What’s a ‘smart’ meter?
Essentially, it is the extrovert version of the old meters that we have always known, which would measure and gauge output or usage but hardly let anyone know their conclusions; so it required a not-very smart-looking fellow to visit every once a while to read and interpret the expressions of this corny old box.
A Smart Meter not only knows how to count, but it also knows how to communicate what it has counted, to concerned and designated parties on a real-time basis. Plus, the Smart Meter, on receiving remote instructions or pre-set triggers, is also able to stop the flow of the quantity that is being measured, whether water, electricity, gas or whatever.
So you can simply switch off the power to your house every time you step out, or switch off the water supply or gas supply. No need to spend hours worrying whether you left anything on, whether there is water dripping or gas leaking!
Quite a relief, wouldn’t it be? Except the problem lies in installing the damn ‘smart’ meters and the supporting infrastructure to capture and analyse and manage the data relayed by them.
This isn’t as simple as just purchasing a smart meter and installing it somewhere.
You need to worry about the communication channels it will employ, the radio waves it will transmit on, and the huge numbers this translates to when you calculate the number of users, gadgets and uses.
Suddenly, you realise that you need much more than just the ability to do it, you also need something that will be cost-effective and not result in the creation of a hazardous radiation filled environment.
Because every cute little gadget that transmits data also emits radiation!
All this is fine when we have just a few, but what happens when all household devices are communicating data to one another and to the world!
Suddenly, you are faced with a massive health hazard, as we are talking of trillions of devices talking to one another, whether we are asleep or awake!
And here you were worried about your cell phone! Now it is your microwave, your washing machine, your fridge, TV, power supply, light units, air conditioners – everything!
Already protests have started in the US and Europe about smart meters. Anecdotal data is being given and ignored, of people developing all kinds of diseases and ailments as a result of the proliferation of radiation-emitting devices. Suddenly it’s not such a smart idea anymore!
This is why there is a need for devices that can communicate but without raising the radiation levels exponentially.
But while the world has begun debating this topic, India is running blindly after the West and going ga-ga over smart cities and smart meters, led by dumb politicians whose little knowledge is proving to be extremely dangerous.
Yet who has the courage to oppose blind mimicry of practices that have terrible health effects?
It is time we took a step back and took a hard look at where we want to go; there is no need to make the same mistakes the world is making or has made; the relentless race from 2G to 3G to 4G to 5G without taking in the costs, tangible and intangible, can wreak havoc with the entire system.
Most telcos are still in huge debt and this can also have severe effects on the economy.
Let’s stop blindly raving over M2M and IoT, even though we get very turned on by sexy-sounding abbreviations; let’s not forget, that expanded versions may not be as attractive as they initially appear.