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A strong indicator of a utility'ss operations maturity level is its information-to-data ratio (IDR), or the ratio of actionable information that a human operator needs to deal with compared with the amount of "noise" or data elements that can be ignored. If a utility at Level 2 on the maturity scale has an IDR of 150,000:1, and deals with 750 million data elements a day, that's 5,000 information events that need a human eye. If an operator can deal with a maximum of 100 events a day, the utility would need 50 operators on staff to handle the data load. However, if that utility takes the steps to mature to Level 3, it might raise its IDR to 500,000:1. It now only needs 15 operators to deal with a total of 1,500 events a day - a cost savings that speaks for itself.

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 About the Author: As chief technology officer for Bit Stew Systems, Kai Hui works to keep Bit Stew’s world-leading MIx Director™ platform at the forefront of smart grid technology standards and real-time network operations. His experience as director of technology for the smart metering and infrastructure program at BC Hydro, British Columbia’s largest electric utility, informs his current role as a technology vendor.