The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Open Access to the SmartGrid – It’s here

Building the killer app for the energy SmartGrid just got a little easier.  Tendril, an energy industry software company, announced an application developer web site and an “Internet and Smart Home App Contest” to encourage developers to use the Tendril Connect Platform.   The Tendril platform enables access to a wide variety of energy components – meters, smart electric outlets, appliances and future smart devices.

 

Open accesses to the energy SmartGrid is intriguing but are we ready for it and is there enough interest from the end consumer?

 

I for one would love to have more control over the individual electrical devices in my house, know which ones are the power hogs and when certain devices go on or off.  If you’re a do-it-yourself type person you can make your own monitor with Tweet-a-Watt.  If the washer/dryer would simply let me know when it’s finished a load by a means other than a barely audible beep I would be grateful.

 

Given that Google Power Meter and now Microsoft Hohm have both discontinued their energy monitoring services I can only speculate that the idea is just a bit ahead of its time.  But, it’s a time that’s coming fast.

 

Ed Kettler, HP Fellow, has a recent blog post about the SmartGrid and concerns about vulnerabilities of energy grid components which are now exposed to communications networks that could be accessed by almost anyone.  With the realities of open API’s to the SmartGrid platforms and components the concern is real.  Ed offers some advice and also reminds us that the electrical grid is not the only grid that is getting smarter.  All of the utilities and vital infrastructure components are of equal importance and therefore require appropriate security and risk management.

Smart Grid = Trojan Horse?

We are getting ready to spend a tremendous amount of stimulus money on building out the smart grid for energy management and delivery. The promises of this technology are many, but with every good thing there are opportunities for bad things to occur. It appears that cyber spies are already at work preparing to monitor and potentially disrupt the US power grid in time of war or as a bargaining lever, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

 

The delivery of the smart grid must include the proper security and controls to protect the operations and delivery of services, but also the privacy of the consumer. We will be seeing a big increase in sensors and network connections as nanoscale sensors drive down the size and cost, but with that comes an asymmetric increase in risk compared to less developed countries. Back when Y2K was the big risk, I spoke with my buddy, technothriller author Larry Bond, about the risks of the Soviet nuclear arsenal; his comment was "they are still analog in their permissive controls". If we don't build in the security in the gold rush to profit, we will leave exposures where enemies could control our infrastructure.

 

Think about this: China owns most of the US debt; what if they "turned out the lights" to get us to pay the bills?

Labels: Smart grid
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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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