by Joseph Santamaria, Chief Information Officer for United Illuminating, a diversified energy delivery company serving a total of 690,000 electric and natural gas utility customers in 66 communities across Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Demand for electricity is forecast to grow by 33% in the next 20 years, with nearly 100% growth in Asia. According to Lux Research, there will be nine times the smart grid data in 2020 that there is today. IBM has been active in the smart grid space long before the term was coined and continues to show strong momentum worldwide, including emerging markets like Korea and Brazil – and the growing area of securing the grid. While energy providers look for ways keep up with this demand, we are also very cognizant of the implications that a more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent grid can have on security. On the path to a smarter planet, it has become an imperative to build security in at the foundation of these smart grids.
Today IBM announced that they are working with United Illuminating to proactively do this. United Illuminating serves a total of 690,000 electric and natural gas utility customers in 66 communities across Connecticut and Massachusetts in the US. Right now, we are in the process of upgrading our meter grid to advanced meters to improve customer experience and operational efficiencies. Clearly the impact that these new meters is having on our customers is very beneficial, however , these upgrades also could pose some security risks that needed to be mitigated.
For help in doing this, United Illuminating turned to IBM’s security expertise. By using IBM’s WebSphere DataPower appliance, we’ve been able to gain greater authentication, authorization, and accounting/auditing capabilities for our smart meters that have dramatically reduced our exposure. As a result, we have been able to secure 50,000 of our advanced meters, with the goal of supporting a total of 80,000 by the end of 2011. And in the near future, all of our 350,000 electric meters will be covered by Data Power security features.
While we continue to observe the world around us becoming smarter, there is a need to keep pace and infuse digital intelligence into industries, infrastructures, processes and cities. Organizations that proactively embrace security and ensure it is designed into the foundation of their smart grid infrastructures will be those that benefit most from today’s smarter planet.
If you are interested in hearing more about this topic and news, IBM is hosting a Twitter Session at 3:30pm-4:30pm ET later today (Wednesday, July 13) with participants from both IBM and UIL. This will be an opportunity for you to tweet questions and receive responses instantly. If you are interested, please follow hashtag #IBMSG.