Monday, 4 April 2011

Smart Grids: Beyond their remit

I blogged about the Smart Grid developments, nearly 2 years back here. Since then we have started talking about the 50 Billion connected M2M devices. Though Smart Grids as such can be just limited to distributing the electricity efficiently and dynamically, it has been said that they can be used for doing more than what they have been created for.

One such discussion in a recently concluded Cambridge Wireless Event on "Avoiding Cellular Gridlock: Finding New Ways Forward in Radio" was to use these smart grids for collecting the information about its surrounding.

It is well known that quite a few whitespace exist in radio communication in every country. We can build a cognitive radio that can use these whitespace and accordingly harness these free spectrum to the advantage of the users. Now since these whitespace would be different in each country and would also change depending on if a certain frequency is allocated in one area but not in another, there would need to be a database that the devices could use to find which spectrum is available or not.

Smart grids can be used to collect this information and update the database as they would have a wide footprint, probably encompassing the whole country. Though this is just an idea that came up in discussion, there could be more similar uses of smart grids.

For those of you who do not know much about smart grids, I have embedded couple of presentation from different chapters of The IET.

One thing worth mentioning is that, there is already a concern that Smart Grids could be an invasion of privacy and could also be exploited by highly skilled theives.

Picture Source: Washington Post

If you look at the picture above, an expert in smart grids could be able to point out the different signatures of power consumption match to a particular event related generally to a device. So for example of you have used a kettle that means you have not gone on holidays, or something like that.

This also gives opportunity for new devices that can randomize these signatures :)

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