Digitaliani: Cisco and the smart grid

Published on Saturday, 10 December 2016

It is becoming increasingly clear that digital transformation is one of the leading drivers of growth for Italy's economy, but we need to provide the right conditions in order for this process to arise and to accelerate. This means creating and implementing next-generation networks and other infrastructures connected with the Internet of Things.

Having recognized this, in 2016 Cisco, the California-based multinational specialized in network hardware, presented “Digitaliani”, a plan which calls for investing 100 million dollars over a three-year period to help Italy through the nation’s process of digital transformation. Projects and collaborations have been launched in a great many fields, from educating youth and building an innovation ecosystem to supporting digitalization in key industries—such as manufacturing and agriculture—and developing community opportunities through digital technologies.

In order to trigger this digital growth in Italy, Cisco has been focusing on distribution, bringing together the distribution of electricity and natural gas with technologies related to the Internet of Things, i.e. connecting physical and virtual networks. All of this has given rise to the pilot project in Emilia Romagna known as Grid4EU, which concerns the construction of a smart grid together with e-distribution within the scope of the region’s overall energy plan. In essence, a series of high and low-voltage substations have been equipped with advanced monitoring and control systems that communicate in real time with the power stations and with the other major nodes on the power grid using fourth-generation LTE wireless technology.

This system provides a number of benefits in terms of the reduction of waste, because the digitalization of the electricity (and gas) network makes it possible to constantly monitor peaks in demand and to remotely control the various infrastructures. Grid4EU has been implemented in an area of the Emilia Romagna region not far from the Carpi power station, which has been involved in the Futur-e project. 

Innovation, sustainability and efficiency. By having real-time access to data, the Internet of Things as applied to energy distribution also makes it possible to conduct predictive maintenance, thereby increasing safety while reducing costs. This virtual alliance between energy and the Internet lays the groundwork not only for the digital transformation of Italian households, but also for what is being called Industry 4.0, a new paradigm that will radically transform the way we work and the way we pursue innovation in business.

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