When combined with Internet of Things connectivity and data analytics, smart metering can help utilities improve service delivery.
October 23, 2022Integrating smart meters into the Internet of Things (IoT) with internet connectivity is critical to their successful deployment. The combination of smart meters, two-way communication networks and data management systems is known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI has a variety of benefits, including helping utility companies automate device connections, meter readings, and customer billing.
Smart meters, IoT connectivity and data analytics make it easier for utilities to improve service delivery. The combination further allows utility companies and their customers to work together to manage consumption and even pricing.
Smart metering and smart grids
Thanks to various centralized reading and consumption monitoring applications, smart gas and electricity meters monitor customers’ energy consumption locally. Smart meters that integrate a variety of IoT sensors are able to collect more and richer data in near real time.
Data collected by smart meters is the lifeblood of smart grids, which gives utility companies the ability to aggregate and manage service delivery flows, as well as monitor network health remotely and at a glance. large scale. The smart grid enables utilities to deliver services in a sustainable, efficient and secure way, allowing them to track and achieve their climate change and carbon footprint goals.
Data flow improves the ability of utilities to forecast and monitor demand in order to manage supply. It also allows companies to share usage patterns with customers, which can act as an incentive to adopt more responsible usage practices. Benefits include faster response to demand, better distributed resource management, operational efficiencies and improved customer relationships. By 2030, there could be 2.2 billion smart meters deployed by electric utilities alone, according to Transforma Insights TAM forecasts of connected objects. The adoption model is global, driven in part by government sustainability initiatives.
Another factor contributing to accelerating the adoption of smart meters is the growing availability of low power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies, which eliminate the need for utilities to connect a communication wire to each smart meter. Instead, smart meters can connect to the Internet once or twice a day over a wireless LPWAN to provide data; transmitters can be powered by small batteries.
A safe and secure technological solution
Connectivity is essential, but connections must be secure, especially in wireless networks. There are many ways to protect smart meters and other IoT devices, but in the context of wireless networks, it is important to consider the use of a secure subscriber identity module (SIM). IoT device manufacturers are increasingly choosing the permanently fixed SIM form factor, a Embedded SIM (eSIM)or even a built-in SIM card as part of their design.
An eSIM is a tamper-proof chip, physically and logically isolated, providing controlled protection against the rest of a device’s processes and resources. Non-removable SIM cards, while infinitely more physically secure, would have prevented a device from being swapped out for a subscription from a new connectivity provider. However, thanks to the GSMA Remote SIM provisioning (RSP) architectures and a capable and compliant SIM operating system (OS), SIM hardware can safely remain in place while carrier credentials and settings, SIM profile, can be added or removed to safe distance.
The ability to verify the identity of smart meters is important. Installing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is an additional step, and security can be further amplified by implementing data encryption. SECURE IoT is an option that provides a root of trust within the device-side SIM card. This secures a utility’s cryptography, which can be used to prove the authenticity of the meter to the utility. It can also encrypt all data sent from the device.
Other benefits of eSIM
Meters often reside in tight locations. eSIMs are of course highly integrated, so their use naturally allows designers to create compact connectivity modules. With an eSIM, a manufacturer can select a default, out-of-the-box connectivity option, which means they don’t have to source multiple regional SIM cards from ORMs or create and manage their own variants of products; the default will connect to any compatible cellular network.
Cellular connectivity options available include LTE-M, NB-IoT, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. Operators can not only change connectivity provider, but also change connectivity technology. Fallback options are supported; if the selected network fails, connectivity can be automatically routed over an entirely different network.
Opportunities across the ecosystem
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can integrate eSIM functionality at the point of manufacture. They can then offer their utility customers a choice of cellular connectivity delivery and management options.
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) or MVNOs provide “connectivity only” or act as an end-to-end connectivity solution enabler. The second option means they can make integration easier or provide functionality for back-end subscription management, data traffic reporting, billing, and even remote cloud management.
Connectivity Management Platform (CMP) Providers aggregate connectivity across multiple different cellular networks, enabling them to manage smart meter network connectivity on behalf of utilities that are customers.
Consumers can use real-time information from their smart meters (often viewable in mobile apps or web-based dashboards) to minimize consumption or manage usage to potentially manage their billing costs.
Governments and other regulators need accurate data to set energy consumption goals and track progress toward those goals, which requires smart meters. Additionally, governments can also use this data to better understand the levels of wealth and poverty within the population, so that areas of vulnerability can be identified and appropriate response measures can be adopted.
Additional smart meter resources:
Charlie Harrisson is Senior Director of Marketing at Kigenwhere he focuses on advanced connectivity, security and software-as-a-service applications.