According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 6 to 8 percent of the electricity generated at the power plant disappears due to “technical losses” in the lines and equipment that deliver power to the end user while another 1 to 3 percent is lost to electricity theft or other “non-technical” losses. Water utilities in the U.S. lose on average roughly 15 percent of treated water to system leaks and other forms of waste before it ever reaches the consumer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and other industry sources. That doesn’t even include leaks at the customer premise.
For more than three decades, Itron, based in Liberty Lake, Washington, has supplied utilities worldwide with communication and sensing networks to collect energy and water consumption information and provide mission-critical data to run their distribution networks more effectively and reduce waste. Success in this demanding environment requires Itron to deliver highly secure and reliable field communication networks that can scale to tens of millions of devices and do so at an affordable cost. Equally important is providing the analytic software and services expertise to create value from the data they collect.
“Itron has successfully deployed more than 150 million intelligent, communicating devices in the field for utilities to better manage energy and water resources,” says Mark de Vere White, President of Itron’s Electricity Business Line. “We know how to make these systems work in the field and more importantly, we know how to create value for both the utility and their customers from the data.”
So it’s not a surprise that Itron’s core competencies are readily applicable to the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. The company’s focus on energy and water resource management provides initial, high-value applications to justify investment–usually by the utility in the network. Once that network infrastructure is deployed over a city or utility service territory, new devices and applications can be added easily to the network to broaden the value stream.
Itron has successfully deployed more than 150 million intelligent, communicating devices in the field for utilities to better manage energy and water resources
These new applications include smart grid technologies to make utility distribution networks more reliable, efficient and safe. But these networks also provide a common network infrastructure to build smarter cities and enable IoT applications, such as streetlight management, electric vehicle charging and integration of more and more solar generation.
Key to Itron’s efforts is the development of its OpenWay Riva™ IoT solution, which provides significant advances to its widely deployed OpenWay solution. The OpenWay Riva solution introduces distributed computing power to analyze data at the edge, advanced communication options that assure both high performance and reliable connectivity and an open application environment to run apps in field devices. This combination of capabilities not only enables an array of new use cases for energy and water management, but also provides a technology platform ideally suited for innovative smart city and IoT applications from a broad ecosystem of developers.
“It used to be that we built these networks primarily for one purpose, most often utility meter reading,” says de Vere White. “Today, we offer a multi-application network, built on open IP standards in partnership with Cisco. Instead of just collecting lots of data, these networks can actually analyze detailed data instantaneously at the edge, communicate with other nearby sensors and devices, and take action to correct problems in real time. These capabilities are critical for the IoT world.”