Next week, at DistribuTECH 2017, I’ll be presenting during a session about lessons learned when deploying a 900MHz wireless mesh field area network in the dense urban environment of Chicago’s city center.
In late 2011, the Illinois General Assembly enacted the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), setting in motion a $2.6 billion investment by ComEd to strengthen and modernize the state’s electric grid. This legislation was designed to address areas of regulatory reform, reliability, infrastructure modernization and Smart Grid investment. Among several projects, one was to build-out a wireless field area network for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
With some 87,000+ meters in the Chicago city-center area, relatively no overhead distribution pole real estate to hang wireless networking gear and a challenging RF environment, the project team had to develop a seven-phase process design and deployment process and coordinate a number of internal and external organizations to make this effort successful.
There were several situations the project team came up against that will be discussed:
- RF propagation of cellular and 900MHz ISM band signals through and around buildings of concrete, glass and steel
- Developing in-house solutions and standards for the “bag of solutions” when holes in RF coverage were discovered
- Getting ahead of difficult-to-reach locations by implementing new-building construction requirements
- Triage process for handling pockets of non-communicating meters
- Handling “periodics” – meters that must be replaced under perpetual operational requirements and / or regulatory requirements , but not having the full wireless network design complete
The session will walk through the details of how the project team designed, planned, deployed, and worked through “RF holes” to wirelessly cover the highest to the deepest meter room in this urban environment. It will also cover the lessons learned and how a non-blame game environment led to a successful network deployment.
Looking forward to exploring this concept in greater detail at my session during DistribuTECH 2017, and hope to see you there!
For those interested in learning more, feel free to reach out directly.