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Really “Smart” Metres

The energy markets in Spain, Belgium, the UK, etc. are using government money to deploy smart metres in peoples homes. Ridiculous amounts of up to a thousand Euros are budgeted for smart metres and their installation at people’s home. The worst part is that most suggested smart metres are incredibly dumb. Tax payers will have to pay billions either via taxes or spread over the next years in their energy bills, to have smart metres put in place that are already outdated before they get unboxed. Non of the proposed smart metres I have seen is impressive in specification, has an app store, can be software defined, etc. Doubts arise about proprietary solutions being as secure as they are promised to be.

An alternative approach?

Why don’t energy companies organise a competition in which anybody can design a smart metre. Energy companies should set out a budget for a good smart metre. However via a crowd funding campaign among their customers, you and me would be able to select which of the designs we want in our home and if we want to pay extra to get a more advanced model. Smart metre protocols aren’t nuclear science so anybody coming with an argument of standardisation is going to loose out against the alternative of competition lowering prices and increasing innovation. Smart metres ideally have a removable compute and storage part because what now seems advanced will be stone age in 5 years. App and app stores will allow households to redefine what smart means for them and create a new economy for entrepreneurs searching for the “smartest” angry bird app for an electricity metre.

The truth is that very few telecom operators have ever put a modem or set top box in people’s home that has impressed their customers. The problem now is that energy companies think they can do a better job and will keep tax payers hostage for 10 years. Remember nobody remembers the price of a bargain when the thing is not doing what it promised on the box and most smart metres are not what you and I would call smart…

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