Philip Bane,
Business Director,
GlobalSmartEnergy
 
San Diego, CA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- April 21, 2008  - Data privacy and security are inherent features of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems, because of the nature and volume of the information they collect, delegates attending the AMI Star Wars pre-conference workshop ahead of Metering, Billing/CIS America 2008 event heard.

Commenting on the legal risks and opportunities for AMI, Mark Foley, partner in the international law firm Foley & Lardner, said that there are many parties, both commercial and criminal, with a potential interest in AMI data, because of the range of information that it can reveal about householders, from simply presence in the home down to their use of individual household devices.

“A key issue is privacy,” said Foley, adding that this obviously varies in different contexts and countries. “AMI puts privacy interests at risk because its core purpose is to collect information related to a particular household or business.”

But these are not the only security issues around AMI and securing the AMI network and customer premise equipment and protecting the grid includes preventing unauthorized load sheds, ensuring meter data integrity, ensuring that consumers cannot dispute commitments such as “agree to load shedding”, and resilience and system availability through a 20 year deployment life cycle, said Jim Leonard, director of product management at security provider Certicom.

“Traditionally the utility network was closed providing vital public services but with the advent of AMI it is now open to home area networking and mass produced customer premise devices, a range of vendors and two way communications.”

Leonard suggested that a solution may be found in the concept of “public key infrastructure” (PKI) and key cryptography, in which devices have an embedded key identifier, analogous with the security certificates of internet sites.

“PKI enables confidentiality, data integrity, data origin authentication, data source confirmation/corroboration, entity authentication and non repudiation,” said Leonard, in a session that attracted much discussion and debate on a topic that appears so far to have received little consideration by utilities.

Smart Energy International’s 9th Metering, Billing/CIS America formally opens today with a keynote by Debra Reed, president and CEO of host utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Company, and plenary address by David O’Brien, president and CEO of Toronto Hydro. Other program highlights include a panel discussion on what is driving the evolution in the changing utility environment and sessions on data and connectivity, network and grids, and data, as well as a dedicated water track.

More than 550 delegates have registered so far for the event, which is taking place under the title of “Metering the smart grid for the smart customer” at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, California.