Thursday 13 February 2014

GridCarbon Android app v2 released

I'm very happy to announce the release of an update to the GridCarbon Android app. The app allows you to track the carbon intensity of the UK electricity grid on your phone or tablet.
The demand for electricity in the UK varies throughout the day, and thus, the mix of generators supplying this electricity continually changes. As a result, the carbon intensity of the electricity – the quantity of CO2 produced for 1 kWh of electricity consumed – also varies continually. Deferring your use of electricity to off-peak times, when the carbon intensity is low, can help reduce your carbon footprint.

The app features a breakdown of the the current electricity generation sources:

The landscape view shows how both the carbon intensity of the grid and the generation sources varied over the previous 24 hours:

There is also an iOS version of GridCarbon which shares the same functionality as the Android app.

Friday 7 February 2014

NILM in the New Scientist

A couple of weeks ago, Google acquired Nest, a smart thermostat manufacturer. The Nest thermostat aims to combine manually set temperature preferences with automatically learned household occupancy schedules. The acquisition seemed to prompt a few privacy concerns, given the unification of household occupancy data with the information Google currently stores about its customers. This is where NILM got its mention in the New Scientist, given that private information can also be inferred from household aggregate electricity data. A summary article even referenced research which showed that the film being watched on a plasma TV can be inferred from 2 Hz smart meter data, assuming two 5 minute periods of data can be extracted when no other appliances are changing state. Unfortunately though, none of these articles seemed to mention that such methods would require higher frequency data than will be automatically uploaded to utilities by smart meters, and therefore would require explicit consent from the customer to opt-in to such a system.