what was exhibited on the tour:

Operational Technology Solutions (OTS), an Australian-based utility solution provider, demonstrated power monitoring on an electricity distribution network. This solution monitors voltage, current and temperature to detect outages and alert operators to a fault location. This works with other OTS sensors such as the transformer monitor and the demand management controller for air conditioners and pool pumps.

Databuoy, a sensor network system developer, exhibited acoustic gunshot detection. This solution sends automated notifications about gunfire in less than one second as well as reports the exact time and location of the shot. This impactful technology resolves bullet trajectory and caliber, as well as multiple shooters. Itron’s Itai Dadon, director of IoT product management, demonstrated how this works during our CEO Philip Mezey’s keynote presentation.

SWIM.AI, an edge computing company, demonstrated how it collaborates with Itron’s sensors to provide real-time insights to traffic flows using edge analytics. This technology analyzes streaming data at the edge, minimizing costly backhaul communications and reducing communications to critical events. It also utilizes machine learning to predict future behavior.

D-tect Systems, a radiation and chemical detection company, exhibited how it uses Itron’s sensors to detect radiation levels at facilities such as nuclear power plants and hospitals and provides immediate alerts via SMS.

eLichens, an air quality sensing startup, showed how it enables high-resolution monitoring and forecasting of CH4 and CO2 with a miniaturized NDIR gas sensor. This can detect gas leaks in 30 to 90 seconds and accurately senses air pollution within 10 meters.
Communithings, an IoT company pioneering smart parking, exhibited how it uses Itron’s intelligent edge devices to improve city parking. The smart parking solution improves the enforcement of citations, accurately detects vehicles and integrates with any camera.

Citilog, a video-based automatic detection system, displayed how its smart streetlighting gathers traffic analytics to monitor roadways and retail locations while providing real-time data to traffic management and transportation systems. This technology saves energy and improves safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Omron, a global leader in automation-based technology, displayed how it obtains earthquake-related information from its sensor by communicating with external devices to alert utility companies when to shutdown services during seismic activity.

Aeroqual, an air-quality monitoring company, demonstrated how it uses our sensors to identify pollution trends and historical patterns using air quality sensors and SLV, our smart city management platform, for real-time data visualization.

Utility Systems Science & Software, a Utility monitoring and control company, demonstrated monitoring wastewater, storm and flood water, integrating the information to the City SCADA and GIS systems using OpenWay Riva.

We also featured our Developer Program, as well as available hardware development kits, APIs and reference applications. Our Developer Program helps solution providers accelerate time-to-market by providing developers with the tools they need to integrate smart devices, sensors and applications with the Itron network.

Thank you to everyone to stopped by our IoT Live! Tour during IoT World this year! Missed IoT World? Be sure to check out our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds to learn more about our role in the future of IoT.


Transforming in the IoT Space

The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) age has changed the way many industries—including Itron—engage with customers. In this new era, it’s all about content, telling a story, solving challenging problems and having a call to action. We want to take our customers on a journey and reveal how our solutions open doors to new outcomes, new possibilities—and even greater results.

For many years, Itron’s customers were primarily electricity, gas and water utilities. Now, Itron is working with city leaders, utilities (both in our traditional sense and with an eye for business transformation and new revenue streams) and a vast ecosystem of partners, with complementary technologies and some that delve into adjacent markets—all of which require a different marketing strategy than one focused solely on the traditional utility space. Just as digital transformation has reshaped what we do, our customers want to be educated and exposed to a different way of thinking.

While I’ve been at Itron for 18 years—starting in legal, moving to engineering and spending the last eight years in corporate marketing—it has been really exciting to see the shift in our industry as we market around smarter cities. We all want to live in cities where parking spots are easily located, streetlights intelligently illuminate our path and provide additional safety and security, air quality information is analyzed and assessed, waste is monitored, and our overall experience throughout the range of city services is just… Connected. Effortless. Intuitive. However, building these cities and the technology to connect them takes time, commitment and collaboration. From a marketing perspective, we need real-world proof points, thoughtful and engaging content, and creative visuals to demonstrate the feasibility and innovation of smart cities.

I have found that the key to success in the field of IoT marketing is a healthy mix of technical knowledge and brand equity. My tenure here has helped me understand Itron’s technology, but I also love that I get to be creative and work with a creative team. As a project manager at heart, the best part of my day is sitting at the table with designers and ensuring that big ideas are distilled into organized, achievable plans. And as the industry has shifted to engage the IoT, we in corporate marketing have learned to adapt, too.

Recently, I was honored to be recognized as one of Connected World’s top 10 Women of IoT Marketing for 2018. Receiving this award prompted me to take a moment to remember how I got here and what it means to promote and market a brand in the world of the IoT. This world of technology is vast and while it is appealing to dive deep into every detail of a solution, corporate marketers must simultaneously represent specific technologies and speak broadly about the company they represent.

I love the work I do every day. Although our marketing strategy and methods are changing, my passion for what I do remains the same. As Itron continues to grow and transform, so will our marketing strategy. I am excited to see what comes next.


Don’t Miss Itron and #IoTLive at #IoTWorld

Itron is excited to yet again be participating and exhibiting at this year’s IoT World at the Santa Clara Convention Center on May 14-17. This event brings in about 12,000 leaders and innovators in the IoT space to discuss and display the top technologies, strategies and case studies for industries impacted by IoT.

At IoT World, we will exhibit our latest IoT, smart city and partner capabilities as part of our #IoTLive event at booth #510. Stop by for a demo and to get an IoT Live! tour t-shirt.

Our demos can help you learn more about how leveraging data-driven insights that can improve resource efficiencies, improve safety and connect communities in innovative ways through a proven, powerful IoT network. We’ll exhibit Itron technology in parallel with our partners to highlight how they enable utilities to safely, efficiently and reliably deliver vital infrastructure services to communities across the globe.

The capabilities and partners we’ll be exhibiting include:

  • Air quality sensor from Aeroqual;
  • Gas leak detection sensor from eLichens;
  • Traffic counting camera from Axis Communications and Citilog;
  • Seismic monitoring by Omron with Itron's GasGate demonstrating remote gas disconnect;
  • Wastewater monitoring and alerting from US Cubed;
  • Distributed intelligence from SWIM.AI;
  • Gunshot detection from Databuoy;
  • Smart parking by CommuniThings;
  • Transformer monitoring and line sensors by Operational Technology Solutions; and,
  • Radiation detection from D-tect Systems.

We’ll also feature our Developer Program, as well as available hardware development kits, APIs and reference applications. The Itron Developer Program helps accelerate integration of our open, standards-based network with new applications for Industrial IoT, smart utilities and smart cities.

Itron executives will also participate in several presentations covering an array of topics—from multi-application networks to smart city technology to multi-service networks as assets. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for their presentations and keynotes as you prepare your agenda for the event:

Can’t make it to #IoTWorld? Be sure to follow us on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn during the show to see how we’re teaching attendees how to #beresourceful at #IoTLive!


Dividing Two Interval Series in MetrixLT

In my previous post, I showed that MetrixLT can multiply two hourly data series even though the software was not designed for that specific purpose.

Finding unintended uses of MetrixLT proved to be an addicting game for our forecasting staff.   Naturally, the next question is: “If we can multiply, can we divide?”

Since division is multiplication with an inverse, we thought this might be easy. But once again, MetrixLT was not designed for performing simple arithmetic, and creating the inverse still requires dividing.

The MetrixLT Scaling Transformation is designed for two functions. First, The Scaling Transform can be used to adjust a forecast based on the historic ratio between the backcast and a Target series.  If I have a forecast of hourly load for 2018 and a backcast covering 2017 (defined as the Overlap), then I can adjust the forecast based on the ratio of the Target series to the Overlap.  While interesting, this is not the designed operation we will use for division.

To divide, we will use the second Scaling Transformation function designed to calibrate a bottom-up forecast to a Target series. Assume you have a Target series Y and three bottom-up series A, B, and C.  The Scaling Transform can adjust A, B, and C such that Y= A+B+C. The process is two-fold. First, the Scaling Transform calculates the Calibration series (kCalib) as shown below.

kCalib = Y/(A+B+C).

Second, the Scaling Transform applies the Calibration series to each of the bottom-up series.

A’ = A x kCalib

B’ = B x kCalib

C’ = C x kCalib

The division process takes place in calculating kCalib. To divide interval data, we must make Y one series and the bottom up components (A, B, and C) and single a different series (D). The resulting ratio is the division outcome.

kCalib = Y/D.

Division can be accomplished using the following steps.

Step 1:  Import Interval Data

Import the hourly data in the Interval Data table. In this example, hourly data for Zone 1 and Zone 2 are imported. I’ve highlighted the January 11, 2015 values to check our work.

Step 2:  Configure A Scaling Transformation

Create a Scaling Transformation and configure the Forecast Variable and the Input Series boxes.  In the Forecast Variable box, insert the hourly data used as the numerator. In the Input Series box insert the hourly data used as the denominator. In the example, Zone1 is the numerator and Zone 2 is the denominator.

When the Target Variable is undefined, the Energy Method, Peak Method and Calibration Method selections do not apply.

Step 3: Calculate the Result

Select the “!” to calculate the Scaling Transformation. The division result is stored in the kCalib variable.

I’ve highlighted the validation for January 11, 2015.

  • Zone 1 = 2.60
  • Zone 2 = 36.595
  • Product = (Zone 1) / (Zone 2) = 0.071048

Zone 1 values are divided by Zone 2 values and stored in a kCalib variable of the Scaling Transformation table.


Demand Response and IoT: Using Data to Maximize Customer Benefit

This blog was originally posted on Comverge.com. Itron acquired Comverge on June 1, 2017, and  all future demand response blogs will be posted here. 

Prior to the deployment of two-way devices for its demand response programs, Comverge’s utility clients conducted demand response (DR) control events using paging infrastructure to send one-way messages to control devices.  These devices, connected to appliances such as air conditioners, water heaters, and pool pumps, gave the utility the needed load curtailment, but provided little added value to the end customer or opportunity for utility interaction with these customers.

The deployment of two-way devices that use either a Wi-Fi or cellular network for a demand response program, coupled with smart data engineering and analytics, significantly upgrades the insights available to utilities, enabling more operationally valuable DR and additional value-add services to the end customer. Two-way devices — in our case devices such as Comverge's smart thermostats and two-way load control switches, or third party Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) smart thermostats — are Internet of Things (IoT) objects, generating large amounts of data every hour of every day.  The data sets from Comverge devices and connected BYOD devices are sent back to IntelliSOURCE EnterpriseTM, then parsed, aggregated, and modeled in IntelliSOURCE-AnalyticsTM to deliver these program-enhancing insights.

“The real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it.” —  Daniel Burrus for Wired

This blog post goes into detail about some of the benefits of two-way devices, in particular the improved forecasting and analytics that are made possible by the devices’ data.

Benefits of Using Two-Way Devices

Improved Forecasts

In a recent white paper, we wrote about Machine Learning-produced curtailable load forecasts, and how we have integrated those forecasts into IntelliSOURCE Enterprise. The forecasts we talked about in that white paper rely upon customer advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) data, preferably at hour-or-less intervals. This is a good solution for those utilities that already have AMI deployed at premises, or have plans to deploy it soon.

But some utilities may not wish to or be able to invest in an extensive AMI architecture, so the AMI solution will not work for them. No problem! If instead utilities can invest in two-way devices as part of their demand response program, we can still provide accurate curtailable load forecasts via machine learning. In fact, the curtailable load forecasts derived from two-way device data are usually more accurate than AMI-only forecasts.

Even better, if a utility can invest in AMI and two-way devices, the curtailable load forecasts become even more accurate than either of the single-source solutions, after ensembling the two different models’ predictions together.

This improved accuracy of curtailable load forecasts from two-way device data versus AMI-only forecasts is largely due to the fact that AMI reports all energy uses on a premises. So forecasting demand response, especially on small numbers of premises, can become a signal-versus-noise problem. With two-way devices, there is far less noise since we are focused on forecasting energy use from just the equipment we are targeting for control.

Note that we have discovered that we don’t need 100% saturation of two-way devices for the forecasts to work well. For instance, if we have a utility with a 50/50 split between one-way and two-way devices, we can use aggregated data from the two-way devices to provide a reasonable DR forecast for the one-way devices, as long as the two populations are similar in geography, appliance size, residential/commercial split, etc.

The chart below shows one example of a machine-learned demand response forecast that we generated from thermostat telemetry. The forecast is for approximately 850 air conditioners, and shows the total appliance load forecast as well as the hypothetical curtailed load, should the utility choose to call a demand response event in that hour (note for this particular forecast we only show curtailable load forecasts for 13:00-20:00). Interval data from approximately 450 thermostats were used to generate an initial forecast, which was then scaled up to obtain a forecast for 850 air conditioners.  Of note, we do not necessarily need data from 450 thermostats to produce these forecasts — we can usually produce load forecasts using data from as few as a dozen thermostats — but we have found that increasing the sample size tends to improve the forecast accuracy.

Example of a curtailable load forecast for approximately 850 air conditioners

Improved Event Planning Input

Another benefit from using the data from two-way devices comes with knowing which devices can actually be targeted during a control event, and how many may respond. Our thermostats send back data about their mode setting – i.e. is the thermostat set to heat, cool, or off? The figure below shows the percentages of thermostats colored by mode setting for approximately 1,000 devices in one service area. Sure, we might have a hot day in May, but does it make sense to call a control event for air conditioners? Have the customers even turned their air conditioners on yet? We certainly could not get this benefit from one-way devices.

An air conditioner DR event in May, even on a hot day, will make little sense for this utility

Optimized Dispatch of Specific Control Groups

As an extension to the previous section, data from two-way devices allows us to build typical usage profiles, aggregated over any set of premises that we might wish to control. The following two figures show examples of these profiles. The first figure shows one utility’s average daily air conditioner load per premise, faceted by month. We can see that June and July will likely provide us much better DR load curtailment performance than May or September. Of course this is likely unsurprising, but the machine learning algorithm will take these monthly effects into consideration when producing a curtailable load forecast, and the effect and accuracy, especially for the “shoulder” months, is greater than it would be for an AMI-only forecast.

Example of average hourly air conditioner load by month per premise

 

The second figure shows the same utility’s average daily electric water heater load per premise, faceted by month. Again, this is using data from two-way devices attached to the water heaters. There appears to be some seasonal variation, but not nearly as drastic as with the air conditioner load. But, the machine learning algorithm can take these monthly variations into account when providing a curtailable load forecast.
Example of average hourly water heater power load by month per premise

Now why is this important?  With the two-way devices, we have the ability to collect, process, and act upon all the data, from all the devices, in near-real-time. This enhanced capability significantly improves our ability to do optimized dispatching, in particular by allowing us to:

  • Precisely forecast the aggregated runtime that specific appliance control groups will have at a given time, and
  • Target for control those specific appliances that are most likely to give us the needed load at a specific time (and thereby helping to prevent customer notification fatigue).

Identification of Offline Devices

We can also use two-way data to identify which customers’ devices are offline or missing, and thus unable to receive control commands. One problem with two-way devices that use Wi-Fi is the reliance on the customer having the device connected to the internet via their own network. If the customer changes their modem, or modem password, or ISP, they may forget to reconnect their thermostat or load control switch to the internet. We have seen that, over time, this can lead to a growing number of offline devices when there is no utility intervention. Two-way devices using a cellular network do not present this problem.
With two-way device data, we can see when a customer is online or offline, merely by looking at the receipt of the device telemetry. With one utility client, after we implemented a communications program to notify customers to reconnect their offline thermostats, we were able to reconnect over half of the devices that had previously been offline, reaching an online rate of over 95%!  This process of device recovery allowed us to significantly improve the overall efficacy of the DR events that followed, and allowed us to have positive interactions with the end use customers that might have otherwise drifted away from the program.

The figure below shows an example of how we can identify offline devices. We can use a map to see if there is a pattern to the geographical dispersion of the offline devices; we also generate a sorted table of the device status to use for targeted customer notifications.

Example of a service area map overlaid with device status

Other Benefits of Two-Way Devices

The previous sections only detail a handful of the benefits we can deliver to utility customers who deploy two-way devices as a part of their demand-side management program.  Some of the other ways in which we can leverage two-way data to provide benefits to the utility and end-use customers include:
  • Customized Dispatch: In addition to the idea of "optimized dispatch," which we talked about in a previous section, is the concept of customized dispatch. For instance, using models created from data from two-ways devices, we might modify the cycling strategies for premises based on time of day, or thermodynamic properties of the premises, or specific load requirements at the utility level. Or we might customize dispatch based on user-set "away" times, or local commuting patterns, or perhaps school schedules.  These sorts of customized dispatch applications require runtime data provided by two-way devices, combined with data from various other sources, in order to help the user's homes and businesses use energy more efficiently.
  • Load Shifting: Another exciting area of growth is the concept of changing a home's daily load profile by making its appliances work at lower-demand, lower-cost times of the day. For instance, what is the most effective schedule for pre-cooling a home, or delaying a water heater's heating period, or running a pool pump, in order to improve the overall system load shape?  This is the type of dynamic optimization problem that requires the ability to combine two-way device data with the currently existing grid data.  Opportunities in this space will continue to grow at a fast rate as two-way devices become more ubiquitous, as new demand-side sources of energy come online, and as the grid data itself matures to become more granular, local, and responsive to system changes.
  • Energy efficiency: Using thermostat data, we can model the thermodynamic properties of specific premises. For those enrolled, we specify an efficiency period, and optimize the daily thermostat operations to help utilities and their customers meet efficiency goals. As part of the program, using the premises-level models, we are able to deliver relevant, personal and actionable energy-savings insights to customers, and customize demand response dispatch strategies to maintain customer comfort and deliver maximum energy savings at each premises. This is an especially exciting topic that warrants further exploration in a future post.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we talked about several ways that a demand-side management program is improved by the analytics derived from two-way devices.  Two-way devices, also known as IoT objects, provide large quantities of data that can be leveraged to, among other things:
  • Improve curtailable load forecasts compared to AMI-only forecasts (or, for that matter, SCADA-only forecasts)
  • Improve event planning by offering insights to the devices that may be available at a given time
  • Optimize dispatch for control events through precise runtime forecasting for device control groups
  • Identify offline devices for recovery, improving program efficacy
  • Model home thermodynamics for energy efficiency programs
As we collect more and more data from Comverge two-way devices and BYOD thermostats every single day, we are continually mining the data and exploring additional ways to bring value to our clients and their customers. The Internet of Things is poised for explosive growth in coming years, and should impact almost every facet of our lives in beneficial ways.  Comverge is actively developing our solutions to take advantage of IoT in demand-side management, and we are excited about continually refining our methods to bring maximum benefit to our customers.

The Connected World and Autonomous Cars @CES 2017

Day two at CES was all about the cars—self-driving cars—a.k.a. Autonomous Vehicles (AV). AVs will change transportation as we know it by creating a different consumer experience and new business models.

Safer cars and fewer accidents are the first in a line of benefits. Sending my car to pick up my kids at school will be necessary after the first time I do it. AVs have the potential to bring a better way of owning cars, easier ways to rent, and crowdsourced carpools and busses.

After talking to some friends in the industry, I am convinced that we’ll see hundreds of thousands of cars in the street by 2020. My youngest kid won’t need a driver’s license.

I have seen that Nvidia and Audi are partnering to bring a driverless car to market. There is a new use for GPUs after computer games and smartphone displays. Also at CES, Microsoft announced its Connected Vehicle vision, which supports the consumer’s desire to save time, get more done and stay connected.

But guess what, Itron can have a play in the space. Enter: Itron Idea Labs. Stay tuned for Itron idea Labs projects in 2017 that will include AVs in the connected world (i.e., a dedicated HOV lane, perhaps a connection to traffic lights, awareness of street conditions, temperature, etc.). This means that there is a tight connection between AVs and Smart Cities. As we build more OpenWay IoT infrastructure in cities and we connect more sensors to the network, we’ll have the ability to connect AVs to the environment through our network.

I can’t predict how many AVs will ship in 2020, but at least one to my house!


Virtual Reality, Tech, Tools and Smart Energy and Water @CES 2017

CES day one. It’s been a crazy day of taking in the latest and greatest gadgets and technology in Las Vegas. As usual, I’ve geeked out as much as possible. I was expecting that VR would be big this year and I wasn’t disappointed. My favorite takeaway of the day is the remarkable leap virtual and augmented reality is taking—from the lab to the mainstream. CES organizers say AR/VR exhibitors are up 48 percent from last year.

With AR/VR, the user experience can be entertaining, informative, instructional and affordable. Most of the industry is looking at games as enabling apps (i.e. Samsung, Google, HTC, Sony, Qualcomm, and Intel). It is going to happen, no question. Even though current products can be considered primitive.

Today, the AR/VR application that is available and making money is in the industrial sector. And there are some companies demonstrating it. Itron is one of them. Itron Idea Labs is demonstrating augmented reality applications, along with Itron Riva platform and energy and water applications, at the Venetian in suite 30-320 as part of CES this year.

We’re showing AR for training water pipe field techs. The idea is that field techs can use encoded instructions to help them troubleshoot issues on site. Water trainees often forget which way to turn a valve, or which valve is the one to be turned. An AR prompt can help avoid any errors in the field.

Oh and check me out in my VR glasses. Pretty cool, huh?


IoT at CES – More Than Just Buzz in the Energy Sector

CES 2017 marks the 21st year since the term Internet of Things (IoT) was introduced. Since it first appeared in 1985, we have seen a growing number of IoT devices at the show – some that were actually IoT devices and some that were labeled as such just for marketing purposes. In the 1990s, we witnessed the first attempts of bringing home automation, home networks and similar devices to consumers. In recent years, wearable technology and drones have joined the IoT zoo at CES. But, both remain relatively small markets and some of the devices arguably are not even IoT devices, meaning that many are not autonomous sensors connected to the internet, but rather human-controlled intelligent devices.

True IoT is not so obvious to the casual observer at CES. One area of IoT that needs a closer look, because it is growing and actually generating revenue right now, is the industrial IoT. I’m talking about the tremendous progress in the energy, smart cities and factory automation markets. It’s in these markets that the business models are proven and market leaders have transitioned from proprietary products to standards-based, open architectures in the past few years. Systems that used to be single application are now multi-application and expanding to adjacent markets. That’s innovation at scale. For example, today’s smart cities share networks that support multiple tenants and multiple applications to provide better services and more choices for citizens.

The industrial IoT has graduated from experimenting with sensors, to defining standards and required security, to producing business value with sensors, networks and data analysis. This is real progress, while consumer IoT is still in the first phase: experimenting with sensors. Something to think about: 10,000 industrial IoT devices is considered a pilot project, while the same number is what successful consumers IoT startups boast as their current customer base. It’s a different order of magnitude. So, go walk the show and look for industrial IoT — money making, not experimentations.


Itron Among Most Promising IoT Solution Providers

Itron was recently named one of the 50 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers by CIOReview for laying the foundation for flourishing communities with safe and reliable electricity, gas and water.

The most promising IoT solution providers are selected based on their ability to offer cutting-edge technologies and solutions that add value to the IoT landscape. The companies are at the forefront of tackling challenges in the IoT space and were honored for their collaboration, and ground-breaking and disruptive technology.

Itron was recognized for its OpenWay Riva IoT solution, which introduces distributed computing power to analyze data at the edge, advanced communication options that assure both high performance and reliable connectivity, and an open application environment to run apps in field devices.

A panel comprised of CEOs, CIOs and IT VPs, including CIOReview editorial board, selected the final list of 50 Most Promising IoT Solution Providers 2016. For more info, go to www.cioreview.com.


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