Exclusive interview with Kim Bybjerg, Head of Northern Europe, M2M at Vodafone. Vodafone are exhibiting at Metering Europe.
What is on the calendar for the next year for Vodafone in the utilities industry?
This is an incredibly busy time for Vodafone in the utilities industry. This sector is being driven by the dual pressures of government regulation to lower energy usage and carbon emissions, and the need to address escalating bills faced by businesses and consumers. Everyone needs to find cost effective, reliable and efficient ways to measure, and analyze energy data so that they can find ways to reduce emissions and expense. Vodafone M2M works with the utility industries, large energy suppliers and all kinds of businesses across the globe to help them collect and analyze data.
What current projects are you most excited about?
As a big global company, Vodafone is used to dealing with large volumes of data. But with M2M and energy data, businesses and people need to be able to gather information efficiently and reliably, and analyze it to turn it into something meaningful that will help them reduce their energy bills.
We have formed close partnerships with several companies enabling us to provide our customers with reliable connectivity and innovative energy data management solutions using technology such as smartphones. This makes it really easy for customers to see how much energy is being used by an entire building or individual assets.
What are your most proud of in terms of Vodafone’s recent achievements?
We are working on so many projects globally that it is really hard to pick just one. However, we are particularly proud to be working with British Gas on their smart metering pilot where they are running more than 550,000 smart meters in the U.K., all connected by Vodafone SIMs. In the Netherlands, Enexis has connected their 100,000th smart meter with a Vodafone SIM. We also have smart metering projects running in countries as far afield as New Zealand using nearly 500,000 Vodafone SIMs.
What do you think are the main challenges currently in the industry?
There are a lot of challenges facing the utilities industry at the moment, mainly around the balancing act of addressing ever increasing energy costs with consumer demand for value for money. To add to this, there are also European and local government regulations coming into effect that will have a substantial impact.
It is clear that the utilities industry is going through a major change that will require investment in the grid as well as in operational and business applications. This is in order to improve operational efficiencies, business processes and also to be able to offer new types of services. The industry will need to find standardised solutions to meet those requirements in a fast and cost effective way.
What is your vision for the industry?
Here at Vodafone M2M, our vision is for everyone to be smart about how energy is produced and used. This means a wirelessly connected smart meter in every home and business using our infrastructure, which is already in place, to ensure that customers can participate both as producers and users of energy in an effective way leading to seamless and effective management of data worldwide.
So far the focus has been on solutions for frequent meter readings but that has now turned into the creation of an intelligent grid with a palette of applications that will support the goal of a sustainable society. For this vision to be delivered there has to be the capacity to meet the growing number of applications as well as the millions of devices that will be deployed. Smart metering has essentially become the first step towards a smart grid where an electricity, information and communication network integrates all the users connected to it – producers, retailers, distributors and consumers – so that electricity can be delivered in a sustainable, economic and secure way.
What will be your message at Metering Europe this year?
Vodafone’s key message this year is that we have the expertise the industry needs. We have a lot of experience, not only in smart metering but also in the utilities sector. We are helping businesses worldwide save money and find new revenue streams via our network and global M2M platform, which has been created specifically with machine to machine requirements in mind. We are able to supply a global SIM with a simplified roaming tariffs as well as expertise and advice on the best solution for your company.
Partnerships are key and Vodafone has well established partnerships in place throughout the value chain. This means that we often can show a solution that has proven itself in the field and we in a short time can form a team of companies that can address the customers need. With partners we have done much of the integration and end-to-end testing that will ease the implementation and lower the risk.