3:40 PM…San Diego, CA…suddenly no power and 5 million people are making “new plans.” The whole scenario was unsettling; however, everything got back to normal relatively quickly. And it got me thinking.

I often say that the smart grid would benefit from cloud computing / services.  Yesterday, I decided that cloud computing / services would benefit from the smart grid.  When the power went out, my connection from my computer to many services I rely on also went out.  I had some connectivity from my mobile device; however, without power to recharge the device, its near-term usefulness dimmed rapidly.  I was reduced to using my laptop as a battery storage device for my smartphone.  Here was the classic example of why people will most likely still have a PC even when Cloud services are prevalent in the market – got to have a backup plan. If cloud services and connections could have stayed active, then the PC would have continued to operate as before and I would be “confident” in Cloud services.

Thus, the cloud needs the smart grid.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Many people say that cloud services are what the US needs to get its innovative mojo back.  For that to be true, cloud services need to be reliable and available.  The underlying infrastructure needs to be reliable and available…frankly, electricity is needed.
  2. As witnessed by the blackout yesterday and the 2003 Northeast US blackout, the grid is vulnerable.  It needs upgrading and it needs to take advantage of new technologies.
  3. According to Dr. George Arnold of NIST, upgrading the Utility grid including adding smart grid capabilities would take about 1.5 Trillion dollars worth of capital investment (the current value of the existing grid is roughly 2 trillion) – that is a lot of jobs, products, and services.

Given the current economic state, investing in a utility grid upgrade would create more jobs and demand. It would also back up the cloud services that are the innovation engine of the future. So cloud can help the smart grid and the smart grid can help the crowd – sure sounds like a win/win with a high potential for getting people back to work and the economy humming again.