Smart meters trapped between benefits and dangers, claims Forbes



By Jesse Berst


Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water, the smart meter debate has been elevated to the national level by several publications, including Forbes.


Smart meter installations in the United States are expected to progress steadily over the next 10 years. That is because they offer a range of benefits to both utilities and their customers.


Even so, according to Forbes Magazine, smart meter deployments are facing opposition by a small group of activists concerned about several issues, especially data privacy.


"Despite the promise of empowering people through enhanced consumption data... some people are scared and resist the idea of smart metering, citing concerns about meter accuracy, data security, and health," wrote Forbes contributor Federico Guerrini. "Privacy is probably the most sensitive issue: similarly to what happens with phone calls metadata, information about the energy consumption of a family or of an individual, can reveal a lot of details about the life of the persons monitored."


Meanwhile, Bloomberg has just recycled a 2012 report that claimed smart meter data can reveal what you are watching on TV. The research measured the "power signature" of different television programs. Seven movies and two television shows were shown on five different TV sets. The research discovered that each program had a unique pattern based on how much electricity was needed to show its images.


Once the signatures were identified, the researchers could match that information with the data coming from a smart meter.


A lot of money is riding on the debate. Navigant Research estimates the smart metering opportunity represents $57 billion worldwide over the next decade. China is expected to lead with more than 435 million smart meters, with the United States coming in a distant second with roughly 132 million.


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.


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