Sunday, May 19, 2013

When Smart Meters Meet Dumb People

Step by step, device by device, we are moving toward a more programmable world in which we're surrounded by devices that capture data about how we live and what we do.  Imagine the house in the Southwest where the sprinklers take orders from moisture sensors.  Reducing lawn overwatering is smart and efficient.  Or the house with an A/C system that is alerted to power up when you depart the office and head home.  Energy conservation is smart and efficient.  Imagine a business trip where the hotel room adjusts, the lights, stereo, and the window shade are not just controlled from a central station bu adjust to you preferences before you even walk in.  A simple link from the world of senses to the physical is smart and efficient.

A sensored and programmable world is a smarter and more efficient world.  The rise of the smartphone is a clear example of this.  From maps to traffic apps, better real-time information clearly makes our lives smarter and more efficient.  In a resource constrained world, especially in the areas of water and energy, being smarter is key to a more efficient, sustainable, and resilient future.

Smart metering of energy and water resources provides the backbone of smarter world.  Taking a "dumb" water or electric metering and making it "smart" represents a future where the intelligence once locked in our meters and devices flows into the real world of everyday decision making.  A key to smart and more efficient is greater real-time information from devices and meters that allows for more efficient and effective decision making.

Wanting to be smarter is never easy.  The status quo and dumb are extremely powerful forces.  The New York Times points this out today in an article by Chris Hooks - As Towns Say No, Signs of Rising Resistance to Smart Meters.  A paragraph to ponder on the world of smart meters and dumb people:

"Critics have raised concerns about health and privacy.  They say they fear the cumulative effect of the meters' radiation emissions.  The Public Utility Commission [Texas] found no health risks in a 2012 study that blamed social media for spreading inaccurate information.  Some critics have concerns about sovereignty; Texas, unlike other states, controls its own electricity interconnections."

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