IEEE 1264™ Guides Utilities in Mitigating Animal Intrusions to Increase Grid Reliability

By John Randolph, Chair, IEEE 1264 Working Group

Many people may not realize that animals can be a leading cause of electricity outages, which has an adverse impact on overall electric grid reliability. In fact, most electric utilities have experienced the problem of animal intrusions into electric supply substations, which has resulted in equipment damage, interruption or loss of service to customers, and safety problems for operating personnel.

For example, on July 13, 2015 a squirrel worked its way into a transformer and caused an outage that affected more than 6,000 Nashville Electric Service customers in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In early June 2015, Pacific Gas & Electric Company experienced a substation outage in El Cerrito, California impacting 45,000 customers. In this instance, a squirrel caused a flashover on a key circuit breaker linked to multiple transformer sources.

To address these intrusions from the animal kingdom, IEEE has created the standard IEEE 1264™ to guide utilities in deterring animals from causing problems inside substations. This recently revised standard identifies various troublesome animals and the problems caused by their behaviors, while also outlining mitigation methods. What’s more, the standard provides criteria for applying mitigation methods, documentation methods, and recommendations for evaluating effectiveness after the method is applied.

From an earlier survey, North American utilities responded that the top 2 primary sources for animal-related outages are squirrels and birds. Other secondary sources include raccoons, opossums, snakes, cats, mice and rats. Yet there are a number of other rodents, insects, mammals and reptiles that can also cause problems, albeit these are less endemic overall.

The variety of animals and their behavior presents a broad challenge to overcome, and it is further complicated by differing geographies and seasonal weather patterns. Some animals seek the warmth and shelter substations can provide and “homestead” in structures or equipment. As a result, larger predator animals are then attracted to the substation as well. Typical problems that occur include animal contact with energized equipment or conductors, animal waste contamination, gnawing damage to wires or covers, and birds carrying in conductive nesting material.

For utility personnel, animal waste can cause unsanitary conditions, while snakes, bees, wasps, and spiders can also be a serious safety concern. On the other hand, utility personnel can unwittingly contribute to the problem by feeding animals, not properly disposing of food-waste, or leaving boxes, crates or containers outside too long and increasing the likelihood of animal intrusions.

When experiencing an unacceptable level of animal-related problems, a utility should establish a mitigation program. The design of the program can vary, yet is best supported by tracking details such as outage records, frequency of occurrence, animal type, customer impact, damage severity and cost. Monitoring the effectiveness of the program is important, as well as making improvements and adjustments over time. IEEE 1264 advises utilities to consider the impact on adjacent property owners and the community, and to research applicable governmental regulations and laws regarding chemicals or trapping.

Traditional preventive methods include providing cover for energized parts, installing physical climbing barriers and other various deterrents, and increasing electrical insulation levels. Substation layouts and equipment designs vary widely, so a trial-and-error approach employing numerous methods may be necessary to find an effective solution.

Fence designs should prevent animal access from under, over or through the fence by using smaller mesh fabric, smooth barrier sheets, and minimized space gaps. The fence effectiveness can be complicated or compromised by adjacent landscaping and trees, or also by stored material that provides a climbing aid. Line barriers are installed on the energized or guy wires before they cross over protective fences to discourage acrobatic animals from an aerial bypass of the fence. Where a fencing solution isn’t possible, barriers can instead be installed on substation structures to prevent climbing up into the energized equipment.

Some repelling methods involve installing fake predatory animals, such as owls, or deploying disturbing noise generators, chemical repellents, or perching and climbing spikes. More recent deterrents include electric fences and electrostatic shields, snake barriers, insulating coatings, and covers that provide a tighter secure fit on varying connection shapes.  There has also been an increased onus on vendors to design more animal-resistant equipment, such as transformers, breakers, switches and structures, and to eliminate or minimize small openings that can attract birds and other nesting animals.

Now that the IEEE 1264 has recently been updated, the IEEE working group is shifting its efforts to craft a tutorial that will be offered at future industry meetings, and sending out an updated utility survey. These and other efforts will further encourage utilities and vendors to participate in the standardization effort to eradicate animal-caused electricity outages and the problems they create for utilities and consumers.

Join the Discussion: Standards Innovation at IEEE SIIT 2015

Since 1999, standardization researchers from various professional disciplines have been gathering every two years at the IEEE SIIT conference to exchange insights on standards and standardization. From 6 – 8 October 2015, the 9th International Conference on Standardization and Innovation in Information Technology (IEEE SIIT) will be held in California’s Silicon Valley with the theme of Interoperability, Intellectual Property, and Standards.

Attendees at IEEE SIIT 2015 will include IT practitioners, policy makers, academics, and, of course, standards developers and users. Through interactive panel sessions and paper presentations, participants will be offered information covering a variety of topics and will be encouraged to appreciate and share different perspectives. Key panel sessions will cover IPR and Standardization, Standardization, International Trade, and Government Policy, Standardization as a Practice, Economics of Standardization, and Future of Standardization.

Synopsys, the IEEE SIIT 2015 host patron, welcomes attendees to their Sunnyvale, California campus, where all of the conference sessions will be held. San Jose State University is assisting with directional and logistical support as the conference’s visionary patron.

Charles River Associates is the patron of the welcome reception on 6 October, and Intel, Qualcomm, and Huawei are each sponsoring the three conference luncheons. Generous support of IEEE SIIT 2015 has also been provided by Adobe, the conference dinner patron, which will welcome dinner and a tour at the Computer History Museum on October 7.

Registration for IEEE SIIT 2015 opens in early July. For more information about the conference, and to register, please visit


New Book on Modern Standardization Provides Insight into Technical, Political, and Economic Crossroads of Engineering

8. RSBehind many published global technical standards, remarkable tales are waiting to be discovered. Themes of groundbreaking technological innovation, international “coopetition,” and consensus-building as diverse as the standards participants and technologies they represent explain why and in what ways standards came to be the norms that shape how much of the world works, communicates, and plays.

These interesting stories often go untold to the engineers, business executives, professors, and students who are not directly involved in standards development. Until now.

Author Ron Schneiderman found, spoke with, and contacted some of the most involved participants in standards development and includes their stories and related insights in his new book Modern Standardization: Case Studies at the Crossroads of Technology, Economics, and Politics, published in March 2015 by Wiley & Sons.

Modern Standardization includes a collection of nine standards-specific case studies. Although each case study addresses different standards and technologies, all of the highlighted standards and stories are discussed with students and professors of engineering, business, or law in mind. The case studies provide real-world insight into the technical, political, and economic crossroads of engineering and global technical standards, as well as encourage readers to think critically about standards development and technology solutions. They reinforce the usage of standards as an impetus for innovation and help readers understand their dynamic and impact.

For professors and instructors interested in adopting Modern Standardization for academic courses, a curriculum guide is also available. The curriculum guide includes classroom activities, discussion questions, further study projects, and short quizzes. Those interested in obtaining the curriculum guide should send a request to:

For more information about Modern Standardization: Case Studies at the Crossroads of Technology, Economics, and Politics or to order a copy, visit or search for the book on Amazon. For more information about standards education at IEEE, visit

And we’d like to hear from you! What tools do you need to help educate your students on standards? Leave your comments below!

Enjoy Summer Vacation with IEEE Standards

BSTL_transport_CarouselThis summer, how can you and your family get from a connected home or office to the beach safely and efficiently? With vehicles that include IEEE transportation standards, you can worry less and relax more.

IEEE standards enable “intelligent” transportation systems that can safely deliver you to your summer destinations by connecting your vehicles to other vehicles, devices, cloud services, infrastructure, points of interest, traffic conditions, and more.

Take Martha and Jim, who are driving with two of their children, and picking up their oldest son along the way, to visit their grandmother in Connecticut.

While on the road, IEEE 802.11™ and IEEE 1609™ standards supply a wide range of applications that include an in-dash navigation system. The system provides road conditions, accident avoidance, and other driving assistance, enabling them to arrive on time to meet their son at the train station.

His trip is supported by IEEE 1473™, a family of standards that are related to communication for rail transit systems, allowing him to arrive safely as well.

In the near future, Martha and Jim can expect their driving experience to be enabled by the IEEE P2040™ series for connected, automated, and intelligent vehicles. That’s when they can relinquish the burden of driving altogether and enjoy the car ride with their children.

IEEE standardization activities for connected vehicle technologies related to transportation include:

  • Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Cooperative, Autonomous and Automated Driving
  • Smart Rail
  • Traffic Safety
  • Electric Vehicles and Transportation Electrification

View more information on related standards that support your travel plans and Bring Standards to Life.

The Internet of Things and the Connected Vehicle

By Bill Ash, Strategic Technology Program Director, IEEE Standards Association

We have all heard claims that in the near future there will be at least 50 billion connected devices. These devices will exchange data in some form or another, whether it’s via wired or wireless technology, or whether it’s autonomously or intelligently sent.

We have also heard many definitions of what the Internet of Things (IoT) is, from data exchange between two devices to many devices connected to an enterprise-wide IT network. In many instances, smart grid, smart cities, eHealth, cloud computing, and the connected vehicle are all examples of IoT.

We are seeing more deployments of renewable energy systems to meet the growing demand of energy consumption and the reduction of carbon emissions. With these larger deployments and higher penetration of renewables comes the demand for better communication and control systems to maintain a stable environment for providing energy.

In the same regard, there has also been an increase in the deployment of electric vehicles (EV), both fully electric and plug-in hybrids. There are continuing discussions around the charging of these vehicles, the power grid infrastructure, and the use of these vehicles as a means to feed back into the power grid as a generation source. In consideration of larger deployments of these vehicles and their use, similar to the renewables, a need for better communications and control systems is evident.

If we look at the technology being used to connect a device to an information network, or purely to another device, we also need to look at what technologies have survived the test of time. We should consider how the adapting of existing technologies with the integration of the next generation of technologies will coexist and interoperate, especially giving how massive IoT will be.

A prime example of this is IEEE 2030.5™, IEEE Adoption of Smart Energy Profile 2.0 Application Protocol Standard. The standard does not create anything new by means of new technology, but uses technology that has survived the test of time for the integration of new applications and technology. During the creation of IEEE 2030.5, the Working Group wanted to be link layer agnostic, allow for internetworking, and to take advantage of other consumer technology already available such as smart phones, tablets, and other connected consumer devices.

Three main components were leveraged to achieve this goal. The first was deciding on the use of internet protocol (IP). The use of IP allowed for the mixing of various link layer technologies (wired or wireless) and is used by many connected consumer devices and routers to ease convergence and architecture changes. This allows for smart phones to use IEEE wireless area network (IEEE 802.11™) to speak to both a smart meter using low data rate wireless smart metering (IEEE 802.15.4g™) and a connected charging vehicle using PLC (IEEE 1901™).

The second component was the use of the web protocol HTTP. This has a large ecosystem of users and developers, which lends itself to a strong knowledge base and ease of implementation and adaptations. This lowers the likelihood of existing technology being left behind as new technology is developed and deployed.

The last component was the use of TLS 1.2 (HTTPS). Using TLS1.2 allowed for end to end security to be facilitated. In addition, it has a proven record from use in the banking industry.

So what does this all mean? Because IEEE 2030.5 leveraged existing standardized technology, the application for energy management for EV/PHEV, homes, and renewable energy systems becomes a lot less onerous and the application and use by other control systems environments becomes possible. And although the term IoT was not around during the initial development of IEEE 2030.5, the applicability to IoT and its verticals, like the connected vehicle, are clear.

While no one has a crystal ball, we can use lessons learned and experience gained from the past to move into the future. As we experience the evolution of IoT and its verticals, like connected vehicles, leveraging existing time-tested technology for the application of new technology can ease the implementation and adaption into new markets.

What are your thoughts and ideas on the intersections between IoT and other time-tested technologies? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Riding the (driverless) highway to the future

By Jay Iorio, Innovation Director, IEEE Standards Association

A vector illustration of futuristic city transportation
As a host of technologies converge in the home and workplace, it is anybody’s guess how they might play out over the next decades. The Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, body computing, artificial intelligence, and synthetic sensory enhancements (e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality) will serve to make our homes and personal spaces intelligent in meaningful ways―responsive, adaptive, able to learn, interactive, predictive. Our spaces will become extensions of ourselves.

Similarly, many of the same transformative technologies are allowing the public space to be re-imagined. Much of what is called IoT is starting to transform city streets, public buildings, and ultimately everyplace else into a smart environment that could learn to respond as an extension of its inhabitants.

Many of these technologies could help eliminate considerations of geography and physical distance, and over time, digital interactions will no doubt evolve to become indistinguishable from actual physical presence―a kind of telepresence singularity, after which the simulated will increasingly dominate the physical.

That said, however, people will always need to travel from one place to another in the physical world. Big-city freeways and airports will always be crowded, no matter how widespread and superior virtual reality conferencing becomes or how thoroughly day-to-day activities become largely replaced with digitally supercharged facsimiles.

A plausible vision of the next generation might include a coherently “smart” built environment―from the home, to the workplace, to the supermarket―connected so that the overall effect might be something like having a ubiquitous personal assistant.

But there’s one piece missing in this scenario: how do we travel―physically―through this smart environment? How do we get from an intelligent home, to an intelligent office space, to an intelligent department store…intelligently?

As it turns out, the same technologies that are digitally transforming the physical world are causing a similar revolution in the automotive world, in the form of the autonomous vehicle. Autonomous vehicles might take the form of self-driving cars that look a lot like an average car today or eventually they could become something entirely different― perhaps some private-vehicle/mass-transit hybrid that uses existing infrastructure as a basis for new modes of high-speed urban travel, like a train system with individually controllable cars.

The autonomous vehicle would be conceived as part of a larger system that could include not only the road infrastructure and other vehicles but also all the intelligent structures and objects along the route. In a sense, the vehicle would become a moving piece of a much bigger machine, like an elevator in a skyscraper. The car would become a mobile piece of one’s home.

In fact, it might make no more sense to own a vehicle that it would to own a train car on the subway. Transportation would be easily available―safe, private, and quick―and it would require less engagement than riding a moving sidewalk. Car transportation might become a service paid for monthly like a gas bill. Watching a movie, writing messages, or having a conversation or meeting could continue as a chunk of the house basically broke off and took passengers where they needed to go, carrying with it the home’s accumulated intelligence and knowledge about those aboard.

Removing the driver from the equation and putting intelligent systems in charge could radically alter how efficiently, safely, and pleasantly people could move through an urban space. From the passenger’s point of view, a trip across town would be like a long elevator ride; activities could continue en route. A vehicle might be more like a tiny apartment than a 2015 car, optimized for creating a seamless path between intelligent physical spaces.

Given the centrality of the car in modern life, and given the ongoing technology convergence that is digitally enhancing our physical environment, it makes sense that the automobile’s function would be transformed into what amounts to a mobile piece of infrastructure that integrates the home with the rest of the world.

Tomorrow’s vehicle isn’t the flying car, our most enduring retro symbol of the future that promises a superhuman freedom of movement merely suggested by terrestrial vehicles. Rather, the future envisioned today is the connected car, a piece of the common infrastructure that eliminates drudgery, accidents, and wasted time.

These contrasting visions of the future reveal something about the eras that generated them. The flying-car vision casts technology as the enabler of spectacular individual liberation, while more modern visions of the future involve networking, intelligence, and automation, a holistic path that promises to integrate the transportation infrastructure with our homes, our larger environments, our bodies, and our unique, individual constellations of data and content.

Please let us know what you think the future holds for vehicles and how technology will impact our daily lives.

Augmented Reality and its Impact on the Internet, Security, and Privacy

By Mary Lynne Nielsen, Global Operations and Outreach Program Director, IEEE Standards Association

Recently, I had the opportunity to lead networking sessions at Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2015. I interacted with conference attendees to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the evolution of the Internet. Now in its sixth year, AWE is dedicated to exploring technology that turns ordinary experiences into the extraordinary and empowers people to be better at anything they do in work and life. Nearly 3000 people from the augmented and virtual reality, wearable tech, and Internet of Things spaces attended this year’s event.

Technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) intersect with the Internet not only from a usage standpoint, but also from a delivery and information-gathering perspective. Mobile AR technology is poised to explode into the mainstream, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 96% over the next five years. Blending online and offline personal data, AR has enormous potential to enhance a wide spectrum of human activities, including economic, cultural and social (such as blending social media live streams into AR experiences). But AR also has the potential to compromise a spectrum of human values. It raises privacy and security concerns that are similar to other technologies. AR’s capacity for “constant” recording of data (potentially everything a user is doing), in addition to its ability to overlay information on top of physical reality, raises interesting and unique issues that go beyond current issues of privacy, free speech, and discrimination.

At AWE 2015, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) held two networking sessions to explore and discuss these impacts and how to address them so AR can realize its full potential. It was wonderful to see the interest and engagement in this subject. Several attendees admitted that they hadn’t really fully considered the policy implications of AR, but that they would be keeping that in mind as they moved forward in their advancements in this field. Others were excited to hear about IEEE’s goal of bringing technologists closer together with policy makers to reduce the gap between technology and policy, especially as technology progresses and emerging technologies enter our lives.

Of particular interest were the topics of cybersecurity and privacy. Those who joined us at the networking sessions concurred that security needed to be a major factor for AR, while privacy could be challenged by users who openly share personal information in order to gain ease of use or maximum convenience of a product or service. Participants also supported transparency as a major aim in the privacy area. While we were not able to come up with answers immediately, IEEE-SA is committed to continuing the dialogue as we engage those working in emerging technology spaces in IEEE initiatives.

AR is just one of the proliferation of technologies that are increasingly intersecting with the Internet. The IEEE Internet Initiative will continue to reach out to those technologies to garner their input on the evolving question of Internet governance and the related areas of privacy and security.

And I’d also like to reach out to you for your thoughts and ideas on the intersections between AR and the Internet, cybersecurity, and privacy. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments below.