Big Data Central to Smart Energy

Big Data was a recurring theme of the ViodiTV interviews at the 2013 Smart Energy Summit.  It is becoming a given that there will be low-cost connectivity between devices both within the home between the home and the cloud(s). Big Data from smart energy results from the collection of information from sensors and exogenous sources (e.g. weather information) which, when mixed together, results in actions that result in great efficiency or increased consumer control, convenience and comfort.

First, Big Data is shattering the silos of formerly disparate services and is helping one service complement another. For instance, the linking of home security with home energy has the potential to add value to both services and to make the sum of the services less expensive than those services as stand-alone offerings. One example of this would be a home security video camera detecting that someone has left home and, after a given time, signals the thermostat to turn off the heater since the home is unoccupied.

Using analytics on meter data, there were at least two companies presenting a method for creating a virtual home energy audit.  ONZO and Bidgley are creating energy signatures based on the patterns in the energy usage patterns and can identify, at a granular level, the type of appliances a household has, how much power they are using and even whether a person is home. Besides providing energy usage without the utility having to send someone to the house or the consumer having to use energy probes, proponents suggest this technology could be used for elder-care or to enhance security.

This leads to a third-use of Big Data and that is the “Mass-Customization” of information that is presented to the consumer. That is, a utility might be able to present custom offers on a consumer by consumer basis, which delights the customer, while maximizing energy efficiency goals. For example, a utility could offer custom rebates only to those households with energy inefficient refrigerators.

One of the oft-expressed concerns by people representing utilities at the Smart Energy Summit was how to create a personalized experience, like the one described above, without appearing as big brother. Privacy, security and the emerging business models that are increasingly depend upon data, were much discussed topics. Stay tuned for the 20+ video interviews with speakers from big box retailers to utilities to third-parties who serve to bridge the silos of these various entities.

[ViodiTV coverage of the Smart Energy Summit 2013 brought to you by Parks Associates.]