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The API Economy: applications for sharing data from electrical grids


Facing the challenges of today’s digital economy, the electrical sector has undergone transformations to adapt to market and social demands. In this context, the so-called  API Economy takes an important step towards adopting new technologies, improving services and optimizing resources. 

This post discusses the impacts and advantages of the API Economy, and the importance of sharing data on electrical distribution networks and its applications. Enjoy your reading!

The API Economy: what it is and its impacts 

The API Economy refers to a set of business practices and models that are based on the use of an Application Programming Interface (API).

These resources allow integrating systems and connecting applications using standards and protocols, permitting communication between different programming languages. This makes it possible for different applications to “converse” with each other without the need for human intervention to guarantee this integration. 

APIs guarantee that the data extracted from one application can be securely passed to another with precision, reducing failures and optimizing the time, resources and efforts companies need to automate activities. 

By sharing information, organizations can create new applications and systems capable of communicating with other platforms. In this way, APIs can be used to allow participating companies to create associated products and functionalities, which help to improve services and facilitate adaptations to digital transformations in the market. 

The objective of the API Economy is to enhance the creation of applications focused on users and that improve labor force production, which allows companies to optimize their processes and participate in business ecosystems that had been inaccessible. 

In the electrical sector, for example, this initiative focuses on the construction of an environment for sharing data––and infrastructure––between electrical concessionaires and other public utility companies, such as those for water, sewerage, gas and telecommunications. 

This information can be shared with the government, the private sector, and other institutions to support the development of new solutions and services that better serve people. 

Advantages of the API Economy

The main advantage of the API Economy is the promotion of the use and access to APIs. The more companies use their own programming interfaces, the easier will be the integration among services and the access to data that they offer. 

By allowing different interfaces to communicate among each other, companies can meet the needs of different groups of clients without having to create solutions from scratch. Thus, the API Economy promotes a continuous improvement in services and consequently in client experience. 

Moreover, it can represent additional revenue for companies. This is because in addition to monetizing their own applications, the use of APIs allows new productions and services to reach the market more quickly, giving organizations greater liberty to develop new strategies. 

Revenues are also influenced by economizing costs that would be destined to the creation of proprietary software. In the API Economy, small, medium and large companies can collaborate with the same tools, making the market more egalitarian. 

Regarding the electrical sector in particular, APIs facilitate sharing of data and access to resources, which allows electrical distribution companies to choose the options most suitable to the needs of each unit and the requirements of the organization. 

The technology also provides scalability to business and reduces barriers to the introduction of new technologies and solutions. Moreover, it facilitates the creation of partnerships and cooperation, helping companies in the sector to reduce costs, improve their performance, serve users better and stimulate innovation. 

Data shared on electrical energy distribution grids

Electrical grids are among the most important structures in any city, and the digitalization of the electrical distribution system is at the heart of the transformation of the electrical sector, allowing many of its components (cables, transformers, switches, circuit breakers, and others) to collect and share data. 

APIs allow sharing information that is stored and managed by electrical companies (about clients, installations, consumption, billing etc.).

In this way, these data serve not only companies in the sector, but also companies responsible for other public utility services such as gas, water and telecommunications, thus creating common infrastructure at lower cost. 

The sharing of this information takes place through the generation of catalogs and the creation of infrastructure that allows outside users to connect to databases at the electrical company and consume its information. 

Thus, the API Economy enables the approximation of companies in the electrical sector with companies responsible for other services in a certain region, generating greater engagement with stakeholders and the possibility that they conduct analyses and generate insights for their own business. 

In addition, the digitalized data from urban infrastructure can also be shared with citizens, universities, startups and governments. That allows us to develop new solutions and services and generate new business opportunities with the objective of delivering more value to the population. 

Applications of the API Economy to the electrical sector

The API Economy will allow much of the equipment and information from the electrical distribution system. It can be used not only by the company responsible for the service, but also by concessionaires of other public utilities. 

This takes place precisely through the collection and sharing of data. The new equipment installed are no longer passive structures but have intelligent sensors that can capture many types of information from the environment. 

For example, a post will no longer be a passive element, but can be used to collect data through sensors, to map streets and sidewalks with the help of cameras, identify electrical demand at each point, and measure air temperature, humidity, and pollution. 

This is only a small example of the potential of this technology. The use of APIs will also allow 3D mapping of underground structures in cities. Thus, companies offering different services can share the technology so that everyone has access to information about the state of components, the realization of construction, the need for maintenance, and other issues. 

Another possible application involves the use of technologies from the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide assets with sensors and present the data generated. This would allow all of the participating companies to share the use of infrastructure in a region, which would lead to reduced costs for each company. 

For example, these technologies allow cameras installed on posts to count people, conduct facial recognition, identify suspects, and alert police. 

The use of cameras is an increasingly common reality. One option is cameras installed on garbage trucks to conduct 3D mapping of city streets and collect data along routes. 

With Artificial Intelligence, they can identify potholes in streets or illegal construction, and automatically detect various variables in real-time.