Silver Spring Networks, Inc. has unveiled the fifth generation of its critical infrastructure networking platform – Gen5. Silver Spring’s groundbreaking new Gen5 networking platform extends its technology and raises the industry bar on what utilities, cities, and other network operators should expect from their smart communications networks.
In addition to strengthening core smart grid operations, the new capabilities of the Gen5 platform help enable an emerging set of applications for real-time operations data, Distribution Automation, dynamic applications at the edge of the network, and smart city services. Silver Spring introduced several new Gen5-based products, including the “Milli” Communications Module (Comms Module) 5, which removes many of the cost, power, and size limitations to reliable communications for small, battery-powered edge sensors, unlocking a new era of connectivity for the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
Enhancements of the Gen5 networking platform include:
- Speed: up to 1.2 Mbps, a 4X increase in speed, accelerating the transition from hours or days-old data to near real-time insights into grid operations and performance;
- Latency: nearly 3X reduction in latency to 10 milliseconds, enabling performance-intensive applications for increased grid reliability and Distribution Automation;
- Range: 3X increase in range to more than 50 miles, enabling cost-effective coverage across vast and varying topographies, and the ability to reliably connect hard-to-reach and rural devices;
- Distributed Intelligence: 10X more compute and up to 8X the memory, unlocking an array of new applications at the edge of the network such as theft detection, distributed generation integration, and faster outage detection and restoration;
- Power Optimisation and Size: almost 2X more operational life and 5X more coverage at 1/5th the power consumption and nearly 7X smaller than previous form factors, enabling the connection of historically cost-prohibitive or power-starved devices and sensors for up to 20-years in the field.
“Silver Spring’s Gen5 platform enables multiple applications over the widest array of power and performance requirements with no compromises – we aim to leave no device, no data, and no consumer behind,” said Don Reeves, EVP of engineering and managed services, Silver Spring Networks. “We believe that our fifth generation technology is a catalyst for one of the most consequential shifts in the industry, both in offering our customers investment preservation for their existing assets, and opening the door to new applications as more utilities and cities realise the tremendous long-term value in connecting their customers, citizens, devices, and data.“
“As we connect millions of customers to the network as part of our $2.6 billion grid infrastructure modernisation investment, it is important to us that we are leveraging ground-breaking innovation that will ensure the most value and efficiency,” said Carol Bartucci, director of IT, ComEd. “We look forward to continuing our close work with Silver Spring to deliver better performance to our customers, and as we look at opportunities to modernise beyond wires and poles by adding other smart applications and services.”
New Gen5-based products for the next generation of connected devices
Silver Spring announced several new products based on the Gen5 networking platform:
- Comms Module 5: The Comms Module 5 offers high performance, local processing, and low latency for critical applications such as load disaggregation, integration of distributed generation, Demand Response Ancillary services, theft detection, and the flexibility to cost-effectively reach devices in challenging terrain. With utilities facing a rapid rise in distributed generation and renewables integration challenges, simultaneous two-way communication allows operators to do more at faster speeds, while managing traffic for high-performance applications, such as grid-side management, to help ensure quality for all customers.
- Bridge 5: The Bridge 5 couples secure, reliable performance with open standards-based IPv6 communications to help enable cities and utilities to cost-effectively integrate mission-critical control and monitoring processes. The Bridge 5 is optimised for performance-intensive applications that demand higher capacity, lower latency, and longer range such as Distribution Automation, Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR), Volt/VAR Optimisation, feeder switches, capacitor bank controls, and others. The flexibility and ease of integration available with the Bridge 5 also allows for rapid deployment of new smart city services such as traffic monitoring and building energy management.
- Access Point (AP) 5 and the Relay 5 deliver the ubiquitous coverage, high performance, and cost efficiency required for effective critical infrastructure application deployments.
Powering a new class of sensors and devices for critical infrastructure and the IoT
Silver Spring also announced a new networking form factor nearly 7X smaller than previous versions, the “Milli 5”, a mesh-enabled sensor networking platform to connect small, battery-powered devices for emerging smart energy, smart city, and other IoT applications. The “Milli 5” can enable applications such as smart gas and water metering, waste management sensors, smart parking monitors, pollution and emissions sensors, industrial equipment monitoring, and smart agriculture sensors, among others, to reliably operate for up to 20 years in the field, without sacrificing the multi-layer security, standards compliance, and IPv6 addressing required by sophisticated IoT operators.
The economics and small size of the “Milli 5” also mean that utilities and cities can now make the business case to reliably connect almost any device on their networks, gaining asset-level communications for equipment such as transformers, light poles, and other infrastructure. In particular, water utilities have an increasing need for reliable, two-way communication systems that can run off of battery power to help improve efficiency of their systems and report leaks in near real-time.
For more info on Gen5, please visit www.silverspringnet.com/gen5.