Context and Goal
Smart meters are energy monitoring tools, introduced to record and display real time energy usage data with the goal to bring down both energy consumption and the costs. By use of smart meters, users can track the amount of energy (and its cost) utilized by different devices over different time points/spans in a day. Using energy information provided by these smart meters, users can make better decisions regarding the choice of buying or operating devices at particular times. Combined with various data storage and interpretation tools, a smart meter can be transformed into an energy information system. A well-known initiative in this direction is the Google Powermeter . We propose to take this energy awareness initiative to the next step where the user can not only see the different interpretations of his energy usage, but can also share this data with his friends and others in his social network.
Connecting a smart meter to a social network can provide interesting applications of energy usage data. For example, it can show a user a comparison of his energy usage and related spending in comparison to his friends in a graphical form like an avatar (“his avatar is greener than mine!”). Also, combining a popular information and entertainment application with energy management would increase the frequency of user‟s interactions with the energy information. The idea behind this is simple: let the technology integrate systems to help the users conserve energy and in turn lower the energy costs.
However, sharing energy usage data in a social network can raise serious privacy and data protection concerns [2, 3]. Smart meters collect far more information than traditional meters: precise energy usage ranging from per second to per hour in a day. Also, smart meters are envisaged to control the home appliances for monitoring and load balancing, e.g., a smart meter can turn off a washing machine if the load is too high or the energy is expensive during a particular time of day to restart it later. But this means that a smart meter produces and can have access to much more information than mere readings. And this means, a smart meter can also tell an observer everything one does in one‟s home, down to how often one eats microwave dinners, how often one does the laundry and even what brand of washer-dryer one uses for this. The challenge therefore is to design and build privacy aware applications that can control and protect all this data while enabling the user to enjoy all the benefits of the smart meter – social network link. This is the goal of this thesis.
- Familiarize yourself with the existing system and related concepts
- Design the system in [Description]
- Develop the designed system
- Evaluate the developed system
- Write the thesis.
The social networking application SCUTA [4, 5] has already been extended to include a component called „smart energy‟. If the user of the smart meter (from this point we call a smart meter user as consumer to distinguish him from a usual social network user) wants to share any kind of smart meter data on his social networking profile (this means that he wants to instantiate a connection between his smart meter and the social network), he needs to access this component provided on his profile page. The smart energy system provides many interesting applications of smart meter data:
1. The user can publish his energy usage over a period of time.
2. The user can publish if his energy usage has increased or decreased over time.
3. The user can see how energy usage at different times of the day affects total costs.
4. The user can also learn how he should move his energy consumption patterns to minimize the costs.
5. The user can share his overall energy usage in a visual format like an avatar which changes color (red, yellow, green) according to energy usage.
6. The user can compare his energy usage with others in his contacts list.
7. The user can learn and share other usage patterns over time, e.g., higher water usage compared to average consumers, lower electricity consumption compared to average consumers etc.
8. The user can accumulate points for saving energy and use them to increase his score in games played on the social network.
9. The user can convert points to cash and accumulate energy cash to play poker with friends on the social network.
10. Users can post ideas/suggestions about the efficient usage of energy and share with all.
The thesis will focus on data protection in the system described above. As of now, we consider user requirements related to data collection and storage. Some interesting user requirements are as follows:
1. Meter data should be collected by the social network every 15 minutes.
2. At the social network, meter data should be aggregated every 24 hours.
3. Energy usage should be displayed without time, location and device information.
4. Meter data should not be stored for more than three months, i.e. if data is older than three months, delete it.
5. All energy data should be deleted when the user deletes his profile at the social network.
6. All login information for the user should be reset for accessing the smart meter if the user deletes his social networking profile.
Looking into more privacy requirements and data protection challenges is the part of theoretical work in thesis.
Besides, in the existing system, two separate logins are required: one for authentication at the social network and the second for authentication at the smart meter. Merging the two using OAuth  will also be a part of the work package.
The thesis will be evaluated for
The thesis has two steps: in the first step, an existing social network – smart meter connection will be used to develop the functionalities (mentioned below) for using energy data at the social network. In the second step, a policy generation and enforcement mechanism will be introduced between the smart meter and the social network. This mechanism will enforce policies related to collection, storage and deletion of energy data by the social networking application (see details below).
Functional completeness of energy data usage application.
Design and development of data protection mechanism for the application in (i).
Security analysis of the enforced data protection mechanism in (ii).
 Google Powermeter, http://www.google.com/powermeter/about/ [Accessed: October 06, 2010.]
 Smart Meters Raise Privacy Concerns, http://www.sott.net/articles/show/209844-Smart-Meters-Raise-Privacy-Concerns [Accessed: October 06, 2010.]
 True cost of smart meters might include privacy and health, http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/296780 [Accessed: October 06, 2010.]
 SCUTA homepage, http://jenskuhn.eu/sns/ [Accessed: October 06, 2010]
 Jens-Michael Kuhn, Data Usage Control for a Web Application: The Server, Bachelor's thesis, TU Kaiserslautern, 2010.
 Beginner‟s Guide to OAuth, http://hueniverse.com/2007/10/beginners-guide-to-oauth-part-i-overview/ [Accessed: October 06, 2010.]