How effective data visualization can be a win-win for both utilities and their consumers
Worldwide, energy providers have announced large scale deployments of smart meters (see infographic), a trend aimed at empowering the end consumers so that they have greater controls over their utility bills while the providers gain from newer and innovative revenue streams. It couldn’t have come at a better time – not unlike the telecom industry in the late 90s, utility players are experiencing comparable challenges such as deregulation, increasing competition, cost controls and rapidly evolving customer choices.
In fact, the emergence of smart meters is just one of the turning points in the utility business – an irreversible shift from the generation-driven energy business model to a demand-based approach where consumers will call the shots on their domestic usage patterns while exercising greater freedom of choice on which utility provider should eventually get their business. Undoubtedly, in a data-driven era, it makes greater business sense for utilities to exercise real time controls over power generation, consumption and costs rather than blindly augmenting capacity or surprising end users with bill shock.
Compared to any other point of time in history, utility providers have access to the largest data set of consumer behavior which according to a research by Edison Foundation, stands at more than 1 billion data points on a daily basis – these information bytes include wattage, demographics and even device-specific power consumption.
However, it’s not difficult to see that the utilities aren’t doing much with the widely available data since they don’t have the knowledge set to convert the data into meaningful business intelligence. For instance, according to the Utility Analytics Institute each year, rebates worth millions of dollars are not communicated in time to the customers because most utilities struggle to keep track of information emerging at customer end.
An informed business decision can only be taken when the “disaggregated” data can be somehow visualized to develop tailor-made products and services to design a sales funnel for long-term growth. This means a graphical, map-based, high-level overview of the whole utility eco-system along with the ability to drill down to individual data collection points for more focused views of performance.
At eInfochips, we have come with an innovative BI/Analytics framework which can remotely and precisely capture data at each and every stage (through sensors, applications etc.) followed by a predictive analytics system which hosted either on cloud servers or local servers, drives the necessary logical, computational and statistical algorithms to analyze large volumes of event data and create drill-down visualization reports which can help utilities monetize from data points such as fire/smoke alarms, floods, weather-driven network outage, voltage dip/short circuit/overload, peak demand, temperature control, smart home alarms and more.