Rise of the Age of IoT
One of the major challenges of the 21st century is population explosion. Slowly yet steadily it has brought a huge strain on the natural resources including energy and water. This exponential increase in demand has burdened the utility industry and has caused a major demand supply gap. While the industry has been under tremendous pressure to solve this issue, there are additional pressures of adopting new technologies. While the primary objective of deploying these technologies is improving operational efficiency and reducing costs for utilities, but at the same time they should also help utilities address the global sustainability issues of energy and water conservation. Other industries have been quick to take to such technologies and reap the benefits. Gradually, even the utility industry has been undergoing a paradigm shift and is adapting and adopting technologies such as cloud, mobile, big data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things is increasingingly becoming a topic of interest both in the workplace and outside of it, irrespective of the industry. In simple terms, IoT is a computing concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves with other inter-connected devices. Thus, IoT refers to the rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors which provide data for making informed decisions. Thermostats, cars, lights, refrigerators, and more appliances can all be connected via IoT.
IoT in Utility Sector
IoT-led innovation is reshaping the utility industry and its value chain. It is turning a typically slow-paced, inward-looking and vertically integrated utility industry into a dynamic, diverse and distributed system. It is not just improving the business processes of utilities, but also increasing their revenues and profits.
Top IoT Applications in the Utility Sector
- Smart Meters & Smart Grids: IoT has revolutionized the way smart meters are gathering and processing customer data and thus helping utilities generate critical business insights regarding real-time and historic usage, peer comparison, behavioral analysis and much more. Smart grids make the integration of distributed energy resources into the grid seamless, and IoT can help utilities in managing grid stability and net generation. Utilities can use platforms that can help them leverage IoT to deliver the information intelligence around consumption data, usage patterns, demand response programs, and much more.
- Smart Home: The smart home is likely the most popular IoT application at the moment because it is the one that is most affordable and readily available to consumers. It enables its customers to remotely monitor and manage their home appliances. An example being the smart, programmable thermostats that can be accessed by smartphones, allowing customers to adjust their thermostats to a more cost-effective setting while they’re away and reset it to a more comfortable temperature before they arrive at home. There are hundreds of products on the market that users can control with their voices/commands to make their lives safer, more secure, convenient and connected than ever.
- Smart Cities: The IoT has the potential to transform entire cities by solving real problems citizens face each day. With the proper connections and data, the Internet of Things can solve remotely service providers and utilities monitor, manage and control devices. Through these connected devices, they can generate new insights and actionable information from massive streams of real-time data.
- Electric Vehicles:These vehicles are equipped with Internet access and can share that access with others, just like connecting to a wireless network in a home or office. IoT can fill a major gap in vehicle electrification through wireless connectivity and built-in communication capabilities.
It is clear that for the industry to stay relevant and profitable, it has to ensure timely transitions and developments. Utility sector needs its growth pace that compliments the latest and upcoming technological advancements. As utilities worldwide move more into a connected state of business, key partners will become increasingly important to help analyze the wealth of data to make smarter decisions for both the grid and customers. IoT, which is the, NOW NEED, will dramatically change the way people interact with energy systems and pave way for the digital transformation of utilities.