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Utilities Get "Defense"-ive

How cutting-edge military technologies can help solve some of the industry’s most critical issues.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2006

solution being implemented in a large-scale automated meter reading project in Ontario that also includes a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to connect a meter data repository responsible for the collection, verification, and validation of raw data with the utility’s billing and operating system. The SOA ensures accurate, timely, and secure transmission of data, essentially taking meter data from millions of homes in Ontario and returning it to the utility in the form of billing data.

Ontario has made its smart-meter initiative a top priority, committing more than $1 billion to it. Through automated two-way communication, consumers will be able to review their household energy consumption, allowing them to decrease consumption during more expensive operating hours and ultimately more effectively conserve electricity. The key to that two-way communication is the ability not only to share data, but for the utility to be able to extract meaning and value from it. This SOA capability, borne from an existing military application, provides the vehicle for sharing that data in a meaningful way from multiple systems and sources.

The ability to share, analyze, and use large amounts of data is a common theme among these utility and military applications. It seems like a simple concept, but the military has spent billions of dollars to make that concept a reality. Although the defense industry has not cracked the code on this issue, it certainly has made great strides.

That’s good news for the utility sector, which does not have to reinvent the wheel. It also means that utilities can leverage the investments made by the Defense sector. Technologies already exist to solve some of the industry’s most pressing problems. It’s up to utilities to take advantage of that knowledge.