IBM And Cisco Go Dutch With Smart Grid Project

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Amsterdam to test smart grid technology similar to systems which could be rollled out in the UK by 2020

Tech giants IBM and Cisco are teaming up on a project to bring smart electricity grid technology to Amsterdam with the aim of helping consumers and businesses take more control of their energy usage and hopefully improve efficiencies.

In a statement released this week, the IT companies announced that they are working with the Dutch utility Nuon and the city of Amsterdam to develop smart grid technology – part of a wider Amsterdam Smart City Initiative. Around 500 selected households will make use of smart metering and “home energy management technology” which should help to cut C02 emissions by at least 14 percent according to the organisations.

“Now that more than half of the global population lives in cities, we need to acknowledge that achieving a sustainable future lies in our urban centers,” said Guido Bartels, general manager of IBM’s Global Energy & Utilities industry. “Smarter energy initiatives are foundational for other critical infrastructure systems that make up a city–this project will enable the City of Amsterdam to leverage integrated, intelligent and interconnected technologies to transform their systems and optimise the use of finite resources.”

Within the consortium, Nuon and IBM will develop the web-enabled applications for the energy management system while Cisco will be responsible for the IP-based home energy management system and connectivity to household appliances.

“Giving the citizens of Amsterdam more information and better control over their energy use will cut down on costs and consumption as well as reduce their overall impact on the environment,” said Marthin de Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group. “Innovative cities like Amsterdam recognise the opportunity in using the standards-based intelligent communications network as a platform for economic development, better city management and improved quality of life for citizens.”

The UK has been investigating the potential of smart metering and has set a target of rolling out the technology to all households by 2020. Commenting on the project in May, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said the meter roll out is estimated to cost between £2.5bn and £3.6bn over the next 20 years . “This is another part of our Great British refurb,” he said. “The meters most of us have in our homes were designed for a different age, before climate change. Now we need to get smarter with our energy.”

But despite the potential benefits of smart meters and smart grids – some experts have raised issues around the security of the technology. In March this year, researchers from US security consultancy IOActive created a worm that could spread from one smart metering device to another thanks to the wireless technology that is used to connect them, according to reports.

Responding to the security issues a spokesperson for DECC told eWEEK Europe.“The UK Government announced its intention to mandate a roll out of smart meters for all households in Great Britain last year. We are now considering more detailed plans for how smart meters should be rolled out. The specifications of the technology have yet to be decided but of course security will be a priority,” the spokesperson said.