Tag: apis

Utilities should open up API’s to their smart meter data

Smart meter

The world of utilities is changing with the roll out of smart meters. One of the biggest changes will be the wealth of data that utility companies will suddenly be flooded with.

As we noted in a previous post on GreenMonk, Centrica has:

18 million residential accounts and one million business accounts. Right now they are billing residential accounts every three months and they are managing 75 million meter reads per annum.

With the move to smart meters, Centrica will take electricity reads every 30 minutes and gas reads once per day. This means a shift from 75 million meter reads per annum to 120 billion meter reads a year. 120 billion – that’s billion with a b. That’s a phenomenal amount of data to have to deal with.

What will utilities do with this sudden influx of data?

Apart from the traditional billing function, many utilities have no idea what, if anything, they will do with the data. And this is hardly surprising, this is a new level of energy consumption information that we have not had access to previously. And furthermore, utilities have not traditionally been in the data business.

So, what should they do with all this new data? Obviously, I have a couple of ideas (more on that later), but likely you do too, and possibly so too do some utilities.

However, to really maximise their chances of coming up with a good use of the data, it’s best to expose it to as many people as possible. Crowdsource the ideas.

Utility companies should now give serious consideration to exposing their data, anonymised, through the use of openly documented API‘s and allow developers have at it. They should then run hackathons and competitions to see who can come up with the best applications making use of the data. Why not?

A couple of ideas – how about an application to highlight exceptional energy use. For example, would customers pay an extra €1 a month to receive an alert if their elderly relative’s lights didn’t go out at 11pm, or come on again at 8am? Or for people with holiday homes, would they pay €1 a month to be alerted if the lights went on when they’re not there? Or if the electricity went off (and there was food in the freezer, or worse beer in the fridge!), for example?

If utilities were to open the data to developers, who knows what amazing ideas would emerge – developers are after all, as we are fond of saying, the New Kingmakers.

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Are you experiencing FaceBook fade?

FaceBook opened its APIs for third party developers last year, opened its registration to all and saw a meteoric rise in use.

The developers started creating all kinds of applications for FaceBook and the FaceBook Platform was pronounced as the next big thing! And an investment by Microsoft putatively valued the website at $15bn.

However, of late a lot of the sheen seems to be coming off FaceBook. Privacy concerns started raising their head and were given significant credence when FaceBook launched its ill-fated (and short-lived) Beacon project.

Users discovered just how hard it is to actually close their accounts and more recently the New York Times reports that FaceBook has had to implement a procedure for people to have their accounts closed. Closing the account and deleting the information which was in the account are two different operations however.

Listening to the conversations on Twitter it is pretty obvious that people are tiring of FaceBook.

I have a huge concern over what is happening to my information on FaceBook. Not just what is FaceBook doing with it but every time you add an application to your profile, you are giving that application developer access to your FaceBook data.

Personally, the amount of completely frivolous emails and requests I receive from the site (Vampire bites, Human Pets, Pokes, pointless quizzes, etc.) have completely turned me off it and I may log in now once a week just to check my Inbox. Then again I may not!

Are you experiencing FaceBook fade?

OpenSocial signs up MySpace and SixApart too!

I mentioned earlier in the week that Google was about to launch OpenSocial, a Social Network API platform. Since then Mike Arrington in TechCrunch is reporting that not only is it happenning but MySpace, Bebo and SixApart are on board too!

The OpenSocial site is now live and confirmed participants so far are:

Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING

Why OpenSocial?

The web is more interesting when you can build apps that easily interact with your friends and colleagues. But with the trend towards more social applications also comes a growing list of site-specific APIs that developers must learn.

OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds.

Many sites, one API

Whither FaceBook, the current social network colossus in this? They and Microsoft (their recent investor) have got to be wondering how to meet this challenge to their dominant position. Probably the best approach would be to jump in too – that way they have all the advantages of the open platform without the development costs. Google are saying it is an open platform and they wouldn’t see that one coming!

The chances are though that they won’t jump on board and there will be two social network standards, Google’s OpenSocial standard and FaceBook’s.