This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
As many of us settle deep into winter, there’s another allure for Miami besides the beach in February. Miami has become the steady site for the East edition of ITEXPO, and with that, our Smart Grid Summit. Regular TMC (News - Alert) readers will know that ITEXPO has broadened its scope, and under that tent, the Smart Grid Summit has grown steadily into one of ITEXPO’s most popular specialty events.
This is the fourth iteration of the Smart Grid Summit, which continues to grow and evolve with this fast changing space. Since our last summit in Los Angeles, several new themes have gained currency, and will be part of the program. With each passing summit, we gain a deeper understanding of the most important topics, and along with that, a broader range of industry relationships upon which we draw for our speakers.
Out of this, we have built the Miami summit around three themes – smart grid, smart home and smart ideas. Smart grid is poised to touch many aspects of our lives, and we could easily build a stand-alone event around any one of these themes. While some smart grid events focus along these lines, we have learned that most people still need to learn about the broader range of topics to get the big picture. We believe that our summit delivers this in spades and uniquely addresses the intersection of energy, telecom and communications technologies.
At the heart of our value proposition is thought-provoking content. I’ll start first with the smart grid theme. We continue to explore core issues such as transmission and distribution, machine-to-machine and advanced metering infrastructure. These areas account for a major share of capital investment, and given some of the challenges utilities face in deploying smart grid, our sessions will take a critical look at the ROI around these investments.
We’re also introducing a new topic for this theme – comparing the merits of public and private networks for smart grid. This discussion has strong advocates on both sides, and reflects tensions around fundamental network-building decisions. As with IP telephony, disruption is part of the smart grid landscape, and we’ll explore how public networks represent a viable alternative to the status quo, and whether it still makes sense for utilities to build their own networks.
Our second theme is smart home and addresses the ever-expanding opportunities for utilities to leverage IP-based communications networks. We’ll be re-visiting three familiar but vital themes – killer home energy applications, personal data privacy and electric vehicles. Each of these is very different and represents distinct entry points for utilities, either as direct providers or in partnership with others, such as telcos, cablecos, auto makers and software providers. Adding to this is a new topic, the voice of the customer. Utilities face a new challenge with smart grid, namely becoming more customer-centric, and this session will share valuable lessons learned from other industries. If you’re wondering what smart grid is going to mean for you as an energy consumer, this will be the place to find out.
Finally, our third theme – smart ideas – covers topics that go beyond modernizing the energy grid. First is renewable energy, which we believe will become a dominant trend in 2011. The scope of this topic is truly vast, and one session can only provide a taste; but, at minimum, you’ll come away knowing why it’s so important, and possibly become inspired to become an active change agent for a greener planet. Our other smart ideas topics are equally inspiring for different reasons, namely green IT, the rural opportunity, and global best practices.
While most of us think of smart grid in terms of home energy, the issues facing enterprises are complex in their own right, especially around the data center. IT decision makers are under constant pressure to reduce costs – as well as to become green – and this session is where you will learn how it’s done. Similarly, the rural market has a very distinct set of challenges, but opportunities as well. In one regard, they have a great deal of modernization ahead of them, but you may be surprised at how advanced some rural utilities are with smart grid.
Finally, we have education on global best practices, which is slated to be the closing session of the summit. Smart grid is truly a global opportunity, and you’ll be hearing from experts with first-hand experience on this scale.
In addition to these sessions, we’ll be featuring a rich mix of thought leaders in our keynote presentations. Some will share their own smart grid visions, and others will provide case study examples in joint presentations with vendors and utilities. Our speaker lineup is quickly coming together, and you can review the latest roster at the summit website: http://smart-grid.tmcnet.com/conference/east-11/e-11-event-schedule.aspx.
I encourage you to check back regularly for updates, and to stay current with all our summit news, check in with our Smart Grid Portal and sign up HERE for automated updates. After that, there are just two things left to do – register to join us in Miami, and make your travel plans.
We have built the Miami summit around three themes – smart grid, smart home and smart ideas.
Jon Arnold (News - Alert) is co-founder of Intelligent Communications Partners (ICP), a strategic advisory consultancy focused on the emerging Smart Grid opportunity. To read more of his Smart Grid articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi