Utility distribution systems (e.g. electric, water and gas) and smart cities are geospatially dispersed, spanning anywhere from a small city to multiple states.  Managing such systems, especially in real time is a very complex problem, one that utilities are actively seeking to solve with new technologies including advanced meters and grid sensors at the edge of the network.  These new smart grid and IoT technologies are being deployed to not only measure and manage data from these devices, but to also to operate and control the utility distribution system, with ever-expanding capabilities, including distribution automation and distributed resource integration and management.

Interoperability.png

These devices modern IoT devices are fully programmable –and, as a collection— these devices provide a powerful computing infrastructure that can be efficiently used to manage the overall utility distribution system using an approach that we call Layered intelligence.

Layered intelligence consists of multiple levels of distributed applications deployed in network nodes and sensors that collaborate to manage the overall system.

Edge Intelligence:  Edge intelligence is made up of applications that reside at the edge of the overall system, specifically at the smart sensor level.  Edge intelligences manage the local environment based on the information available through local communication.  Example use cases include premise load management and local voltage management.

Community Level Intelligence:  Community level intelligence manages a group of premises either directly or indirectly through edge intelligences.  Example use cases include substation or feeder level load management using distributed energy resources and voltage management at the substation or feeder level.

System Level Intelligence:  System level intelligence provides visibility and management of the complete system.  Based on the historical and real-time data from sensors and the distributed applications the system level intelligence builds a holistic view of the complete system and orchestrates the operation of all the distributed applications.

In a layered intelligence approach, applications at each level operates relatively independently while receiving periodic updates from higher level applications.  Such a system avoids single point of failure and is very resilient to communication and other types of disruptions.

Applying a Layered Intelligence approach, provides utilities with the ability to fully-leverage their ecosystem of IoT devices and apply location-specific intelligence to better address the challenges specific to each part of their system.