Monday, 21 March 2011
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
Chattanooga has shown the way by combining smart grids plus gigabit FTTH. We ignore such examples at our peril, I believe.
Imagine that you had a chance to install "a device" in every single premises in the country. And, just like the meters before them for electricity, this device will be in situ for years. (Mine is, I think, made of Bakelite or similar, and has Norweb on it so it could have been there since 1948! I know it hasn't - I can read too, folks. But it could have been.....)
The FT is reporting today about the partnerships for smartmeters that are springing up. The only mention of anything even vaguely 'smart' is the addition of GPRS. Where are the joined up thinkers in the electricity and utility industries these days???
Put in a smart meter, as in those I heard about in Denmark in 2004/5, that included a wireless antenna. Not so the meter reader can access the meter, but so it creates a wireless mesh network.
The Danish examples had wifi and Bluetooth (well, they had to have Bluetooth in Denmark - he was a Danish king), but why not add options for GSM, 4G, LTE, wimax and a femto cell for seriously joined up thinking?
[Who cares which wireless techs it actually includes, but stick a card slot in the side so it can be updated for all the new techs if you need forward compatability. Or upgrade, shock horror, over the network you have created. Remote upgrades are hardly new, especially in the mobile/wireless industry.]
The point is, we are missing a very serious trick. My house is, unsurprisingly, right next to my neighbours. On both sides. (Odd that!) It is within less than a mile of nearly every other house in the village. It is within 2 miles or so of pretty much every property in the Parish.
A tiny, tiny, tiny, minority of homes and businesses cannot see a single other property around them. Ditto those on grid electricity and water (Oooh look, I've just reduced the Final Third to a Final 0.001% who cannot be served directly from the SmartGrid - sorry, BT).
To put it in plain English: here is THE chance to build a wireless cloud (of multiple flavours, if we chose) which can then be fed by fibre. As they planned, and presumably built, in Denmark (I cannot find a link to the town where this happened, and would appreciate my lovely readers help in doing so....My Danish extends to bluetooth and forkbeard!) - a big fibre ring round town, smart meters in every house creating the RF wireless mesh for INTERNET connectivity.
Now, *that* is a smartgrid. Not just serving the utilities, but also the telcos, mobile operators (who are also telcos, lest we forget), the consumers, the environment, convergence, mobility, data usage etc etc etc.
So, where are the links to the consultation on the official specs of what smart meters should look like in the UK?
Because I think we should all be preventing a serious fup (no, not fair usage policy!) which will affect consumers to the tune of a fair few hundred quid each, slow down smart grid development in the UK, and hinder us yet further by permitting telcos to play in this space at their own speed.
Can we afford, once again, to not exercise the 'smartness' and innovation that used to exemplify British thinking? If I can come up with this in the middle of nowhere in Cumbria, surely some overpaid exec in the midst of things in the utility industry and government can see the potential of joining up a few dots?
Actually, whilst we are on the subject, why not hold on the BDUK money until we can have an innovative pilot that really does join the dots by including smart grids?
(Send in the trolls......)