Utilities will need 3 keys to unlock systems of the future

Explore the top priorities for utilities in system modernization and change implementation by delving into the findings of a recent survey conducted among 80 utilities from the electric, water, and gas sectors.

utilities system modernization

Utilities agree that system modernization is a key part of building a smarter, more efficient infrastructure, but do they agree on the best path to take to get there? You’ll find the answer in a new report from Zpryme, an energy-sector research firm that recently surveyed decision makers at 80 utilities about their plans for modernization. The full results, which appear in the Modernized Utility Systems of the Future report, offer valuable insights into how utilities view industry challenges and how they plan to prioritize changes.

The survey, which included electric, water and gas utilities, identified three key aspects of utility modernization plans: next generation tech, priority investments, and cybersecurity improvements.

Key 1: Use Next Generation Tech

Utilities are adding sensors and other devices to the edge that, along with meters, collect the data necessary to understand events on their distribution networks. The data flow provided by these devices can be funneled to create an intelligent network that helps utilities glean key insights to help them make better decisions and improve operations.

But what did utilities rate as the most important applications for these smart edge devices? Here are the top three responses:

  • Load monitoring systems
  • Asset monitoring systems
  • Sensors

Key 2: Identify Priority Investments

When asked where they planned to invest over the next three years, the water and gas utilities surveyed prioritized leak detection, pressure monitoring, and improved data analytics. For electric utilities, distributed automation and distributed generation topped their investment list.

However, when it comes to short-term investment priorities for all utilities surveyed, the top of the must-have list looks like this:

  • Add smart devices to increase grid visibility
  • Obtain solutions for storing data more securely
  • Use trusted sources and vendors with demonstrated success

Key 3: Improve Cybersecurity

A modernized network is a digital one, so cybersecurity is a top concern as utilities design and manage systems of the future. Survey participants expressed concerns over the influx of new data straining on-site storage systems and increasing the need for cloud-based storage. Utilities indicated that this storage shift could open the door to new cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity-related statistics for utilities surveyed include:

  • 47% of utilities believe that there is not enough internal talent for network security
  • Only 63% of utilities say they are somewhat satisfied with their cybersecurity
  • Cost and data silos (33% each) associated with cybersecurity are key concerns

Want to see the full survey results?

Click here to read the Modernized Utility Systems of the Future report by Zpryme and learn more about how utilities plan to prioritize system improvements.


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