What You Need to Know Now about the Smart Grid’s Neighboring Worlds


By: Guest Editorial

by Mark Reichardt


Every Smart Grid component â€"transformer, meter, air conditioner, power plant, electric car, solar panel, etc. â€"has a location on Earth. Every grid event or phenomenon â€"brown-out, demand variability, power surge, regulation, transmission loss, etc. â€"occurs within some time interval and at some location in space along the grid’s physical network. The same is true for every external event or phenomenon that affects the grid, such as weather alert or cyber-attack. Spatial parameters have significant impact in every scenario affecting the grid.  Spatial parameters can include the following:

·         Presence/absence

·         Street address and property description

·         Location within a building

·         Region of aggregation

·         Route

·         Jurisdictional boundary

·         Proximity to hazard

·         Affected corridor

·         Depth, elevation

·         Temperature reading

·         Loss per mile

·         Time to reach a location


Get ready! The number of Smart Grid things that need to be located is about to expand exponentially as alternative generation moves to the fractal edge of the grid and as the inflow/outflow metering function and associated transactions enter our homes, businesses, cars, and mobile devices.


And look at the grid’s overlap with neighboring worlds! First responders, civil engineers, street crews, and many others will ask "where” questions that can only be answered through inter-process communication between the Smart Grid and systems created for other purposes.


The Geo-Interoperability Bridge Is Open


Until recently, most management processes did not fully leverage the power of location and time. Maps and then Geographic Information Systems helped decision makers, but these were essentially decoupled from other critical data used in the decision-making process. Today, open standards provided by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and other standards development organizations (SDOs) enable location information to be exploited across networks and in any system to support decision making. There’s a burgeoning market in loosely coupled clients and servers that can "publish, find, and bind” to discover, request, and provide whatever data or service is required to do a simple or complex task in any application.


Continuing "Where” Progress Requires SDO Coordination


Because "geospatial” is a cross-cutting issue, the OGC works with other SDOs and their members to prototype, test, and validate standards frameworks with multiple user communities. This often takes place in rapid development testbeds, pilot projects, and interoperability experiments. This work is bringing open standards for "where” into technology domains such as workflow, semantics, data quality, search, and digital rights management, and application domains such as air traffic control and hazard detection.


Since 1994, the OGC’s international membership has developed 28 implementation standards for communication between the diverse and complex systems used to record, process, and display information about the Earth. One for the Smart Grid is Geography Markup Language (GML), an XML extension that can encode all types of geospatial data and can also be scaled down for lightweight applications such as the GML application schema in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Presence Information Data Format (PIDF-LO) standard for location payloads. PIDF-LO, designed for communicating privacy-sensitive presence information, is being incorporated into numerous other Internet standards, including SIP. GML is already in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Common Information Model (CIM) standard.


Google submitted its KML encoding standard (which enables Google Maps and Google Earth users to add features and make modifications) into OGC, and KML Version 2.2 has been adopted as an OGC standard.


The buildingSmart alliance, a building industry SDO, develops the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) standards that accurately model buildings in 3D. buildingSmart's recent work with industry partners in an OGC testbed helped the industry prepare to move IFCs into the Web services world to perform functions that include energy analysis and describing in-building locations of Smart Grid devices.


OGC standards for Web-based discovery, access, and use of sensors and transducers, harmonized with IEEE Technical Committee 9’s "smart sensor” standards, are being used in the intelligence and defense communities because the standards perform well in secure environments. They are being used in emergency management and Home Land Security because they make it easy to leverage sensor feeds from a range of sources and because they are compatible with the guidelines of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, an interagency committee coordinating nationwide best practices and standards for government use of geospatial information for decision making and critical infrastructure protection.


NIST Will Need and Can Promote SDO Collaboration


In September, NIST will deliver a preliminary Smart Grid standards roadmap. Two enablers for the roadmap’s success are (1) prior ICT market acceptance of open Internet-based standards that address, among other things, IP-mediated description, location, and control of real world objects and (2) an evolving culture of SDO cooperation (in many domains, e.g. Web services, health care records and cybersecurity as well as Smart Grid). The quality of NIST’s recent Smart Grid partnerships and inclusive workshops, along with the agency’s open standards mandate and industry’s powerful economic motivation for involvement, bode well for NIST both leveraging and adding impetus to this culture of SDO cooperation.


Those of us in the standards business who have relevant experience with national and international standards harmonization, standards process optimization, interoperability testing, and SDO coordination owe it to our members and to future generations to work together to support NIST’s effort.


Mark Reichardt, president and CEO of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC)

http://www.opengeospatial.org, has overall responsibility for Consortium operations, overseeing development and promotion of OGC standards and working to ensure that OGC programs foster member success. He works with other SDOs and professional associations to establish alliance agreements to ensure that OGC standards and other standards work together fluidly.

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