Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Trilliant Energy Vallet - iPhone Based SmartGrid Integration

Original Article - Trilliant Inc.

Helping consumers and the environment
Electric car charged? Check. Schedule hot tub at home? Check. Helping the environment? Check. All this and more is made possible by Trilliant's Energy Valet, a widget for use on Apple's iPhone® and iPod touch® that will give consumers unprecedented control over energy consumption and savings. Sign up for Trilliant's Preview to get more information as it becomes available.

Benefits include:

* Instant status of utility bill costs, savings, and carbon footprint reduction.
* Instant Time of Use Rate schedule.
* Long term-near term remote scheduling of household devices.
* 1Touch charging of electric vehicle, and remote control of household.

Trilliant's SerViewCom® data acquisition and data processing platform provides a streamlined and cost-effective 24/7 Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system. Compared to other meter data acquisition systems, SerViewCom is very flexible in terms of operating system platform, data base selection, data acquisition approaches, look and feel, reporting, and alarms. Also Trilliant offers solutions for MV-90 customers enhancing the value of an overall AMI system.

SerViewCom offers various levels of configuration that allow you to refine the applications so they meet your corporate needs:

* Choose your own database: Oracle, Sybase, Postgress, MySQL, and MS SQL
* Change look and feel: SerViewCom embeds transparently into your current corporate web design
* Run on your preferred OS: Windows 2000, Windows XP and 2003
* Create reports: several formats available including PDF, HTML, and CSV

San Diego Utility to Roll Out Smart Meters Mid-March

Original Article: earth2tech.com

The recession could be standing in the way of some utilities’ smart grid plans, but San Diego Gas & Electric, which services 3.4 million residents across 4,100 square miles, is trying to keep on track. Stephanie Donovan, spokesperson for the utility, told us recently that starting in mid-March San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) will start rolling out 2.3 million electric and gas meters at its customers homes.

That means the utility’s project is just slightly behind schedule, as SDG&E had been planning to start a broad smart meter deployment in February. Itron, which will be providing the meters for the rollout, said last month that some of its utility customers would be changing up deployment schedules, with some moving forward more quickly than expected and others deploying somewhat later than their initial schedule.

SDG&E has chosen to use Itron’s OpenWay smart meters, which use an open-standards approach to provide a two-way communication between the utility and the resident’s home. The OpenWay meters also have a ZigBee chip embedded, enabling the resident to create a home area network that can help cut energy consumption.

For SDG&E, coming close to the deployment deadline is still pretty good — these smart meter projects are a substantial effort for utilities and require years of planning, regulatory approval and hundreds of millions of dollars. SDG&E’s project was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission back in 2007, and the utility estimates expenditures for the project on the order of $572 million (including at least $500 million in capital investments).

That kind of investment is pretty standard for a utility’s smart meter project. Ed Legge, an analyst with the Edison Electric Institute, said an average utility will spend at least $500 million on a large scale smart meter rollout. And it would take at least $50 billion for all of the investor-owned utilities (which make up 70 percent of the U.S. utilities) to roll out smart grid networks.

This week, utilities and smart grid firms will all be waiting for a vote on the stimulus package, which would allocate $4.5 billion for a smarter power grid, with a goal of 40 million smart meters installed. While those funds are just a drop in the bucket for the overall industry, companies like smart grid software maker eMeter are already saying that they’re seeing a stimulus-induced pickup in the market.

AT&T Taps Into Smart Grid With SmartSynch

Original Article: earth2tech.com

Smart grid analyst Jesse Berst wasn’t kidding when he said companies are in a frenzy repositioning themselves to grab a piece of the smart grid market. The latest is the largest cell phone company in the U.S.: AT&T. This morning, AT&T says it is working with smart meter technology maker SmartSynch to provide its wireless network for residential installations using SmartSynch’s smart meter technology.

SmartSynch and AT&T already have a partnership whereby AT&T’s wireless network is used to connect smart meters at commercial and industrial locations to around 100 different utilities’ back offices. This morning’s announcement is an expansion of that business into the residential market.

SmartSynch is a decade-old company based in Jackson, Miss., that makes a smart meter system that uses Internet protocol (IP) networks, like cellular or Wi-Fi, to connect smart meters at buildings to utilities. The benefit of SmartSynch’s system for utilities is that they don’t have to build their own network to run smart meters, they can use existing networks, which means a much lower cost to deploy the system.

While AT&T has been using its network for smart meter deployments for awhile, this new extension is a bet on the growth of the smart meter residential market. U.S. utilities are just starting to do trials of smart meters in homes in select regions, but with the stimulus package injecting billions into the smart meter and smart grid markets, utilities and companies are getting ready to take advantage of dramatic growth this year. President Barack Obama has called for the installation of 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines.

A buildout of the smart grid could also be one of the largest creators of wealth in the decade. As Berst said recently, the smart grid will “spawn new Googles and Microsofts,” and is “akin to the transcontinental railroad, the phone system, the interstate highway system and the Internet.” Of course AT&T wants a piece of that.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Original Article - MIT Technology Review

Outside vibe: Citysense is a downloadable application for the iPhone and BlackBerry. It provides a heat map of GPS activity in a major city. Here, San Francisco is shown with red patches that indicate higher activity. The application has also identified the user’s location (a solid yellow dot) and suggests popular destinations (yellow circles).
Credit: Sense Networks
Over the course of any day, people congregate around different parts of a city. In the morning hours, workers commute downtown, while at lunchtime and in the evening, people disperse to eateries and bars.

While this sort of behavior is common knowledge, it hasn't been visible to the average person. Sense Networks, a startup based in New York, is now trying to bring this side of a city to life. Using cell-phone and taxi GPS data, the startup's software produces a heat map that shows activity at hot spots across a city. Currently, the service, called Citysense, only works in San Francisco, but it will launch in New York in the next few months.

On Wednesday, at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies conference in San Jose, CA, Tony Jebara, chief scientist for Sense Networks and a professor at Columbia University, detailed plans of a forthcoming update to Citysense that shows not only where people are gathering in real time, but where people with similar behavioral patterns--students, tourists, or businesspeople, for instance--are congregating. A user downloads Citysense to her phone to view the map and can choose whether or not to allow the application to track her own location.

The idea, says Jebara, is that a person could travel to a new city, launch Citysense on her phone, and instantly get a feel for which neighborhoods she might want to spend the evening visiting. This information could also help her filter restaurant or bar suggestions from online recommendation services like Yelp. Equally important, from the company's business perspective, advertisers would have a better idea of where and when to advertise to certain groups of people.

Citysense, which has access to four million GPS sensors, currently offers simple statistics about a city, says Jebara. It shows, for instance, whether the overall activity in the city is above or below normal (Sense Networks' GPS data indicates that activity in San Francisco is down 34 percent since October) or whether a particular part of town has more or less activity than usual. But the next version of the software, due out in a couple of months, will help users dig more deeply into this data. It will reveal the movement of people with certain behavior patterns.

"It's like Facebook, but without the self-reporting," Jebara says, meaning that a user doesn't need to actively update her profile. "We want an honest social network where you're connected to someone because you colocate."

In other words, if you live in San Francisco and go to Starbucks at 4 P.M. a couple of times a week, you probably have some similarities with someone in New York who also visits Starbucks at around the same time. Knowing where a person in New York goes to dinner on a Friday night could help a visitor to the city make a better restaurant choice, Jebara says.

As smart phones with GPS sensors become more popular, companies and researchers have clamored to make sense of all the data that this can reveal. Sense Networks is a part of a research trend known as reality mining, pioneered by Alex Pentland of MIT, who is a cofounder of Sense Networks. Another example of reality mining is a research project at Intel that uses cell phones to determine whether a person is the hub of a social network or at the periphery, based on her tone of voice and the amount of time she talks.

Jebara is aware that the idea of tracking people's movements makes some people uncomfortable, but he insists that the data used is stripped of all identifying information. In addition, anyone who uses Citysense must first agree to let the system log her position. A user can also, at any time, delete her data from the Sense Networks database, Jebara says.

Part of Sense Networks' business plan involves providing GPS data about city activity to advertisers, Jebara says. But again, this does not mean revealing an individual's whereabouts--just where certain types of people congregate and when. For instance, Sense Networks' data-analysis algorithms may show that a particular demographic heads to bars downtown between 6 and 9 P.M. on weekdays. Advertisers could then tailor ads on a billboard screen to that specific crowd.

So far, Jebara says, Sense Networks has categorized 20 types, or "tribes," of people in cities, including "young and edgy," "business traveler," "weekend mole," and "homebody." These tribes are determined using three types of data: a person's "flow," or movements around a city; publicly available data concerning the company addresses in a city; and demographic data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. If a person spends the evening in a certain neighborhood, it's more likely that she lives in that neighborhood and shares some of its demographic traits.

By analyzing these types of data, engineers at Sense Networks can determine the probability that a user will visit a certain type of location, like a coffee shop, at any time. Within a couple of weeks, says Jebara, the matrix provides a reliable probability of the type of place--not the exact place or location--that a person will be at any given hour in a week. The probability is constantly updated, but in general, says Jebara, most people's behavior does not vary dramatically from day to day.

Sense Networks is exploring what GPS data can reveal about behavior, says Eric Paulos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. "It's interesting to see things like this, [something] that was just research a few years ago, coming to the market," he adds. Paulos says it will be important to make sure that people are aware of what data is being used and how, but he predicts that more and more companies are going to find ways to make use of the digital bread crumbs we leave behind. "It's going to happen," he says.

Video of SenseCity in action