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Smart grids help automate, improve city infrastructure

By Max Burkhalter
October 8, 2013

According to Smart Grid News, the "smart city" trend is becoming very popular, but cities are running into issues with "one size fits all" smart grid solutions. A city may be able to reduce is expenses by integrating smart lighting grids by up to 63 percent, like Los Angeles did, but using the same solution could reduce the overall effectiveness of the effort. In order to optimize automation adoption and the creation of a smart grid, cities need to invest in high-quality media converters to network their legacy technology and customize the solution to their own needs.

From street lights to garbage collection, cities can utilize smart grids to run basic infrastructure more efficiently and cost effectively. However, there are several steps that have to be taken in order to optimize the connection and automation of key public services.

Use public opinion
The first step any city should take towards implementing a smart grid for infrastructure automation is consult its citizens. They will often have a good idea about which services can benefit from automation, or are best handled manually. Additionally, by communicating how different approaches will save the public money, a city can boost public approval and be able to adapt to their concerns more readily.

Focus on economic drivers
Optimizing a smart grid will take an initial investment into the right technology, such as serial to Ethernet converters, but these initial expenditures will lead toward impressive savings. By focusing on the savings and promoting the cost reductions that automating lighting and other services will bring, a city can see ROI faster and help focus on further improvements sooner.

One step isn't enough
Making one improvement isn't enough to justify a smart grid investment. Cities need to find multiple services to improve through the use of automation, and invest in several at once. While this requires a large initial investment into media converter technology, it will boost savings and show results faster by demonstrating how overall city infrastructure can be enhanced.

Keep improving
Ultimately, the goal of any smart grid integration is to automate and improve as many processes as possible. As a city continues improving services, it needs to keep looking forward and seeing what else can be enhanced. Continual investments into Ethernet I/O tools and the converters to make this possible will quickly become a standard expense and get paid off even faster by the savings achieved with automation.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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