Cooperative Collaboration

Whether it’s using your cell phone to see who’s at your front door, or having your refrigerator create your grocery list, smart home technologies provide a convenient way to manage your household.

On behalf of our cooperative family, East River Electric Power Cooperative has partnered with Dakota State University in the Connected Home Project to create groundbreaking research as these technologies continue to grow in popularity. East River Electric is the wholesale power supplier to your electric cooperative as well as to 23 other distribution cooperatives and one municipal electric system across eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

The framework being developed by DSU researchers will allow currently disjointed smart home technologies to communicate with each other and with the home’s utility. Researchers are also developing solutions that will allow your local Touchstone Energy® Cooperative to play an integral role in helping consumers optimize their energy use.

“If Samsung makes a fridge or a washer or anything else, an appliance…we can know that that product will connect with our technology and work with the infrastructure and the electrical company,“ says Hunter DeMeyer a Computer Science major involved in the program.

“We’re going to have this device in our house, these devices talk to one another,” explains Tom Halverson, Computer Science professor at DSU. “We want to have some control over how devices interact and what happens at certain times.”

This communication is then able to provide instant feedback regarding energy usage, unlike our cooperative family’s current demand response program, which only allows for one-way communication to appliances such as water heaters and A/C units. The end goal of any technology developed by the research project is to provide electric cooperatives with a modern solution for helping their members conserve energy and save money. The program not only benefits electrical cooperatives and their members, but also benefits the students involved.

Senior Cyber Operations student Jordan Oberg speaks to the benefit of his experience. “We can also take what we’ve learned in classes and apply what we’ve learned into a real world application. It’s like a sneak peek at what you’ll actually be doing after you graduate.”

Halverson agrees. “It’s a real world problem. Not just an academic exercise.”

Halverson is also excited to see the partnership between DSU and East River Electric create technology that hasn’t existed before. “The fact that East River is really, in a lot of ways, leading a national effort to update and find new ways to do things, I think really makes them an exciting partner.”