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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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Fog Computing Becomes Clearer with Cisco IOx Solution

During this year’s DistribuTECH event, the halls of San Diego’s Convention Center were abuzz with an influx of tools, technology and talk surrounding the industry. And rightfully so, as utilities across the country seek out the latest developments that empower them to connect their workforces and streamline their services.

And as the Internet of Everything continues to present new opportunities for the world, connectivity has proven to be even more important for public utility operations.

At DistribuTECH, Cisco had the pleasure of engaging with attendees, demonstrating how utilities the world over have worked with Cisco and our partners to reduce costs and deliver more services on a single, intelligent and secure platform. The IT model we shared is one that brings innovation to the Operational Technology (OT) environment, integrating information, data, people and processes – the building blocks for the Internet of Everything.

In talking with utility managers and leaders, one thing is for certain – nothing is accomplished when feet are on the ground and employees are idle. By 2020, the Internet of Things is expected to connect a mind-boggling 50 million smart devices with network access.  The sheer amount of data transmitted by these devices can be invaluable – but it can easily overwhelm traditional IoT systems that utilize satellite or mobile networks.

Enter Cisco’s IOx. Read More »

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Live at DistribuTECH – Wednesday Recap

While Day One of DistribuTECH wrapped on Tuesday, Day Two delivered more of the same: exceptional networking, education and workshops for utility professionals, industry experts and solution providers. The day kicked off with lively roundtable discussions, followed by another full day of conference sessions, workshops, and demonstrations. With so many great topics and speakers, it was difficult to choose which to attend!

DistribuTECH Day 2

The session I gained the most value from was NERC-CIP version 5 Strategies and Approaches. The panelists addressed compliance approaches for the updated standard, aimed at fending off both cyber and physical attacks. Panelist gave their views on identifying assets and how to address monitoring and controls. Other panelists made it clear that perimeter defense is one of the many tools but by no means the only tool to address grid cyber security. Security teams should focus on approaches that encompass intelligence. Hacktivists, nation states, and cyber-criminal threat vectors are relevant considering the threat landscape.

During the day, I popped into the exhibit hall to check out the product workshops and demonstrations. I was particularly interested in integration of Bitstew’s Grid Director’s analytic into Cisco’s architecture. The ability to get a complete view of the grid with predictive analytics capabilities enhanced the Internet of Everything deployment.

During the evening reception, our booth was abuzz with attendees wanting to learn more about our solutions for Field Area Networks, Grid Security, Substation Automation and collaboration. Field Area Networks was especially popular with the attendees and our reps did a great job articulating the multiservice value and different connectivity options. We had a great evening with attendees, industry peers and our customers celebrating the 25th anniversary of DTECH, complete with the Macarena dance craze to boot!

It’s been a busy few days, but it’s not over yet. On Thursday, we still have a half-day of networking, engagement and education planned. Don’t miss your final opportunity to visit Cisco Booth #3413. After lunch, we’ll pack up our solutions and start planning for next year’s event! Check back tomorrow for a full DistribuTECH recap!

DistribuTECH Day 2 Image 2

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Live at DistribuTECH – Tuesday Recap

There was a LOT of great activity today in San Diego at DistribuTECH! The day started with a Keynote session from industry executives Jeff Martin and Ted Craver, sharing their insights followed by future prognostications from renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku.

Dr. Michio Kaku speaking at DistribuTECH! 2015

Dr. Michio Kaku speaking at DistribuTECH! 2015

Both Mr. Martin, CEO of SDG&E, and Mr. Craver, CEO of Edison International, described their commitment to a greener energy future, accepting the challenges of adding more renewable sources of power to their respective utilities.   Attendees left the session more prepared to welcome the inevitable challenges and opportunities that come with this changing landscape. The best part of the keynote for me was the acknowledgement of how the industry is going to change more in the next ten years than it has in the previous 100 years.

After the session, all attendees, including myself, were ready to gear up for what’s next by attending and learning from the various workshops and sessions planned throughout the day. The afternoon kicked-off with conference sessions along with concurrent product workshops and demos on the exhibit floor. The conference session topics ranged from advanced metering to water utility technology, but I was particularly interested in sessions on security, grid automation and the policy discussion on renewables and transmission. These areas are at the heart of the industry transformation. Regulation of the industry needs to change just as much as the industry needs to change.

Product workshops and demonstrations are always a big draw for our customers and one of my personal highlights from this event. As my colleague Peter mentioned in his last blog, Cisco’s booth doesn’t disappoint! Our featured solutions include Field Area Networks, Substation Automation, Secure Ops Solutions and our FirePOWER threat defense.

The day came to close with the opening reception on the exhibit floor. This networking event provided us a great opportunity to meet with customers and hear their top challenges first hand. The overwhelming feedback was positive and customers are looking to Cisco for how to deal with legacy equipment, security threats, and the new capabilities required by grid transformation.

All good things must come to an end but thankfully for us, it’s just the beginning! The Cisco team is looking forward to another packed day Wednesday, beginning with breakfast round table discussions starting at 7:30am. If you haven’t already, make sure to stop by Cisco Booth #3413 in the exhibit hall and check back tomorrow for another daily recap from your Cisco team, live at DistribuTECH!

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Starts tomorrow: DistribuTECH Exhibition Floor Opens – come see Cisco!

The preparations are almost complete. The Demonstrations are ready. The Experts are waiting for you. Come visit us at the Show!

Cisco under the Spotlight

                                                     Cisco under the Spotlight

There are some cool goings-on at the Cisco Booth at DistribuTECH this year.

Our previous posts (DistribuTECH, Cisco, Business and Technical (IT and OT) Solutions. See them all in San Diego February 3rd-4th my me, Peter Granger, and Cisco Demonstrating Solutions for a variety of utilities needs at DistribuTECH, by my colleague Clara Alvarado), told you what to expect. So this is just a little reminder.

Everyone knows that Cisco is big in the IT and carpeted areas of Enterprise customers, but did you know (I feel a car insurance commercial coming on!) just how relevant we are now in the operational side. Just take a look at the specialized technology we have that is ruggedized for harsh environments and outdoor use.

Did you know - not just carpeted areas any more!

Did you know – not just carpeted areas any more!

 

At the booth we even have out own outdoor neighborhood utility pole on display with some of that equipment mounted on it!

Field Area Networks, Substation Automation – even Smart Metering are all available today, in many cases working with our partners to deliver a complete technology and service solution.

Since security and safety are top-of-mind we’ll devote some of the booth to the Secure Ops Solution for Industrial Control Networks, under the “Strengthen Security and Compliance” banner, along with showing Cisco Security for Utilities with FirePOWER under the “Protect SCADA Systems banner”. Lots more to see – look  out for our show updates during the week, and some live video we’ll be capturing to summarize the demos and recognize the real business value of the solutions.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow when the show opens.

Remember that you can still book meetings as I reported in my last blog:

Contact Sandra Bullock to schedule a meeting.

            Contact Sandra Bullock to schedule a meeting.

…”I’m happy to tell you that there will be opportunities to meet up with industry experts and technology specialists at our booth to discuss your most pressing concerns and how Cisco and and our partners can help. Here’s how: to schedule a booth tour or customer/partner meeting, contact Samantha Bullock. Sandra will help make it happen.”

And I want to say a special ‘Thank you’ to all the folks who (quite literally as it happens!) weathered the storms to get here!

Read More »

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