Sensus, in partnership with Arqiva, a UK-based communications infrastructure company, won a significant contract with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the UK. The contract involved the implementation of the software, hardware, and communications network required to support the rollout of 10 million electric smart endpoints to utility customers in the northern region of Great Britain.
Sensus was responsible for the delivery of several components for the UK Smart Metering program including the Communications Network Architecture, Regional Network Interface (RNI) software, Gateway software, the Network Management System (NMS), the Collector, and the Endpoint Software Development Kit (SDK). The requirements, as specified by DECC, could not be met by the existing Sensus North America solution, therefore a new solution needed to be architected. The timelines for milestone deliverables were very aggressive and any delays would impact multiple 3rd parties participating in the integration of other applications in the DECC ecosystem. Sensus would need a partner to deliver the project on time.
Solekai, a Fairway division, is a long-time trusted partner of Sensus. The two companies have worked together on many projects including endpoint and collector firmware, North America headend architecture and development, and systems deployment and integration. Solekai’s deep Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) subject matter expertise and knowledge of existing Sensus solutions made Solekai the ideal partner to help Sensus accomplish their deliverables for the DECC project.
Solekai was assigned to take the lead in the design and development of two of the DECC solution software components: the RNI and NMS. The NMS is covered in a separate case study. The RNI, as the nerve center of the solution, is a multifaceted system comprised of many services and components. Responsible for managing two-way communications with endpoints, the RNI headend system gathers, processes, and relays all network and endpoint data. The RNI had strict requirements for data security, high availability, and horizontal scalability along with service-level agreements that defined reliability expectations.
Requirements/Architecture/Design – The leads for each solution component had to work together to ensure that a cohesive solution was ultimately delivered to DECC. In order to achieve this, the leads formed a Design Authority group whose responsibility was to make certain that requirements, architecture, and design were clearly and consistently understood and agreed upon across all teams—hardware, firmware, software, QA, DevOps, technical support, and training.
Implementation – The RNI had 20+ separate services/components that delivered specific features and functionality. Some examples implemented by Solekai are: a Traffic Manager responsible for downlink message flow control, a Router which determined the best downlink path to each endpoint, message fragmentation and reassembly which handled messages from data service providers (DSPs) that exceeded the packet size supported, and IPV6 message conversion to proprietary protocol and header compression.
Testing – In addition to creating and running unit and integration tests, Solekai supported all efforts by the Sensus System Test team including test case definition, system setup, design and development of endpoint and collector simulators, and hands-on running of test scenarios.
Tools and Technologies Used:
- SQL Server
- Red Hat
- F5 Load Balancers
- IBM Tivoli Key Manager
Through committed team work, Sensus and Solekai delivered a solution to DECC which successfully achieved the project milestones and timelines. The completed RNI:
- Provides a highly available, reliable solution that will scale to support 10 million+ electric endpoints
- Ensures that endpoints deliver scheduled meters readings in line with service-level expectations
- Delivers maximum data security, including end-to-end encryption, intrusion prevention, and 24/7 monitoring
- Enables DSPs to securely request and collect data (meter readings, tariff updates, alarms, etc.) in real-time from an endpoint or groups of endpoints
- Empowers DECC to monitor and manage system, network, and endpoint performance
- Allows easy integration with other back office systems via standards-based interfaces for example: MDMS, Billing, and SCADA
The solution provides DECC and utility companies in the UK with real-time energy consumption information. It allows utility companies to generate accurate bills for their customers and take a proactive approach to maintenance—all of which enables the utility companies to save consumers money and continue driving towards greater customer satisfaction.
Sensus, a Xylem Brand, is a recognized world class provider of IoT, Smart Grid, and Smart City solutions. Sensus helps utilities, cities, industrial complexes and campuses connect data, places and people in powerful new ways to do more with their infrastructure. Improve efficiency. Save money. Increase safety. Conserve resources. Promote economic development. And make a world of difference for a world of people.
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