Recent advances in communications networking technology have created a multitude of opportunities for people to become interconnected. This digital revolution is expected to gain momentum, and new technologies like 5G and IoT is promising to transform the utility business model. As more and more industries take advantage of this connectivity, innovative use cases are being developed. The promise of these advantages appears to be attractive to both private and public utilities. Taking the initiative to become a smarter utility offers an opportunity to build stronger customer engagement and future viability by modifying business models to address key trends in the utility industry.
The path to becoming a smart utility is a step by step process. With a strong vision and objective industry can map out a plan to get there. Becoming an intelligent utility can help firms make better decisions faster, enhance customer experience, and improve productivity and reliability, and the key is knowing how to get started with the plan.
As power industry has evolved, most utilities have initiated infrastructure modernization projects which includes installing advanced metering infrastructure, replacing the old standard transmission with advanced networks which may contribute to the availability of network intelligence, speed, and capacity, providing an entry point to the essential building blocks of a smart utility. Building blocks key to enabling a utility to gather real-time intelligence through connected sensors and devices, transmitting valuable data through a high-speed network to be aggregated and analyzed in the cloud are sensing block, network block, data block, cloud services block, and smart apps block.
With the above blocks in place, utility network can be infused with the intelligence needed to gather and analyze substantial amounts of smart data. An assessment of actions to minimize costs, reduce risks, enhance efficiencies, provide new services, and facilitate regulatory compliance can also act as a vital aspect of the business case planning. Also, smart cybersecurity tools that leverage AI should be implemented to enhance a utility’s ability to detect, analyze, and respond to cyber threats automatically. Opportunities will continue to expand as more intelligence is infused throughout the network.