Saturday, 11 June 2011

Smart Meters Data and Privacy

I have in the past discussed about Smart Grids and Smart meters in this post and have mentioned some of the privacy concerns. Each electrical device has its signature which could be exploited by some rogue elements to find out if there are any people in the household or itss empty. If its empty they could take advantage by breaking in the house, etc.

Last week I heard a presentation by Onzo in a Cambridge Wireless event about Smart meters (embedded below). This was the most detailed presentation I saw that explained how this data from the smart meters

If you browse the slides you will notice that the device signatures can be used to pinpoint the type of device and in most cases also the make and model of the device. It can even point out if a device is malfunctioning or about to breakdown. The customers can get a detailed summary of the main appliances in the house and how much electricity they consume and this would be without any physical intervention in the electrical circuit in the place.

I am sure that are many positive uses of this data and can be used by various governmental agencies to learn more about people behaviour, use it for monitoring crimes (think CSI) and many other advanced services that may not yet be imaginable but the privacy concerns and worries will remain.

The presentation below starts from slide 21 that shows the data part but feel free to view the previous slides.

Finally, I would like to mention that most of the information I have seen about Smart meters actually only include Electric meters. I find it difficult to foresee how we would have smart meters for Gas, Water and Sewage and how the data can be exploited in a positive way.

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