The primary goal of public or privately owned utilities has always been to cost-effectively and efficiently deliver electricity, gas, and water to consumers. However, utilities today cope with added pressures. They are being asked to do more with less, contending with smaller workforces and less capital expenditures while at the same time trying to prevent assets from becoming obsolete.
Adding to these concerns is a public who desires better service for less money, politicians mandating new laws and requirements, and regulators seeking to do what they feel works best for their states. Add in requirements to cut carbon emissions, implement conservation programs for water and gas, reduce peak loads, and add new technologies to meet the challenges of a 21st Century Smart Grid, and it is easy to understand why electric, gas, and water utilities are searching for superior technology solutions
One strategy that utilities employ to meet higher expectations is to more effectively use the data already being collected from existing assets — a range of devices and applications employed throughout the distribution network. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) devices keep tabs on critical infrastructure and processes that include water treatment plants, wastewater collection and treatment, gas pipelines, and electrical power transmission and distribution. Meters, sensors, and other devices furnish a wealth of information about how gas, water, and electricity are being used inside homes, businesses, and industrial operations, while at the same time providing critical data about the distribution network. Mobile workforce applications allow utilities and their employees to communicate essential information to each other using handhelds, laptops, and smart phones.