Smart Energy International had the chance to speak with Meters and More General Manager Giacomo Gargano. We discussed the history of the Association, the scope of its mandate and smart home innovation.

This article first appeared in Smart Energy International Issue 4-2019. 
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SEI: Meters and More is an Association represented internationally. What is the history of the Association’s formation?

Meters and More is a global non-profit industry organisation that maintains and promotes the Meters and More protocol for bi-directional data transfer in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems. This new generation powerline communications protocol, internationally recognised as a standard protocol for smart grid communications at CENELEC (CLC/FPrTS 50568), is the most widely deployed communication protocol for remote meter management.

SEI: Almost 50 international companies are members of the Association. What are the advantages for those who join?

Having access to the technical specifications and participating in an ‘ecosystem’ that works within the development of the communication protocol is undoubtedly the main advantage. In 2018, seven new members joined our Association.

SEI: What are the fundamental principles of the Meters and More protocol?

The Meters and More technology, also known as SMITP (smart metering information and telecommunication protocol), consists of a set of protocols aimed at secure end-to-end communication for smart metering. It provides an identical message protocol for all communication interfaces among the different components of a modern AMI architecture. These components include a central system that manages the whole smart metering network, data concentrators that collect data provided by smart meters, the metering devices, local O&M devices for local management of data. Security by design is a crucial principle and is achieved by authentication, encryption and message integrity verification without the need for translation barriers along the communication path. Different from other communication solutions, Meters and More is not only a powerline communication (PLC) technology but also includes all interfaces for a complete end-to-end solution for smart metering and many more applications.

SEI: Your brand Meters and More ... more than metering. What are the activities of the Association in this direction?

The Association’s declared goal is not only to provide an interoperable end-to-end solution for smart metering but also to develop extensions for complementary value-added services based on the same principles of openness, interoperability, efficiency, robustness and security of communications.

One of the primary goals of all recent efforts in the smart metering arena relates to making consumption data available in ‘near real-time’ to the end customer. Customer awareness is a fundamental step towards obtaining reductions in energy consumption and demand. The way we address customer awareness within the frame of the Meters and More Protocol is the definition of a protocol extension, currently being drafted within the scope of WP3 activities (part of the TCS).

Such novel protocol enables direct communication between the smart meter and the home gateway, a device owned by and installed inside the customer’s premises. This communication allows the home gateway to query the smart meter about energy consumption. Many registers in the meter’s data tables can be made available for the gateway so that a complete profile of energy consumption can be presented to the customer.

Also, no restrictions are imposed on the way that the gateway can make use of the available data: it is up to the gateway’s manufacturer to decide how the data is presented to the customer, be it via a local display, a web server, a domestic wireless connection, etc. The extension protocol includes an appropriate ‘pairing procedure’ that uniquely identifies each gateway to each meter. Every customer will be able to read their meter and consumption data only, irrespective of location (condominiums, flats, single houses, villas, offices, and so on). In addition, the protocol comprises adequate secure communications mechanisms to ensure the privacy of metered data. This innovative protocol helps both the industry at large, by enabling the creation of many kinds of energy management applications; and more specifically, customers in becoming fully aware of their consumption, opening opportunities for essential energy savings.

SEI: The frontier of smart home innovation sees a significant development connected to smart metering. Which directions do you expect?

The answer can be summarised in three points:

  • First, smart metering offers the chance to reinforce opportunities for energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • Then the evolution of smart metering allows for the improvement of the operation and management of the grids and the intelligent management of energy demand.
  • Lastly, the evolution in the volume of data, along with supporting big data management and big data technology. This allows, in the short term, an improvement in services to customers and the establishment of intelligent management of energy demand. SEI