UK Smart Meters: Conservative Technology Forum Proposes Safe, Efficient Path Forward

After our writing earlier this week about the sort of problems that need to be addressed before smart metering and other smart home technology fills our 21st Century digital homes, a group in the UK released a 52-page report laying out the same issues faced in Great Britain and what it recommends be done.

The Conservative Technology Forum published its report, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE! SMART METERING as one of the cornerstones of a sustainable 21st Century infrastructure,” on Tuesday. The report explains the current state of smart metering in the UK, what needs to be done to keep up with emerging trends and what the British Parliament’s Conservative Party can do to help the country prepare for the 21st Century, using policies that fit its existing political priorities.

After providing extensive background on the situation, summing up the current status of smart metering in the UK, author Andrew Henderson starts by suggesting improved communication among interested groups:

“[I]nfrastructure sharing across much of the world goes well beyond merely sharing
communications networks,” Henderson’s report says. “It is commonly driven by the needs of local authorities to save
costs by bringing together currently separate networks serving, for example, street lighting
and traffic controls, surveillance cameras, welfare services and schools.”

He calls on various government agencies to speak more thoroughly with each other about issues they all face together.

Henderson also says early adopters are the key to opening the rest of the country’s minds to the idea of smart metering:

“Many other technologies have followed this model such as set top boxes, mobile telephony etc. Although the initial costs are higher, these come down over time,” Henderson said. “This illustrates the importance of open standards and creating a competitive market. One early adopter group could be businesses who may create their own ‘micro-climates’ on business parks or industrial estates. In addition early adopters would reduce costs as they will want to give access to their property to install the meter. Installation into properties where people do not see the benefit is far more costly.”

The paper goes into further detail, explaining the importance of open industry standards that allow customers to move between energy providers simply, regardless of where they may have obtained their smart meters, and the vital need for redundancy in the case of network failure, and security, to protect the rights and safety of users of smart meters.

“The CTF believes that this policy offers a secure and economically sound methodology for turning the UK into the market leader for smart metering and looks forward to developing complementary policies for the Smart Grid, Smart Infrastructures and Broadband to complement this policy on Smart Meters,” the report concludes.

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