Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Data Mining Threatens Your Privacy

Onzo Corporation announces that, yes, indeed, utilities can use your data to make you buy things, change what you do, and make the utility more money. "By transforming big utility data into real insight, we help companies in the energy space understand how each customer uses energy on a personal level. This insight can then be leveraged to improve customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty, while increasing revenue and operational efficiency." "Millions of AMI [smart meter] data points and hundreds
Onzo Corporation ad
of thousands of additional metrics and values can now be combined and analyzed, taking utility customer data mining to a whole new level and driving decision-making capabilities that weren't even possible before,"  the company states in a February 9, 2016  press release. With ultra-granular data, Onzo notes, the utility can determine: "1) Where are the biggest concentration of customers that are most likely to respond to a smart thermostat offer based on analysis of occupancy, consumption and demographic characteristics? 2) Which customers typically use high-consuming appliances during peak load times. 3) Which customer groups are mostly likely to respond to energy efficiency programs and what drivers are best at motivating a positive response?"

"With the hardware, utilities can combine and query data at much more granular level to more fully unlock the power of their smart meter and sensor data."
Read more about smart meters and smart meter privacy issues at the Smart Meter Education Network.

1 comment:

  1. As long as the Big Utilities enjoy what amounts to a monopoly — meaning you can't "fire" your electric company or water company because there's no other competitor to serve you if you did — they simply don't NEED this much data mining. This is just "make work" for companies who solicit pricey consultants to sell them services they really don't need (or certainly not to the degree they're sold on).

    When are shareholders going to question the justification for diverting more and more of the "bottom line" to an increasingly bloated "Big Data overhead"? Any REAL cost control measure would balance the benefit of rolling out and aggregating all this smart tech and "smart data" against the fact that many of the companies that are jumping on the Humongous Data bandwagon already enjoy monopoly status. Still, if none of that matters, this much should: Consumers have their own "data" from which to draw conclusions — this thing called the Internet — and increasingly we're questioning whether we can trust that the playing field is in any way level. Technology for the sake of better market data isn't enough to put consumers' concerns to rest.

    The game CEOs are playing has been leveled by this information highway we call the Internet. Customers will not stand for what they perceive as manipulation — be it for any number of reasons: health/safety (now that we're no longer arguing about whether cell phones, and 24/7 wireless exposure, can potentially increase cancer risks), security (now that there's no longer any doubt that electric grids can be hacked and/or brought down by solar storms, especially the more sensitive, network-reliant "smart" variety) and cost (now that customers have seen their bills skyrocket after being told that the "smart" tech in their homes would somehow favor them).

    What's laughable about the public utilities that have embarked on this data mining kick is that they're STILL operating under the assumption that consumers will behave as if it's 1985 (e.g. they can't form a consensus and anybody who "complains" is merely a kook). But just as "smart tech" has opened the door to big business aggregating ever more "deep" data points, consumers, too, are less naive and increasingly educated about their concerns. As fast as the Conglomerates cook up these "smart" revenue-generation schemes, they will be outed for their false marketing (e.g. promises of saving customers an appreciable amount of money).

    Unlike the pre-Internet days, people who are worried about health, security or infrastructure risks aren't merely consigned to the tin-foil hat club. So to those who think they'll use "smart" meters and "smart" appliances to get smarter about us? Well, it cuts both ways. And thank God it does.