European Utility Week highlights advances in “Going Digital”
Paella, Tapas, Spanish reds, thin slices of Iberian Ham, Antoni Gaudi, and a twisty walk through the Gothic Quarter. Yes, I’m talking about Barcelona! And it was there, in the “Head and Hearth of Catalonia” where the 2016 European Utility Week was held November 15 – 17.
Walking the floor reminded me keenly of how far we have come in this previously antiquated business sector. This was one of the highest-tech utility trade shows I’ve attended, where network connectivity was the core around which all else revolved.
Hub theaters included Energy Revolution, Intelligent Buildings, Smart Gas & Smart Water, Intelligent Grid, and Big Data & Analytics. This is a far cry from the analog/serial-heavy shows of only a few years before. We saw a large presence by some of the big data and computing players like IBM, Accenture, Oracle, SAP, Intel, and others, demonstrating that data management and cloud-based systems are taking the lead as a critical component of the digitized grid.
As expected, Security was a prime topic of most booth visitors. Our ISA-3000 generated a lot of interest, and its access control, advanced threat detection, and defense-in-depth capabilities drew heavy attention as utilities struggle to lock down their systems from prying, malicious acts.
A surprising area of interest for many attendees was our connected fleet and field workers display, where we demonstrated our IR829 Industrial Integrated Services Router. With asset tracking so important to our customers, the IR829 allows field trucks to become fully integrated into the utility network, pulling data over long distances through 3G and 4G connections, and enabling the truck to become a big wireless hotspot.
With a built-in GPS and GEO Fencing capabilities, the network will recognize when a vehicle arrives at its location, and the system can promptly download data and repair manuals. With the new augmented reality headsets in the works, the future looks very bright for this segment. I’ll talk more about augmented reality in a future blog post.
With ongoing migrations from TDM to MPLS, and Substation SCADA and Telemetry equipment moving to a packetized infrastructure, Cisco’s ASR 900 family of routers attracted a steady stream of visitors. Our Unified Operations Network station demonstrated the powerful capabilities of our serial interfacing CGR-2010, and also on display were our IE-2000U, IE-4000, and the IE-5000, bringing substation protocols like 61850, Goose, or DNP3/IP to our customer’s networks.
There was so much to see, like our LoRaWAN station, the Field Area Network Director Meter Interoperability station, Asset Monitoring station, and our Distribution Automation Optimization with Eximprod station. A steady flow of a truly international audience kept our staff busy and engaged with exciting and interesting opportunities! This was the first trade show I’ve seen where security had to ask visitors to leave after the floor hours had expired.
With Cisco’s Digital Utilities Validated Network Designs, our customers can pull their legacy systems into the future, offering them security, reliability, and a unified plan to digitize their grid infrastructure. There’s really never been a better time to Connect the Grid!
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