IBM is speeding up research into the development of smart meters for the UK, as the government and industry push forward with 'smart grid' plans.
Downing Street has ambitious plans to roll out smart meters, claiming that every home in the UK will have a smart electricity meter, and potentially a smart gas meter, by 2020.
Most citizens in the UK currently have 'dumb' electricity meters which have to be read by people. This is not very efficient, and there is also the problem that energy demand could outstrip supply in five or six years' time.
To avoid the type of power cuts seen in places like the US, the government and IBM are exploring ways in which smart meters will allow consumers to see how they are using energy and how they are being charged.
Showing off a lab specifically built for smart metering at IBM's facility in Hursley, Winchester, researcher James Caffrey said the company is still in the process of developing the technology, taking into account the government would be creating a data collection company, collecting smart meter readings and creating a smart grid, or intelligent utility network.
"Some of the stuff we are doing at this lab is everything from here-and-now problems, to how you actually roll out smart meters," he said.
Current research includes the use of IBM's SPSS analytic software to detect whether UK users are more likely to stay at an energy company if offered a smart meter, depending on information like whether they use paperless billing or not.
This is similar to the technology used by police forces, recently highlighted in the media, to detect where and when crimes are likely to happen.
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