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An Interview with Ainara García Barinaga – Sustain Europe

An Interview with Ainara García Barinaga

from Barbara IoT

Ainara García Barinaga is the Project Manager PMO at Barbara IoT, the Cybersecure Industrial Edge Platform that enables companies to connect, deploy and scale gateways and edge applications at a few clicks of a button.

Can you tell us more about the Federated Edge Platform you’ve developed with PLATOON?


First, I would like to give some context about how the energy market is today; how unique it is and how it can benefit greatly from data sharing environment.


With the commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, energy producers, distributors, aggregators—and we as consumers—are obligated to share information that allows us to eliminate any type of inefficiency and ensure optimal energy flow and distribution in the network. To meet this challenge, Barbara IoT joined the PLATOON project to use our industrial edge platform to exchange data with sovereignty from its origin.


The core of our intervention in the project was to extend the PLATOON architecture in the edge, in order to allow that sovereignty, that exchange, according to the ideas reference of the project and also to allow the pre-processing of the data in these local edge nodes. To fulfil that purpose, we have developed several software components in the form of microservices and put them together in these edge computing nodes. So, this hardware plus the software is what has been called the ‘federated edge platform’.


Just to quickly review the microservices that have been mentioned, these are implemented at the nodes, allowing the data to be processed with artificial intelligence at the edge. The microservices provide assurance of the data, data privacy, increased cyber security, improvement of the quality of data processing in real-time, and the implementation of the ideas connector within this technology transfer program—and they make all these systems interoperable.


The integration and validation of the federated platform have been done with two interesting pilots within two very interesting companies:  ENGIE and VEOLIA.


What do you feel are the particular strengths of PLATOON?


We believe that responding to the challenges of sovereignty within the energy sector is the main value of the platform. The PLATOON project focuses on this critical sector, which is undergoing a very important process of digital and regulatory transformation. Barbara IoT is positioning itself very strongly in this sector, and the potential of PLATOON to develop new solutions that reinforce Europe’s efforts for the modernisation of its electricity grid is of great interest to us


Part of your award from PLATOON was an invitation to join the Technology Transfer Programme. How do you feel this has benefitted your company?


With this Technology Transfer programme, we have obtained an open space for the acquisition of new knowledge and for the transfer of the open-source code regarding the ideas connector being developed within PLATOON. Working hand-in-hand with the companies that are working on this has definitely been the thing that has benefitted us the most. Our main task was to enable it to be implemented at the edge, and we have encountered some challenges, such as different hardware architectures or the need to add new functionalities.


Aside from the Technology Transfer Programme, in what other ways has participation in PLATOON benefitted your company?


The programme has been of great benefit to Barbara, as we have been able to participate in two specific pilots with two international companies and also with a highly specialised Basque technology centre.


The first pilot was developed with the international company ENGIE, and its scope was to optimise the heating and ventilation operations in the function of the building occupancy. The second pilot’s scope was centred on providing predictive maintenance services for hydraulic pumps at the facilities of another international company, VEOLIA. The predictive maintenance algorithm has been developed by the technology centre Technalia. Knowing the cases and difficulties faced by the companies, as well as being able to work with them, has been of great interest to us.


We would also like to highlight the great dissemination of the PLATOON project, which helps companies like us to promote our technology and gives us more visibility.


The focus of your company’s work is the IoT (Internet of Things) and AI. How important do you think these technologies are for a more sustainable future, and what do you think their core role will be within it?


The energy sector is experiencing profound transformation as it works towards a sustainable future and reducing greenhouse gases. This reduction is being achieved with the use of renewable energies. Edge computing technology, which is nothing more than the combination of IoT with some computing capacities and the development of AI, is ideally positioned as an enabling technology to manage the increasing number of distributed energy resources.

For the energy system to be able to integrate renewable energy sources, and ensure optimal electricity production and consumption, the network must be smarter. This requires a high level of digitalisation and automated communication and control. And this is where technology such as Barbara’s edge computing helps to manage and automate processes based on real-time data.


What do you think the greatest challenges will be in bringing smarter technology to energy management?


We think that the challenges are scalability, cyber security, the necessity of real-time data, and of course, data sovereignty. So, let’s imagine a smart grid where the infrastructure to communicate, centralise and store all the data is coming from a thousand sensors that are distributed in different energy resources. It’s very complicated to return and aggregate all this data.


Through edge computing, each energy element, whether it’s a transformation centre, distributed energy resource, behind meter resource or whatever, analyses its own information in situ in real-time. It only communicates with the centralised infrastructure to report relevant deviations that may have some insignificant impact on the network. That’s why we believe that edge computing is a great technology to solve the challenges of bringing smarter technology to energy management.

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