Network solutions company Echelon has revealed an operating system for the smart grid which would allow utility companies to develop smart grid apps.

Echelon Corporation unveiled the latest in smart grid technology at a September 8 industry press conference in New York. The company believes that their Echelon Control System (ECoS) software platform and the first ECoS-powered products will lead to a more responsive, reliable, intelligent and self-healing smart grid.

The ECoS is essentially a set of tools and services which make it easier to develop applications for intelligent power distribution and control. Echelon states that the ECoS works on a similar basis to the Android or IOS platforms for smart phones; by using the ECoS platform, companies involved in the smart grid can then build ECoS apps to meet challenges and demands placed upon the smart grid. For example, a company could develop an ECoS-based app which monitors power quality and signal strength then use it to predict and prevent power shortages.

Such a system would revolutionize the smart grid by creating a platform on which a series of innovative apps could be built - this is expected to translate directly into increased consumer benefits as electricity providers would be able to predict when more power would be needed, when power shortages are likely to occur as well as optimizing the efficiency of the smart grid on a local level.

The project will initially begin in America, though Echelon claims to be in talks with European utility companies.

Cisco and Itron, two major players in smart meter technology announced on September 1 the joint development of an internet-based smart meter communications platform which would optimize energy supply to homes and businesses.

Widespread implementation of the smart grid and smart meters is expected to occur by 2020; the project is expected to reduce power consumption, energy usage and CO2 emissions.