SAS and Cisco have an ambitious plan to uncomplicate Australia’s energy sector using their Edge-to-Enterprise IoT Analytics Platform.

Grant Dyer, General Manager of Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities at SAS Australia and New Zealand tells Which-50 that the regulatory environment of Australia’s energy grid is a ‘key constraint’ to data sharing.

“I won’t call out organisations, but in NSW some of the energy organisations cannot talk to each other in relation to data sharing,” he says.

The constraints around data sharing have been written into law through the Australian Energy Market Commission.  

Dyer says there is an opportunity for government to create policy that thinks about how energy can be better and more efficiently transmitted across the nation.

As previously reported by Which-50, the joint venture combines Cisco’s Unified Computing System and SAS Analytics to help customers make business decisions based on the huge volumes of data generated by IoT devices in real time. It recently partnered with UTS to create a research and teaching facility, the UTS-SAS-Cisco IoT Innovation Lab.

SAS is already heavily engaged in Australia’s energy sector governance model, particularly when it comes to forecasting. But unfortunately, Dyer says many organisations currently managing governance of the energy sector are unable to take up some of the solutions it already has on offer.

“The ability to manage that knowledge across industry is central, but not collective,” Dyer says.

“It’s about worrying about how can I actually give power to the whole of NSW,” he says. “That’s where the conversation about government and regulatory protections for major organisations comes in.”

Dyer says there is a lot of work to be done in governance programs looking at how data can be freed up for use, and how the energy organisations under their control can utilise that data to better manage themselves.

“Some organisations are doing a fabulous job analysing their own data and learning how to react and be more predictive,” he says. “But if we scaled that capability across the whole east coast, we’d have a really strong point of view of what the asset looks like within minutes, what the capability of that asset is, and what generation can be matched on that grid.”

For example, Dyer cites an unnamed energy organisation that can calculate the capacity of network wires on a single street every 15 minutes at the touch of a button.

“Imagine having that capability across the whole east coast, as people are turning parts of the network off, perhaps during maintenance, or a disaster, and being capable of calculating in minutes how quickly we can restore power back to a community,” he says. “All that can be automated and provided in a way that is beneficial to the local community.

“At the moment, there are restrictions on that because of data sharing rules, laws and compliance regulations. Those sorts of systems are needed for individual companies, but they are not necessary for the whole grid.”

Bill Roberts, SAS Director of Global IoT Practice tells Which-50 that the joint platform ties into control decisions that take humans out of the equation, reducing recognition and reaction times down to a matter of seconds.

SAS recently built a model for a customer using insights from IoT data to prevent its wind turbines from shutting down.

“It’s about how quickly can you recognise a pattern or signal that would drive an outage and intervene within a millisecond to prevent that from happening,” Roberts says. “It’s pretty remarkable.

“There would be no ability to do that if it had to go through an operator, to get a worker to go in and make some kind of change.”

Roberts is attending the Energy Network Association Conference in Sydney this week with the goal of talking to energy organisations about how they can collectively and individually manage their own data.

Dyer also says that the SAS/Cisco partnership has the potential to be a key growth area in telecommunications.

“Telecommunications networks are increasingly becoming a complex piece of infrastructure,” he said.

Whether that means we can expect a Telstra/NBN partnership at some point in the future:

“I’m going to have to get back to you on that one,” he said.

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