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Localising the heating transition: A colourful example from Amsterdam

In this blog I want to share the example of the city of Amsterdam to highlight how successfully decarbonising heat will mean using a range of technologies & energy vectors, targeted based on a local approach to planning. Thus far in the heating transition this approach has been far from the norm, but it looks like things could be starting to change.

An orange blueprint to make heating green

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Take-aways from the Smart Home Conference at European Utility Week 2014: Open API and consortiums for a better connected home ecosystem

Delta-ee was a strategic sponsor of the European Utility Week 2014, in Amsterdam. In this blog I’ll give some highlights of the event and talk about how “single point” connected home offerings are opening up for a more inter-operable connected home ecosystem. In my next blogs, I will talk about how connected home providers try to add products & services directly on their platform – and about the challenges they are facing when trying to expand to other European countries.

The smart home areas was probably the busiest part of the wider utility event, but perhaps not as busy as we would have expected given some of the connected home hype around. A wide range of smart home companies were exhibiting, with the big guns such as google-owned Nest and OPower all present. And there was an impressive range of utilities attending.

Last year we saw mostly “single point” solutions, such as a standalone smart thermostat. This year many companies demonstrated steps to “open up” to others – for example through 3rd party developer programmes or by partnering with other connected home providers.

Product providers are trying to open up to other products
From the event and compiling our InfoBase of connected home products, we clearly see trend of moving towards a more open way of communicating with each other. Here are a few examples taken from the event:
  • Quby is the leading smart thermostat provider in the Netherlands and has installed nearly 100,000 of them through ENECO. They have recently announced an open API (Application Programming Interface) for 3rd party developers. This means other programmers can use their system to create apps that can also be coordinated with other smart home devices.
  • An impressive 5,000 developers are on the Work With Nest programme. Nest shares some data from its products and/or allows other devices to control them in order to combine the functionalities of several products. For example the Nest thermostat knows when you are on vacation and can give this information to your smart light bulbs which will be activated to make it look as if someone is in the house.
  • Although not exhibiting at the event, the Philips Hue lighting system was seen on several stands in Amsterdam. Their API is available online to registered developers therefore other smart home providers incorporate that into their offerings.
  • Ijenko (a French-based company) demonstrated how its platform can be used with a Nest thermostat or Phillips Hue lighting systems – activating these with voice or via motion sensors.
Companies having open APIs demonstrate their aim providing superior customer experiences through a wider connected home ecosystem rather than being a single point solution only. We expect to see more and more such interoperability in the future – today it is at really early stages in terms of market penetration. It’s a relatively implementable, cloud-based step forwards (data to the cloud, and then back down to another device).
The “ultimate” interoperability will be based on communication between devices in the home.  Today, these are typically driven by consortiums developing standards, language and protocols for inter-device communication. It was interesting to see three such consortiums - Agora (France), Energy@Home (Italy) and EEBus (Germany). Each of them groups together a number of the key industry players of their country such as utilities, telcos, heating equipment and home appliance manufacturers. They chose to exhibit as one to demonstrate the connected home needs unity to help the IoT develop in the right direction.

The move towards a more connected “connected home” has certainly started and it’s going to be a fascinating journey.

For more information on the Delta-ee Connected Home Service, please contact Arthur Jouannic, Service manager at arthur.jouannic@delta-ee.com.
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