Google PowerMeter as a Sensor Web
Smart meters are all the rage in North America, where they are hooked to the building's power supply, next to the fuse box, ans they keep a live check on how much power the house is consuming, with statistical reporting available for energy consumption over time.
Google PowerMeter was launched earlier this year, and is a free software package for monitoring electricity usage. It works quite happily with the 6% of homes and businesses that have power metewrs installed so far, and that number is steadily growing.
Now normally in order to use the device, you have to be standing in the basement, next to the fuse box. However, Google have hit upon a possibly not terribly bright idea of linking that data together with the Internet.
They decided that in a world where going green is fashionable, the best way to help cut energy usage would be to know how much you are using on a real-time basis to begin with. So, in their infinite wisdom, Google decided to make electricity use data accessible to everyone, just as soon as they found a way to do this.
It has taken a year of negotiation, but Google has finalised a device partnership with Energy Inc. and its product The Energy Detective. These devices and any that are compatible with the specification now live update their data on an accessible web server, and can be called up by any laptop or web enabled mobile phone. Just input the house street address, and your phone will fill with their nearly live energy usage. It updates every 10 minutes, so you'll be able to gauge the activity.
What makes it handy for burglars, is the meter can show when no electricity is being used - indicating no one is at home.
It would be nice if Google thought these ideas out more before they ran with them, sometimes.