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September 9, 2015

Give people data power experts urge, as TechUK plans IoT group

Common response vital to make the connected home a reality, as energy data takes centre stage.

By Joao Lima

techUK has unveiled plans to create an IoT group to ramp up the UK’s leading position in the smart connected global market.

Speaking at the Connected Home event in London, Robert McNamara, associate director for techUK’s Energy and Environment activities, said the group will increase the number of IoT events following a deep penetration of smart technology in the UK.

McNamara said: "2015 has seen a discernable step change in interest [in the IoT and connected home spaces].

In order to find common answers on areas like security and connectivity, McNamara confimed that techUK would be creating an IoT group in the ‘near future.’

Connected home

Highlighting the growing IoT interest in the UK, a panel which included the likes of Frontier Economics, Navetas and Smart Energy GB, discussed challenges and benefits of connected devices in the home.

Sarah Deasley, director at Frontier Economics, said that "we have a very competitive [smart meter] market in the UK, which is a good thing for consumers," but that the industry faces a challenge when engaging with customers.

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Building upon Deasley’s statement that "consumers do not care about energy data", Chris Saunders, CEO at energy management company Navetas, highlighted the risks posed by data.

"We all recognise the value of energy data for the consumer. The risk is the availability of that data.

"We should empower consumers so they know what they spend. It is about power and choice. It should not just be about reducing."

At odds with Saunders’ comments, Dennis Palmer, head of GB Smart Meter programme Liaison at Smart Meter GB, told the room that smart meters are indeed about the ‘reduction’ factor.

"People care about pounds and pences," he said, adding that a shift in the market will see the industry move from data to propositions, where planned and accepted prepayment solutions will become more prevalent. These will tackle consumer’s worries about how providers handle their data and who has access to it.

He said: "I see prepayment proposition as the proposition that will take on the future. Smart meters and intelligent reading with insightful data.

"I am comfortable sharing data that will offer me the value, and that is where we are heading to. Finding that value proposition is where we need to focus on."

UK smart meter rollout

As the UK government plans to install smart meters in 26 million British households over the coming years, the three panellists agreed that plans to rollout smart meters in the UK "are a bit ambitious", with Saunders adding that he is "not anti-smart meters" but he is "against spending £12 billion on them".

Backing Saunders, was Deasley who told the audience that "we must remember to ask where the value is in new technologies" adding that the reduction of energy is one of the benefits but that "the challenge is where is the value in that".

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