It seems that for every piece of data coming off the smart grid, there’s another company that wants to help utilities make the most of it.
The latest to join the throngs is GridGlo, a company that is using data aggregation -- and what they call data fusion -- from sources far beyond the meter to help utilities find new revenue streams from opportunities on the horizon.
“We realized utilities were getting all this data from AMI deployments and there was no clear understanding how to monetize the data or use the data,” said Isaias Sudit, CEO of GridGlo. Sudit maintains that they are not a meter data management company; rather, they’re looking to the future of utilities.
The tools take information from a range of public records, including geographic information, Department of Motor Vehicle records, city permits, along with historical consumer data and other public records. GridGlo takes all this disparate data and merges it with smart meter information. “Besides aggregating, if there are any holes, it basically predicts what that might be,” Sudit said of data fusion. “Most importantly, it creates dependencies and relevancies between the different attributes.”
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company received $1.2 million in capital from CUBRC, a nonprofit research organization with experience using complex algorithms to mash together data into something meaningful. CUBRC counts the Department of Defense amongst its clients.
Taking all of the disparate data and making it useful could have various applications, but for now GridGlo, has four specific products it’s launching with:
- Energy forecasting modeler. This would allow utilities to better understand energy consumption patterns in half-hour intervals that could help with reduction on load reserves.
- Demand Response. This is an area as busy as MDM in terms of players, but GridGlo thinks they can help utilities identify which areas of their customer base will be most effective for different demand response programs. Ideally, it will allow them to segment their offerings -- although segmentation is essentially a four-letter word to regulators. In more deregulated markets, like Texas, it could help utilities develop rewards and programs to get residential consumers more interested in demand response programs.
- Customer scoring. The Energy People Meter score is one of the core offerings from GridGlo. It takes four different areas: efficiency, consumption, engagement and predictability so that utilities can have a better understanding of their customer base. Currently, the tool is just for utilities to use internally, but it would be opened up to application developers in the future. Sudit described it as similar to a FICO score, where the higher end of the one-to-1,000 scale is a customer who consumes energy efficiently, has predictable consumption patterns and is actively improving his or her energy consumption behavior.
- Financial Risk Management. This was in some ways an afterthought as the platform was being designed, but Sudit said that utilities were looking for more data on the risk of people not paying their bills, for example -- which could help them evaluate whether they should offer something like prepay in the future.
None of the applications are meant to be consumer facing, but rather a platform that analyzes massive amounts of data. “We’re developing a large developer’s ecosystem,” said Sudit. “We’re more of a B2B, rather than straight to a consumer” endeavor.
Other companies are also developing platforms that they hope will open up a smart grid apps store. At DistribuTECH this year, SmartSynch announced a communications platform based on Qualcomm’s 3G technology for utilities to remotely offer applications to customers or put in the field. The first app is for prepay, but they could cover everything from EV charging to voltage conservation over cellular networks.
Sudit knows the company is entering a busy field, but hopes that their experience coming from wireless (his most recent venture was founding LOC-AID, a platform for the location-based services market), with a platform that is positioned as a service model, will be unique.
GridGlo is currently in undisclosed pilots with six U.S. utilities and hopes to have more formal announcements by the fourth quarter of this year, and a the full developer ecosystem in 18 to 24 months. “The sky is the limit where the applications will go,” he said. “We have seen it in the wireless space and we believe we’re going through it in the energy space.”