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ABB Talks Smart Grids, Substations, and Security

Jani Valtari, smart grids, substations, security

Jani Valtari, smart grids, substations, security

Why are smart grids suddenly so hot? In short, technology has hit a tipping point, and the digitalization of the grid is dramatically accelerating. Good thing, too, because the growth of renewable power, emerging security threats, and increasing government intervention have all complicated grid management.

In this podcast episode, we explore how modern substations can leverage digital innovation to provide more resilient, sustainable, and secure energy distribution—and make the transition smooth and reliable.

Our Guest: ABB

Our guest this episode is Jani Valtari, a technology center manager with industrial digitalization leader ABB. Jani’s focus is on making electricity distribution as reliable and as secure as possible—and helping the decarbonization of society and improving sustainability. Currently he’s in charge of the R&D activities in this area in Finland.

Podcast Topics

Jani answers our questions about:

  • (01:37) The continuing evolution of the power grid
  • (11:25) The role of substations in advancing the grid
  • (13:48) Thwarting cyber threats with a layered approach
  • (16:33) The value of technology partnerships and customer collaboration
  • (29:54) How to make the transition smooth and reliable
  • (35:39) How the modern grid can reduce our carbon footprint

Related Content

To learn more about the digitalization of the smart grid, read Charging the Digitalization of the Power Grid and Safeguarding the Grid with IIoT. For the latest innovations from ABB, follow them on Twitter at @ABBgroupnews.


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Kenton Williston: Welcome to the IoT Chat, where we explore the trends that matter for consultants, systems integrators, and end users. I’m Kenton Williston, the Editor-in-Chief of Every episode I talk to a leading expert about the latest developments in the Internet of Things. Today I’m talking about the power grid with Jani Valtari, a Technology Center Manager from ABB. I want to know what’s going on with renewables. How can we deal with cyberattacks? Why is digitalization speeding up? And how will all these changes impact the industry? But before I get to those questions, let me introduce our guest. So, Jani, welcome to the show.

Jani Valtari: Thank you, glad to be here.

Kenton Williston: So, what is ABB, and what is your role there?

Jani Valtari: ABB is a big global company doing many things for the energy side for electricity—production, consumption, and distribution. And I’m working for the division of electricity distribution, where we do a lot of work to make electricity distribution as reliable and as secure as possible, so that we are helping the decarbonization of the society and improving sustainability. My personal role this time: I’m in charge of the research and development activities in this area in Finland. So we are developing and creating new technical solutions, so that the security and reliability of the network, and even further, can be improved, and that we bring a new kind of flexibility and reliability also for future needs.

Kenton Williston: What are the important ways that the power grid has evolved over the last couple of years, and what’s behind the latest and greatest of those changes?

Jani Valtari: Yeah, it’s indeed a very interesting time. I think during the past couple of years there have been more changes than in the previous two decades. So many things happening, and, the way I see it, the one big driver is the decarbonization of our society and fighting climate change. It is, of course, one aspect which addresses all parts of the society, and electrification of our society is one big tool to really support in this, because electrical energy is one of the few flexible forms of energy that can be produced with zero carbon footprint. So it’s really one of the great tools to address this challenge. And we see many things, then, now happening because of this. It can be on the production side—we see distributed renewable energy production. We see in the consumption side—demand response, controllable consumption, all kinds of new devices.

We also see new active components connected to the grid. It may be energy storage. We have started to see electrical vehicles and other similar components. So many quite interesting changes. And I think, on top of that, one key thing is digitalization, which is really giving a lot of speed for this change and making it possible for change to happen at quite a fast pace.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, for sure. I should say, actually, I have a degree in electrical engineering, and in school you’re basically learning the same stuff people had figured out in, like, the 1910s, 1920s—not a whole lot has changed in this side of the technology.

Jani Valtari: So, yeah, one of the fundamental things that I see now changing is that, earlier, the production had been very flexibly adjustable, and the consumption had been able to move quite a lot. But now, when we see a lot of changing, intermittent, renewable energy production, now we need to make the system work in a different way—in a way where consumption is controlled, and where we have other balancing devices, like energy storage.

Kenton Williston: For sure. And again, just going on and on about my own life—like, here in California right now there’s a big push to reduce consumption during certain hours of the day. I think it’s becoming really front and center to everyone’s thinking—whether you’re a government or a nonprofit or even just an individual consumer—it has really become a very prominent part of our lives.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, it is. I think it is happening in many fronts. It’s happening in the individual fronts—consumers. Customers are getting very active. It’s also happening on government fronts. Like government regulations are more and more pushing towards the same direction. So there are many, let’s say, many powers that are then impacting the same direction, and I think that’s also increasing the pace of change. And when we at the same time know this, then the available technologies to realize this change are getting more and more mature. I think all of these add up, and then we start to see quite large and dramatic changes.

Kenton Williston: Yeah. And I think that point you made about the digitalization really is a key thing that’s starting to push things forward even faster than before. And this is something you see everywhere in the industry that digitizes—suddenly the pace of innovation becomes very much faster. So what do you see coming next in the grid?

Jani Valtari: Yeah, it’s a very interesting question. First of all, I think that rate of change will further increase. I think the main reasons I was already discussing, that there are many powers pushing towards—it may be it’s individual, consumer behavior, government regulations. On the other hand, we start to see mature technologies that can be used. So all these together—it will increase the rate of change. And I think one thing that it will add is, let’s say, add a flavor of unpredictability also.

When I look a few years back, what we estimated for the growth of solar PV or wind power or even electrical vehicles—the prognoses five years back were way too modest. Everything has happened much faster than we thought. And I expect these kinds of, let’s say, unexpected things to continue. So whatever we now prognose for next five years, I expect the change to be even faster than that. And that’s another reason why we really need to take digital technologies very seriously, because they are, at the moment, the only technologies that are flexible enough to really accommodate this and make this transition happen in a smooth and in a reliable way.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, for sure, that flexibility is really the only way to prepare for the unknown. So, what does that actually look like? How are governments and other regulatory bodies, consumers, all the rest—what are they doing to actually modernize the power grid, digitalize it, and make it into something that’s much more flexible?

Jani Valtari: Well, I would say there are multiple things happening on different fronts. Of course, what we now see just lately during past months are these different kinds of governmental investment packages and financing schemes that are directly focusing on clean transition and digitalization. So there’s also a lot of investment coming to this area.

On the other hand, we see that there are also government regulations putting even more stress on the reliability of electricity. We see that electrical energy, the share of electrical energy, is growing. It means that it’s becoming an even more critical part of society. So it’s even more important that it’s very reliable and robust. And what we see, for example, in Finland is that the penalty costs for not distributing are getting higher. The security-of-supply requirements are getting higher. So it’s even more important that our electricity network is very reliable.

So these kinds of regulations are really targeting towards both clean transition and also reliable electricity distribution. I think these are the few main things they’re really pushing for—this change. Also what I see is about the technology getting mature. There are certain technologies that have been used in different areas. Virtualization is one example. Now when they have become mature enough they are getting more and more used in the energy sector, because they are ready and because we have been seeing that they are reliable and good enough for meeting these targets. So, also, technology availability is one of the key drivers.

Kenton Williston: So, what does that look like in practice when you say “virtualization”? When I think of, say, like a data center, I know what that means. So you take what used to be a physical server and turn it into a logical instance that lives as just one piece of software that’s running on a physical server; so you can cram a bunch of what used to be separate servers on one physical piece of hardware. But I’m sure that’s not what you exactly are talking about on the grid! It’s not like you can take your switches and transformers and somehow squeeze them down. They have to be what they are. So what does virtualization mean in this context?

Jani Valtari: Yeah, when we talk about energy or the electricity grid, we often talk about the primary equipment and the secondary equipment. And the primary are these switches and power transformers and the devices that actually integrate either opening the circuit or closing the circuit—transforming the energy from one form to another. But then the secondary system is the intelligence part on top of it, which is monitoring all the time on the millisecond level, and all the time checking if things are in good order or if there’s a fault that you need to react to.

So the secondary system, this intelligence layer—that is an area where the software orientation is growing very rapidly. So there’s a history of having a lot of separate, smaller devices with some level of intelligence. Now we see a trend towards having more standard devices where the customization is done more on the software level. We see the introduction of more like PC technology, or industrial computing technologies. Then, on top of that, we see a trend of going from, let’s say, bare metal or these kinds of native software solutions towards more virtual images that can be run in many places.

We often talk about topics like location transparency. You often need to have—earlier, you had to have certain functionality running in one specific place—maybe close to the circuit breaker, close to the place where you needed to operate. And now, with the communication technologies, other technologies are evolving—you can actually locate this functionality much more freely. You can put it a bit further. You can put it to some server; you can put it, in some cases, even to the cloud, depending on what kind of infrastructure you have available. So it’s really separating the physical and digital world even more, and then giving much more freedom to quickly react to any kind of change that may happen.

Kenton Williston: Got it. So it’s really about, like you said, taking the measuring, analytics, decision-making parts—kind of decoupling those from the underlying physical infrastructure, so that you can update what that logic does more readily, or, like you said, even just move it around.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, exactly. And it is really giving us a lot of flexibility, and a lot of tools to address this big change that we see coming.

Kenton Williston: So can you give me a practical example of what you’ve done with some of your customers to implement this kind of technology?

Jani Valtari: Well, one practical example is, let’s call it the discipline substation, where we often, in traditional formats, have multiple different protection relays that are doing specific protection functionality for a specific component. So we made a pilot where all this functionality was put into one device as a pure software product that we then could update in real time in very fast pace, bringing new functionality without doing any changes on the physical level. So there’s this kind of—and we have multiples of those kinds of pilots where we really go from multiple separate devices into one—or two, if we want redundancy—where all the customization is done; the software and the hardware is always the same. So these kinds of pilots in different formats—we have done quite many, and we see a lot of benefits there.

Kenton Williston: So it sounds like the substation is actually a pretty important player in how this will be rolled out. Why is that?

Jani Valtari: The substations have been, and I think they remain to be, very important hubs of the electricity grid—similar to like we see data centers are the important hub of the information network, base stations are the important hub of the communication network. Substation is and will be a very important part of the electricity grid. And as we see society getting more and more dependent on electrical energy, it’s even more important that the substation is in a very good shape and performing well, having a very good and elegant selective protection and performing optimally.

Kenton Williston: Got it. So do you see the function or the role of substations changing significantly as we move forward? Or is this just a matter of making them super reliable and effective?

Jani Valtari: It’s a good question. Maybe I don’t see a dramatic change in the role. Maybe I see it more as an emphasis of the role and then a growing of the role. It has been an important part of that already earlier, and we see that it will remain very important. So maybe not necessarily changing so much, but just to emphasize it.

Kenton Williston: Got it. So, one thing that certainly comes up as I think about things being digitized is cybersecurity. And so this is something that has been more and more in the news. Of course, there is a pretty big event here in the states with the Colonial Pipeline. And this is certainly a concern for the grid, because, like you said, our society is becoming so dependent on electricity for everything. So how do you see these threats evolving, and what should the industry be doing to deal with these threats?

Jani Valtari: Maybe I start by saying that I think this is, let’s say, one aspect of the very interesting paradox, if I call it that. That how to combine the robustness and flexibility we, on the one hand, want to have this electricity network and substation as flexible as possible because we see the growing need for change. On the other hand, we want it to be super reliable, super robust. Often these are a bit of a trade-off. So you either want to keep things very stable and robust, or you want to give some flexibility and allow for some deviations. But now we want to do the same things at the same time. So that is one of those things. And I think cybersecurity is one aspect of this.

So we want flexibility, we want digitalization, we want remote-update ability, remote reconfigurability, —but all this needs to be very cybersecure. And then, how to achieve it? Again, there are many things that the industry is doing, together with our customers. So, of course, one thing is to participate very actively in standardization’s latest activities.

We have increased our research and development efforts, increased a lot of testing, bringing new technologies into use. Also the update ability and flexibility of the system is giving tools, in that sense that, whenever something happens, or we notice some need for change, we can deploy cybersecurity improvements all over the network at a very fast pace.

So this kind of technical evolution and standardization is important. Testing is important, but a lot is also, let’s call it, social or psychological items. So we need to increase the awareness and then share best practices, and really have a solid working model in different places. Often the technology only takes you so far, but then you need certain, let’s say, personal guidelines and rules that people really respect and that go according to certain guidelines. And then keep the cybersecurity on the high level and also keep eyes open when the system is used and unsupervised.

Kenton Williston: One thing that I’m definitely hearing here is that this is largely a matter of bringing best practices to the grid, that already exist in the IT world. Actually, this entire conversation—really the idea of virtualizing and having functionality that can live anywhere from the Edge to the cloud, and having an approach to all of your infrastructures that really thinks about manageability and especially remote manageability—these are the sort of things that have been talked about for a long time in the IT space. So it seems a pretty critical part. And, for that matter, you talked about standards and interoperability. Again, these are all things that have been talked about in the IT space for a long time.

So it seems like a big part of what you’re saying here is that this is a matter of bringing existing best practices from the IT space, and merging those into the older way of doing electrical grids. And that’s really how you get to this new digitized, agile kind of grid. Is that right?

Jani Valtari: Well, to a large extent, yes. Yeah, there are some aspects that bring certain IT—the IT procedures and practices—to electricity side and electricity distribution side. But I would say also in that sense that many items cannot be, in a way, copy-pasted from one domain to another, because the requirement and the environment is different. And, for example, one item is this reliability requirement. Often when we talk about some IT systems or cloud services or other kind of areas, if we talk about availability of 99% or 99.99%—something like that sounds like a good number. But, actually, when we go to protecting electricity network, it’s like nothing. So it’s super unreliable. So we need quite many amount of nines in the valuation. Certain fundamental items in the criticality are such that it really—you need to somehow not just copy-paste, but really seriously consider what aspects to take, and where we need even stronger requirements, and then new rules. But to many extents, it is like you said—that many areas that are now used in IT will be moved also to electricity.

Kenton Williston: That makes sense. What is this—sort of halfway, in-between, sort of IT-ish, but also keeping in mind that very long string of nines—reliability; how is an ABB making that a reality? What are you doing in your own products to deliver that sort of conflicting set of goals?

Jani Valtari: It’s a very good question. So, of course, one of the things for a company like ABB—where the technological leadership is a very key thing—is to be at the forefront when taking the new solutions into yours. So we have been doing this with, for example, the software-oriented, centralized protection solutions. We have been introducing new, flexible, all-in-one devices, where one device can be software-wise customized for many different purposes. So this is one of the areas where we are active.

Another aspect is, of course, let’s say, the bring-in—the reliability requirements in terms of the whole development process and testing of the device—both as one device, or as part of the system. So this kind of very serious and thorough testing and evaluation, and also being an active part in the standardization activities—what I mentioned earlier. So that’s one of those things.

Maybe another item that I would highlight is that it’s very important to be in close cooperation with our customers, and with the whole ecosystem, very early on in the innovation chain. Often, when we start developing new solutions, if something is just copied from somewhere—from the IT side or entertainment or certain consumer-electronic side—without really very early on getting together with the innovation partners and customers evaluating the critical parts of the solution, we might not get, let’s say, a good enough solution; we might not get a reliable enough solution. Very close collaboration with the innovation partners early on—that’s a very important thing that we do, and we remain doing, so that these solutions, when they are moved to the energy side, they are really taking in that flavor that the reliability and security is in the high level.

Kenton Williston: That makes sense. And it really, I think, speaks to the earlier point you were making about standards and open, shared collaborative approaches. Is that the key to all of this? Is that this stuff is really complicated and hard to do, so it doesn’t really make sense to go off and have your own bespoke approach? Everyone needs to work together across the industry, across customers. People need to be coming together with governments. Everybody really needs to be pulling together on this effort to make it fully successful.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, exactly. And, like I was talking about one paradox a while ago, about how to combine robustness and flexibility—I think another kind of similar interesting paradox is that, of course, the energy side and electricity network, let’s say, the privacy and security requirements for the data are very high. And it’s a closed system, where you need to control fully the whole environment, and be very sure who can access which data and who cannot access it.

Then, on the other hand, you need to have open innovation collaboration, so that you can really develop new solutions the best possible way. So, similarly, have a very closed, super-controlled environment, but open collaboration, innovation networks. That’s one of those, let’s say, interesting, nice paradoxes that we also are at the moment solving together with other technology providers, and then our customers.

Kenton Williston: One of the things that you said struck me as being pretty important to this, which is the idea of having a single box that can be used for many different purposes. So, what I’m thinking here is there’s sort of a foundational level of the technology where you need something that’s extraordinarily reliable, extremely secure, very easy to manage remotely. And that’s all really tough to do. But if you can build such a box, then the software you put on top of that—that’s where you can add that, and flexibility. So it’s really—you get a start with a really solid foundational layer in that really robust hardware, and a basic software layer on top of that OS, and so forth. And then you can innovate on top of that, but you need to have that extremely well-proven foundation first, before you can really do anything.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, that is totally right. Also, another item is that, just for the device—what the life cycle of the device is, and then how robust the devices are physically. If we talk about the data center example, or another similar example, they are often in a place where, if a device breaks down, you have service personnel nearby—maybe even on the site—who can then replace it. But when we go to the electricity grid, it can be that the device is somewhere very far, and some maintenance person needs to drive a long way—and you have it all over the network, not just in one specific place. So it’s very important that the device and the electronics and the physical reliability is on high level.

But I would add one more point also there, that I think it’s not enough to say that you have very reliable hardware, and then you can just put your software on it. We similarly need to think about software in layers. We need to have a very robust, let’s call it,digital backbone, or the bottom level of the software, which is also keeping the software integrity on a high level. Because when we go to this kind of area where we are maybe updating remotely, reconfiguring, doing changes in the live system, which is all the time securing and protecting the network, we similarly need to have a good, layered approach to software, so that we know that there are certain aspect that it’s all the time robust and reliable, even if some other part is changed. So it’s bringing quite interesting, let’s say, needs and new requirements only if you want to look at software.

Kenton Williston: Yeah. This brings me back to the idea of virtualization. There’s things you can do, like virtualizing the software that’s running on these boxes so that you can isolate different functions from one another. So that if someone does, for example, gain access to the system that shouldn’t have it, and wants to wreak havoc, they can only get so far into the software. And so, to me, it seems like an irony of all the ironies we’re talking about that really one of the things you can do to make your system most secure is don’t have these sorts of highly custom boxes because, yes, they are hard to understand and hard to get into, but once you do get into the system, then it’s wide open from there. Whereas, if you have a system that has been built to be flexible, you can, from the start—you have thought about these security layers and are making sure that if there’s a breach in one element, that’s as far as it gets.

Of course, to things like the remote management—I think one of the things that’s really neat about Intel technology—and I should mention that and the IoT Chat podcast are productions of Intel—but part of what’s really cool to me about using Intel technology for this is they’ve got things like their vPro suite, where you can remotely discern if someone’s gained access to the system. So I’m going to isolate this—that’s as far as they’re going to be able to get. I can reset it. I can do whatever I need remotely. So you can address these sorts of breaches very quickly.

Jani Valtari: Yeah. We also at ABB have had very good and fruitful collaboration with Intel on these topics. And, like you mentioned, virtualization is one of those items that brings this kind of a layered approach, and improves the isolation of functionality between different functions. And I must add that, of course, the cybersecurity, and then somebody breaching or attacking, is one of the attack vectors—one of the possible areas where things may go wrong. But even there are also others, like, let’s say, less dramatic—or there can be some human errors, maybe certain software—there is a certain software bug, or some configuration is done in the wrong way.

Or we have seen in the past that the system is operating very well, but there is one unexpected event in one part of the network, and it can create a kind of a chain reaction that causes unwanted effects somewhere else if we don’t have a system that can be then, let’s say, updated. Or then where different parts can be securely isolated from each other. So this kind of layered approach isolation, really logically thinking on how to separate different functionalities—it’s very important. And virtualization is one good technology to achieve that.

Kenton Williston: Yeah. And I’ve been talking a lot about how this would look from an IT perspective. But you mentioned earlier—this is not the only industry where this sort of digital transformation is happening. And in one of the others—you mentioned the telecom sector really has a lot in common with the grid in the sense that it needs to be very reliable. There’s this big move from the old way of having very customized hardware, to moving towards more standardized hardware that just kind of looks generically like an industrial PC. And I think a lot of these same principles we’re talking about—virtualization and security and remote manageability and ability to innovate more quickly—are very present in the telecom sector. And imagine the sort of innovation that’s happening now across different sectors—whether it’s the grid or telecom or industrial automation or whatever—there’s a mutual shared benefit from the activities happening in all of these different sectors and the learning people can share.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, definitely. There are a lot of similarities and the same kind of trends. And I think it’s another factor which can even, let’s say, increase the pace because of innovation. Because when many different industries are, let’s say, investigating the same approach, then one good solution developing one industry can be quickly taken over by another one. So it also really can create a lot of, let’s say, fast changes to society.

Also, about these different domains like telecom and energy—one other interesting item that they also get—they are very dependent on each other. There is strong interdependency. For communication to work, you need electricity, and for the power grid of today and the future to really work very well, you need very solid communication. So there’s even very strong interdependency. And often the hops—what I mentioned, a substation, the electricity network or base station, the communication network—they actually need each other quite a lot. And there are often interesting discussions that should theyactually, at some point, be the same entity.

Kenton Williston: I hadn’t thought about that before, but, yeah, that totally makes sense. So, with that, I want to get a little bit of your perspective on what you think the next steps are for our listeners of this podcast—what are some of the key things they should be thinking about as they’re considering how to modernize their infrastructure, update their substations, and so forth.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, it’s a good question. Maybe I take one step back, and then I think that the one important part on the national level, political level, is the governmental regulations. Often they tend to guide quite a lot on what, for example, utility distribution system operators do or do not do. So it’s very important that these governmental regulations are really supporting taking new technologies into use—are supporting innovations—and are not promoting, let’s say, old fashioned ways of addressing challenges.

Apart from that, I think one important thing is to be, maybe, I call it again a bit of paradox. I said that it’s important to be open for new technologies, digital technologies—it being in a way brave to take them into use. But also have really hard requirements for the security and reliability, and do this with partners that you really trust, with partners that have zero tolerance for low quality or insufficient testing. So it’s important that you are open towards new technologies, but you do it in a very controlled manner with zero tolerance for low quality. And you do it with good partners that you trust that take the security and reliability very seriously.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, I totally agree. And, again, I think—especially thinking about the broader ecosystem, we’ve got some articles already on about the work that ABB and Intel have been doing together to create these kinds of solutions. They have the sort of features you’re talking about. And I think that the—and you speak for yourself—but I think the partnership between the two companies assuredly has helped move these solutions forward.

Jani Valtari: Definitely. The partnership with Intel has been very good, I believe—good for both. So we have been making very nice pilots in terms of taking the substation functionality to a totally new software-oriented level, going towards digitalization, going towards virtualization, going towards digital technologies. So, definitely, it has been a very good collaboration.

You touched on the ecosystem—it’s sometimes a bit of a hype word, but it has a meaning. Of course, now we have talked quite a lot about technologies, and then me coming from research and development, that’s something that I maybe do even too easily—but it’s important to think that it’s not just about technology. It’s about the networks. It’s about ecosystems, which are not just technical ecosystems, but actually business ecosystems. And then, the way I see that when these technologies have all—when we see a converging of our IT and energy side, we see utilities and telecom operators getting closer to each other. It also means that the business landscape is changing, and we will see some changing of roles. We might see some new roles who will manage specific digital aspects of the electricity network, bringing some new digital services to the energy network, after it has to be first created in a way that there is a really secure layer that this access can be granted.

So I also see that there will be new roles and new kinds of business ecosystems that will further change the game or change the landscape, but also increase the speed, and bring new players that can bring new innovations to the area.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, for sure. And I think, even just on the basic level of the talent available to move these innovations forward as these different domains become closer together—utilities and telecom and IT and industrial automation and everything is converging, in a certain sense, on some of the same ideas. I think one of the great things about that—it means that there will be people who understand different business models, people who are able to execute different kinds of software models—all these sorts of things—will be able to cross over more freely between these worlds. And I think there’s going to be this cross-pollination, for sure—who’ll unleash some really exciting new talent and ideas.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, it will for sure do that, but it will also, I think—it will push many people to think a bit differently than earlier. So it is one thing to—let’s say, changing of roles or new roles. One thing I also think, that maybe the meaning of certain words will change. We talk a lot about, let’s say, protection, reliability, or resilience, if I may. I also feel that the meaning of resilience and security—it will also change a bit and broaden, because—earlier when we talked about resilience or protection, it has been just, let’s say, electrical protection. It has been like, how to react to the network faults.

Now, the past few years, we have been talking a lot about cybersecurity and how to protect IT systems. But what I see now in the future, when these things get closer together and we see new ecosystems, we also see a rate of change in how the system is set up. So the resilience or protection will also mean how we combine this paradox that I mentioned earlier. So, how do we give flexibility and adaptability—robustness to the environment—while at the same time allowing maximum flexibility? So, there’s also different kinds of what I call resilience, what we haven’t earlier considered as resilience, but now it will also come. So, I think also the meaning of many words will broaden, and the security and resilience will mean a bit more, if you understand what it means today.

Kenton Williston: Yeah. It’s going to be a lot more than just having very good locks on your substance.

Jani Valtari: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Kenton Williston: All right. Well, with that, I just want to give you an opportunity if you’ve got any kind of final thoughts you’d like to leave with our audience—to give you a chance to share that.

Jani Valtari: Well, maybe I’ll say a quote that I stole from a colleague, which is a good quote. He said once that the electricity distribution, the electricity side, it’s a good business. And in that sense, I mean that we are seeing quite big challenges in terms of climate change and decarbonizing our society. And the electricity side is on the good side of this. So it’s really—it’s a good tool that could help in dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of our activities at the moment.

So green electrification is a key item, one of the key items in bringing our environmental impact to a lower level. And we have a lot of global challenges now in this area, but I also believe that we do have the necessary building blocks to make the change. And I see, let’s say, governmental changes, and, let’s say, attention moving that this is also becoming a possibility—to also address it. So I feel positive also in that sense.

Maybe the concluding remark is that to really make this shift in a good, reliable way we do need, let’s say, systemic resilience—a systemic approach to how to keep a system secure—but we also need to have a good, open collaboration. We have it now with ABB and Intel, and with many other utilities and customers. And I think this is a good path, and bringing a lot of good building blocks for carbon-neutral energy systems.

Kenton Williston: Excellent. I’m very excited to see where things go next. But, for now, let me just thank you for joining us.

Jani Valtari: Thank you very much. It was really an honor, a pleasure to be discussing about this very interesting topic with you.

Kenton Williston: Thanks to our listeners for joining us. To keep up with the latest from ABB, follow them on Twitter @ABBgroupnews, and on LinkedIn at If you enjoyed listening, please support us by subscribing and rating us on your favorite podcast app. This has been IoT Chat. We’ll be back next time with more ideas from industry leaders at the forefront of IoT design.

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About the Author

Kenton Williston is an Editorial Consultant to and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication as well as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

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