A smart grid has its advantages, but one major disadvantage is the visibility it allows for local, state and federal types to monitor your smart grid activity. Here’s how this happens. First keep in mind for the smart grid to be smart it has to access the internet. The more smart appliances, like central heating, cooling, refrigeration and television to name a few, the more the smart grid likes you. Smart appliances are self monitoring. As such, they rely on their internet connection to send status updates to its owner. For example, using the smart grid, your central cooling system could track its energy use and determine its cost for the day and even potentially adjust, as per the parameters you provide it with.
Radio frequency (RF) transmitters are becoming all the rage. These were first pioneered in the commercial world by Wal-Mart. Others have since jumped on board. Stores use the radio transmitters to easily and quickly determine sales and inventory needs in real time. For example, when Duracell batteries or Colgate Toothpaste inventory crosses below a pre set threshold, this triggers an automatic signal to place the order before stock runs out. In the consumer space, RF signals read what’s in the refrigerator and it’s digitally displayed on the door. From there it’s a snap to create an automated shopping list. Sounds great right? Not so fast!
All these small bits and pieces of information about you, what you eat, how much, the temperature of your home, when you’re home. and on and on, are shared with data collection firms that then sell this to food marketing companies. It’s a ton of information that in the wrong hands can spell trouble.
With the age of the smart appliance just coming into focus, the breadth and depth of information collected about you and your family is huge. Think about this: smart televisions, and cable set top boxes will immediately share what you watch, when and for how long. Water use could be shared via your water heater, same for your laundry needs and air heating and cooling. Temperature, flow rates, when you tend to adjust your temperatures are all in play with the smart appliances. Within a year, a comprehensive profile of your behavior and preferences could be built that would accurately anticipate you and your family’s every day behavior. Are you just a little uncomfortable with that? You should be! Consider the following.
What if government officials thought they knew what’s best for you?
Just a few years ago with respect to healthy eating, Michelle Obama said, “we can’t just leave it up to the parents”. Hey, listen if a government can force you to buy health insurance, they can also tell you what you have to eat. Smart technology gives the government the ability to easily monitor whether you’re behaving or not.
Using smart technology, Federal or state bureaucrats can decide how much electricity you get. In the event the stability of the regional grid is deemed low a utility could order all consumer appliances shut down until further notice. This order would include air cooling, heat pumps, televisions, etc., and could all be auto turned off without your permission.
It’s important to remember that anything that can be used for bad intentions will eventually be used for exactly that. In truth, the government and big businesses look at the end consumer as a funding source. These groups couldn’t care less if they help or harm the folks they’re getting the money from because the government has almost no sense of responsibility towards the individual consumer.
Summing it up, smart technology has its benefits and honestly as we move relentlessly further into this age, unless you opt to live off the grid, you’re going be a smart tech user like it or not. My advice is to understand the big picture of smart technology but also be prepared if and when the grid goes down, whether it be for a hour a month, or a year or longer.
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