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Transforming the future of smart utilities

How Utilismart is unlocking smart grid technologies through Rogers LTE network

Overhead view of city

Smart grid technology is creating a massive shift to modernize utilities and enabling smarter decision-making for the future.

Making smarter cities begins by transforming how we manage and interact with data. Next-generation electrical grids are no exception. Utilismart Corporation is at the forefront of smart meter data management solutions. “We provide solutions to host advanced meter infrastructure that interacts with smart meters in the field and bring that data into our digital utility platform,” explains Miroslav Karlicic, Vice President, Business Development and Innovation at Utilismart.

Leading the transformation of smart utilities

Since 2000, Utilismart has specialized in providing cloud-based data management solutions for utilities, municipalities, industrial, commercial and residential customers. “These technologies support a digital utility transformation,” says Miroslav. This helps Utilismart’s customers—across North America and in parts of the Caribbean—to “convert data into decisions.”

But it wasn’t long ago that utility providers were using much simpler technology, and the thought of smart meters operating on massive cellular IoT connectivity wasn’t even being considered.

Between 2007 and 2010, most utility meters transmitted data via radio frequency-based networks usually installed by the utility meter manufacturer or communications vendors. “Utilities would, build, own and manage towers to support their radio frequency communications,” explains Miroslav. While this system did work to some degree, it often resulted in incomplete data, limiting billing, provisioning and planning accuracy.

Empowering decision-makers with better data

Fast forward a few years, when utility meters evolved. “Traditionally, smart meters were called interval meters and they relied on telephone lines , but over time those meters converted to TCPIP (Transmission Control Protocol Internet Protocol),” recounts Miroslav.

“Rogers cellular services helped us put that missing piece in the process in getting the metered data into the operating system and helping our customers make decisions.”

With this evolution of grid technology, the capabilities and flow of data from the field exploded, opening the door for Utilismart. The missing piece was a connectivity solution that could offer the coverage, reliability and security Utilismart needed. “Rogers cellular services helped us put that missing piece in the process in getting the metered data into the operating system and helping our customers make decisions,” Miroslav explains.

Secure storage to manage the surge in data  

Utilismart’s work with Rogers is rooted in data. “We utilize the Rogers data facilities, one in London, Ontario and one in Markham for multiple reasons,” says Miroslav. “We chose Rogers Data Centre for full redundancy, advanced security and high-speed, high availability internet,” he says.

“We need data centre facilities that go through the rigorous certifications and standards that our customers demand.”

Knowing that their customers would need to meet evolving data regulations, Utilismart relied on Rogers. “We need data centre facilities that go through the rigorous certifications and standards that our customers demand to meet regulatory mandates,” explains Miroslav. Utilismart enables its customers to achieve the required high security and compliance level by securely transferring data over a Private Custom Wireless APN into Rogers data centres.

Reliable coverage to meet demand

The trend toward using data to inform decisions is a result of customers seeing the business value of collecting, analyzing and acting on data in near real-time. “The idea is to take the metered data and convert that into a decision,” says Miroslav. “Whether that is creating a bill or sending an alert or aggregating the data to understand, for example, why one of the transformers is overloaded or why there’s a power outage in a certain segment of the network,” he says.

Utilismart provides its customers with the solutions to enable granular visibility across the grid, powered by the LTE network. “For commercial and industrial meters, it’s pretty much plug-and-play with fast deployment and data streaming by Utilismart – all enabled by the Rogers LTE network,” says Miroslav.

Data at the speed of business

As more use cases emerge and cellular-enabled IoT plays a bigger role in how smart meter data is transmitted, the demand will be for speed and reliability more than data volume.

“Data volumes will continue to grow,” predicts Miroslav. “But the volume won’t be the bottleneck because you’ll be transmitting more—and often smaller—data packets.” With smaller packets being transmitted more frequently, decisions can be made much quicker, and the data used for provisioning and planning is much more concrete.

Shining a light on new data

Data variety is also growing drastically. As more utility companies replace their old grid-edge devices with connected devices and infrastructure, they can collect a wider variety of data—and with it, will rely more on data security, capacity, reliability and coverage.

“Originally, an electric utility, for example, might be collecting one parameter such as kilowatt-hours, but now they’re collecting multiple channels of volts and amps, as well as monitoring alarms, alerts and status,” says Miroslav. And this trend will continue to expand as big data grows in all directions.

Reliable, secure and near-real-time data transmission is happening now through the LTE network. With companies like Utilismart providing innovative solutions that help collect, manage and synthesize this data, the possibilities for the future of smart utilities are virtually limitless. 

To learn more about powering your solutions with Rogers IoT networks, speak to your Rogers account representative.