Smart Grid Electricity

I watched a video today by Tom Raftery via his GreenMonk blog/ustream show, in which he was talking about the ramifications of smart grid technology. I’m sure I’ve heard of this stuff before considering it’s been in development for a while, but consciously this is new to me.

In a nutshell, as I understand it, “smart grid” technology is a digital method of distributing electricity, allowing for advanced monitoring, even feedback and remote control, resulting in greater efficiency and reduced cost.

Clever stuff, sounds like a great, obvious helper in the fight to make the world more energy efficient. However, as Tom points out, due to the nature of the technology this means that the power company can tell what tech you’re running in your house. This sort of granular access, one might imagine, would be as powerful a force in advertising as Google, quite possibly even more so.

Imagine being able to profile households on the sort of electrical devices they use. How many televisions they have, what brands of televisions they use, when they have them on, etc, and being able to plot and compare this information across every household on the planet that uses electricty. The consequences of such a powerhouse (excuse the pun) put to the task of advertising are nothing short of staggering. The possibilities are virtually unlimited in a world that grows ever dependent on high technology.

You can read more about the emerging smart grid technologies in this Economist article.

Update: Smartgrid Vulnerability.

Update 2: Looks like Google are already on top of this one, clever people, them.

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  1. Posted March 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    And there’s me worrying about the impact of the new behavioural ads by Google that use your history to decide what ads to display…… :)

  2. Ross
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Tom: Hah, when Google start running their own power stations then we should worry. And let’s face it, that’s not much of a stretch :),