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Itron Finds Utilities and Consumers Favor “Big Data” for Efficiency

Randy Sukow Oct 15, 2019

NRTC’s AMI partner, Itron has just released the results of its most recent survey of utility and consumer attitudes about energy efficiency. The “2018 Itron Resourcefulness Report” finds general acceptance of “big data analytics” solutions as communications technologies such as AMI become more commonplace.

“By monitoring connected devices, utilities can sniff out waste and inefficiency, respond to problems as they occur [or even anticipate them as they are developing], and glean insights about resource usage across a range of categories, from location to household size,” the report finds. “Those insights can help utilities deliver better, more reliable services; understand where and when resources are most stressed; deliver granular data to consumers about their own usage; and identify potential new services or enhancements.”

The report finds that utility use of big data solutions has increased 42 percent since a 2014 Itron survey and that one in three utilities now use some form of analytics. At the same time, consumer awareness of analytics technologies has increased with nine out of 10 saying that it is an important tool for utilities to use to increase efficiency. At the same time, however, 75 percent of consumers said they were concerned about security issues and potential hacking.

Ninety-five percent of the utility respondents in the 2018 survey said that they either use or intend to use analytics tools in their operations. Currently, 61 percent say they are immediately prepared to manage big data flows, about twice the number from the 2014 survey.

“A closer look reveals that utilities haven’t necessarily acquired more big data analytics solutions—they’re just making use of the ones they have,” Itron said. “In 2014, 69 percent of utilities reported they had big data tools, but only 24 percent were using them. Today, 68 percent say they have them, and 34 percent are using them.”

In other words, there is more work to do before utilities reach consumer expectations. The Itron survey finds that most consumers are buying into the concept of the “smart city” and that 64 percent of consumers think it is “critical” to begin smart city deployments today.

The Itron survey covered consumers and utilities from around the world, including the U.S. and the rest of North America as well as countries in Europe, Asia and Australia. There was widespread agreement among all of them that analytics systems are important to replace older utility systems, improve efficiency and the use of renewable energy and for disaster preparedness.

“The only worthy answers to these hard questions must be delivered not with words, but with action. By showing the world how modern, connected infrastructures can reduce waste and inefficiency. How consumers can become allies, and even advocates, in the building of a more resourceful world,” said Philip Mezey, former Itron president and CEO in the report’s introduction. Tom Deitrich, Itron’s chief operating officer, succeeded Mezey as president and CEO in August.

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