The continuation of a multiphase smart energy Catalyst won an award for the most innovative project at TM Forum’s Catalyst InFocus last week because of its depiction of how home energy management and intelligent electric vehicle (EV) charging might be integrated in a smart energy ecosystem.
The Smart Energy: Connected home devices and electric vehicles for smart energy benefits Catalyst was championed by Orange and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and included as participants BearingPoint, Esri and Infonova (a BearingPoint company). The project, which has already gone through several iterations, looked at the infrastructure necessary to implement a smart energy ecosystem, such as smart meters and customer and fault management systems, during a project demonstrated at Digital Disruption 2013. Then at TM Forum Live! 2014, mobility was added to home energy management, showing how energy usage could be adjusted automatically when the consumer leaves the home. In Dallas last week the team demonstrated adding EV charging to the mix.
Geofences trigger action
Here’s how it works: As the consumer leaves the home – where lights have been left on, the security system is disarmed and the thermostat is still set for warmth – a ‘geofence’ is triggered in Esri’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to indicate the consumer has left. This triggers a home audit to determine what should happen. An Infonova orchestration system instructs the home automation system to turn off the lights, arm the security system and lower the thermostat. Then while the consumer is driving to work, he gets an alert that his vehicle is almost out of power and needs to be charged. A map pops up in the vehicle or on his smartphone showing where there are available charging stations and the price charged at each station.
All of this happens in reverse when the consumer leaves work to head for home, with multiple geofences triggered by his actions. For example, if he needs to stop at the grocery store, there will be a delay in turning on the lights, disarming the security system and turning up the thermostat at home. The service provider, in this case Orange, would bill the consumer for the services used via an Infonova billing system.
Building a prototype
In this case, the project was only a demonstration, so Esri created a dashboard like the one below to show what was happening. During the next phase of the Catalyst, the group would like to build a working prototype of a smart home to demonstrate on the show floor in Nice, according to Randy Frantz, Director Telecommunications & Location Based Services, ESRI, and Co-leader of the Forum’s Internet of Things collaboration group.
The idea is that a communications service provider like Orange could become the solution provider for smart energy and smart home services by providing a single point of contact and billing for the consumer.
“There’s a lot more we can do with this like add analytics both predictive and prescriptive,” Frantz says. “If you’re a service provider and you can offer a modification that will save the customer 10-15 percent on energy costs, he is going to be happy. So think about the stickiness of offering these integrated services to customers instead of providing point solutions.”
Strategy for sustainability
For Orange, delivering smart energy services is part of the company’s focus on sustainability. About six months ago, Orange embarked on a strategy it calls “Green by Design”, which includes rethinking how software code is written and focuses on using virtualization, DevOps methodologies and vendor management programs to build new best practices the company can share, according to Christian Maitre, Chief IT Services Officer, Orange.
“We discovered that we can decrease the consumption of energy between 7 and 40 percent after a software rebuild,” he says.
In addition, Orange is looking at how it might be able to become a utility provider in developing countries in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, more people have a mobile phone than have access to electricity, so Orange is looking at how the mobile infrastructure there could be leveraged to provide electricity.