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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Dumbing smart meters down

What is a smart meter? Is it simply a digital meter that feeds info back to the utility companies so they can lay off meter readers? Or is it something more?

This blog post can be read at

Despite having seen 'smart meters' that have built-in wifi, GSM etc, which create a mesh network or more, and having blue prints for ones with built-in femtos etc, which join up dots because they are a device which can be fitted in every house and therefore do far more than one job, apparently we should dumb smart meters down to a single use.

Apparently, a smart meter is now a dumb meter, according to the conversations yesterday on Twitter. No doubt, shortly, the UK will be building future-proofed dumb grids as well, and failing to learn from smart grids around the planet.

I am beginning to despair at the UK's aspirations. Isn't our bar already low enough?! We have an opportunity to fit into each and every home a 'device' (let's bin the word 'meter' as that seems to confuse folk) which can serve multiple purposes which solve many of the connectivity and utility problems we currently suffer.

Or we could spend £umpteen zillion, at householder's and Treasury expense, to teach the people of this nation how to hit the off switch when they leave a room. Genius. Not.

How smart are *we*?!


Adrian said...

To add to your blog, I think the existence of the framework may also give an easy opt-out for councils that don't want to find the hard answers for their areas - I'm concerned it will become an uncomfortable safety net for some which will come back to bite communities - again, as you say.

The whole localism agenda is hard to deliver but putting a massive national framework behind it doesn't make the Big Society any more achievable - quite the opposite.

PhilT said...

Well a meter is a meter really, so unless you can point us to this wonderful example to which you refer we'll all be stuck like the OED thinking that a meter is a measuring device.

I guess the underlying issue here is that someone has their eyes on an amount of public money allocated for remote metering and would like to roll that into a pot to contribute to some other expenditure like a FTTH network, which could actually be a sensible idea.

If that is the case just say so instead of pretending that a kWh meter is some sort of communications node. It isn't, it's a low bandwidth client device, at least in the opinion of Lyse in Norway who show a wifi meter talking to a wifi fibre home gateway in

The Danish Energy Association published a paper showing a big negative NPV to their DNO members from smart metering. Not a great start. Starts tomorrow - attending ?

Somerset said...

So power companies in the US provide broadband and the router is connected to the meters. And called smart meters.

Ideally every house in the UK would have FTTC, connection to meters for readings, control of appliances etc. but is the funding available?

Not withstanding the fact that meter reading and telemedicine etc do not have huge bandwidth requirements.

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