Not only Smart but Active – Distributed Intelligence for IoT

In the developing age of the Internet of Things (IoT), we must stay attune to emerging technologies and industry transformations. What if real IoT value comes not from the ability to connect devices, but from taking action with little human intervention? How will we harness IoT technology to better overcome the challenges of tomorrow? The possibilities surrounding the future of connected communities may very well require reworking, rethinking and re-imaging technology. By enabling devices to take action in the field in real time, IoT transforms smart grid and smart distribution systems into an active system for energy, water and beyond.

The utility sector is no stranger to IoT technologies and architecture. Already connecting millions of smart devices, energy and water utilities are poised to make the IoT a reality with distributed intelligence. Distributing intelligence across utility systems allows utilities to capitalize on connected devices, leveraging computing power to not only communicate and measure, but to act and solve problems in real-time. Instead of collecting quantitative data for the utility back office to decipher, active grids and systems make decisions in real time and utilize data to create value independently and make changes intelligently.

This evolution in intelligence can be attributed to specific technological characteristics, all of which work to maximize the value potential in meters, grid sensors and other types of connected devices. These characteristics include in-field processing power with the computing equivalent of a smart phone, locational awareness in relation to other devices, and multilingual devices that simultaneously speak the language. When many types of sensors, including electricity, gas or water meters; pressure, temperature or leak sensors; streetlights or solar panels are interconnected that is where the promise of IoT can be delivered. Bringing together datasets from the different sensors in a central area will enable correlations that were not previously possible because of the siloed data approach. This is being done in the utility industry today.

In the age of IoT, it’s time to rethink the possibilities of connection and enable optimal intelligence. Learning from an existing, successful IoT vertical like smart energy and water can help speed up the reality of IoT for everyone.


By Roberto Aiello, New Business Innovation, New Models, Itron CTO Office


Pressures on Smart Grid Business Cases

This afternoon we attended an Itron Utility Week breakout session with Tracy Tinsley, project manager, information management, at Duke Energy. Tinsley discussed how Duke Energy continues to make progress with its implementation of smart grid technology while making the business case to justify the long term investment to regulators and consumers.

During the session, Tinsley highlighted the various elements of a successful smart grid business case, including knowing your target audiences, having a clear strategy and demonstrating the value of the solution.

The typical audiences for a smart grid business case include customers, regulators, utility executives and business operations. Tinsley iterated the importance of understanding these audiences and being able to recognize and tailor the business case to their perspectives and needs. It is also important to have a separate communication strategy to reach each target audience.

Next, a successful business case has a clear, overarching strategy and roadmap to ensure all parties are aligned and unified with the direction the company is going. This will allow collaboration and synergies across multiple business units.

In addition, it is critical to demonstrate the value of the deployment in a business case. Tinsley discussed three pillars that are core to most business cases: expense reduction, operational efficiencies and increased revenue. Lastly, data is critical to business cases. It is important to show what data is available and how it can be analyzed.


Innovating for the Future of Utilities: Itron and Cisco

It’s day two of the Knowledge Conference at one of the year’s most anticipated events – Itron Utility Week.

Utility industry observers have been talking about the perfect storm brewing. It’s a coming together of aging infrastructure, distributed energy resources, changing customer relationships, and a call for increasing amounts of renewable energy. It also includes the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape of NERC, FERC, EPA, and state commissions.

Aging infrastructure: The utility industry remains the largest user of obsolete analog and TDM communications that service providers are discontinuing.

Distributed resources: Utility end-customers continue to count on the industry for safety and reliability. These expectations hold even as some seek to drastically reduce their electric bill and carbon footprint by installing solar panels.

Changing relationships: Customers want flexibility to interact with utilities via mobile and social.

Regulatory landscape: Utilities need to collaborate across their organizations, supply chain, and grid control authorities – and with their regulators and communities.

Cisco and Itron see a silver lining.

Multiple efforts are bringing together utilities, legislators, regulators, renewable energy companies, and other stakeholders to build a vision for the future of the grid. This future offers new opportunities, new business models, and a new regulatory framework. It flexibly addresses overlapping and sometimes conflicting goals and jurisdictions.

Examples of such efforts include:

  • New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision
  • Massachusetts’ Grid Modernization
  • The Gridwise Alliance Future of the Grid.

Itron and Cisco support these efforts through membership in the Gridwise Alliance.

In addition, Cisco and Itron are bringing new capabilities to the industry that provide the means to meet these new challenges.

All of the possible futures of the industry require secure, high performance, manageable communication. This is the core of Cisco’s portfolio.

All possible futures also call for sensors at the edge of the grid. Sensors provide utility end-customers with details of their energy interchange (since they can both consume and produce). They provide details on power quality, and near real time outage alerts. These sensors are the core of Itron’s portfolio.

Cisco and Itron together are the utility industry’s engine for resourceful innovation.


   By Rick Geiger, Executive Director, Cisco

To read more Cisco blogs by Rick Geiger, click here.

Siemens Digital Grid – When It Comes to Resourceful Innovation – Agility Is Key

Utilities are facing tremendous uncertainty as the consumerization of energy drives a transformation of their business.  The key to thriving in this uncertainty is Agility. And at Siemens Digital Grid, we enable utility agility with solutions proven in our installed base of over 1.4 million digital protection devices, 55 million intelligent managed meters and over 1,600 energy control centers worldwide.

Contact Siemens Digital Grid today and let us show you our full range of agility enabling products, solutions and services.

Agility in energy.  Ahead of the challenge.  Ahead of the change.


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