IBM's smart metering system allows wise use of energy

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Bangalore: Working with energy consultant Hildebrand, IBM has embarked on a new project designed to let people view their energy consumption in the home. Hildebrand's monitoring technology analyzes real-time electricity usage, even for individual appliances, to show folks just how much juice they're grabbing. "Giving citizens 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. With this collaboration, we can demonstrate how smart and connected communities can be more energy conscious and, in turn, more sustainable." Guido Bartels, General Manager of Energy and Utilities at IBM, said in a statement. In a 30 month research project, Hildebrand installed small energy monitors at different homes in five European cities. Using IBM's software, the homeowners view online information that displays their electricity use, figures out the cost, and compares it with usage by other people. Though the goal of the project is to help consumers make better decisions on how to manage their power needs, the study will also help researchers monitor the people themselves to measure their attitudes toward energy conservation. On its end, IBM is supplying the Informix database software to grab the huge amount of data flowing through the system. The challenge is to capture time-series data, which are pulses of data that arrive at regular intervals. That can pose a problem for traditional databases, according to Hildebrand, but in initial tests, the Informix software proved up to the task and this latest project is part of IBM's Smarter Planet program.