06. 06. 2017.

Internet of things poised to develop into the principal technology in digital transformation of gas and water distribution and supply utilities in Croatia

IN2 organized a special business-technology conference aimed at representatives from Croatian utility companies. More than 150 experts from gas and water distribution and supply services sector gathered in the Plaza Center in Zagreb.

The conference was endorsed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA), Croatian Association of Natural Gas Distributors and Suppliers, and Croatian Water & Wastewater Association. The key conference topics included discussions on new business models brought about by digital transformation in Croatian natural gas and water distribution services sector, application of next generation communication networks and making use of benefits provided by Internet-of-Things (IoT). This technology is based on networking large number of various types of devices to facilitate collection, exchange and data processing. Member of IN2 management board, Katarina Šiber Makar, emphasized the importance of IoT at the opening keynote.

“Internet-of-things technologies are going to play a key role in the utility services sector, as they are bound to drive digital transformation in this area. IN2 has the power and the resolve to become a competence and excellence center for digital transformation, both in Croatia and the wider region”, said Šiber Makar, citing IDC data showing 35 billion devices being connected to the Internet by 2020. Market research agency Gartner projects that the number of smart metering devices in energy and utility sectors will double, reaching an installed base of almost a billion by 2020. The European Commission claims that wide adoption and application of Internet-of-Things technologies will produce savings of up to USD 157 billion by 2035.

The conference is a special project by Sector for digital business and development of new business areas in IN2. It aims to present global and IN2’s in-house solutions for acquisition and analysis of Big Data, geoinformatics (GIS), and Internet-of-Things technologies to Croatian utility companies. IN2 implemented several systems of this variety in utility companies in Croatia, with the latest being from Croatian regions of Slavonia and Dalmatia.

“Some of the goals of digital transformation in companies in the utility sector are to develop a predictive system maintenance capability, optimize expenses and increase the quality of communication with end users – integrate them better with utility companies and provide them with comprehensive market overview”, said Davor Vinčić, deputy to the general manager of the Sector for digital business and development of new business areas in IN2.

Two directives by the European Commission are especially important in Croatia’s utility sector  – the one dealing with energy efficiency that defines smart or intelligent meters, and the one detailing the establishment of a unified energy market. “There are 35 gas distributors in Croatia, and more than 160 companies in the water distribution business. Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency will therefore conduct a study that will serve as a foundation in selection of the best-fit technologies for digital transformation in utilities”, emphasized Nikola Vištica, manager from the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency.

“There are 600 thousand gas meters and two million water meters in Croatia that cannot be accessed digitally. Digital transformation therefore represents a huge potential in this respect, as significant cuts in losses in distribution of gas and water could be achieved, all the while making use of EU development funds, generating new jobs, modernizing distribution networks and providing opportunities for Croatia to establish itself as a regional leader”, said Marija Šćulac Domac, general manager of the Energy and Environmental Protection sector in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

During conference demo sessions, IN2 showcased a set of digital transformation technologies and solutions offered in Croatia. Attendees therefore had the opportunity to see the application of GIS technologies in digital transformation via the INSPIRE directive and the way SigFox technology employs Internet-of-Things concepts, find out more about LoRa solutions and data unification methods, and learn about using Internet resources through cloud infrastructures, among other things.

“The key feature of digital transformation is that it is irreversible. Also important are the new, disruptive business models it provides. The third and probably the most important component is education and development of new skills – as they are crucial for survival in this new age where everything is connected to the Internet”, said Ivan Vidaković, Microsoft’s general manager for digital transformation in 15 regional countries.