Analyzing Your Smart Meter Data Leads to Big Profits for the Utilities

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Big Data Profits and Surveillance with Smart MetersAt this website I have previously demonstrated that utility smart meters invade behavioral privacy.  Additionally, last May I reported on a utility executive from Texas who was “very excited” about his utility treating your personal data as “an asset” and that “we can mine that data and use what we find from mining that data.”

More recently, I posted an article that ‘Smart’ Meters Generate a ‘Gold Mine of Data’ for Utilities.

This morning a company called GDS International, which organizes executive conferences for corporations on how to “advance their business for commercial success,” tweeted out the following:  “Massive customer data from smart meters …”  This links to a video featuring someone who states:

At the next utility summit, keys issues we are going to be talking about:

“One is the ‘customer engagement’ and how the customer data can be used within their organization, and this is understanding behavioral patterns, for example, that’s important, at the end of the day leading to PROFIT.”


[The above video contains material used pursuant to the Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C. 107 and is presented in the public’s interest for non-commercial purposes.]

We thus have further confirmation of the motives behind so-called “customer engagement.”  It involves invading your home through granular energy data collection (i.e., smart meters), analyzing that “massive customer data” for “behavioral patterns,” and then using that data in whatever way generates the most “profit.”

The utility in many cases is able to install the smart meter at your expense and then profit from the collected data.  These “big data” profits have nothing to do with the delivery of an essential service, electricity.  What a deal for the utility!

If more consumers knew what is going on regarding privacy invasions, there would be increased opposition to smart meters.  This is confirmed by responses provided in a recent Pew Research Center report on, “Privacy and Information Sharing.”

Respondents were asked whether they would be comfortable with a “smart thermostat” being placed in their homes capable of “sharing data about some of the basic activities that take place in your house like when people are there and when they move from room to room.”  The responses were:

Some 55% of adults find this a “not acceptable” scenario, while 27% say it is acceptable.  Another 17% say “it depends” on the particulars of the arrangement.  Those ages 50 and older are among the most likely to say it is not acceptable: 69% say this, compared with 48% of those under age 50.

Some individual responses for the Pew Research Center survey included the following:

“I would be concerned that the data could be used to find out when nobody was home – I don’t want anyone tracking what I do in my home.”  

“It would depend more precisely on the details of the company’s privacy statement. What can they use the collected information for?  And do they share it with third parties?  If they can use the information for anything but controlling my house’s HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning], I would be very hesitant to participate.” 

“Knowledge is control. My utility company already chastises me for not being more ‘efficient’ as compared to my neighbors; I don’t need them to tell me to take quicker showers, or potentially charge me a ‘shower premium!’” 

“Crosses a line – too intrusive.  Goes into creepy zone of being watched!”  

“No need for this camel to have its nose in my tent.  Too voyeuristic.”  

“It is creepy to think someone is following you around, but the idea is a good one.  Would have to know how intrusive ‘basic activities’ are.”  

“What I do and which room I am in my home is no one’s business but mine.”  

“Don’t want others to know when the house is unoccupied.”  

“I don’t want that info possibly hacked.” 

“My home.  My temperatures.  My control.”  

“All of this stuff is way too invasive of my personal space!  It’s like they all want to be in control of everyone at all times.  Know what we are doing etc.  No thank you.”  

“Because your home … should be your one place away from all that sensor nonsense.”

Again the above responses were for a hypothetical installation of a “smart thermostat” in one’s home (without mention of a smart meter in the question).  Yet the responses could just have well been applicable for a “smart meter” which might already be installed on one’s home and be even more invasive.

A good portion of the problem on smart meters is that not enough consumers are aware of the risks related to smart meters, whether it is privacy, health, cyber threats, costs, etc.  This is by design since increased awareness of smart meter threats and risks would result in an appropriate level of organized resistance to smart meter deployments.

The theme of this article will naturally lead to the topic of my next article to be published soon, “Smart Meters Being Deployed without Transparency or Necessary Public Debate.”  [Updated:  Refer to ‘Smart’ Meters Being Deployed without Transparency or Necessary Public Debate.]

Source Material for this Article

Tweet: “Massive customer data from smart meters, IoT…,” by GDS International, January 20, 2016; https://twitter.com/GDS_INTNL/status/689764523985801216

Video: “Rising to the data challenge,” by GDS International, January 13, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHNmm_MHbRA

Pew Research Center Report, “Privacy and Information Sharing,” January 14, 2016; available at http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2016/01/PI_2016.01.14_Privacy-and-Info-Sharing_FINAL.pdf 

Pew Research Center Question:

A NEW TECHNOLOGY COMPANY HAS CREATED AN INEXPENSIVE THERMOSTAT SENSOR FOR YOUR HOUSE THAT WOULD LEARN ABOUT YOUR TEMPERATURE ZONE AND MOVEMENTS AROUND THE HOUSE AND POTENTIALLY SAVE YOU ON YOUR ENERGY BILL.

IT IS PROGRAMMABLE REMOTELY IN RETURN FOR SHARING DATA ABOUT SOME OF THE BASIC ACTIVITIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN YOUR HOUSE LIKE WHEN PEOPLE ARE THERE AND WHEN THEY MOVE FROM ROOM TO ROOM.

WOULD THIS SCENARIO BE ACCEPTABLE TO YOU, OR NOT?

Copyright Notice © SkyVision Solutions and Smart Grid Awareness, 2013 – 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original material from this site without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SkyVision Solutions and Smart Grid Awareness with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About SkyVision Solutions

Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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One Response to Analyzing Your Smart Meter Data Leads to Big Profits for the Utilities

  1. Lynda says:

    Big data is precisely that… BIG. Yet all these concerns are as if there are people standing around a PC looking at your individual circumstance and, I don’t know, laughing or something? “Look! Look! No one’s using power! They might be out!… Like, seriously, what kind of world do you live in where you think that’s a real issue?

    From Moderator: Individual used a derogatory term towards people who oppose smart meters which was deleted.

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