The world’s governments have been captivated by connected utilities such as smart meters. Not only do they serve the end-user, they also support regional and country energy objectives in reducing emissions and carbon footprints. According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart meter market is expected to continue its growth trajectory, hitting $18.2 billion by 2019, a 10.2% compound annual growth rate over the five preceding years.
The use of smart meters is welcome by utility companies who are looking for ways to introduce new customer-focused value streams to their business as well as new operational practice that can contribute to the bottom line. Yet, this forecasted growth will only add further pressure to utility companies already struggling to deal with the exponential explosion of data. This is true from a network perspective as it is from an analytical one.
Here are some considerations that will enable companies to capture the inherent value smart meters offer both utility companies and their customers.
Flexible platforms for connected utilities
The move to smart meters will have utility companies see a surge in data volume. Prior to smart meters, utility companies collected data from their customers several times a year. Now, that data is set to stream in as necessary, whether a company once it once an hour or once a week.
This means utility companies need to add a flexible IoT platform to their networks. This will accommodate the growth in data coming from the smart meters themselves. But, it will equally support the infrastructural changes that will come as a result of smart meters, including new systems and applications (e.g., advanced billing and customer profiling systems) that will enable companies to capture value from smart meter data.
With a variety of devices and applications coming onto the network, a flexible platform will also account for the different latency requirements.
Machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity demands utility companies renew their focus on security and reliability. Data needs to transmit to and from customer smart meters in real-time – both to ensure billing accuracy and energy efficiencies as well to accommodate over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Simple, secure and reliable management
With smart grids and advanced applications coming onto a network that also hosts legacy systems will require utility companies to simplify their infrastructure as well as their operations. This includes new and revised processes that will promote greater visibility and control across devices and systems.
Scaling for the future
Despite the number of smart meters issued to consumers, most utility companies have yet to truly analyze the data being transmitted from smart meters. To date, data has been used to provide insights and price modifications on energy usage. However, there remains a Pandora’s box of value to come. And a host of advanced applications to augment that value. From predictive analytical applications to customer-centric service systems, utility companies will require networks that can be scaled to accommodate the needed requirements for these systems.