Smart Meter scheme not so smart

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Smart meters aren’t really anything new but the government’s smart meter scheme would see them in every UK home by 2020, saving a possible £17bn on energy bills. Mark James discusses the potential ramifications of the roll out.

The government led roll-out would see all of the UK’s 30 million households equipped with a Smart Meter. Under the scheme energy providers will have to start offering Smart Meters from autumn.

It could potentially save £17bn on our energy bills and cost the industry an estimated £11bn to put in place but the Institute of Directors (IoD) isn’t so sure and thinks the risks are “staggering”.


“Cycle of installation”

The IoD particularly cites the potential for an endless “cycle of installation, de-installation and re-installation” of smart meters as the tech rapidly evolves early on.

Mark James, ESET security specialist, agrees that it’s a problem but is also worried that it could restrict freedom of movement and cause other issues.

“Yes one of the problems I see here is the very problem we see with the IT Industry, software will need to be upgraded quickly in the early stages.

“There will be a point when the hardware will not support the software update and so the whole replacement process will kick off again and the costs will be massive.

“The other problem I see is not having an industry standard, by having each company design and deliver its own tailored model could restrict freedom of movement between energy suppliers and cause customer problems.

“If we are to learn one thing from government lead roll outs it’s that they usually will incur massive charges and take a lot longer than they should to get not only going but finished as well.

“It’s a great idea and if managed correctly could work out ok in the long run but realistically it will probably end up like the whole broadband rollout in the UK with some homes still waiting after many years to be able to access broadband at a reasonable cost.


Data security

Another problem with Smart Meters, and many other IoT style “smart” devices, is how the data is transferred and handled.

Back in “Smart Cities and Smart Citizens” Mark and I looked at the potential benefits and risks of a fully connected City.

“As with any data centric solution we are sending lots of private information back and forth to servers that we have no control over how secure the data is.

“This type of data could reflect when we are at home or away as well as our sleeping habits and work regimes.

“All of this could if fallen into the wrong hands paint a very good picture for criminals to use for foul means.”

How much is your data worth to you? It’s the question we keep asking on this blog and it’s the question that this scheme raises again.

We seem to be on an inevitable path to an increasingly interconnected world from the most mundane, like smart socks and shoes, to the world changing but slightly scary, like autonomous cars, and unfortunately at this point security seems to be an afterthought rather than at the forefront.

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