Continuing the theme from yesterday's Day One Smart Grid Summit recap, here are the highlights from the second day. The big twist for day two was a concentration of speakers for the morning sessions that were stranded elsewhere, putting us on the spot to make sure the show goes on. The blues musician in me thrives on improvisation, and I actually didn't mind wearing a few more hats, especially knowing that the audience was fully aware of how the weather was affecting so many people.
Before getting to that, Ken Rowen of PAETEC Energy opened the morning with a keynote. Their parent company 每 PAETEC 每 is well known in ITEXPO circles, and for people like me, their move into energy is really a small step to the right. However, PAETEC is not that well known to our audience, and I'm sure it was a learning experience to hear what a CLEC is doing in the energy business. This is a prime example as to what I feel makes our summit different from other smart grid events, and Ken certainly held their attention all the way through. I have no doubt that other CLECs aspire to follow their lead, especially if the number of deregulated states continues to grow.
Following Ken were two panels with consumer-focused theme: the voice of the customer and smart home killer apps. I have long felt that customer service and contact centers will play a bigger role with utilities as smart grid unfolds, and our first panel was poised to explain why. Unfortunately, two of the speakers were snowed in, and the third speaker barely made it at the last minute. My reliable standby, Joy Rychlik moderated with one speaker 每 Diana Leccese of Merced Systems 每 and we augmented this by making the session interactive with the audience. We had lots of good discussion, primarily around the importance of getting utilities to be more customer-centric.
This topic 每 by design, of course! 每 segued nicely into the killer apps session, which truly highlighted the need for utilities get closer to their customers. While it's debatable just how much utilities really want to be part of the smart home experience, they certainly have a role to play. In terms of manpower, this was our most challenging session, as only one of the four speakers could make it. Two of those speakers had provided presentations, so I spoke on their behalf to share their messages with the audience. Aside from moderating, I also got to be Jim Kitchen of iControl, and then Larry Silverman of Gridplex. Joining me was John Sotak, who got to be himself, presenting the USNAP Alliance story.
Between all of us, we covered the ground pretty well and gave the audience a good taste of the types of applications coming into the smart home. Energy may be a pretty boring business, but never before have the possibilities been so interesting. In an earlier session, we discussed social media applications, and I have no doubt that within two years there will be some very popular Facebook pages that truly make smart grid and energy management both relevant and fun for consumers.
Our next 每 and final 每 keynote was from Sandra Manning. She's with the City of Tallahassee, and they provide everything for consumers 每 electricity, gas and water. Sandra had a wonderful presentation highlighting their e+ Smart Grid program, which has been carefully designed to educate consumers in plain language. They have over 200,000 smart meters deployed, and to get the most out of this investment, they recognize the need for clear communication and easy-to-use tools that help consumers conserve energy and save money. This is easier said than done, and if all utilities followed Sandra's lead, Dr. Amin's projections about the benefits of smart grid would no doubt come to pass.
The balance of the program was filled out by three very different panels. First was the rural smart grid opportunity 每 a topic that came out of some discussions at our last summit. This is a major segment of the overall market and we had a wide range of perspectives on the panel, which was moderated by Heavy Reading's Berge Ayvazian (News - Alert). From the rural sector, we had Doug Fiumara of NECA 每 National Exchange Carrier Association, along with Mo Shakouri of Alvarion and Joy Rychlik, filling in for Nokia Siemens (News - Alert) colleague, Christoph Inauen.
Following this was the electric vehicle panel, where I got to fill in yet again for a stranded speaker, the aforementioned Christoph Inauen. Nokia Siemens has long had a good EV story, and this presentation focused on the role of the communications network to enable secure transactions for remote charging. Complementing that was Henry Bailey of SAP and Michael Jones of Coulomb. The EV ecosystem is complex, and these were just a few examples of companies playing their part to make this huge market opportunity real.
Finally, we had the public versus private networks debate, a topic I have written about a few times on the portal. This time we managed to get all the scheduled speakers to appear, and it was a great way to end the summit. Again, the diversity of speakers 每 yes, by design 每 was rich, and all of them could have talked much longer about this topic. From the wireless operator space we had Jeff Dygert of AT&T (News - Alert), and on the vendor side we had Andy Balaschak of Tropos Networks, Olivier Pauzet of Sierra Wireless, and by popular demand, Larry Karisny of WirelessWall. We had some pretty intense discussion, and clearly there is a case to be made on both sides.
With that, our fourth summit came to a close, and based on the feedback so far, I'd say we delivered a worthwhile program. If you have suggestions for future topics or speakers, I'm all ears, as we always want to keep things fresh and ensure we're speaking to your needs. For those of you who managed to make it to Miami, either as attendees or as part of the program, I appreciate your support, especially if you had to fight the weather. For everyone else, let's hope things are different next time around, as there is plenty left to explore with smart grid, smart homes and smart communications.