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The features of the standard IEC 16850 with respect to intelligent applications in substations are summarized. These features refer not only to the use of mainstream communication means but also to its object oriented modeling power and services including real-time data exchange, and to its standardized engineering support. It is shown how modeling of functions independently from its allocation to devices allows optimizing existing applications and opening up for future intelligent applications. The data model provides all information in a substation needed not only for control and protection functions but also about the IEDs and the switchgear configuration. The data grouped in objects provide comprehensive information to the level of detail needed. The compatibility of the IEC 61850 model with the common information model on network level is highlighted. It is shown that all these features facilitate the implementation of intelligent applications and, especially, distributed functions with reasonable effort.