Rail Infrastructure Relies on Outdated Communications Infrastructure
Over 200 years ago, Richard Trevithick developed the first high-pressured steam locomotive and used it to haul a train along the Penydarren tramway. Just 15 years later Stephensons’s Rocket won the Rainhill Trials and became the template for most rail transportation for the next 150 years. Anyone still around from those days would probably find today’s rail infrastructure very familiar, with locomotives still hauling trains over standard gauge metal rails.
Last week, South Africa’s Energy Utility and the EUTC (European Utility Telecoms Council) organized a conference for utilities in Africa. EUTC Africa was held at the Eskom University, the training campus of the utility Eskom. The campus is close to Midrand, about halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. About 180 experts, mainly from Eskom, gathered for two days to discuss the challenges around smart grids and smart meters.
This past week, I had a great meeting with Powercom, a company offering Smart Grid and smart metering implementation. Powercom is one of ECI’s partners for smart grid, as we complement each other when we offer smart solutions for operators and utilities around the world. I met with Powercom in ecity, our unique demo facility, addressing the residential and business end-user experience. In ecity, ECI showcases all our platforms and solutions, and demonstrates how they translate into real services and applications to the end user. To this end, we are implementing the whole concept of smart homes and businesses, and Powercom is one of the companies supporting this effort. But what made the meeting “great” is what I learned:
As winter descended on the lovely Madrid, members of the EUTC (European Utilities Telecom Council) assembled once again for the group’s annual conference. The key topic was the smart grid – its definition, services and challenges. Although it's been the key topic for several years, it was interesting to see the shift to a more mature stage and, as a result, the deeper questions and dilemmas that come along with that progress.
I think it’s safe to say that most of us can’t imagine an existence without electricity. And that’s precisely why power utilities play such a key role in the smooth running of our everyday lives.
We are just back from the European Utility Telecom Conference in London. The only event of its kind dedicated to gas, water and electric utilities from all over the world, the conference drew senior telecoms and technology executives from the utilities, pipeline companies and other critical infrastructure providers responsible for managing telecoms networks.