IoT is a term that has been much in use over the last few years. Most people are familiar with the fact that it means one day your refrigerator might automatically order more milk when it is running low, but IoT potentially offers far more impressive applications in places such as the utility industry.
Recent high volume rollouts across the globe have connected millions of smart metering devices to the grid making two-way communication with utility central systems possible. In effect, smart meters have become intelligent sensors within IoT. As technology advances, IoT will further strengthen grid infrastructure connectivity and extend its benefits beyond network monitoring, distribution and automation into the smart homes and smart communities. Innovators in the utility field are already working on IoT applications for sustainable power distribution, advanced metering infrastructure, more effective traffic systems and efficient, intelligent buildings. These factors work together to create what has become known as the “smart city”. Simply put IoT can make cities cheaper to run and more enjoyable to live in. By way of example, Barcelona, Spain is now recognized as the 1st smart city in the world. It earned this accolade because it applies innovative solutions to managing public transport and tele-care services for its citizens.
Toshiba and Landis+Gyr are currently pioneering new smart city technologies in the utility space. Toshiba’s mission is to create new value by connecting its energy, healthcare, storage products, and services using cloud computing, big data and analytics technologies to implement its vision of building a safe, secure and comfortable society – the “Human Smart Community” by Lifenology (a combination of “life” and “technology”).
Investments in standardized smart grid solutions, that include sensors, energy storage and control systems, are key to realizing the potential of IoT. The same applies to the purchase of technology that can leverage smart meter installations through remote firmware upgrades and advanced lifecycle management services. These are the tools that will empower utilities to enhance operations while transitioning to a digitized, IoT enabled energy world. In the meantime, energy companies can start their IoT journey by implementing future-proof, end-to-end smart grid solutions, such as Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream®. Gridstream’s unique suite of proven solutions encompasses big data, infrastructure, command and control applications, and services. The suite brings intelligence to all levels of the utility space, from generation to distribution.
According to the Forrester Research recent report, in 2015, “49% of business decision makers stated that the expansion of IoT initiatives would be a ‘high’ or ‘critical’ organizational priority over the coming 12 months.” And there can be no doubt that, as the IoT continues to develop it will create an ever-increasing number of opportunities for utilities’ business growth. Expect change for the better.