Smart meter data: how British Gas is unlocking its value

British Gas smart meter rollout tablets
British Gas has plans to monetise data from smart meter installations to cross-sell on other services such as insurance and boiler engineering

In the UK, the head of IT at British Gas has said the energy company is borrowing big data solutions from social media platforms to unlock the potential of smart meter data.

Chief information officer David Cooper told UK trade magazine Computing that British Gas faces the same problem as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in analysing “the sheer volume of data”.

Mr Cooper said: “We’ve started massive programmes that are not completed, but we’ve got a Hadoop data lake live and we’re using some of the big data solutions that have spawned out of the social media side of the internet to analyse all our data.”

He says Hadoop is one of several open-source solutions that the company is using.

The company is also trying to break down silos between separate data warehouses for each part of the business, from central heating to energy supply and repairs.

Cooper said: “We’re bringing in a lot of this data now, along with this extra data from smart meters, and it’s starting to allow us to make better business decisions, and we can open up a lot of the data to the enterprise.”

Cross-selling on smart meter data

British Gas is now looking to monetise the data for cross-selling opportunities across the company’s parent company Centrica, which also owns insurance and engineering services.

Computing quotes Dee Mitra, head of big data solutions at British Gas, who said earlier this year at the Hadoop Summit 2015, that: “We are using data not only for our customers’ benefit but also for our own so we can sell better services to our customers and partners and optimise our engineering works.”

Smart meter rollout

On the subject of British Gas’s smart metering programme, Cooper, who has been at the energy supplier for the past four years, defends the rollout saying it will bring an end to customer complaints regarding estimated billing.

He said: “Usually we’re reasonably accurate but it does depend on who lives in their house and what their pattern is.

“Smart meters solve this problem and consumers don’t have to take a day off of work.

He adds: “It also enables a whole set of other solutions – we have a lot of data, we can tell you what you’re using on gas, how much energy you use to heat water, how much electricity you’re using and we can try and point you towards where you can save energy.”