The ongoing growth of the smart grid, and related smart meters, continues to spurn innovation particularly as the challenge of creating change in a highly-regulated industry is being addressed by better software, better physical components, and better orchestration of large-scale systems through platforms and networks designed to support the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
While many companies are playing in the smart metering domain, Itron, a technology and services company focused on the energy and water management, has taken its solutions a few steps further. With an offering that electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement devices and control technology and related software and systems, and 8,000 customers in over 100 countries, Itron has a massive embedded base and relationships that are leading to the development of a true community of industrial IoT leaders.
Recently, Itron and Bsquare, an IoT software and integration services company, announced a solution designed to “advance distributed intelligence by providing a secure OpenWay Riva App Community for edge devices, including meters, sensors and other devices…using Bsquare's DataV IoT software stack."
Itron's OpenWay Riva solution provides distributed intelligence and computing power in meters and grid devices, enabling real-time analysis of data and peer-to-peer communication among intelligent devices at the edge of the network. Bsquare DataV provides a software distribution layer embedded within the OpenWay Riva network that allows utilities to dynamically and securely download apps to targeted populations of meters, easily enabling new functionality and capabilities.
We caught up with Dave McCarthy, Senior Director, Products at Bsquare, whose enthusiasm for the opportunity to build developer communities around platform-based solutions is inspiring.
“Smart meters will be pervasive in many markets,” McCarthy said, “in the developed and the developing world. The data they create will give utilities and consumers access to real-time data, helping them improve energy efficiency and unlock the value of renewable energy during the transition from legacy to leading edge grid.”
According to McCarthy, Industrial IoT holds the key to completing the smart grid vision, provided that the focus is not just on deploying a new generation of smart meters, but leveraging the data they generate to unlock new capabilities for both the utilities and those who rely on them.
“Itron is going beyond just putting a smart meter into the market. They are creating an app community that enables the ability to layer additional functionality to the meter,” McCarthy said. “This has the potential to solve many challenges for their customers.”
Bsquare’s DataV platform is powering the distribution and management of Itron’s app and developer community framework.
“In many respects, this is what Apple did with the iPhone (News - Alert),” McCarthy said. “They took a single function device and made it multipurpose. For utilities, this provides visibility into the edge of the electric grid, which is something they never had before.”
Pundits and naysayers in the energy industry complain that the smart grid hasn’t been as smart it could be.
Are Itron and Bsquare turning the smart grid into an active grid by not just collecting data from meters, but adding the intelligence to understand it and take action?
For companies like Itron, creating new business models based on recurring revenue for the apps sold to utilities is a new energy in and of itself. By opening up its app community to third party developers, and extending the open offering, Itron is creating arguably the first developer platform for the energy industry, able to scale to tens of millions of endpoints on Bsquare’s DataV platform.
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