One of the biggest issues facing utilities that switch to a smart grid is how to deploy these technologies on a large scale while still leaving room for upgrades.
SmartSynch's Universal Communications Model (UCM) makes that struggle a little easier by putting all the elements of smart grid communications—wireless networks, fiber optic cables, and power line carriers—in a box. When the devices become outdated, vendors can switch them out without having to completely tear apart home smart meters. Without a UCM, smart meters have to be completely replaced in order to upgrade communications technologies, which transfer energy consumption information from individual homes to local utilities.
The smart-grid-in-a-box can't replace smart meters, but it can assist meters in communicating with local utilities, and provide energy monitoring for customers. North Carolina-based Duke Energy has already snapped up the technology, calling it "future-proof". The utility may use the UCM to bypass smart meters and communicate directly with in-home devices.
SmartSynch's UCM has another potential benefit: securing the wireless smart grid from hackers. Smart grid systems are currently riddled with security holes, but that hasn't stopped utilities from rapidly rolling out smart meters. With the UCM, security holes can quickly be plugged without having to replace entire smart meter systems. That's a benefit that could save utilities boatloads of cash—and save us from blackouts.
[Via Greentech Media]