AutoGrid Applies Big Data to Electric Grid

The “smart grid” is one of those buzzwords that started gaining momentum a few years ago, and the ideas behind it certainly hold appeal in a world where both utility companies and their customers want more efficient services. But implementation of smart-grid hardware and software has been much more scattershot: a new smart-meter prototype here, a pilot program to help utilities get “smarter” there.

AutoGrid Systems, a startup founded in 2011, aims to change all that with its Energy Data Platform (EDP), a scalable software platform that mines data from smart meters connected to a utility grid. EDP has been unveiled in conjunction with Demand Response Optimization and Management Systems (DROMS), a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform for optimizing and managing utility demand.

“AutoGrid is creating the brains for the smart grid. If you can analyze all of the data, you can predict what the electrical parameters of the grid will be under any situation and use that to remove inefficiencies from the electricity supply chain,” Dan Ahn, managing director at AutoGrid funder Voyager Capital, wrote in an Oct. 29 statement. “This is a huge, long-term opportunity to apply state-of-the-art big data analytics, with a disruptive business model, to transform a 100 year old industry.”

Utility companies are indeed seeking ways to make power grids more efficient. Over the summer, Oracle surveyed 151 senior-level executives at North American utilities with smart meter programs—and a full 45 percent reported that, despite their use of next-generation meters and other monitoring equipment, their companies still struggled to report information to business managers in a timely manner. That’s on top of 50 percent reporting their company had missed opportunities to deliver “useful information” to customers.

“A vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data—to ultimately create new opportunities to improve service reliability and deliver useful information to customers,” Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle Utilities, wrote in a statement at the time. “Utilities can benefit from establishing enterprise information strategies, and investing in the systems and people needed to make better business decisions.”

While Oracle offers software for utility management, it faces significant competition from IBM and other major IT vendors with similar offerings. Earlier in October, for example, IBM unveiled a PureData System for Operational Analytics, designed to provide insights into business operations including utility operations.


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