Cold Data

It’s cold. The numbers on the energy meter keep clocking up and getting to new highs. Compared with last year my energy bill is going to be horrendous. Add to that inflation on just about everything else and it’s hard work to make it a winter of good cheer. Smart energy meters are useful in that they give real time feedback on household energy use. I’m not sure they have an impact on behaviour, but meters do forewarn of astronomical bills to come. Comparing Christmas past, present and Christmas future gave author Charles Dickens an idea.

Looking at media reports this year’s Christmas looks more Dickensian than ever. That is without the transformation that Mr Scrooge[1] underwent. It’s certain the attitudes of Ministers resemble that of Mr Scrooge. Protect the moneymen in their obsession with money and penalise the ordinary working soul. This story is being played out up and down Britain.

The fact that it’s not seen as strange to be talking of freeing up the City of Lonon from regulation at the same time as restricting and controlling working men and women is a bad indication of these difficult times. The Prime Minister may look like a busy light-hearted mouse, but he has a heart as cold as the winter mists.

As the Government has said it wants to collect data from our smart meters, I wonder what can possibly flow from that intrusion into our privacy. In so far as it might guide national policy and reminds Ministers of the benefits of insulating homes, data collection could be helpful. However, there’s a dangerous precedent set when Governments collect every bit of data homes produce.

There’s a creeping tendance to always ask for more data. Mr Scrooge can then compile a leger on the comings and goings of every citizen. Don’t believe for one moment that GDPR will protect our data. Personal information such as names, addresses and bank details are not stored on a smart energy meter. However, computing capability being as powerful as it is, relating energy data to its point of collection and thus bill payer isn’t so difficult to do.

To me, this recalls the saying about knowing the cost of everything but the value of nothing[2].


[1] Ebenezer Scrooge, character in the story A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens

[2] Oscar Wilde’s famous definition — someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”

Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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