The confluence of home systems and IT took another step forward this past spring with the announcement by the ZigBee Alliance that its specification portfolio of low-power wireless networking standards would henceforth also include global IT standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The move was prompted, the ZigBee announcement indicated, by the rapid growth of the smart grid/smart meter sector.
By incorporating IETF standards, ZigBee-enabled smart energy products will enhance their application capabilities with native IP support, which will enable more seamless integration of Internet connectivity into each product, benefiting from the IETF standards for large-scale network addressability, security, and IT integration.
The closer integration of home networks and established, enterprise-level IT standards is sitting well with utilities. “This creates a win-win for everyone by combining the strengths of the ZigBee Smart Energy standard with the ubiquity of Internet standards and confirms that smart meter deployments currently underway will have a seamless path for continuous upgrades including Internet connectivity,” says Paul De Martini, vice president at Southern California Edison, the state’s largest electric utility, with 4.8 million customer accounts. California Edison has been installing ZigBee-enabled smart meters in its service areas for retrofitting existing homes and for new construction. According to a ZigBee spokesperson, an estimated 30 million ZigBee-equipped smart meters are currently being used in North America. For more information, visit www.ZigBee.org.