By Marc Pegulu, Semtech
The impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic has forced businesses to adopt remote workforces and establish new operations protocols. This year, businesses and cities will alter their operations, and employee and customer interactions to address the impacts of COVID-19. With nearly one-third of the global population secluded to their homes during lockdown, the demand to support traditional and labor intensive utility operations declined while the demand for smart utility applications increased. Smart metering has become a top IoT technology to address these COVID-19 challenges and is expected to continue in 2021.
Why smart metering is a viable option?
Utility companies were early adopters of the IoT and sensor-connected smart meters. This technology provides a solution to businesses and cities looking to embrace big data and automation to streamline operations and deliver cost savings. Smart meters connect seamlessly to the network, IoT platform and related applications for accurate, efficient and ongoing data collection, with limited interruption or error.
There are several different connectivity offerings for smart utilities and metering applications such as WiFi, Bluetooth, or in some instances 5G. However, because meters are often located in dense urban environments, indoors or even underground, it can be difficult or impossible to reach by such solutions. LoRa devices and LoRaWAN open protocol enable long-range connectivity of IoT devices and aid in connecting sensors to the Cloud. Its long range performance coupled with its low power consumption enhances the overall performance of smart meters, by capturing actionable data in real time.
This year, the top three trends in smart metering will be reduced energy consumption; an increase in remote monitoring; and smart home device adoption.
Reduced energy consumption is part of a green recovery
Smart metering will support businesses and cities as they adopt environmentally friendly technologies that measure and capture data in real-time to detect issues before becoming crises. This year, we will see more businesses and cities taking steps to adopt IoT solutions that support the environment and help protect citizens from environmental dangers.
Smart metering sensors are able to integrate with IoT services and devices for deployment across a broad range of indoor and outdoor settings. By leveraging two-way communication to send and receive messages, organizations can identify dangerous gas leaks or collect data on water quality, and automatically shut down problem areas for maintenance, for example. These IoT-enabled sensors rapidly collect and manage data alerting companies in-real time, ensuring they are able to deploy more energy-conscious and safe applications, while driving down costs.
In our digital age, businesses are facing greater and more competitive challenges than ever before. Asset-intensive industries including utilities, oil and gas and manufacturing — the top industries leading IoT adoption — rely on performance data to optimize their device use, as well as prevent and anticipate network issues and failures. Remote monitoring, one of the primary capabilities enabled by IoT devices, provides a solution to these potentially dangerous and costly challenges.
Traditional utility operations are labor intensive, but IoT-enabled sensors can assist remote data collection to streamline operations. These smart meters have minimal downtime and maintenance costs due to their low power operation. Since meter readings are completed remotely, labor costs can be reduced dramatically all while keeping employees safe and socially distant in the wake of COVID-19. This year, we’ll continue to see more companies adopting remote monitoring as simplified, flexible and user-friendly IoT devices become more widespread.
COVID-19 has illuminated how much we need technology — to work, learn, stay connected and even enhance security, comfort and safety. As individuals work and learn from home, we will experience an increased consumption of smart home devices which will likely extend far past 2021.
Smart devices not only make working and learning simpler on the consumer level, but can assist in monitoring the home’s efficiency. IoT devices in particular will see an increase in demand as owners look to reduce costs associated with energy, water and gas consumption. The ability to penetrate dense building materials both inside and outside the home will be a priority feature for consumers and businesses adopting this type of IoT technology.
As businesses and consumers look to monitor and control their home and work operations with IoT-enabled devices and applications, smart metering will be a key path forward to success this year. By delivering more efficient, secure, scalable and reliable solutions, smart metering will be a hot IoT application in 2021.
About the Author:
Marc Pégulu has been vice president of IoT in the wireless and sensing products group at Semtech since June 2015. He held the position of vice president of wireless and sensing products from June 2014. Prior to this appointment, he held the position of director of marketing and applications. Pégulu joined the Company in March 2006 and was involved in several key technology initiatives, including LoRa wireless and software-defined modem technologies. Prior to joining Semtech, he held positions in chips and systems development at Thomson CSF, Thales, ATMEL and DibCom in France and China.
Pégulu holds a Master of Science degree in electronics and telecommunications from Institut National Polytechnique of Grenoble, France, and is a graduate of the Executive MBA program of ESCP Europe.