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2015 Strategic Directions: Smart Utility Report

Founded in 1915, Black & Veatch is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, specializing in Energy, Water, Telecommunications, Federal, and Management Consulting. Black & Veatch’s annual Strategic Directions Report identifies top of mind issues based on a compilation of data and analysis from an industry-wide survey. The complete report is available from the Black & Veatch website.

“The annual Strategic Directions report series captures Black & Veatch’s global engineering and thought leadership expertise across key elements of the critical human infrastructure market.… This report represents the evolution of Black & Veatch’s inaugural Strategic Directions: Utility Automation & Integration report, with an expanded focus on automation and integration and utilities’ efforts to harness data to make operations and service delivery more efficient.

Black & Veatch 2015

The major sections of the report address:

  • Utility Telecommunications
  • Utility Automation
  • Data Analytics
  • Smart Communities
  • Perspectives

The report notes that utilities and communities, with the proliferation of smart devices, automation and the use of analytics are transforming development and delivery of key infrastructure services to become more responsive, efficient and resilient.

Especially relevant to Cisco’s engagement with the utility industry and communities around the world is Black & Veatch’s observation that as legacy equipment is replaced or upgraded, IP-based technology is creating new opportunities. Connected devices on utility telecommunications infrastructure is now widely recognized as “…an essential element of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Advanced metering Infrastructure (AMI) has often been thought of as synonymous with “Smart Grid”, but the expectations of real-time pricing or even time-of-use (TOU) rates and demand side management are far from the top of the list of top areas enabled by increased data management and analytics. The top three listed in the report are:

Asset Management (67%)

Capital Investment (45%)

Customer Service/Engagement (27%)

More than 63% of electric utilities report plans to replace, upgrade or build communications infrastructure in the next 5 years, with IP leading the way as the network protocol standard including SCADA systems.

“Some utilities are completely embracing a converged mentality and running everything over a shared infrastructure, while others are moving more cautiously by keeping protective relaying and other mission-critical applications separate from the converged network.

The report notes that some utilities are more focused on the cost of maintaining and replacing outdated equipment and are unconvinced that smart grid technologies and automation are critical, but concludes, “Staying on the sidelines carries risk.”

Budget concerns dominate the obstacles to new technology implementation, and convincing stakeholders is key to addressing cost and perception issues.

The report concludes that the adaptive planning enabled by IP communications and advanced analytics allow leaders to effectively address core management functions of Strategic Options Assessment, Asset management and Operational Planning.

“For organizations that provide essential services, this represents the greatest transformation in utility operations in decades. For the smart city, it will facilitate the transformation to becoming a better place to live and a more friendly and desirable place to do business for generations to come.”

Black & Veatch and Cisco partner to create architectures for electricity, natural gas, solar and wind customers that provide secure and optimized network integration for smart grid environments. If you’d like to know more about our work together, contact me by commenting on this blog.

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Connected Roadways and the Last Traffic Jam

Connected Roadway, AK46877My morning commute usually takes about an hour, on a good day, and it’s only 25 miles from home to office. As I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic — yet again — I began to think of the global nature of this problem and how much time and money is being wasted. According to the most recent Urban Mobility Report, traffic congestion causes U.S. citizens to spend an additional 5.5 billion hours in transit and expend an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel. This equates to a staggering cost of $121 billion.

In addition to the monetary toll of traffic congestion, there are also the pressing concerns of safety and the effect on our environment. In its Global Status Report on Road Safety (2013), the World Health Organization emphasized that worldwide more than a million people die each year in road traffic incidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for age 4 and every age 11 through 27, in the U.S. alone. Transportation creates nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At the same time, major global trends are driving the need for significant changes in transportation around the world: Read More »

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Real-Time Analytics Can Make the “Last Checkout Line” a Reality—and Drive Bottom-Line Gains for Retailers

As retailers compete for consumers’ attention—and purchases—they are always looking for ways to deliver a better shopping experience that will make customers want to come back to the store, again and again. A good starting point is to eliminate some of the common frustrations of the shopping experience, such as long checkout lines.

Cisco’s new campaign on the “Museum of Lasts” shows how the Internet of Everything (IoE) will bring about the “last checkout line.” But that’s just the beginning. When retailers apply real-time analytics to the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, they not only improve store operations and customer service, but also provide the “hyper-relevant” experiences customers crave. Read More »

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Internet of Everything Fuels New Standards for Smarter Austrian Roads

The transportation industry is on the cusp of a total revolution with the Internet of Everything pushing our innovation. Cisco estimates that the coming together of people, process, data and things in Internet of Everything (IoE) world creates unprecedented opportunity. Specifically, over $19 trillion in value at stake will be up for grabs by public and private sector organizations and our industry is certainly capturing its share of that opportunity. Through the use of networked sensors and real-time data reports, agencies like ours across the world have used connected transportation to keep commuters moving by setting new standards for millions of miles worth of roadways. Read the ASFINAG case study. Read More »

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In Emerging and Developed Markets Alike, Banking Customers Demand IoE-Driven Services

Around the world, banking customers express similar frustrations: they believe the value they receive from their banks is declining, at a time when their trust in those banks already has eroded.

What’s more, according to a Cisco survey of 7,200 banking customers in 12 countries, four out of five customers would trust a non-bank, such as a technology company or retailer, to handle their banking needs. Some of those disruptive competitors are succeeding where banks fail: by engaging customers with convenient transactions and value-added services.

The Cisco study found that Internet of Everything (IoE)-enabled services can help restore the value customers expect from banking institutions. IoE — the networked connection of people, process, data and things — makes it possible for banks to offer a more relevant, engaging, and convenient experience for customers.

Of the $19 trillion in global economic value Cisco estimates IoE can create over the next decade, 7 percent ($1.3 trillion) is accounted for in the finance market and could be addressed with concepts included in this survey.

The digitization of business and society is happening at a rapid pace and people are looking for improved, digital services that make life easier. Banks need to embrace this pace of change and deliver relevant services or risk becoming obsolete in a market where other providers are stepping in to fill the gaps.

Read More »

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