Networked smart energy meters invoke a brighter future

The oil crisis related recession of the early 1970s saw the infancy of microprocessors, Ethernet, and the first workstation with a built in mouse. The 1980-1981 recession witnessed the IBM PC and the 1991 downturn saw the birth of Linux.

One glimmer of technological light in the current recession in the UK is the government’s £10bn plan to replace 50 million gas and electricity meters by 2020. These will put an always on communications link into every office and home in the country.

The government hopes that smart meter information will persuade us to use more off-peak energy. If not it also opens the door for supplier to ration consumption. Either way, it opens up the prospect of cutting the nation’s carbon emissions, and thus alleviating the biggest problem of the age, climate change.

For information and communications services firms smart meters offer a platform for future job growth, which is good news indeed in these dark times.

In this issue starts the first in a series of features on strategies to survive the recession. As we have said repeatedly, for IT reaction to present economic woes can go two ways. IT can be seen as a cost that is peripheral to the business; or it can be seen as a means of lowering the cost of doing business and promoting efficiency.

IT is still quite a young profession, and there are many senior IT managers who have never experienced a downturn. But there is a cohort of experienced IT directors, many of whom entered the profession by circuitous routes, rich with business experience, who can mentor and advise. They know these matters are cyclical and that IT managers need, in times like these, to stop fearing the future. They also need to experiment with new business technologies, such as cloud computing.

Necessity is the mother of invention. In the depths of this recession, networked smart energy meters invoke a brighter future.