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Eskom exec talks 'Internet of energy'

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Injecting the energy grid with Internet of things (IOT) technology to form an "Internet of energy" or "IOE" is a vital step toward a sustainable future, said Sean Maritz, acting CIO at Eskom, at the IDC Internet of things conference in Sandton on Thursday.

Maritz said Eskom is looking into IOE technologies to try to solve electricity distribution and sustainability problems going forward.

Collecting and analysing data from Eskom's 360 000km of power lines could give the energy provider insight into electricity usage patterns and corresponding grid needs, helping the electricity provider to eliminate wasteful energy allocation, said Maritz.

Data-collecting sensors could also be used in power stations for "condition-based monitoring" in order to deliver early warnings of maintenance needs, he added. Improved maintenance planning could go a long way in avoiding load-shedding in the future, he explained.

The real challenge

Yet while implementing IOT-powered data collection sensors and devices seems simple, implementing an effective analytics system is the most significant challenge in leveraging IOT for business benefit, said Frederik Soendergaard-Jensen, analytics platform leader for SA at IBM.

Soendergaard-Jensen echoed a previously-cited IBM estimate that on average, 90% of the data captured by IOT devices is not actioned.

IBM also estimates that 60% of IOT-captured data loses its value within milliseconds of being collected, he added.

The challenge of sifting out the important data from IOT devices and deciding how to use it effectively was a popular topic at the conference.

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