Thursday 29 January 2015

NILM 2015 @ London discussion

Jack Kelly and I are thinking about organising another NILM meet up in London this summer, and would love to get your thoughts on what you would find most useful. Jack has started an Energy Disaggregation Discussion Group which seems like a great place to throw some ideas around. I'd encourage everyone to head over to the forum and add your voice to the discussion! And don't forget to subscribe to the group so you receive updates!

Tuesday 27 January 2015

DECC Workshop: Specifying and Costing Monitoring Equipment for a Longitudinal Energy Study

Yesterday I attended a DECC workshop aiming to specify and estimate the costs of monitoring equipment for a longitudinal energy study. The scale of the study would be to use questionnaires and monitoring equipment to study energy use in 10,000s of homes. However, only £500 per household could be spent on hardware at such scale. It was concluded that this budget would not go very far beyond aggregate gas, electricity and water monitoring equipment.

In contrast to this, the LUKES project proposes aggregate monitoring of 10,000s of homes, while extensively monitoring up to 400 homes for up to 4 years. Although not the primary aim of the study, such a data set would have considerable impact for the energy disaggregation community. I was keen to point out that such uses have arisen due to the Household Energy Study, and it is important to take this data set as a case study when designing new surveys.

However, it is also important that lessons are learned from HES, such that the same mistakes are not repeated. In particular, I’d hope that a new data set would:

  • Collect both aggregate-level and circuit-level data as well as appliance level data
  • Specify and maintain each household’s metering hierarchy and appliance names using a consistent metadata schema, such as the NILM Metadata project
  • Collect aggregate data at a higher resolution than 2 minute energy readings. Ideally, I believe 1 second power data would be best trade-off between cost and frequency

Friday 16 January 2015

Joining the data science team at British Gas Connected Homes

I joined the data science team at British Gas Connected Homes at the start of this year, who focus on extracting meaningful insight from smart meter data to help their customers better understand their energy consumption. The plan is to split my time roughly 50/50 between my current research fellowship at the University of Southampton and my new role with British Gas. The good news for you is that this means I'll continue to maintain this blog for at least the next year. This partnership with British Gas is particularly natural given my PhD research in energy disaggregation, and I am looking forward to the new challenges this role will bring. Below is a photo of one of Connected Homes' London offices, which is probably not what you might expect from the UK's largest gas and electricity supplier!

Monday 5 January 2015

JAIR paper published: A Hidden Markov Model-Based Acoustic Cicada Detector for Crowdsourced Smartphone Biodiversity Monitoring

We recently had a paper published in the Journal for Artificial Intelligence Research based on our work searching for the New Forest Cicada with the aid of a smartphone app.

The full abstract is:

In recent years, the field of computational sustainability has striven to apply artificial intelligence techniques to solve ecological and environmental problems. In ecology, a key issue for the safeguarding of our planet is the monitoring of biodiversity. Automated acoustic recognition of species aims to provide a cost-effective method for biodiversity monitoring. This is particularly appealing for detecting endangered animals with a distinctive call, such as the New Forest cicada. To this end, we pursue a crowdsourcing approach, whereby the millions of visitors to the New Forest, where this insect was historically found, will help to monitor its presence by means of a smartphone app that can detect its mating call. Existing research in the field of acoustic insect detection has typically focused upon the classification of recordings collected from fixed field microphones. Such approaches segment a lengthy audio recording into individual segments of insect activity, which are independently classified using cepstral coefficients extracted from the recording as features. This paper reports on a contrasting approach, whereby we use crowdsourcing to collect recordings via a smartphone app, and present an immediate feedback to the users as to whether an insect has been found. Our classification approach does not remove silent parts of the recording via segmentation, but instead uses the temporal patterns throughout each recording to classify the insects present. We show that our approach can successfully discriminate between the call of the New Forest cicada and similar insects found in the New Forest, and is robust to common types of environment noise. A large scale trial deployment of our smartphone app collected over 6000 reports of insect activity from over 1000 users. Despite the cicada not having been rediscovered in the New Forest, the effectiveness of this approach was confirmed for both the detection algorithm, which successfully identified the same cicada through the app in countries where the same species is still present, and of the crowdsourcing methodology, which collected a vast number of recordings and involved thousands of contributors.

and the full reference is:

D. Zilli, O. Parson, G. V. Merrett and A. Rogers (2014) "A Hidden Markov Model-Based Acoustic Cicada Detector for Crowdsourced Smartphone Biodiversity Monitoring", Volume 51, pages 805-827