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Siemens Smart Grid introduces Energy Engage Mobile application

Siemens Smart Grid has introduced a new mobile-web application which will allow utilities to maximize customer engagement and increase operational efficiency.

The application, dubbed Energy Engage Mobile, enables consumers to take control of their electricity, water, and gas consumption in near real-time and view their estimated bill.

The company said the mobile-enabled site displays account alerts and tips as well as price information, enabling users to see the existing cost of electricity per unit and transfer usage to off-peak times to avoid higher energy rates.

Lisa Caswell, president of eMeter, a Siemens Business, said it is essential in today’s world to put energy usage information directly into the hands of utility customers.

“Utilities can provide Energy Engage Mobile to their customer’s whether they be Commercial and Industrial clients or residential, to help meet energy efficiency and customer satisfaction goals, and complement engagement initiatives around smart grid programs,” Caswell added.

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado is currently offering Energy Engage Mobile application to its utility customers.

The application is being used in the city’s advanced metering project, enabling customers access to see interval reads for water use and electric usage.

More here.

Smart Grid Lessons From a Utility

When working with consumer devices that plug into a smart grid, there’s no substitute for field testing, particularly of mobile, battery-operated devices. In addition, the use of home gateways can simplfy testing for utilities and give consumers more choice.

Those are two of the lessons we learned at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in the last several years working on our SmartSacramento smart grid program.

Fueled by a $127.5 million grant from the Department of Energy (DoE), we deployed 615,000 smart meters to our customers running on a two-way advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) network that connects those meters to Home Area Network (HAN) devices.

Between 2012 and 2013, we also deployed about 6,700 HAN devices. SMUD chose to deploy only ZigBee SEP 1.1 HAN devices to capitalize on their stronger security and the ability to upgrade to SEP 2.

In 2011, we recognized the need for a certification and testing program for the various HAN devices. At that time, many of the large California utilities had developed their own in-house testing labs. Given the pressure of our DoE deadlines, we took a hybrid approach, using both internal and external testing.

More here.

Thread pitches Google against Bluetooth in smart home

The latest in a long line of would-be standards for the internet of things (IoT), Thread is positioning itself against Bluetooth Smart and Z-Wave as the personal area network of choice for the smart home. Backed by the powerhouses of Google (via Nest) and Samsung, Thread is based on the 802.15.4 specification, and so its best chance of success will be to unite the advantages, and the supporter bases, of two 15.4-based standards, ZigBee and 6LoWPAN.

The Thread Group initially contains Nest, the smart home gadgets maker owned by Google, and Samsung, along with ARM, Freescale, Silicon Labs, Yale Security and ceiling fan maker, Big Ass Fans. Samsung and Google both have devices as their entry point to the smart home, and from there the broader IoT, but have ambitions to influence the whole stack, using ‘open’ vehicles to try squeeze mutual arch-rival Apple back behind its garden walls.

In contrast to some other recent IoT groupings – such as the AllSeen Alliance, based on Qualcomm’s AllJoyn technology, and the Open Interconnect Consortium, led by Intel – Thread aims to standardize the physical network which could then support any of those higher layer standards.

Thread is initially heavily focused on 6LoWPAN, because it is already used by Nest, and because it supports IPv6, important to ensure the IoT is future-proofed against running out of address space. 6LoWPAN is effectively a version of IP for the embedded space, providing a compression format for IPv6 that is optimized for low power, low bandwidth wireless links.

But the new body also hopes to lure the larger base of ZigBee developers, claiming many ZigBee devices could be upgraded to support Thread with just a software update. Attracting a home-focused ZigBee company like GreenPeak would be a valuable endorsement in the first major target market, the smart house.

Thread will add software to the 802.15.4/IPv6 foundation, for functions such as routing, set-up, security and device wake-up, to standardize these capabilities and reduce power. The Thread group will provide testing and certification for its specifications, emulating WiFi and Bluetooth rather than the more splintered ZigBee. Some Nest products already use an early form of Thread, rather than vanilla 6LoWPAN, pointing to the heavy influence of Google’s subsidiary on the shape of these specs, though there is also likely to be considerable input from ARM via its Sensinode acquisition. The Finnish software firm was a significant contributor to 6LoWPAN and other low power M2M standards.

More here.

Million-Dollar Bids From C3, Oracle Undercut by Smart Grid Analytics Startup

Data analytics for the smart grid tends to come in two different flavors. In one corner, there are the big, expensive deployments from IT vendors like Oracle, IBM, EMC, Teradata, and of course, the startup that would be the energy data analytics king, C3 Energy. In the other corner, there are the remaining startups, which may offer only a fraction of what the big boys promise, but also come at a fraction of the price.

At least, that’s the general understanding of how the still-nascent utility data analytics market is developing. It’s hard to know for sure, because most utilities aren’t disclosing how much they’re paying for the latest large-scale deployments, although they’re quick to announce how much value they’re expecting to get in return.

That makes any information about comparative pricing worth hunting down. One such glimpse comes from California municipal utility Glendale Water & Power, which has publicly disclosed a February report (PDF) that shows a serious price difference between big contenders Oracle and C3 and the winning vendor, Escondido, Calif.-based startup Detectent.

More here.

6 emerging standards battling it out for the Internet of Things

Which group will solve the interoperability problem?

1. The Thread Group

Developed by Google’s Nest Labs, ARM and Samsung, Thread is designed to build a low-power mesh network as an alternative to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more.

Thread, which uses 2.4GHz unlicensed spectrum, is built on existing standards, such as IEEE 802.15.4, IETF IPv6 and 6LoWPAN, meaning that existing devices which use ZigBee / 6LoWPAN etc. can easily migrate to Thread.

It doesn’t rely on a central hub, unlike other smarthome platforms, even though it already connects more than 250 products on the market.

Nest already uses Thread for its smart thermostat and smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, and has also partnered with Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool and light bulb maker LIFX to integrate their products too.

“The Thread protocol takes existing technologies and combines the best parts of each to provide a better way to connect products in the home,” said Vint Cerf, VP and chief internet evangelist for Google and advisor to the Thread Group.

Freescale, Big Ass Fans, Silicon Labs and Yale Security are other founding members.

2. Open Interconnect Consortium

Unlike Thread, the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) is still defining the wireless connectivity requirements that would enable billions of devices to connect with each other.

Set up last week by Intel, Samsung, Dell and others, OIC is looking to build up on existing technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Zigbee, with plans to reveal its own open-source software by the third quarter of this year.

The organisation is currently focusing on smart home and office technologies and then plans to target vertical sectors like automotive and health care. It also plans to certify devices that are compliant with its standards.

Other Members include Atmel, Broadcom and Wild River, which are expected to contribute software and engineering resources to develop protocol specification and an open source framework

More here.

Data Center Efficiency Via The Cloud

Organizations looking to improve their data center efficiency and cut costs can reap benefits by transitioning to a cloud computing model.

The volume of critical data produced by our digital world continues to grow, increasing the need for businesses to acquire expensive and power-hungry technology to support and run data applications. Organizations are struggling to manage big data and adopt newer applications and technologies while addressing the environmental and financial pressures to operate in an efficient and sustainable way.

As a result, businesses are taking more action to increase efficiency through their data centers. A recent survey of business and government energy leaders commissioned by Schneider Electric found that data center efficiency will be one of the most popular energy management approaches for organizations in the next five years. Organizations also are finding new ways to reduce operational expenses and avoid large capital investments.

Often, businesses look to make improvements in the physical infrastructures within their own data centers to reach these goals. However, many have also begun to consider either co-location or cloud providers that promote energy efficiency and sustainable practices.

There has been some debate on the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of cloud computing, but the idea that cloud computing is inefficient is a myth. Since the cloud business model relies on high data security and operational efficiency, lean operating principles are often employed to improve financial performance. This has resulted in the cloud being a practical solution for businesses looking to lower their costs, improve their risk profiles, and increase their agility and efficiency, allowing them to delay large capital expenditures.

Moving toward a virtualized environment, whether through virtualization of physical servers or by moving applications into the cloud, helps consolidate systems and reduce overall IT electrical load. It can also shift some capital cost into an operational expense and help businesses realize savings in administration, licensing, maintenance, and reduced downtime.

More here.

Wattics Sentinel – The ice breaker for people and intelligent building systems

By Daniel Tuohy, Wattics Chief Energy Analyst

Many people have become accustomed to having information at their fingertips in modern day society. It is now estimated that 3 billion people are connected to Internet enabled devices around the world and in the past few years, advances in technology and the rise of cloud computing have helped people to stay connected either in the workplace or at home. Many technologies have harnessed this inter-connectivity to help increase productivity in the workplace or to enrich our lives at home.

Outside the workplace, more and more people are taking control of their home through the adoption of smart-home devices. Research firm IHS Technology predicted that by 2018, people will have installed 45 million smart-home services. People are interacting with these devices to enhance their lives and the success of these devices depends upon giving the right information to people, in a way that is useful to them.

The growth of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) and automatic controls used for monitoring and control of the built environment are also helping people to begin to come to grips with their buildings as we enter the age of smart-buildings. A report by Memoori, a market research firm in the U.K., estimates that the size of the world market for BEMS and automatic controls in commercial and industrial buildings was $ 13.39 billion in 2011. Despite the massive growth in these intelligent systems, the information gathered by these systems is often underutilized and sometimes inaccessible to many people. Cumbersome interfaces and complex tools have also damaged the reputation of these systems and acted as a barrier to people unlocking the treasure troves of information collected.

Energy efficiency opportunities are also waiting to be uncovered by successfully interfacing with existing buildings and tapping into the valuable information collected by intelligent systems and smart-building devices. In the EU, this represents a massive opportunity, where currently, it is estimated that 40% of total final energy consumption comes from buildings.

People can be overcome with too much information, they can get lost and become frustrated using current interfaces which are often too complex. The opportunity exists for massive energy efficiency improvements in buildings and people are willing to save energy, they just need the right technology to help them realise savings.

What if more and more people could access this information without the need to go through a clunky interface? What if you had a system that could do the hard work for you and draw your attention to relevant pieces of information about your buildings performance? What about receiving information or notifications to let you know that there is an unusual level of energy consumption occurring right now that needs to be investigated and corrected? Wouldn’t it be cool to check in on your building even when you are not there? Imagine having all this information not only at your finger tips but having relevant information pushed to you when you need it and at a time that suits.

Wattics Sentinel provides just that. Our software engine can interface with most BEMS and energy monitoring systems to give you the information that is useful to you. Sentinel can allow you to investigate building performance through not only our own Messenger Dashboard but with other ones too.

Wattics Sentinel uses self-learning technology to analyse the energy consumption of your building and/or its equipment. It builds up a memory of your energy use patterns and will learn the good and bad energy consumption behaviours of your building.

How does Sentinel actually work?

Wattics-Overview

Metering Data Collection -
Sentinel needs data and can work with data outputs from most existing metering systems. Meter agnosticity allows for full software integration within solutions from Utilities, Grid Operators and Technology vendors, and helps enhance existing product range with new functionalities to keep current clientele and explore new markets.

Software Engine Learning Phase -
Our software engine will analyse data streams from as many meters as necessary, learn energy use patterns and recognise good and bad energy consumption within your building down to circuit level depending on the metering systems in place.

Pushes Relevant Notifications -
Receive informative notifications by email or sms about your building energy performance and energy events. In real time, you will be made aware of abnormally high or low energy use. When needed, you will be made aware about performance against energy targets and how close you are to using up your energy budget. Notifications can also be delivered through our intuitive events feed on the homepage of the Messenger Dashboard.

Prompts you to take action -
Information on your building energy performance is pushed to you saving you the time needed to trawl through energy data by yourself. Interesting energy events can be investigated easily as you are guided to the appropriate section of the Messenger Dashboard to drill down in further detail.

Sentinel will also allow you to explore possible reasons for changes in building energy performance and help you to go one step further with valuable energy saving tips.

Atlassian takes JIRA to customers’ data centres

Named after the Japanese word for Godzilla — Gojira — JIRA, a bug and project-tracking software product, was the Australian startup’s first release over a decade ago.

JIRA Data Center is the latest offering of the company’s team project management software, and can be deployed across multiple nodes for instant scalability, according to Atlassian.

The company says it offers high availability and performance at scale when hosting its applications in customers’ own data centres.

Meanwhile, Atlassian’s complementary Confluence Data Center, designed to quickly scale team collaboration across an enterprise, will be rolled out later this year.

According to Atlassian senior cloud engineer, Chris Fuller, as of 9 June, JIRA and Confluence had not yet reached a “100 percent” agreement in their approaches to the Data Centre offering — with both having different approaches to caching and cross-cluster messaging.

With JIRA Data Center, concurrent user capacity grows steadily as more nodes are added. Clustering capabilities smooth out spikes in traffic improving performance and usability.

Both JIRA Data Center and Confluence Data Center are designed to provide active-active clustering to reduce the risk of system downtime. The platforms integrate with industry standard technologies for database clustering and shared file systems to minimise single points of failure.

Teams can add a node in a cluster in real time, according to Atlassian, and re-indexing is quick, since search indexes can be copied from another node.

“In our load testing, a two-node JIRA Data Center cluster was able to support twice the concurrent users as a single JIRA Server with the same response time. We can’t wait to see what scale our customers reach with the new offerings,” said Bryan Rollins, Atlassian JIRA general manager.

To support the offering, Atlassian said it is also introducing new premier level customer support, technical account management and authorised enterprise partners.

More here.

4th Smart Communications & Technology Forum

We cordially invite you to participate in the 4th edition of the international “Smart Communications & Technology Forum” which will be held on 18th September 2014 in Warsaw. During the previous three editions we hosted over 600 experts in the area of Smart Meters and Smart Grid from all over Europe. The 4th edition will be a global event!

There will be presented the best projects e.g. Smart Sacramento case study by a representative from the company that deployed that huge investment – Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The project turned out largely successful, over 600 thousand smart meters were installed, the grid management costs were reduced, and the peak demand was tackled by a few percent. SMUD was awarded the best Smart Grid of 2013 award from PowerGrid International magazine.

The other confirmed speakers in the 4th edition include representative of: GDF Suez, Salzburg AG, EnBW – Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (which deployed MeRegio, a project that is part of German government sponsored E-Energy initiative), Iberdrola Engineering, ČEZ Distribuce (Grid4EU), Stedin Meetbedrijf and SEAS-NVE (the largest consumer-owned utility in Denmark) as well as OSGP Alliance (The Open Smart Grid Protocol).

The participant to the Forum will be shown the state of deployment of Smart solutions in Poland, and compare it with the international experience.

Some of the most important topics during the 4th edition will be:

Regulatory framework – how does Poland compare with global leaders?

  • Collecting and managing data, security issues
  • Profitability of investments – the real costs of implementations
  • Plans of companies and the functioning of deployed systems in Poland
  • Pilot projects and commercial deployments around the World
  • Cooperation of URE (Energy Regulation Office) with TSO/DSO – what solutions are best?
  • The technological innovation in AMR / AMI / MDM / DAS / DSR / DMS / WAMS
  • Analysis, rapports, and international experience supported by case studies

Forum’s nature is the conference and exhibition, so our guests have the opportunity to see the wide range of the leading suppliers of smart technologies from Poland and foreign entities. We are expecting 250 guests, among whom will be staff of  DSO/TSO companies, representatives of state institutions and non-governmental organizations, scientists, researchers and suppliers of products and solutions. Take advantage of our experience and meet new business partners.

We would like to invite you to the partnership and/or participation. See you in Warsaw!

For more details please visit:
http://cbepolska.pl/en/iv-smart-communications-technology-forum.html

Contact details:
tel/fax: +48 22 82 77 123
e-mail: biuro@cbepolska.pl

Record numbers apply for Horizon 2020 first-round funding

The European Commission has received a deluge of 16,000 applications in the first round of calls for Horizon 2020, its €80 billion research and innovation programme.

“We were over-subscribed by a factor of nine,” said Robert-Jan Smits, director-general of DG Research and Innovation.

The Commission’s first set of calls totaled €15 billion, and it received nine times that worth in applications, he said. That’s almost double the oversubscription rate in the first round of the previous research programme, the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Given the strong surge in bids, the first-round success rate for Horizon 2020 applications will drop to 11 per cent, half the figure in FP7.

“It’s the first time the figures have been made public,” said Smits, speaking today at a session organised by Science|Business at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF 2014) in Copenhagen. Smits suggested one reason for the heavy subscription to Horizon 2020’s first set of calls could be the shrinking public research budgets in countries such as Italy and Spain.

A key goal in designing Horizon 2020 was “bringing industry back in the game,” said Smits, and the first call is an early signal that the Commission was successful. Nearly half of all applicants, or 44 per cent, were from industry compared with 29 per cent in FP7. Another target was channeling more research funding to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). Of all industry applicants in the first H2020 calls, half were SMEs.

The number of submissions from women was 23 per cent of the total, up from 20 per cent in the last programme. Of the proposals submitted by consortiums, 24 per cent were headed by women, compared to 20 per cent in FP7. Inside the Commission the balance of those evaluating the submissions has changed too – this time around, 40 per cent will be women, meeting a target set by Smits.

Asked how the Commission could cope with the dramatic surge in the volume of bids, Smits said contingency plans were in place. “It’s an enormous machine we’re working with.” Among the calls, launched in mid-December, the most heavily-subscribed areas were those relating to health topics but also food, ICT and cyber-security, he said.

The evaluation phase will now begin and until it’s complete we won’t get a really strong view on the quality of applicants, he added.

More here.

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