India can teach the world four lessons for the future of smart metering, says cronin – iot now – how to run an iot enabled business

In India, the adoption of smart metering is driven by the need to reduce current Aggregate, Technical and Commercial losses, which are equivalent to US$32 billion, as well as connect 240 million people without electricity. To address these challenges, the Indian government has approved the UDAY scheme, which aims to deliver the financial turnaround for utilities and has a target to install 35 million meters by 2019.

However, delivering robust AMI solutions requires a complex ecosystem, including government, regulators, meter manufacturers, technology providers and system integrators. Each element, from meter to application platform, of this critical infrastructure needs to be validated, and must work together seamlessly. Like all critical infrastructure, it is imperative to minimise the vulnerabilities in each element to deliver a secure system.

CyanConnode’s enabling technology is delivered through a collaborative engagement model. The company has established a market-leading position with a strong partner ecosystem which includes meter manufacturers and system integrators. CyanConnode’s proven technology and expertise in system integration ensures it can provide a robust solution from meter to the application platform, working with and across any third-party technology thanks to its standards-based, technology-agnostic design.

Selecting a sustainable, cost-effective solution is key to delivering a system that is suitable for the environment and meets market requirements. Smart metering solutions deployed in next-generation economies such as India must cost as little as possible to manufacture and operate. In addition, they must be able to work in densely populated urban environments as well as on the fringes of the electricity network.

The Ministry of Power in India, through institutions such as the National Smart Grid Mission and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), has accelerated the implementation process and analysed the benefits of Smart Grid Technologies, such smart metering, OMS, PLM, PQM, and Microgrids. Following this research and analysis, the BIS has created standards for metering, the communication network and AMI systems, deeming IPv6 and 6LowPan mandatory technology for RF mesh communication in India. CyanConnde’s Omnimesh product addresses the requirements set out in these standards.

Standards maturity is a key enabler. They have allowed silicon vendors to build multifunction System on Chips (SoCs), which integrate IPv6-supporting, secure, sub-GHz, IEEE 802.15.4 radio transceivers with capable embedded ARM processors. Together with production process improvements, integration has produced smaller, lower power devices that weren’t possible a year ago.

Bringing the off-grid population on to the grid has been shown to improve quality of life and bring economic benefits, but traditional post-payment electricity billing models are unsuitable for the majority of the population in many countries and blocks the electrification progress. To identify a single technology that could change people’s lives most it is prepayment. An AMI system, such as CyanConnode’s Omnimesh, which supports energy usage collection and prepayment token transfer enables electrifications and the new on-grid energy consumers realise the benefits.

CyanConnode also sees interest from communication infrastructure providers to offer smart metering as a service. Some IoT applications cannot start because the CAPEX/OPEX costs of installing and running a dedicated communication infrastructure are too high. By running these IoT applications alongside smart metering on the same communication network everyone’s costs are reduced. For true multi-application solutions to succeed more standardisation work is required on security and network management.

John Cronin: CyanConnode has been working in India since 2009 and has established CyanConnode Private Ltd, which includes a local team of sales, project delivery and technical staff. The company has gained great success in smart metering deployments in India and so far has the highest number of smart metering projects on RF mesh communication in India.

The company started its India journey with Proof of Concepts (PoCs) to showcase the strength of its technology and enthusiasm to work in the Indian market. Following PoCs in multiple utilities, integrations of its RF mesh module with multiple meter manufacturers, and the establishment of a local team and office, CyanConnode has strengthened its presence across India.

Working with local partners, CyanConnode has installed its technology in several customer deployments in India, including: Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (CESC), Tata Power Mumbai, Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (UGVCL) and Madhya Pradesh Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Ltd (MPWZ). UGVCL is currently observing data availability of over 99% in its smart metering deployments.

CESC was the first of 14 smart grid pilots to be rolled out in 2017 under the Smart Grid Task Force in India. The contract to install AMI was awarded to CyanConnode, through its partner Enzen, for the supply of 21,000 smart meters and associated hardware and software. As part of this deployment, CyanConnode supplied its RF mesh module to three different makes of meters and showcased the interoperability of different meter manufacturers on a single RF network. This is the first project in India to undertake this type of deployment. During implementation, this project has become a valuable reference for the wider Indian smart grid community and in July, Energy Minister DK Shivakumar inspected the first phase and confirmed that CESC will expand its smart grid project to the entire city. Furthermore, in January CESC officially confirmed that the formal milestone for User Acceptance Test was officially complete.

Following its involvement in multiple test sites and subsequent expansions, CyanConnode’s RF mesh Solution was deployed by Tata Power for their Mumbai Power distribution and is now integrated into approximately 17,000 smart meters. In parallel, CyanConnode deployed around 12,000 smart meters at Pashchimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (PVVNL), a power distribution company of western part of Uttar Pradesh.

The lessons for the sector are that to deliver a complex, end-to-end solution requires an ecosystem of partners. The adoption of standards-based technology provides alignment of meter functionality and enables interoperability, which supports diversity of supply. It is clear to CyanConnode that using the strength of its communication technology as the back bone of a smart metering project will play a vital role in all large roll outs in India and, indeed, globally.

Standards-based solutions also allow for knowledge sharing and use of common processes and tooling. This is particularly important when considering security. Open standards allow for greater peer review and shared work on threat model analysis, security model design, implementation and validation. This leads to more secure, reliable and performant systems which ultimately benefit both solution vendors and their customers.

Because of the knowledge sharing, standards-based solutions also improve longevity; allowing systems to be supported for decades, even if the original designers are no longer available. This has been a significant problem with proprietary systems of the past, as they quickly turn into legacy silos due to an inability to properly maintain them. For systems as critical as the management of a nation’s core infrastructure, this is fundamental.