Smart Meters made some headway in the media in the late 2000’s yet it has gone a little quiet now. Monitoring is important, in our busy lifestyles we easily lose track of our resource consumption and many other ‘distractions’ of new emerging social/economic/environmental challenges. People attempt to create personal/professional hierarchies of these challenges as new priorities succeed previous ones which then gradually build up… many things begin to percolate in the background until they are at an uncontrollable stage.
Too many times this causes collapse – as we have seen with phenomenon like the recessions that keep emerging over the last century and a half.
What’s yours called?
Many predicted that homes would be run by computers in this era; for the sake of this article we shall call the home AI/computer ‘Central’; turning off unwanted heat sources or lights that are not required. With fridges ordering your groceries, bins gauging how much recyclate you have built up or making recommendations for reduction/non-use or waste minimisation. Perhaps the garage deciding how much juice to charge your hybrid/electric car with.
Central‘ would take a lot of responsibility. Save you money, time and resources. Yet some people may be concerned that they are molly cuddled or becoming too dependent on technologies. Yet what if many of our distractions in life could be handled by Central? People could then focus fully on their domestic lives, family, community, leisure and work.
Invariably with the constant leaps in internet innovation, faster connections with 4G in the 2010’s, 5G in the 2020’s: we shall very much become more of an interconnected nation if not international community. This may sound all idealistic yet every Garden of Eden has its Asp. In Smart Meters this snake is the mass of privacy issues where people may feel their domestic AI is watching them and reporting on their activities.
Will your privacy be compromised? Will you domestic AI be spying on you? What of civil liberties? What privacy would be compromised in the home front? No-one likes their dirty laundry being aired out in public… so how do we balance our future lifestyles with a potential Smart meter monitoring economy? Some districts and counties internationally have stopped Smart Meters from being installed on the grounds of privacy and health. Are EMF’s an issue?
Privacy issues will demand that specific domestic information be deemed anonymous (names, birthdates, income etc.) yet a massive opportunity arises for collating real-time data of exactly what is going on in every house, office, factory and processing plant across the nation/planet.
We don’t need to name and shame: just support the ‘drainers’…
Who is not saving energy? Who is wasting energy? Who is partaking? Who is acting in a parasitic manner in the office place or community? Who is voting? Who is partaking? As opposed to name and shame communities where energy/water conservation is non-existent, utility companies can use the data to begin remedial efforts.
This will help mould policy to improve water leakages, energy savings, flooding impacts, health issues – the list is limitless and Home AI/Smart Meters can make a significant positive contribution. Politicians can see the low vote areas in many smaller and large scale elections and make efforts to embrace these communities.
This is not about impeding a person’s privacy as they have been naughty with wasting resources – rather rewards should be given to groups in workplaces or communities who are actively making positive changes embracing sustainability in their locality. As no persons details i.e. name can be gained through future enforced privacy acts and practices – just entire districts will show up in statistics engines whom have measured all these positive changes.
Practicalities of Smart Meters:
Do we really need[water/energy/heat/electricity/waste/health/livelihood/flooding] monitoring? The chances are we actually do. There have been some monitoring technologies/practices in use for decades. For example the trusty fire alarm, CCTV or the neighbourhood watch. These have helped improve our lives. Many people complained about CCTV in UK yet with the August 2011 London riots CCTV was embraced a saving grace in dealing with identification, tracking and apprehending of the criminals involved.
Using the theoretical causality analogy of a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Japan caused a hurricane in Tornado Valley. Everything is causal and has a knock on effect. A fire in your neighbourhood will have circumstances for everyone, a kidnapping will damage community confidence etc.
The flooding many countries suffer can be tackled with effective water management, rainwater collection and other measures to balance out floods and droughts. One thing is assured though – if higher latitude housing, offices and factories do not absorb some of the water fallen on the mountains and valleys then the lower ranges will suffer higher potential flooding risks. This gives further support to spread out the AI monitoring/Smart Meters as far high up into our valleys and mountainous communities. What can be monitored and invariably tackled at higher land altitudes can reduce negative impacts on lower altitude communities.
If richer countries do not absorb their runaway carbon emissions then poorer countries will unfairly be punished by the ravishes of Global Warming’s many backlashes of bizarre weather conditions etc. Additionally as developing countries do not have the financial and technological resources that developed countries do – the poorer countries will not be able to deal with these disasters as well as richer countries can/or recover as quickly afterwards.
Academics within the scientific community have lobbied more and more for biodiversity monitoring (and support) to improve many ecological issues. Invasive species are frequently mentioned in the media, or academic studies or field researchers work. Yet all too often the busy everyday person will quickly forget these problems until it is too late.
You won’t be bothered by some invasive white ghost slugs who consume our much needed earth worms (who oxygenate our soils and therefore maintain soil fertility and integrity in order to keep our agricultural industry alive!)
Domestic AI/Smart Meters could be designed to monitor the ground as well as our built domestic environments. This may seem pointless yet if the innovations arise soon we could implement them and be able to gain sophisticated monitoring of ground water contamination, soil structures, pollution increases, invasive animal and plant species.
Things are getting so bad in many countries that Mortgages are refused in many cases where the infamous invasive plant Japanese Knotweed has taken vast roots in someone’s garden and will inevitably work under the foundations and compromise the integrity of the house. This severely compromises a lot of citizens abilities to move/relocate. All this can be dealt with if we had real-time AI/Smart Meter monitoring. More evidence will gain more public attention and increase our knowledge of many problems we are otherwise ignorant of.
So what direction now?
Domestic AI/Smart Meters will inevitably be amongst us within ten years and be common place in 2020. We could sleep a lot better knowing that ‘Central’ is watching over us, our water/heat/electricity usage, gardens and soils and much else besides. If it is to be undertaken then privacy issues are critically important and high priority with unhackable (realistic) AI/Smart Meters that can not be compromised.
What can you do? Will your company pioneer the best AI/Smart Meter Innovative Technologies? Will you become a market leader and save the earth in the process?