The electricity grid is, in general, silent. It was developed over decades with electromechanical components, and in many places it has no voice to share information about what is happening. This increases the problem of utility companies needing to manage network performance across multiple points. Adding local switches to the Internet of Things (IoT) is an increasingly important part of the utility network. The digital data from these inverters is essential to manage the various power loads from the multiple renewable energy sources that vary regularly. This data can be used for monitoring, and alarms, with bidirectional correlation with low latency, for control. For example, software company Krumedia in Karlsruhe worked with Acal BFi in Munich, Comtac, and EPS Energy to give switches LAN stations a digital voice by adding to the network switch (NTN) nodes using Semtech’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology. The first 50 local switches in Munich were converted to the Internet of Things (IoT) using the LoRaWAN wireless city network to help assess network health, early detection of faults, and analysis of network failure causes. Three-phase 230V voltage and current are monitored over four channels using Rogowski coils that can handle up to 3200 A RMS. Other sensors monitor temperature, door status, short circuit detection, and all data feeding into the low-latency wireless network. But gathering data is only the first step. The data must be collected and analyzed, and then integrated into broader management systems. Krumedia allows visualization of all substations and switchgear loops in an easy-to-use manner in a clear map view. Events such as faults are highlighted, alarm messages are generated instantly and simple triggers can be triggered to automatically reset the short circuit shutdown. This might present a challenge, so another tech vendor, Digimondo in Hamburg, has developed a starter package for utilities that need to get started with IoT integration. This end-to-end solution simplifies deployment and operation of LoRaWAN so utility companies can see exactly what’s happening across the local network. Digimondo’s smart utility startup package provides the software and hardware from Semtech and the expertise needed to create smart utility networks. This includes software licenses, LoRaWAN server, data center, employee training and support, many devices, and LoRaWAN portals. Applications are rolled out in a few weeks and municipal utilities have a LoRaWAN system that helps meet the challenges of digitization. Low power operation is the advantage of placing wireless sensor nodes quickly and easily in all kinds of places, while low latency gets data in IoT quickly so that alarms can be triggered if needed. But the power grid is also an important infrastructure to keep a smart city running, so the grid has to be secure. Ensuring that data cannot be hacked, diverted, or blocked is vital and an essential part of Semtech’s LoRa platform for converting device to the cloud. LoRaWANs are available in over 100 countries around the world, with two satellite networks ensuring access to substations in the most remote areas. LoRaWAN’s security protocols combined with scalability and low latency give voice to the utility network, digitizing critical infrastructure to improve performance and reliability. Written by Mark Bigolo, Vice President, Internet of Things, SimTec Wireless and Sensing Products Group.