Why Italian smart gas metering is a case study for IIOT


44339017_xlIn 2008 the Italian energy regulator for gas, electricity and water markets (AEEGSI) ruled some significant changes in the gas distribution market – a side effect was the introduction of smart gas metering to fulfil the new regulations.

The AEEGSI gave a mandate to the Italian Gas Committee (CIG) for the definition of the technical implementation of the gas smart metering initiative.

The result of the CIG effort is the UNI TS 11291 technical standard, a large body of specifications (more than 1,500 pages!), defining everything related to gas smart metering: from the overall system architecture, to the manufacturing details of gas smart meters, to communication protocols used by the smart meters to communicate with their management system.

The UNI TS 11291 technical standard also defines every aspect of the gas smart metering lifecycle, like installation and maintenance of the smart meters, data management and data security methods and procedures.

Data and communication security was a primary driver for CIG, and the definition of the security features in the UNI TS 11291 technical standard are a good compromise between the need for a secure data exchange and the low power, low complexity architecture of gas smart meters. Recently AEEGSI confirmed a tight schedule for the replacement of at least 60% of the 25 million or more traditional gas meters currently installed in Italy – all by the end of 2020.

Gas smart metering challenges

The AEEGSI initiative, if compared to the rollout of more than 32 million electricity smart meters as undertaken by Enel, looks like a simpler task. However, smart gas metering is quite different from smart electricity metering: while electricity meters are easily powered from the main line, and can rely on an existing electric network infrastructure to exploit PLC communication, smart gas meters have more constraints, since they have to deal with gas security risks, necessitating reliance on battery powered and wireless infrastructure.

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