Is UK smart metering project an NHS IT disaster in the making?

The Government’s Smart Metering Implementation Programme (SMIP) aims to have smart energy meters in 30 million homes as well as businesses by 2020.

It is part of the UK’s plan to cut carbon emissions by helping consumers and businesses better control their energy usage. These meters communicate with a central system at regular intervals. This can give consumers accurate information on their usage and enable them to make cuts.

This project will require a company to be set up, known as the Central Data and Communications Company (DCC). This will manage the data that smart meters send and receive. The DCC will require services from IT and communications service providers. It will collect information from smart meters in homes and send information on to utility companies to enable them to bill accurately. This will be a massive IT shop.

All this as well as the need for smart meters, smart communicating sensors, modules, advanced communications networks and then things like security will make this a major project. The problem is that the public don’t seem to be behind it.

Research has shown that consumers are not up for it because it is likely to cost more for energy and the promised savings in the long run will not be guaranteed. Basically most people would rather save money than the planet. Part of the problem is the government have not done enough to sell the cost advantages to consumers.

So we have a huge IT project that people don’t seem to support. The very same people that are paying for it through taxes. In a few years people could just see the project as a lot of very expensive IT projects that don’t deliver any savings.

This would be a shame because protecting the environment is important. But the government must better communicate the financial savings people can make. This will require a lot of education and if consumers want to really save money they will have to have smart devices to link to the grid and use power efficiently. So there is investment needed in homes as well.  

Could this be another NHS Project for IT (NHS NPfIT) in the making? What I mean is there is a lot to do and a lot of money required to do it and there seems to be lots of points of failure. The fact that the public aren’t really behind it could be the excuse a government needs to cancel it. Just like NHS NPfIT.



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