IBM, Cisco Team on Smart Grid Pilot

IBM is announcing its participation in two new smart grid projects. In one, IBM is partnering with Cisco in delivering smart meters and energy management systems to 500 households in Amsterdam in hopes of helping residents become more efficient in their energy consumption. In another project, IBM is working with energy delivery company Oncor in swapping out 3.4 million standard energy meters with newer ones.

IBM, which is one of a growing number of technology vendors looking to put greater intelligence into the various infrastructures that run today's world, is wielding its software prowess in two smart grid projects designed to make power delivery more efficient.

IBM officials announced July 15 that they are working with Oncor Electric Delivery in that company's deployment of advanced power meeting systems in Texas. IBM is the lead systems integrator for the deployment, and will use its SAFE (Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities) framework.

That announcement came a day after IBM and Cisco Systems said they were working with a Dutch utility on a pilot program in Amsterdam to create an energy management system that will give residents more information about their power consumption.

The projects are part of a larger push by IBM, Cisco and others to use technology to make the basic infrastructures of the world-from power delivery to water use to roads-more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

IBM has an initiative dubbed "Smarter Planet" that is aimed at reducing carbon emissions around the world by putting greater intelligence into the infrastructures. Cisco also is making moves in this area. The company earlier this year rolled out its Smart Grid strategy of using its networking capabilities to help make the delivery of power more efficient.

Schneider Electric, parent company of American Power Conversion, is making putting intelligence into buildings-from data centers to factories to offices-a key priority.

Such efforts also make fiscal sense for vendors, who see such infrastructure projects as key targets for governmental stimulus funding.

"Now that more than half of the global population lives in cities, we need to acknowledge that achieving a sustainable future lies in our urban centers," Guido Bartels, general manager of IBM's Global Energy and Utilities business, said in a statement in announcing the Amsterdam project. "Smarter energy initiatives are foundational for other critical infrastructure systems that make up a city."

For the Oncor project in Texas, IBM is bringing its SAFE software framework and products from its Maximo, Tivoli and Data Power lines into the mix to make the IT solution more secure and reliable.

In the Texas project, Oncor is replacing 3.4 million standard energy meters with advanced meter systems. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

In Amsterdam, IBM and Cisco are working with the utility Nuon in a pilot program that is part of the city's larger Smart City strategy to make better, more efficient use of power and water.

In the pilot, 500 households will get new smart meters and home energy management systems, which will give the residents a better understanding of their energy use with hopes of changing their behavior.

"Giving the citizens of Amsterdam more information and better control over their energy use will cut down on costs and consumption as well as reduce their overall impact on the environment," Martin de Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group, said in a statement.