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EDGE INTELLIGENCE The first capability many of our customers wanted was the capability of adaptive communications.” the same chip set and as a result, deployed networks can now use either communication path,” adds Wolf. The system is intelligently able to determine the best path from the meter to the utility in order to improve network performance, reliability, connectivity and solve key problems that utilities are facing. “By combining the two network capabilities, we are forming a dynamic network that can hop back and forth and choose the best path in response to network conditions or prioritise information according to the application of the data. This is the first game changing capability we foresee going forward” Wolf continues. Locational awareness changes the way devices interact with one another too. For instance, a meter equipped with Itron Riva technology knows which other meters or similar devices it’s talking to or which it’s part of. That’s never been possible before. This is not enabled by GIS or hardware components but is algorithmic and is not dependent on the network typology communication. Wolf believes location awareness is a game changer for these types of assets. The platform also enables devices to speak multiple languages – it doesn’t just speak ANSI standard protocol for instance, but can simultaneously also speak DNP3 or IEC 61850, and this enables interoperability with other devices. This starts to enable localised action: if a transformer is being overloaded for whatever reason – too much load on the line, or too much demand – the meters can sense this and communicate with other devices such as distribution automation reclosers, load tap changers or smart inverters and actually adjust power flow and protect that asset. Knowing where they are, what assets are around them and having the ability to communicate with other types of grid devices, and then adjusting this new level of processing power and data analysis capability to enable processing to take place at the edge of the network is what Edge Intelligence is all about. This, rather than hauling all of the data back to the utility, which is not only expensive but creates congestion on the network and has timeliness and latency issues. “We see this as a pretty big step forward in the evolution of smart grid technology,” says Wolf. The meter is a key area of intelligence, but not the only area of intelligence. The platform is built on open standards and will run on the Itron OpenWay network, which has IPV6 architecture through Cisco, and is built to be a collaborative, standards-based network that relies on an ecosystem of technology providers to drive innovation. Itron sees the platform as a key component to enabling full grid communication. “We see this as a grid communications and Edge Intelligence platform of which smart metering is probably the first and most common element, but it’s readily applicable into other devices and applications. This is not just about metering,” Wolf concludes. MI FOG ON THE EDGE? Edge Intelligence is also referred to as fog computing, and according to Cisco is where “cloud computing is extended to the edge of the network,” creating a “highly virtualized platform that provides compute, storage, and networking services between end devices and traditional cloud computing data centers. “These services are the building blocks of both the cloud and the fog. They are critical for supporting the emerging wave of Internet deployments, which require mobility support and geo-distribution, location awareness, real-time interactions, and low latency. Also important is the ability to support a very large number of nodes in highly heterogeneous environments.” Fog computing can help enable a new breed of aggregated applications and services: Smart energy distribution: Energy load-balancing applications run on network edge devices that automatically switch to alternative energies, like solar and wind, based on energy demand, availability, and the lowest price. Smart traffic lights: A video camera senses an ambulance’s flashing lights and automatically controls the traffic signals so the ambulance can pass through. Train maintenance: Sensors on self-maintaining trains monitor train components. If they detect trouble, they send an automatic alert to the train operator to stop at the next station for emergency maintenance. 1 With a fully developed fog computing architecture, customers and solution providers across industries can develop, manage, and run software applications directly on industrial networked devices. This includes hardened routers, switches, and IP video cameras. Says Professor Mung Chiang of Princeton University: “It has now become feasible and interesting to ask: ‘Can this be done at clients/ edge?’ “ Chiang believes that fog computing will allow for rapid innvoation on the client side, along with affordable scaling of applications. More importantly, real-time processing is a reality through the pooling of local resources and maximizing of bandwidth at source. As more and more Edge devices become more powerfull, more and more will be done in the fog as these devices now be seen as part of the network structure, not just as using it. REFERENCE: 1 - METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE – 1 | 2015 51